Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts about Dave. Len is actually doing pretty well with this. Rather than beating himself up for any imagined lost opportunities, he's remembering the good, raucous times he had when Dave was around. That's unusual enough.

In the meantime, the garden has been ripening! We've been doing this garden thing for three years now, and it never fails to amaze me that from a few seeds and small plants we get pounds and pounds of tomatoes, beans, and peppers.

Tomatoes and Purple Beans

This is my first major harvest. The Supersweet 100s started ripening last week and the purple beans started coming in this weekend. I've turned this basket of tomatoes into dried tomatoes (and re-filled the basket):

Dried Tomatoes

Not Sun Dried -- it's much too humid for that -- we have a food drier which works perfect for this endeavor. I think this year I will cover these in olive oil.

And watermelon are coming, too. We went from this early this month, to this:


Bigger than before, but still quite small. It seems we planted "personal" watermelons. For comparison:

Comparative Watermelons

On the left is a normal sized small watermelon*, on the right, the one from our garden (I checked the tag, this really is the right size).

* Yes, Stef, this is the same melon your husband brought over several weeks ago. No, we haven't eaten it. We're planning a shoot-out. With pictures. Don't ask, it's Len's idea.

I'm keeping track of how much we pick and what we do with the produce. It sounds really nerdy, but I think it will help us not to over or under plant. For the record, so far we have four pounds of the Sweet 100 tomatoes and 1 pound of purple beans. I am going to be very busy this fall!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Dave died on Thursday.

Len's been telling me funny Dave stories: Len's group of friends had an annual tradition of a winter camping trip (this was before my time, not that I would have joined them). They drank. A lot. One year Dave was the only one left standing and he went off to a neighboring campsite. This site was comprised of a group of people in training for what Len described as "one of those trips you pay to get taken to" (camping on an iceberg, maybe?) Dave out drank them as well. I'd like to think he destroyed a year or so of training, just because it fits his personality so well!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lightening up a bit

From a short conversation Monday night:

Me: You know, what I have to knit right now just isn't doing it for me. I think I need to start some more lace.

Len: Yeah, because Sunday was so much fun for everyone.

I hate it when he's right. Not that it will stop me, or anything!


Len and I met several years ago when he was working for his friend Dave's delivery company (he made regular deliveries to my building). He didn't like the job much, but he saved enough of the money he made for a down payment on our house (and he got me, so he made out alright in the end), and he was helping out a good friend.

Dave is one of those people with an outsized personality. He is loud, obnoxious, drunk most of the time, has political views I never agreed with (a conservative libertarian, which has always seemed like a contradiction to me), but he has a huge heart, loves his wife and kids and is very, very funny. He also loved food -- he loved to cook it, drop it in a deep-fat fryer and feed all of his friends (of which he has many). The last time Len and I were at his house he was obsessed with hard-boiled eggs, encased in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and dropped in the fryer. He wasn't exactly a healthy eater.

He lost his appetite a few months ago. Last Monday he went in for a colonoscopy. Yesterday his wife was told that the cancer he'd been harboring for who-knows-how-long had spread throughout his body and he doesn't have long to live. Len went to the hospital and Dave has quite wasted away.

What else is there to say? We are floored. And heartbroken. And I really hate the idea of going to another funeral of someone much too young to die.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The End of the White Blob

Ok, I have to be honest. I don't know when I started Daffodil, but I'm sure it was before I started the blog. Summer of 2005, maybe? But it is done.

Unblocked Daffodil

I finished the knitting a week or so ago, but didn't have time to block it until yesterday. Even in its unblocked, blobby state, you can see how pretty it is (or least I can, but I'm biased).


This would be more dramatic on a dark background. Blocking is always a challenge for me, and this was no exception. Part of the problem is that I didn't really know how big it would be, but once I figured out that it wanted to be 37" in diameter, things went much more smoothly (I drew a 37" circle on the sheet and marked off 1" intervals).

Edge detail

{blech} That's a bad picture! Blocking went more smoothly, obviously not perfectly.

