Writing Challenge: Nature Part 2

Part 1 and an explanation are here.

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Our driveway was dirt, with the attendant divots. When it rained, the divots turned into puddles and if one of the cars had gone out or come back, there would be tracks in the mud to make dams and rivers from. When the puddles froze overnight, air bubbles would get frozen into them so when I stomped on them while waiting for the bus, the iced puddle would crack and a hole would open. Sometimes, there were layers of air trapped, and so there were layers of ice to stomp through. It was more satisfying than popping bubble wrap and a great way to anticipate the frustrations of the school day.

Note: I found out after writing this, by chance and serendipity thanks to twitter, that this kind of ice is called cat-ice.

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One morning I was running late. The bus had already turned the corner at the top of the hill before my house when I checked out the window, as I always did. I flew through the living room into the kitchen, grabbing my coat and my school bag, and ran out the door. I ran down the steps and the path to the driveway and realized too late that I was running on ice with a thin layer of water on it. I slipped and went down on my right side, the cold water soaking through my clothes, right in front of an entire bus full of other kids, most of them older. I did get up though, and because I didn’t want to bother my mom to drive me 20 minutes in to school, I slowly and carefully walked across the rest of the driveway, onto the road, crossed to the other side, and boarded the bus, where I curtsied and took the remaining free seat.

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The year of the big ice storm, we lost one of the two maple trees in our front yard. The weight of the ice on one substantial branch brought it down, grazing the corner of our porch. It was the branch I always wanted to climb to and sit on, but was never tall enough to reach – not even my father could reach it. It was night when it happened, and there was a very loud crash. We were all in different parts of the house – my mother and brother and I all in our bedrooms, my father in the living room – and all gathered to make sure everyone was okay. We went on the porch and saw how lucky we were, the ice could have easily brought a whole maple down on the house, and also how unlucky we were, losing one of those maples. In the spring, my father cut the rest of it down and the house was never the same again.

Writing Challenge: Nature, Part 1

One of my goals for January and the new year is to write creatively more often. Nadia of Cottage Notebook is hosting a month-long writing challenge, with themes and increasing word counts through the month. I’m using it to get back into the habit of writing without having to decide on a theme or a subject. So far, I am writing creatively but only about things I’ve experienced, mainly my childhood and growing up in Vermont – the theme this week is nature, and so it’s an obvious fit for me to write about that. Anyway, here are my first four 100ish word pieces that are sort of connected.

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The air has been so cold and dry the last few days, the snow squeaks underfoot. It’s a familiar sound to me – I grew up in the mountains of Vermont. My brother and I spent hour playing in the snow, building sledding tracks, sledding, and building forts in the snow banks. We went out in all kinds of weather, not like it is here in Virginia. The only thing that would keep us inside is a frostbite warning (-19 degrees and below), so there were plenty of times we went out into snow that squeaked as we walked through it.

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The best snow, however, was snowman snow. It came down in big fluffy flakes and stuck together so well that we could roll the base of a snowman across the front yard. When the plow came to clear our driveway, it packed banks of dense snow for us to burrow in and make into forts. They always took shape from the random peaks and round bottoms the plow made. The best I ever made was one large enough for two people, with two entrances. I took a mug of hot chocolate and a book out and spent a quiet hour insulated from the wind reading.

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In the summer, newts would gather on the damp stones that formed the steps of our walk-out root cellar. The floor of the cellar was packed dirt, the foundation – like those stairs and the walls around the well – was stone probably dug from the Vermont property the house was built on. We used to catch the newts and play with them. You could count on them being in the cool dampness of the stone walkup, even on bright sunny days at certain times of the year. It was until I was an adult that I knew the newts were juvenile salamanders, the algae colored salamanders that inhabited the pond.

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One year, my brother and I were out sledding in the woods above the pond. We built a twisting sled path downhill through the trees, with a banked turn up against a big maple. We tamped down the snow as tight as we could for a smooth, fast track. When he took the first run down the path, his sled jumped the banked turn and he hit the old maple, knocking the wind out of his lungs. That was the first time I realized we’re all at nature’s mercy and how a distance can change in an instant, from being not far enough away from home for adventure to being not close enough to home for safety. After that, we made out sled tracks on the hill behind the house, where we could see my mother in the window, at her sewing machine.

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Out of curiosity, do they make you want to read more? They make me want to write more, to explain more, and also embellish a little bit to smooth the rough edges over. I could combine the three winter pieces into a larger story, I suppose. Anyway, I’d love your feedback if you have any!


Edited to add the link to Part 2 for easy reading.

