Thursday, May 31, 2007

Backyard Feast

Still eagerly awaiting the official start of Pocket Farm's second annual One Local Summer, we got in another good practice this weekend. To celebrate Memorial Day, Son (with a little help and advice) made whole wheat hamburger buns:





We grilled burgers (bought from our dairy provider) alongside produce from the farmer's market (white sweet potatoes, asparagus, and a very special tomato):





And to drink? Mac Jack Hard Cider that we picked up from a winery in Vermont during our visit last summer.



Delicious! What a wonderful way to begin the summer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I couldn't wait...





...to cast on another Miriam Felton shawl, this time Adamas. The yarn is my special inky co-queen-of-the-world yarn--and knitting with the silk certainly makes me feel appropriately queenly.

And I'm going to wear this thing to the book release!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In Memory: Rachel Carson

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth.



"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.... Then a strange blight crept of the area and everything began to change.... There was a strange stillness.... The few birds seen anywhere were moribund: they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus...of scores of bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh."


* * *

"The beauty of the living world I was trying to save has always been uppermost in my mind--that, and anger at the senseless, brutish things that were being done. I have felt bound by a solemn obligation to do what I could--if I didn't at least try I could never be happy again in nature. But now I can believe that I have at least helped a little. It would be unrealistic to believe one book could bring a complete change."



* * *

We celebrated Carson's birthday with a nature hike through Cabin John Regional Park.



Son took a water sample and examined it with a magnifying glass in hopes of discovering some of its mysteries:



We also admired the industriousness of what we assume were some busy beavers:



* * *

We listened to one of our favorite duos singing their song "Silent Spring" about her. You can hear some of it here.

* * *

Another part of our observance of her birthday was a reading of The Sense of Wonder, a book that discusses ways to introduce a child to nature. As she says, "The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused--a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love--then we wish for knowledge.... Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate."

* * *

We also visited Rachel Carson's home in Silver Spring, minutes from our own home.



Aside from a plaque over the front door, it is a completely normal neighborhood house, occupied by owners who are good stewards to Carson's legacy of care for the natural world and courage for the earth.



As I looked through the dappled shade at the flowering plants in front of the door, I was suddenly aware of the strong calls of animals and the gentle subversive voices of thousands of birds.

* * *

Hey--did you know there is Rachel Carson yarn?!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Written on the driveway:





"Fuck Yuo Hippe"

8yo Son was justifiably upset.

David and I could not decide if we should laugh hysterically or be proud to be labeled hippie.

At least that is what we think we were being labeled....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eating Local

Inspired by the bounty of shining produce at the farmer's market, we had our first strictly-all-local meal of the season.



The recipe for the Mushroom Asparagus Bread Pudding is originally from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets, reprinted in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, and available free at Kingsolver's website.

We served the dish with swiss chard sauteed in a bit of butter with land cress (spicy) and sorrel (sour). We also enjoyed some sweet, cool summery wine from a local vineyard. The only non-local ingredients we used for this meal were salt and pepper.

For more about eating local, see the inspiring blog Pocket Farm, the 100 Mile Diet, Mulch, and the Eat Local Challenge. Other favorites include Farmgirl Fare, Life Begins at 30, Jennifer Jeffrey's blog (a new find), I Heart Farms, and Slowly She Turned. Anybody else have some favorite local food blogs?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Seraphim

I'm in heaven!





As I said the other day, this shawl was not my favorite to knit. By the end, the rows seemed unbearably long. The stitch pattern utterly failed to keep me enthralled. But I've never knit a shawl I thought I would wear more than this one. It will be warm, soft beyond belief (cashmere yarn), and simple enough that my plain-jane self won't feel like I'm wearing a costume. Thanks again to that marvelous designer, Miriam Felton.







Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Saving the Earth...

...one bag at a time.

In honor of Simple Living's "Bring Your Own Bag May" and originally inspired by More Hip than Hippie's plastic bag challenge, we came up with a variation.





Our son decorated an old coffee can and we put in a dollar every time we use a disposable bag (plastic or paper) instead of one of our reusable ones. At the end of the year, we'll donate these fines to one of our favorite environmental organizations.

* * *

You wonder what our first screw-up will be? Um..., you know us. YARN. The cashier put our skeins of Paton's Classic Wool in a plastic bag and we were carrying it out before we realized it.

This yarn will become a Knitty Satchel for David's brother.



* * *

When we get in the habit of always using our reusable bags, we'll start fining ourselves every time we forget to use our reusable coffee mugs!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Celebrating our CSA



Our CSA held a potluck muffin get-together to start the season. What a joy to be out at Red Wiggler's farm on such a beautiful day, meet some of the farm managers and workers (developmentally disabled adults), get to sample some of their tender new asparagus, and eat assorted delicious muffins.









Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a simple way both to support local farmers and provide your family with healthy, fresh, locally grown vegetables. In a CSA, individuals purchase a share of a farm’s coming crop. To become a shareholder, one pays up front for the entire season. In our area, the cost of a CSA share ranges from about $20 to $40 for each week of the harvest. CSA members receive a share of each week’s crop. Share size varies from farm to farm, usually providing enough vegetables each week for at least two adults.

Through a CSA, community members and farmers enter into a partnership. Pre-paid shares provide the farmer with the working capital needed to get the season started at a time when revenue might otherwise be slim. CSA members share the risks and rewards of the season with the farmer. Cool spring nights may lead to a bumper crop of strawberries and a slow start for the corn.

By working directly with the farmer, CSA members improve the sustainability of local farming both economically and environmentally. Most CSA farms practice sustainable non-corporate farming styles such as organic, "ecoganic," and biodynamic farming. By eating foods produced locally, CSA members further promote sustainability by cutting down on the distance their food needs to be transported.

CSAs build community as they encourage us to develop a relationship with the people who grow our food. Many CSAs hold pot-luck suppers, produce newsletters, and encourage members to visit the farm.

You can learn more about local CSAs at Local Harvest and Future Harvest.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wool

I continue to slog through the slow-going Seraphim. The rows are unbearably long and the stitch pattern has utterly failed to keep me enthralled. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever knit a more wearable shawl. It will be warm, soft beyond belief, and simple enough that I won't feel like I'm wearing a costume.

What do I have left? Only three monster rows and then the bind-off. I hope to have it finished and blocked by my knitting group on Tuesday night--but perhaps I should just hurry and finish it today. The weather is cool enough right now that I might even get to wear it this season.



* * *

I spent yesterday afternoon knitting with a friend and chatting as our children played. Her youngest is about 16 months--walking predictably now, playing pretend (house and family) and dress-up, and saying her first words. 'Mama' and 'Dada' were words one and two. She said her third word to me as she walked into the room carrying a bag of carded fleece almost as large as she is: "WOOL?"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Have you heard about BAE Systems, supplier to not only the British defense but also the US Army and the US Coast Guard, and their new plan to provide eco-friendly weapons?

As Orion Magazine sarcastically writes, "No longer will BAE's finely tuned apocalyptic machines of death and destruction simply kill people. In the future, BAE's weapons will kill people and protect the environment. After all, if you have to kill somebody, there's no reason it can't be done in an environmentally responsible way."

In a BBC News article, BAE's Director of Corporate Responsibility states that "no company, regardless of what they make, can now just make a product, bung it out there, and then forget about it." Instead, "we all have a duty of care to ensure that from cradle to grave products are being used appropriately and do not do lasting harm."

No lasting harm? As Orion says, "Indeed."

In addition to fuel-efficient jet planes and low-fume bombs, BAE is designing explosives that eventually turn into manure rather than landmines--and lead-free bullets. No joke.

Orion suggests they develop cluster bombs impregnated with wildflower seeds. Each blast could sow new life in the killing fields.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Starting Fresh

Inspired by the Yarn Harlot's return to "Tuesdays are for Spinning," I did a bit myself yesterday:



The Interlacements silk roving is in the colorway "Turkish Carpet"--and right now I'm planning to 2-ply it with itself so the colors will become more mixed. Anybody want to weigh in or give some advice?

The first 2-ounce package came from Rhinebeck and I bought a second pack in the same colorway last week at MDSW. If I have enough yardage, I may knit a very simple (seed stitch?) triangular shawl with the finished yarn. Other ideas?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Silk

After spinning a silk cap on a spindle, I had only a small amount of yarn for a project.

I came up with this little treasure bag, one I hope my mother will use to store her father's gold pocket watch or perhaps her wedding pearls.



Knitted on size one needles, I cast on 40 stitches, ribbed in a 2x2 pattern for about 10 rows, and then continued knitting in the round for a few inches. I decreased just as I would for a sock toe.

I love how soft it is! I think I'll try pretty much the same thing for myself sometime, possibly with a little I-cord chain so I can wear it around my neck.

There is something so special about seeing even the tiniest thing you've made with your own hands....

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring



On the drive home from a wonderful Mother's Day dinner Saturday night at the vegetarian restaurant Great Sage, we were treated to the sound-and-light show of the season's first thunderstorm. The humidity and heat of the last few days broke and Sunday was glorious.

We spent much of it outside in the garden, admiring our broccoli...



...swiss chard...



...and little fig trees.



We took turns reading aloud at the picnic table, enjoying sherry and knitting while we listened to each other. Son spent much of the time half-listening and half-digging in his old sandbox.



We treated ourselves to some luscious sheep's cheese:



...some roasted asparagus from the farmer's market:



...and some perfectly-ripe local strawberries:



P.S. Many of the pictures were taken by now 8yo Son.

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