Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wake up, sleepyhead!

At long last, signs of life in the garden! We have buds on the lilacs, which will be gorgeous by Mother's Day.

A few flowerbuds on the saucer magnolia that I planted three years ago. Last year, I had one glorious bloom, and I'm hoping for more this year. The mature trees are positively vulgar with blossoms at the height of spring, but it'll take a few years before this one is anything but modest.

The rhubarb is looking weird, like some kind of tumor growing next to a pruney foot. But it'll be huge and delicious soon. I just wish it would be ready at the same time as my strawberries so I could make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. But by the time the berries are ready, the rhubarb is old and stringy. So instead, there will be rhubarb pie, then strawberry pie. (And a few weeks after that, raspberry pie!)

Last fall, I filled the garden bed around our little fountain with tulip bulbs, and they're popping up, ready to go. I never noticed before how the foliage is tinged with pink. I'm starved for color now, so perhaps my eyesight is a bit keener. (Notice the rocks. Gardening in New England is all about rocks.)

Ah, but here is the star of my garden at the moment--the moss. My picture doesn't do it justice--it is the greenest of greens, as if it were lit from within. The back and side yards are full of moss (and ferns too, a little later in the season). My next-door neighbor (who's lived in her house since the 1950s) gave me all sorts of tips and tricks for getting rid of moss when I first moved in, but I thought she was nuts. I spent decades in Texas, for Pete's sake, where everything is dry and crispy by May. Why on earth would I want to get rid of cool green moss??

And this ugly thing shows no signs of life in terms of greenery, but it's usually teeming with life all winter long. The birds love this hideous overgrown rambling rose bush. They congregate there, chasing each other from one cane to another, singing their songs and reminding me all winter long that the spring will come again. The bush itself is quite horrible--it's overgrown, half-dead in the middle, with blooms that look gorgeous for all of a week and nasty thorns that catch your clothes (and your skin) all summer long. But I love it for the birds and don't have the heart to take it out.

There is something truly delicious about these earliest days of spring. It's all potential right now. This is the year for the fattest raspberries, or the juiciest strawberries. Maybe I'll have a million magnolia blossoms on the tree, or I'll manage to actually grow tomatoes in our weird and wonderful climate. And every day, I eagerly search for new signs of life. Then seemingly all of a sudden, the spring picks up momentum and the world explodes into color and life (and weeds, of course!). I'm afraid knitting takes a bit of a backseat...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Must. Buy. This. NOW.

Oh my God. I've just discovered Hanne Falkenberg's designs. (Where have I been living? Under a rock?). And I discovered Mermaid. Beautiful Mermaid. A gazillion different colorways Mermaid. I could wear this every day. With jeans. With skirts. Dressed up. Dressed down. If I had this jacket, I'd be as thin and gorgeous as the model in the picture. I just know it.

But $250 for the kit? Ouch.

Is the pattern available elsewhere without the yarn?

Getting ready for the garden

Okay, so the snow has just barely melted and the backyard is like a bog, but I've got gardening fever! The bulbs are starting to break free of the soil, the rhubarb is pushing its cheery red stalks above ground, and soon, the weeds will take it all over! But right now I'm in fantasyland, thinking this is the year my front garden finally gets that lush English cottage look, that my magnolia tree will bear more than one blossom, and that the raspberries won't go moldy before I have a chance to pick them.

Oh, and while I was at the store picking up yet more gallons of milk (for thirsty boys!), I saw the cutest gardening tools for kids. SpongeBob and the Backyardigans--it doesn't get better than that (if you're 5 or under). Perhaps the Easter bunny could be persuaded to include them in the Easter egg hunt this year...!

He was a good friend

This is Fonzie.

He looks grumpy in nearly every picture I have of him. Not at all! Though independent, he loved people and would drool like mad when you petted him and purr as loudly as could be.

He forged a special bond with Alec, and the two usually curled up together whenever they slept.

Fonzie passed away today. He will be missed very much.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Relics of the Past

Renovations are underway at the Arlington Street station on the T, which is one of the oldest stations in the system. The other day, I saw something quite wonderful. Underneath the old walls are the original signs, made of small black-and-white mosaic tiles.

