The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Friday, November 30, 2007

November 007

(Ooops. Almost missed it.)
This November is going out wet and windy. Even Buddy, who wants to go for a walk even if it is pouring, couldn't wait to get home from our daily mile last night.
What is November?
It is picking up candy wrappers for the first week of the month from all the Halloween candy.
It is going to the grocery at 9:00 pm to miss the crowds shopping for the Thanksgiving meal.
It is wearing hand knit socks in the evening because at least then it's getting cool enough.
It is watching the line of autumn colored trees work its' way down the mountains until the valley trees start changing color as well.
It is watching the dog's fur fluff out in the rain and humidity.
It is winterizing the cooler and getting the furnace ready to go on.
It is Nana's birthday again.
It is bare trees against a cloudy gray rainy sky.
It is ripping my hair out again in the annual frenzy of "Why did I wait so long again to start Christmas shopping/knitting?'"


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Thank you all for the well wishes concerning my back issues. Thanks to an excellent chiropractor, I'm feeling a lot better today. I've been having some problems for a couple weeks now, but Sunday everything just went to heck in a handbasket and I could barely move for about a day and a half. Now I'm back walking again and functioning pretty well. Actually, I feel best when up on my feet and moving around. When I sit for any length of time, the muscles seem to tighten up again. But there seems to be some steady improvement. Buddy is keeping me on my feet!

It's fun to walk at night and see the Christmas lights go up around the neighborhood. But it's even more enjoyable in the daytime to walk and see the snow on the mountains. There are some very nice views around certain corners where the mountains just seem to leap out at you.
There is still a lot of green around the neighborhood as well. In a lot of places in Arizona, new houses go up after all the existing trees are bulldozed and very few replacement trees are planted. I'm glad that we are in an area with a lot of established trees. We have planted some of our own in addition to what was already here when we bought the house, and things are looking pretty good.
Of course the front porch is still decorated in fall colors and still pleases my eyes every time I come home.
One of these days this pumpkin will finally get cut up and the seeds roasted. The autumn's last hurrah.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Random Ramblings and a Recipe

I may be a few days late, but hey! Thanksgiving went very well chez Pumpkinknitter. The turkey master cooked up two turkeys, one in the traditional oven format and the other in the deep fryer in the backyard. All the local kids showed up to stuff themselves and Nana was allowed a four hour pass from the care center. I was up at 4:30 to go to work for eight hours, then I came home and helped with dinner and the massive clean-up. I also finished the first of the Mystery socks while I was boiling up turkey carcasses for stock that is now in three big containers in the freezer. Buddy enjoyed the day as well, since it was the first year anniversary since he came to stay with us.

Friday evening it began to rain and turned quite cold. The next day we could see snow in the mountains which has lasted so far through today. I can't recall having snow in the mountains this early. Perhaps we will have a colder, wetter winter than we've had for a while now. Saturday night we had the first fire in the fireplace. This, too, is an early first. Usually this cold weather doesn't start until after the first of the year.

One thing good about being laid up with a bad back -- and the ONLY good thing -- is that I'm halfway down the leg of the second Mystery sock. Too bad I can't show it to you until January.

Tonight I made fried rice and bulgogi, a Korean barbecued meat. I meant to take a picture of the bulgogi, but I forgot until nothing was left on the plates except bones. But I did take a picture of the fried rice, and I will tell you how to make it here. I learned many years ago from Barbara's godmother, who is from Thailand and taught me how to make a number of Oriental dishes.

I take three cups of uncooked medium grain rice and cook it in the rice cooker. I then heat up the electric wok to 350 degrees. I dice up 12-16 ounces of bacon and toss this in the wok. As it cooks, I toss in any leftover pork I have around. (I will dice up and freeze leftover pork chops or pork roast just to add to fried rice. No pork gets wasted in this house.) When the bacon is cooked, I toss in about a half tablespoon of minced garlic. I then clear a space in the bottom of the wok and add three or four beaten eggs. (The bacon grease is NOT drained. It makes very flavorful fried rice.) When the eggs are about halfway cooked, I toss in some of the cooked rice and stir everything up together. Once the eggs are all stirred into the rice, I add the rest of the rice as well as frozen corn, peas, and carrots or any other vegetables I want to add. (Edamame, diced green beans, etc.) This is all frequently stirred and cooked for another 5-10 minutes until everything is hot. Depending on what you toss in here, it can be a complete meal all by itself. We will be eating this during the week with sweet and sour meatballs. Yumm!!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Week WWMW

The weekend retreat was marvelous, inspiring, refreshing, meditative, prayerful, any uplifting adjective you would like to insert here. The "hills" north of Tucson were our setting. This is the view from the door of our little room. The first night we got in there was a large family group of javalina feeding in here; I heard a sudden rustle and when I stepped on some rocks outside of the door, they all took off in a mad dash. Made my heart stop for a moment. It was pitch black at the time and quite spooky.

The Redemptorist Renewal Center is a very well known center for retreats and various spiritual trainings. One need not be Catholic to attend one of the many programs. The center is even open to individuals who would simply like to take a couple days or weeks or so to spend in quiet and meditation. There are inspiring views all around and also a hidden Zen garden. Many groups hold programs there in addition to the offerings of the resident staff. We were there ostensibly so that Joe could attend a program sponsored by the diocese, but we both felt very free to come and go as we wished. In the mornings we spent some quiet time at the outdoor chapel.
The main church in the first morning light. It sets so perfectly into the surrounding landscape.
The labyrinth. I'd walked this on our one previous stay here. This time it was Joe who walked it on Sunday morning.
Behind the main buildings of the center is this fairly good sized hill of rocks. The rocks and an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help adorn this east side of the hill.
Walk around the hill, however, and you can see a far different view.
Can you see them? This is why the Renewal Center is locally referred to as "Picture Rocks".