The Week September 18-24

Last week:

  • Weave in the ends of Aranami/Imanara (there are lots even though I’ve been weaving in as I go), and wash & block, then sniff & squish.
    All done!
  • Choose and start a new knitting project. Will it be a blanket to give away or will it be a shawl to keep? I have ideas and yarn for both.
    Done. I’m knitting a blanket of my own design (nothing fancy, really) for the Welcome Blanket Project (HT to Shirley for making me aware of this project!).
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Welcome Blanket Project blanket. Guess how many rows are purled! 😉
  • Carry on embroidering The View From Mt. Peg. It’s ready for all the background mountains and the sky. It occurred to me that I could use the gray background color for clouds, so there’s that.
    I think it’s done without the sky, maybe. I queried the always helpful and funny Mildly Offensive Fiber Arts group on FB for advice about pricing because I have an old friend inquiring about it or a similar commission piece. I gathered my thoughts, made my calculations and came up with a reasonable-to-me-for-the-situation price and am just waiting to hear back from the old friend.
  • Decide on fiber to prep for Spinzilla, if any, and get started while trying not to spin all the braids I’ve got. I have clean, undyed locks I can dye & card or just card, but I also have some alpaca fleeces that need to be washed that would be a joy to spin if I ever actually get around to doing that.
    Instead, I started spinning a braid of fiber from Pigeon Roof Studios. I should do a test spin of those locks and wash that alpaca fleece, but this seemed much more fun.
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The braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber I started spinning – these aren’t my usual colors.
  • Plan the weekend: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is this weekend, so is parents weekend at both my sons’ schools. We’re going to skip it and take Ethan (who’s at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA) hiking on Sunday in the Shenandoah National Park instead. That leaves Saturday for SVFF, except some of my roller derby friends are getting together and I haven’t seen a lot of them for a few years. I have conflicts.
    We visited Ethan this past Sunday, which opens up my Sunday. All other plans are settled.
  • Try to sleep Wednesday night after seeing IT at the Alamo with Becky. Avoid clowns.
    No problemo! It was startling in a few spots, but I realized it’s most like Stand By Me but with a scary clown demon instead of a dead body. Also, there’s a kick-ass girl, but the groups of kids is as close as the group of boys in Stand By Me. Can’t wait for Chapter 2, may need to re-read the book or start reading King again in general.

This week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills. Use his camera this time, not my phone.
  • Continue working on the new blanket.
  • Continue spinning the braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber.
  • Start a new embroidery project.
  • Hopefully hear back from my friend and decide what to do with The View From Mt. Peg.

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    The View From Mt. Peg, probably in its near-final form. 
  • Saturday: meet Becky & her daughter Mia at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. From there, go to friend gathering in Martinsburg, WV. Sunday is free, so maybe I can get Ky to go to the Leesburg Fine Arts Festival (day 2) to poke around and maybe make some connections in this local artist world I’m trying to be more active in.
  • Some sad news: Moose, our 12 year old big black dog, hasn’t been doing well and so we have an appointment on Thursday to ease his pain and help him across the Rainbow Bridge. He will be dearly missed by us all, but it’s time – he’s having problems just getting up from lying down, along with having problems with the stairs to the back yard and some so far minor potty problems. We’re treating him like a king this week.
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Moosie posing nicely for the camera. He’s a beautiful, smart dog
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Moose asking if it’s time for dinner yet

The Week September 11-17

Last week:

  • Order from Campus Cookies for Ethan for his birthday Thursday. Eat more of Ky’s cake to celebrate in Ethan’s absence. Our first birthday apart and his 18th.
    The cookies & balloons were a grand success – Ethan, his roommate and the guys on his hall feasted. I think it was a pretty good birthday for him.
  • Carry on with Aranami/Imanara. I’m almost halfway through the final row.
    Finished, except for weaving in ends, washing & blocking.
  • Carry on with the embroidery.
    I’m about halfway done with the canvas, but only 1/3 of the way through the colors, so the funnest part is still to come.
  • Choose and start the next spinning project.
    I chose and spun a braid of Dragonfly Fibers polwarth & silk roving and did a 3 ply, with 2 ply and a single left over. I think it’s the squishiest yarn I’ve spun; I seem to only be able to do a short forward draw, alternated occasionally with a long back draw, which makes for a pretty tight twist. This time around the polwarth was sticky enough that I didn’t feel like it needed a lot of twist to stay together, so I adjusted accordingly and I love the yarn I got. The color, Salt Marsh, is really awesome too and I’m glad I got to spend so much time in it.
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My latest spinning project. I hope I have braids left for October!

I also registered with Team Spin Off for Spinzilla, which is happening October 2-8. This was the thing I forgot to mention last week. I’ve never done Spinzilla – it started the same year I got caught up in roller derby, which is kind of all-consuming, and I just haven’t gotten around to trying it until now. Let’s see how much I can spin in 7 days!

