Rhymes With Fuchsia

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Sky

This year I really wanted to go to Cummington, and I wanted to do a day trip to save money and parental brownie points, but I wasn't sure if I was up for four hours' driving and a full day's scoping and sticking to the yarn diet. I'm pleased to report that I found an extra gear for the occasion, with help from Erica, once again my companion and navigator; we even made a brief side trip to Shelburne Falls.

For now, however, you'll have to be content with one glimpse of the Bridge of Flowers, a full festival recap being at the moment a bridge too far.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Old Habits

Hey, here's something I bet you didn't know about me: I knit! Yes, really. Most of what I've been knitting lately has been either a gift or a design I hope to foist upon a waiting world someday if I can ever work the kinks out of it, i.e. not suitable for blog fodder. But now that one gift has actually reached its intended recipient, I feel that I can share it with you.

These Hyacinth Socks are my contribution to the latest round of a small sock swap (you may recall Mary's Socks from a previous round). The Hyacinths belong to the lovely Carolyn, whose sock specifications were rather... unspecific, so I am very pleased to report that she likes them.

Would anyone like the pattern? I suppose I should have written it down while I was knitting, but at least I had the sense to take pictures. (In case you're wondering, there's a hyacinth on one side of each sock leg, and a cable pattern on the other.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

This is a good one, so I'll get right to it.

Ten Favorite Cookout Foods
  1. Lobster. This probably doesn't make anyone else's list, but I don't know of any better way to eat lobster than in my parents' back yard.
  2. Burgers. Hamburgers, lamburgers, garden burgers — anything you can pat into a patty works for me.
  3. Sausage. This includes the humble hot dog, which I do enjoy, but not as much as kielbasa, sweet Italian, or my all-time favorite, cheddar wurst, an evil concoction resembling a kielbasa with cheddar cheese in the middle of it. If you ever get these do not, whatever you do, read the nutrition label. Just enjoy them. Not too often.
  4. Kebabs. Lamb, chicken, veggie, anything you can put on a stick.
  5. Spareribs. Probably my all-time favorite, though it's hard to pick just one.
  6. Corn on the cob. I like the kind with the small, slightly crunchy kernels, but I'll take it any way I can get it.
  7. Chicken. With barbecue sauce, or lemon basil pesto sauce, or chutney sauce, or... sauce it, I'll try it.
  8. Pie. Blueberry, or strawberry, or apple, or... any fruit pie, really.
  9. Jalapeno cornbread. This isn't strictly speaking a cookout food, but my friend Linda usually makes it for cookouts, and while I'm not a big fan of cornbread in general, I adore hers.
  10. Grilled endive. After last summer's unfortunate experience we may not be able to enjoy this for a while, but I hope we can get back to it someday. It's a wonderful thing if it doesn't get anywhere near a grill brush.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Today's ToT is ten favorite musicals, which I've been having great fun contemplating as I barely avoid bursting into full-throated song in my cubicle, not a good career move. I've always wished I lived in the world of a musical, where everything rhymes and everyone can sing, and does, spontaneously, whenever the urge strikes. In real life, sadly, I can carry only the simplest tune, and that not too far, and if ever I forget myself my family quotes, or rather shouts, Monty Python at me:

No! No singing!

Sigh. But I can hum. Very, very quietly. You're welcome to join in. Here we go, in approximate chronological order:

Ten Favorite Musicals
  1. The Wizard of Oz. I've seen this as an amateur stage production and, of course, I've seen the movie on TV more times than I can count. Favorite song: "Over the Rainbow."
  2. Brigadoon. It's a good thing my sister was into theater in high school, as otherwise I would probably never have seen Brigadoon. It's goofy, and cheesy, and I love it. Favorite song: "My Mother's Wedding Day" (by circa 1983 even high-school productions included the line "I ought to know, for I was there," which originally had been deemed too racy for some professional venues: ah, those were the days).
  3. West Side Story. If you ask me, this is the finest Shakespeare-based musical ever made. Favorite song: "Somewhere," of course, Streisand version, or any version, really.
  4. The Sound of Music. The plot takes a number of liberties with reality. Who cares? Favorite song: there are too many, but I can't go wrong with the title number. I still know most of the words.
  5. Fiddler on the Roof. My favorite song used to be "If I Were a Rich Man," but, after (more than) 25 years, I'm changing that to "Do You Love Me?"
  6. Man of La Mancha. Carole reminded me of this one, and it's an oldie but a goodie. Favorite song: "Little Bird."
  7. Jesus Christ Superstar. Carole reminded me of this one too. In my early teens I had the music in my head all the time, but I didn't see a production until quite a while later. I'm glad I did. Favorite song: "Simon Zealotes."
  8. Little Shop of Horrors. Favorite song: "Dentist."
  9. Phantom of the Opera. I saw Phantom at the Wang Center about 17 years ago and got to meet one of the cast members who was a friend of my SIL. Favorite song: "Music of the Night."
  10. Wicked. I haven't actually seen this, but Ruth and I listened to the soundtrack, several times, actually, on the way to Rhinebeck last year. Favorite song: "What Is This Feeling?" I hope I do get to see it someday.

What did I miss?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Makeup Monday

No, not the kind you wear: you may wear it, but I don't. But last week I had no Eye Candy Friday nor Saturday Sky; in my defense, I was somewhat preoccupied. I'm pleased to say that it's been six whole days since Taz has had any scary seizures — he's had a few, but they've been quite short, well under a minute, and presented with typical (for him) symptoms. Fingers crossed that the meds have kicked in, and let us have no more of this 20-minute nonsense.

Meanwhile, I'm playing catch-up, shape-up, makeup, now that I feel up to the task. Yesterday I took a lovely woodland ramble and visited many old springtime friends and one I didn't expect to see.