The picture rocks are cherished and protected just as much as the religious site that has grown up here. The late afternoon is the best time to see the petroglyphs. The higher rocks are nearly covered with them. Fortunately there has been very little graffiti on the part of hikers and horseback riders that regularly pass by here.
There was not much knitting done this weekend. I spent a good portion of my free time wandering around the grounds, as well as delving into the library. A while back there was a large fire here that destroyed one of the main buildings and many of the irreplaceable, out-of-print books that were here. I really missed seeing some of the works that I had enjoyed reading in the past. The current library, while quite interesting and informative, certainly is the poorer for it. The building has been rebuilt, however, and one could almost think that nothing had ever changed. The bookstore is also in a new building and furnished me with a few new tomes for spiritual study.
What knitting I did do was on Abigail's Apres Christmas Sock Swap socks, the "Mystery Socks". Perhaps they soaked up some of the spiritual renewal here! What knitting wouldn't soak up something good when worked on with such a view as this? "I lift up mine eyes unto the hills..." Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finally Finished!

It was a long weekend at work. 21 hours over Saturday and Sunday. But enough time to finally finish the Welsh Country stockings. And I am so glad that they are done. It wasn't a problem with the pattern; I really didn't find that the yarn (Schoeller Esslinger "Hit", 100% acrylic) felt good to my hands in a sock gauge. But I hung in there and now they are finally finished. These are for Joe, who wanted a pair of socks for himself. These have taken me so long, that I am certain that he has forgotten all about them. So I've put these aside for a Christmas gift for him. I will wash them sometime before then, and hope that it will ease out the ladders in the socks. I had a terrible time trying not to ladder these socks, and wasn't very successful. I think it was just in the nature of the acrylic. And it's not hard to see why these took so long. Look at the size difference between his socks and one of mine! (Yes, I am married to Bigfoot.)
These will probably be the only Christmas knitting done. I'm trying to avoid casting on for anything new until I get some of my other WIPs finished. However, there's been a pair of mystery socks cast on a few days ago.....

Nana's 91st birthday was Sunday. All the grandchildren, even young Joe from Rhode Island, were present for her little party on Saturday afternoon at the care center. Even I was able to get off work for the party. She was in good shape this weekend, no doubt due to everyone being there. And it was fun for me having all five of the children in the house again and around the dinner table. Hubby Joe cooked a big spaghetti dinner with salad, garlic toast, and apple dumplings with ice cream for dessert. Too bad I had to work so many hours!

This coming weekend, however, I will have off. Joe and I are going to a retreat in Tucson. It will be good to get away for a couple days of quiet and reflection. The weather will probably be pretty warm still, but that's okay. All the better to get out and enjoy the outdoors. And knitting, as well. I promise to take some scenic pictures of the desert in November. All our trees here are at their peak of fall color. Too bad it only lasts such a short time.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Walk With Me Wednesday

There was a real post planned for tonight, but an after-dinner headache has rendered much thought impossible. Therefor you will just get the pictures from Sunday's walk in the mountains. And pictures are enough, aren't they?

(No handknit socks were worn during the taking of this walk due to the temperatures still being in the low 80's.)


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

October Scarf

The October Scarf is finished. It's the only knit I managed to finish in October, although I would have loved to have finished the Welsh Country Stockings for Socktoberfest. Alas, it was not to be. At least the two ends of this scarf have the same number of stitches in them now. This was three skeins of Noro Kureyon, and now I am thoroughly addicted to this yarn. I love the long stretches of color and the way they blend one into another. It's all I can do to not head out and order a bunch more. I have an overwhelming craving right now to knit in bright colors. Perhaps it's a reaction to the general grimness that visits to a care center involve. And right now all my WIPs seem to be in shades of gray and black and muted colors. Except for the Sock Yarn Log Cabin blankie, but I'm not working on that right now. I'm debating about how much Christmas knitting to do. At any rate, there may be some startitis going on this week. Quite probably in colors other than gray and black.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

November Flowers

The front yard looks like spring.

I've been told that pansies are a good choice for a winter garden here, as the temperatures will be ideal for them. So when the garden center got in a big shipment a couple weeks ago, I bought a flat and replanted the beds in the front yard. Since I planted them, it's been sunny, dry, and warm -- in the 80's still some days, but cool at night. The pansies are doing very well right now. So we will see how this garden experiment works as the year draws to it's close.
There has not been much knitting going on since I returned from Michigan. Not as much as might have been. Nana, who will be 91 a week from today, has been back in the care center for the last few weeks. It has been fairly stressful for us, but she seems to be doing a bit better now. This time around I really didn't feel much like knitting while visiting. Just this past Monday I felt optimistic enough to be comfortable knitting while there. But then I didn't go anymore this week because I came down with that stomach bug that seems to be making the rounds. Unfortunately, I still had to struggle through working, since we were already short handed. So I packed up plenty of tea, fruit, and crackers and found an isolated area to do what I had to do. Fortunately I seem to be better now.
There has been knitting, though. There was ONE finished knit in October, but it wasn't socks. I've been working on the Welsh Country Stockings, and have finally passed the heel and gusset. This took awhile as I was doing a reinforced heel with two strands of the black yarn, and I'm still not fast at two handed stranded knitting. I hope to rectify that situation one of these days, though.
Pictures of the one FO soon.

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