This week:

  • Weave in the ends of Aranami/Imanara (there are lots even though I’ve been weaving in as I go), and wash & block, then sniff & squish.
  • Choose and start a new knitting project. Will it be a blanket to give away or will it be a shawl to keep? I have ideas and yarn for both.
  • Carry on embroidering The View From Mt. Peg. It’s ready for all the background mountains and the sky. It occurred to me that I could use the gray background color for clouds, so there’s that.

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    The View From Mt. Peg
  • Decide on fiber to prep for Spinzilla, if any, and get started while trying not to spin all the braids I’ve got. I have clean, undyed locks I can dye & card or just card, but I also have some alpaca fleeces that need to be washed that would be a joy to spin if I ever actually get around to doing that.
  • Plan the weekend: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is this weekend, so is parents weekend at both my sons’ schools. We’re going to skip it and take Ethan (who’s at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA) hiking on Sunday in the Shenandoah National Park instead. That leaves Saturday for SVFF, except some of my roller derby friends are getting together and I haven’t seen a lot of them for a few years. I have conflicts.
  • Try to sleep Wednesday night after seeing IT at the Alamo with Becky. Avoid clowns.

Did I say clowns? Here’s a palate cleanser: the Dragonfly Fibers Salt Marsh single on my hardware store niddy noddy. Those colors!!! Have a great (clown-free!) week!

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The Week September 4-10

Last week:

  1. Work the final row (different from regular rows) in the bright colored yarn. The final stripe would be 1/2 a row taller than all the other stripes.
  2. Work another stripe of the dull colored yarn, with the final row being part of the stripe. All stripes would be the same height, but the stripe sequence would be off by 1 – I started with the dull yarn but I like the bright yarn better and would prefer that to be at the top of the shawl.
  3. Work another stripe of the dull yarn followed by another stripe, with final row, of the bright yarn. Risk running out of yarn. Ripping back would be especially tedious and cumbersome since the shawl is knit in wedge modules.

I went with choice 1. This shawl is big enough and I want to finish it and move on to something else (probably another shawl). I may incorporate the dull color in a wide band at the top, which would be totally off-pattern. But I haven’t exactly followed the pattern to the letter (colorwise, at least) anyway. Patterns are just gentle suggestions, right?

  • Publish This Is My Heart, the heart pattern that I came up with for Hearts for Cville and write a blog post about the whole heart thing.
    At least I did part of this. I posted it all over the place – Ravelry, Twitter, Instagram – but did not, in fact, write a blog post about it. Maybe this week?
  • Begin actual embroidery work on The View from Mt. Peg.
    Check! I finished the first two layers of mountains – so much satin stitch and so many french knots.
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The View From Mt. Peg: The First Two Layers
  • Decide on the next knitting project, which will use either a rainbow variegated yarn from Marigoldjen that I got at MDSW 2016 and the black yarn I got from Neighborhood Fiber Company at MDSW 2017 or yarn that I got from The Fiberists at Shenandoah Fiber Festival 2017. Or I may re-knit or crochet Jeff’s cat cave, which is currently laying collapsed and unused in my family room.This is still up in the air. I’ve been thinking about it, but embroidery & spinning & Imanara/Aranami have been keeping me busy.

I also finished spinning the Spunky Eclectic bump. Here it is on my niddy-noddy. It’s currently soaking it a tub, waiting for me to squeeze it out & whack before drying.

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Spunky Eclectic Merino & Silk, Calypso colorway

And my husband’s birthday was on Sunday the 3rd, so I baked him a cake. He used to be cake-averse, but since discovering he has type 2 diabetes (somewhat under control after 10 years), he loves it. This is Almond Cream Cake, which I’ve not made before. I’d bake again with some modifications; the cake was too dense (an egg white problem, I think) and the frosting looked broken/separated (perhaps I didn’t whip it enough).

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Almond Cream Cake. It has its faults, but still tastes delicious.

 

This week:

  • Order from Campus Cookies for Ethan for his birthday Thursday. Eat more of Ky’s cake to celebrate in Ethan’s absence. Our first birthday apart and his 18th.
  • Carry on with Aranami/Imanara. I’m almost halfway through the final row.
  • Carry on with the embroidery.
  • Choose and start the next spinning project.
    That’s right, I already did this yesterday. How nice to be able to mark something off on the new list. I’m spinning a braid of Dragon Fly Fibers Polwarth Silk (85/15) in the Salt Marsh colorway, which I think was the MDS&W 2016 exclusive colorway. I’m doing a fractal spin (divide fiber lengthwise into 3 equal portions, spin 1 length, divide next part lengthwise into 2 & spin, divide last part into 4 & spin). I already spun 1/3 of it – it’s going to be lofty thanks to the Polwarth I think/hope.
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Dragonfly Fibers is indeed the color of happiness. 