Starflowers (Trientalis borealis) and I have been friends almost as long as I can remember; they are so small, common yet elegant, part of the forest-floor springtime tapestry. They bewitch me also by their vagaries of number. Canonically the starflower has the unusual feature of being constructed in sevens: above its seven-leaf circle it bears one or two flowers, each having seven petals and seven sepals. I say canonically because, while most of them do conform to this fortunate pattern, some just have to be different. In the top picture above we have a good typical example, being kept company by an even more common flower, Maianthemum canadense, known variously as false lily of the valley, two-leaf Solomon-seal, and Canada mayflower. The middle picture shows a six-petal starflower above what appear to be six leaves; I did see one six-petal one crowning eight leaves, but I can't find the picture now. In any case, I find the bottom picture above the most interesting of all: one plant, eight leaves, two flowers, one with eight petals and one with seven.

Some of the eight-petal flowers look very well formed, like the example above, while on others two of the petals are slightly out of alignment and look as if a single petal split in half. This makes me wonder (again: alert readers may recall a previous post on this topic, proving that some of my obsessions can be quite long-lived) if flowers would really prefer to make even numbers of petals. Let's leave the starflower, however, and wander onward...

to another favorite, the jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). They are extremely common in our local woodland and elsewhere, but I think they are some of the coolest flowers around: one giant modified petal (or is it a sepal?) cleverly concealing a proud spathe that becomes a red-berried staff in autumn. One of these days I will find a way to knit one.

This moth seemed to be resting and drying its wings, which it refused to open for me, before moving on to whatever moths do in the daytime when there are no lamps to hover around. On a less sunny day or a slightly darker trunk I might not have seen it at all.

I have met this little critter before, but only here and there, Polygala paucifolia, fringed polygala or Gaywings. I stumbled over a whole colony of them yesterday, quite close to home. Later I will see if I can get a decent picture of the whole flock of them, looking like tiny, strangely proportioned airplanes with very odd propellers.

What would New England woods be without the pink ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)? I remember my mother's telling me very sternly that I must never ever pick them, and she and other mothers did their work well, for it seems to be out of danger at least in these parts.

All in all, it was a green and gold afternoon to restore my soul. I hope it gives you a little lift as well.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Interesting Times

Today's Ten on Tuesday is ten places that make me happy. Ordinarily I'd have no trouble with this one, but today my happy place has a padlock on the door and a large sign: NO ADMITTANCE.

Since Taz's brain tumor almost twelve years ago, he's had seizures fairly regularly. Most of them have been short, well under a minute (even a few seconds is quite a long time to watch your kid have a seizure, but nothing to alarm a neurologist); one or two have been as long as two minutes. Most of them involve rapid eye movement and facial twitching; some also include jerking movements in some or all extremities.

Three weeks ago Taz had a clean MRI, which is an excellent thing. Since then, however, he's been having seizures of unusual length and with symptoms we haven't seen before. Two weeks ago he had a 14-minute one, and yesterday he had a 20-minute episode that his neurologist believes to have been a seizure even though the presentation was quite different from his typical ones: he went very pale and limp and nonverbal, although he didn't pass out. Earlier this afternoon he had a much shorter one, less than two minutes, which we would ordinarily take in stride except that during it one eye, and only one, rolled back in his head.

His neurologist ordered a blood level on his anticonvulsant, which we will have taken tomorrow morning. Meanwhile I am lying on the bottom of the ocean twitching, a nervous wreck. About all that can be said here is that the worst-case scenario has already been ruled out, but not knowing what we're dealing with is driving me mad. Please send yarn chocolate — on second thought, I have plenty of both of those, they don't seem to be helping — mojo and good thoughts.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday Sky: Carpe Occasionem

Sometimes you have to seize the moment, even if it pours cold water on you.

My friend Erica and I traveled northward to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival today. The weather started out unpropitious and quickly degenerated to dreich.

The alpacas weren't enjoying it any more than we were: they huddled together for warmth, the baby in the middle. (By then Erica and I, both of us having failed to dress for the weather, were both sporting NHSW sweatshirts; supporting the festival gave us a nice warm feeling.)

Still, we spent most of our time indoors, ogling the wares of Mostly Merino...

...and Heather's wall-o-color. Here Heather displays a lovely colorway she calls Floozy. I told her anything so splendidly fuchsia was going on the blog, nomenclature notwithstanding.

While I wasn't inspired to do much with the camera, we saw many other great vendors as well, and lots of friends; we left with everything but our spirits dampened.

Back home, the sky cleared briefly as I collected Miss B from her second soccer game of the day. They lost both, but played much better in the second game, Miss B's tenacious defense garnering special notice.

As wet days go, this one was right up there.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Flowers

Do you remember the tulips in the office park where I work? Vast, color-coordinated displays of them, every bulb complete with leaves and flower, every flower perfect.

Like everyone else, the landscapers have had to deal with budget cuts. This year the tulips are sparser, more random, some beds a glorious jumble of color — but with obvious method to the madness — and here and there one tulip amid the rugosa, seemingly sprung there by accident.

If you're going to New Hampshire tomorrow, I hope to see you there.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Saturday Sky

This has been a great year for flowering crab trees, I'm not sure why. Some clever landscaper planted one every 20 feet or so along our street. They are basically weeds, so they thrive on neglect, and they seem to take turns being covered with flowers or having just a few here and there, but this year most of them have gone all out. I did my best to capture the sweep of the whole street.

...well, I tried.

We have several trees in our back yard; we moved the pink one as a baby from where it inconveniently sprang up, but all the others came of their own accord.

Yes, I have gone a little nutty with the photos.

But I like them. There are more here, should you for some reason be not yet surfeited.