This one made me chuckle. It's a stencilled sign showing which way to go for the Arlington and Berkeley Street exits, and if you look closely underneath the names, you'll see little Victorian hands pointing the way.

Sadly, all of this is being covered over in the name of "improvement" and most certainly "economy." Other subway systems not only save their past but promote and celebrate it, but not the T. It may be the oldest subway system in the nation, but it's got a long way to go.

For my favorite example of a city celebrating its transportation history, take a visit to the London Transport Museum (now closed for renovations but expected to reopen this autumn). I last visited this marvelous place in 2001--what a treasure! They have omnibuses and train cars from the Tube and all sorts of delightful relics from the city's transportation past. I was delighted (and a little dismayed) to recognize some cars from the Tube from my first visit to London in 1984. Made me feel a little old to see things from "my time" in a historical museum!

Lest you fear that this is becoming a Boston blog instead of a knitting blog, let me reassure you that there will be some Actual Knitting Content to come very shortly. I'm starting a new sweater for my husband--I previewed the pattern way back in November, got the wool in January, and have finally started the sweater in March! I hope I will get it done in time for him to wear next fall and winter....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cold, cold parade

St. Patrick's Day is a big deal to me. I'm not of Irish heritage (though many people have told me I look like I am), but it is my birthday. What better day to celebrate than with a bunch of people wearing green plastic hats and being of questionable sobriety?

And what fun to be in Boston, which takes the whole Irish thing pretty seriously! This year's parade was wicked cold--grey skies, a snow shower here and there, and strong winds. But there was merriment to be had!

First of all, the obligatory green silliness:

Then there were the local (and not-so-local) pipe bands. It takes a real man to wear a kilt during a Boston winter!

Though it did look painfully cold (note the grumpy faces...)

There's the expected visit by the patron saint himself...

As well as some unexpected parade participants, such as the guys from a local sheet metal union...

But despite all the fun, it got to be too cold for the little ones, so we did the "fast-forward" parade viewing by walking toward the T station in the opposite direction of the parade itself. And it all ended beautifully with a free ride on the T.

Happy St. Patrick's Day (a day late) to you all!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Let the Gardening Begin!

According to local gardening lore, St. Patrick's Day is the first day that gardening can begin here in the Boston area. Coming from Texas, that seemed really late to me (I started my Texas garden in February). And now, after nine years in New England, I still don't believe it.

Especially not this year...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

cable-y goodness

Quinn is done...YUMMMMMMMM! The last time I posted about this one, I'd just finished the top band of cables:

And here's the finished bag, photographed in the weak light of a Boston late-winter day. It was so much fun to do--I love the deep texture of this pattern, worked in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran yarn. I have to admit I didn't like working with the yarn--I found way too many knots (I found three in one ball of yarn!), and the yarn was so weak that it ended up breaking a few times. But the end result is beautiful!

To finish it off, I sewed a lining of brown cotton with a matching brown zipper at the top. The original pattern didn't specify a lining or closure, but I wanted to use this as a handbag rather than as a tote, so I thought a lining would make it more durable and a closure a necessary security measure. Also, the original pattern called for a three-strand braid of i-cord for the strap. I like my straps a bit wider, so I made a 5-strand i-cord braid instead. It's a little stretchier than I'd like, but it works just fine.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Happy Texas Independence Day!

So, they can take the girl out of Texas, but they can't take the Texas out of the girl....

Today is Texas Independence Day--the day in 1836 when a handful of uppity American settlers in Texas met in Washington-on-the-Brazos to tell Mexico "Adios!" and declare the Republic of Texas open for business. The experiment in independence was a resounding failure (but don't tell that to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas). By the early 1840s, the baby republic was up to its eyeballs in debt. Hostile Mexicans and Indians took their toll, and lots of Texans (who'd started off as Americans in the first place) started the drumbeat for annexation by the United States. By the end of 1845, it was all over, and Texas became the 28th state.

But hey, it's a particular point of pride that Texans can boast of having been an independent nation. Even if it was (shh) a failure. Even if it lasted only 9 years. Even if it accomplished absolutely nothing of note apart from setting aside land for primary schools and two universities...

Yee haw!
Now where are my cowboy boots?