 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. Oh well – if I am it’ll make it into next week’s The Week. May your week be memorable and peaceful. 🙂

The Week August 28-September 3

Last week:

    • Take Henry to load his locker on Tuesday, get him ready for the 1st day of school Thursday.
      The first day of school went swimmingly.
    • Help Ethan pack and move him in to JMU on Wednesday.
      My husband ended up taking him (long story as to why, but Ethan managed to stir up some drama before leaving, unusual for him). His first day of classes is today. He really doesn’t want to be there, but I’m hoping he settles in and starts to like it.
    • Work on Aranami/Imanara.
      Finished another complete row of wedges.
    • Make more hearts for Charlottesville.
      I made a total of 6 and created my own heart pattern that will work for any yarn on any needles – it’s knit bottom up in the round with short rows and a grafted edge at the top of the hearts. It’s in tech edit with my good friend Becky right now. I plan to release it into the wild for free ASAP.
Hearts for Cville
All the hearts I made for Hearts for Cville. Laughing Sheep Yarns, a Charlottesville LYS, is collecting knit & crochet hearts to hang around town for anyone to take in an effort to promote healing. I wanted to get my hearts down there ASAP because of the March Against White Supremacy that’s starting there later this week and ending in DC September 8 (I think).
  • Wrap & send Steph’s baby gifts. (Potential blog post.)
    Done. I didn’t write a post about the goodies I sent, but I could. Maybe this week.
  • Write a post about my Knit Together Square and send it off to Melissa.
    It’s in the mail! I had a lot of packages to send today!
  • Set up lunch with Cecily & Rachelle. (Putting it here so I don’t forget.)
    Done.

I also began spinning another bump of Spunky Eclectic fiber. The back of the label is worn away so I’m guessing that this is a merino-silk blend, 60/40. The colorway is Calypso and it’s dreamy to spin.

My #mdsw2017 haul: 2 skeins of @neighborhoodfiberco Studio Sock in Upton (to make a shawl using a rainbow yarn I got at #mdsw last year) Maple Sugar Candy from Justamere Tree Farm (hands down my favorite candy), fiber from @amyboogie/Spunky Eclectic (I'm
The fiber I started spinning is on the right – these are my Maryland Sheep & Wool 2017 goodies. Those maple sugar candies are long gone, but I wish I had some still.

In addition to that, I got started on my next embroidery project, The View from Mt. Peg. It’s the view from one of two small (very small) mountains in the Vermont town I grew up in up the valley to Killington peak. I got the embroidery floss before drawing the layers of mountains knowing I’d be limited somewhat by DMC colors. Also, I redrew the mountains from a better picture after I took this picture.

The View from Mt Peg
The Beginning of The View From Mt. Peg

This week:

  • Decide what’s next for Aranami/Imanara. The choices:
    1. Work the final row (different from regular rows) in the bright colored yarn. The final stripe would be 1/2 a row taller than all the other stripes.
    2. Work another stripe of the dull colored yarn, with the final row being part of the stripe. All stripes would be the same height, but the stripe sequence would be off by 1 – I started with the dull yarn but I like the bright yarn better and would prefer that to be at the top of the shawl.
    3. Work another stripe of the dull yarn followed by another stripe, with final row, of the bright yarn. Risk running out of yarn. Ripping back would be especially tedious and cumbersome since the shawl is knit in wedge modules.
Aranami
This is basically where my Aranami shawl is (I named the project Inamara on Ravelry), just so there’s a visual along with the options.
  • Publish This Is My Heart, the heart pattern that I came up with for Hearts for Cville and write a blog post about the whole heart thing.
  • Begin actual embroidery work on The View from Mt. Peg.
  • Decide on the next knitting project, which will use either a rainbow variegated yarn from Marigoldjen that I got at MDSW 2016 and the black yarn I got from Neighborhood Fiber Company at MDSW 2017 or yarn that I got from The Fiberists at Shenandoah Fiber Festival 2017. Or I may re-knit or crochet Jeff’s cat cave, which is currently laying collapsed and unused in my family room.

I hope we have a good week, all of us!

NaPoWriMo 28: Northern Summer

Northern Summer

I want to go swimming in the brook
like we used to, getting lost in time
until we couldn’t feel our fingers and toes,
only getting out when our lips turned blue.
Wrapped shivering in towels
we’d try to get warm on a rock in the sun,
talking and giggling and imagining.
The no-see-ums or the mosquitoes or the horseflies
finally chasing us home to find
only an hour or two gone
out of the longest short season: summer.