Flower Detail

I'm at a bit of a loss now. I have plenty to knit, but nothing is really doing it for me. I suspect I will start another lace piece very soon. 'Cos, you know, I can't seem to help myself!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For the Love of Art Fair

Ann Arbor Art Fair - S. University

As a birth certificate carrying Ann Arbor native, I am required to hate the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It's crowded. It's hot. People are rude and not from Ann Arbor. You can't drive anywhere, you can barely walk anywhere. And the art? Well that's a term best used loosely. Or so says the doctrine.

But I am a traitor. I love the Art Fair. To a greater or lesser extent, all of the above is true. Hundreds of thousands of people crowd into Ann Arbor's downtown for this event -- which really consists of 4 art fairs, sidewalk sales, food courts, and performance stages. It's almost always too hot to breath for at least a couple of days, usually it rains one day, and one day the weather will be perfect. But why bother complaining about it, it's mid-July. In SE Michigan. And yes, people can be very rude, but you'll have that when you shove a few hundred thousand people into a few blocks. But they dress funny, so you can laugh at them and that makes up for the rudeness.

The art. Some of it is very bad, some of it very good. I had a housemate many years ago who is a potter. She made almost the entirety of her year's wages at art fair. When I was living with her, she was making these very intricate little sculptures, but what she sold at the fair were mugs, bowls, and practical stuff which bore little resemblance to what she did for most of the year. When I see what people bring to the fair, I try to remember that artists have to make a living, and they do it by bringing what people want to buy and what they can afford. Thus, you get art-on-a-stick. And you know what? More power to 'em. I couldn't do it, I couldn't knit what people want to buy, and most people couldn't afford to buy what I want to knit.

But what I love about Art Fair is the festival atmosphere it brings to Ann Arbor. It's fun, colorful and cheerful. You can get elephant ears, funnel cake and gyros. And to top it off, sunburn and heat stroke. Four days of inconvenience and chaos. What's not to love?

Besides, there's nothing funnier than a pissed off Ann Arborite.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace


I had a sudden desire to make aprons. Why? Sheer insanity, why else.

Several months ago I found an adorable apron in a local antique store:


Operating under the principle of Use-Your-Stuff, I wear this fairly often when cooking or baking and find it very useful. And adorable. Unfortunately, I had only one and it was usually dirty.

For reasons I won't go into (mainly because it's a very long story, having nothing whatsoever to do with today's story), we came into a very large stack of dishtowels at Christmas this year. More than we could ever need. And lately I've been reading the Angry Chicken, which has inspired a bizarre desire to sew something, and served to remind me that a dishtowel doesn't have to be just a dishtowel.

Friday I bought a spool of grosgrain ribbon and last night made three aprons. Very exciting, if that sort of thing excites you.

Bad Sewing

This endeavor was not without problems. But I am not one to be put off by, oh, you know, lack of Know-How. After I did a lot of swearing, squinting at the manual, squinting at the machine, trying to get the two to match up, more swearing, and a bit of banging my head on the table, I finally figured out how to draw the bottom thread up. And all went smoothly after that (except that I can't sew a straight line).

Dish Towel Apron

I decided, for whatever reason, these would be more stable if I sewed the ribbon all the way across the towel rather than one piece of ribbon on either side. I also thought it would look nicer. In retrospect, given my lack of ability with a sewing machine, that might have been a little silly.

Three Dishtowel Aprons

Despite it all, they don't look so bad. They will stay on and the straps won't fall off. Works for me!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Garden

Can you stand another garden update? There will be more knitting soon, I promise: I have only two more rounds on the white blob before the always exciting crochet cast-off (which alone could take years). I have beads to show you, but I've been too lazy to take pictures. I'm also looking for clasp ideas for the wire beaded weaving. My first trip to the House of Sin didn't go well (it didn't seem like there were very many options), so I am going to continue looking.

So, instead? Wee watermelon:

WeeWatermelon with Dime

I hope everyone likes watermelon because we have 6 plants. I can't help but think we'll be sneaking the things onto our neighbors porches and running.

Little peppers:

Red Pepper

Sorry for the crummy picture. This should turn red someday, the plants are already doing better than the ones from last year, so I have high hopes.

Amish Paste

The tomatoes I raised from seeds are doing very well (the top photo is Amish Paste, the bottom is Beefsteak).

Green Beans

The green bean plants are recovering.

Rabbit Food

But the cucumber plants were attacked. I saw last night that this plant has flowers, but the last thing a plant needs in mid-July is to be concentrating on new growth when it should be putting its energy into vegetable production.


Oh look! There goes a culprit now. Little shit isn't even afraid of us!

Please send rain.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Best Movie Reviews

I love movie reviews, at least as much as previews (for which I have an unnatural addiction). We don't actually go out to the movies, or rent them. And no, we don't do Netflix either (and quit asking!), if a movie shows up on HBO, IFC, Sundance, or any other cable network, chances are pretty good that we'll see it. Or buy the DVD (of which we have many we have not yet seen). I can't explain why.

I am maybe late to this bandwagon, but recently I started reading a review website called Pajiba: Scathing Review for Bitchy People. Here are two reviews which illustrate what I love about the site: Brokeback Mountain and the new "torture porn" movie Captivity (I suppose I should warn you about language, but you're all adults). This is some seriously good writing.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourth of July Parade!

"On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin' fireworks below
Hey baby, it's the Fourth of July
Hey baby, Baby take a walk outside"
-- X

What's the Fourth of July without a little John Doe (whose voice makes me melt) and X? A little late, but still.

My mom and I went to Grass Lake's Fourth of July Parade. I'm such a sucker for antique tractors and old cars: about halfway through the parade, I filled up my memory card and kept having to frantically delete old John Deere and Farmall tractors. I'm such a dork.

Kid Gets Candy
Kid gets candy

I haven't been to a parade in a very long time. Apparently the big thing is to throw candy to the kids who have brought bags for the event. They don't actually watch the parade, they watch for flying candy (then again, antique tractors and old cars are maybe not the most exciting subject matter for the little buggers).

Orange Tractor
But what's not to love? This one looks like a cartoon character.

Silver King

Isn't this gorgeous? So curvy and graceful. I like that these farm machines combined great style with practicality: just because something is used every day to work a field, why shouldn't it look good?

Art Deco Car2
Design over function

Ok. No more being a crank. For me anyway:

Motorized Grocery Cart

This kid was not pleased by the role she had in the parade. She was scowling at the crowd as she buzzed by. Since she had no candy to throw, I don't think she got much sympathy.

One more:


Does this help or hurt librarians' cause not be seen as total nerds?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lawn or Garden?


Weeded Garden

Yep. I spent all day Sunday pulling grass and other weeds out of the garden. The green beans seem to be making a recovery, and we've been seeing rabbits munching our "devil vine"*, so I think they are now too big to get into the garden. Len got chicken wire up anyway.

Tomato Supports

Len also got the tomato supports up. We are now arguing about the best way to proceed: he has the twine tied to the plants. I think we should tie the twine to stakes, stick those in the ground and wind the plants around (which is what Smith describes in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible). He thinks that the root system is too big and we'll kill the plants. Since I refuse to operate the circular saw (or, indeed, get anywhere close to that killing machine) in order to make the stakes, he wins this round.

Getting Ripe!

The Supersweet 100s are getting close (obviously, I didn't weed this part of the garden). I'll feel better when the heirlooms start getting tomatoes, since I raise those plants from tiny little seeds.

Very Big Weed

This thing appeared a couple of years ago. I don't know what it is, but I have great affection for this plant. In a month or so it will get really cool looking berries.

*The devil vine: some unsuspecting former owner of our house put up a little archway and planted a vine to drape prettily over the thing. The vine is now taking over parts of the lawn, a small flower bed, what seems to have been an attempt at a grape vine and it is trying to kill a very nice shrub, and a lilac tree. If the rabbits want to eat it, I will gladly allow them to breed on our property. Maybe I will build them a little house of their very own!

Monday, July 02, 2007