Monday, October 19, 2009

A Season Turning

Autumn has always been a tricky season, here. It is never the same from year to year. Sometimes it stays hotter for longer than it should (like the month of my sister's wedding, where we baked in 90+ degree weather at the end of September), sometimes colder, and sometimes, like that last bowl of porridge, the season is just right.

This year has been the colder variety. It has rained nearly every week, beating the leaves off the trees right as they're changing color. It has washed away all traces of summer and left us with a soggy mess in place of the warm days we still expected to have. It's an unwelcome reminder that winter is just around the corner and that soon everything will be hard and bare.

But no matter what our weather is like, every year for a few brief weeks there is a short vivid burst of life as the seasons swing from one to the next. On one of the rare sunny days we've had so far, I decided to take my camera and catch a few such beautiful things.

Asters are everywhere here. If left unchecked, they grow in huge clouds of purple and white flowers. This year they overtook our pasture and ringed our pond until you can't even see the water. Butterflies and bees love the flowers. I spent half an hour stalking butterflies through the asters, trying to sneak up on them without disturbing them.





My goat was tethered near the biggest bunch of asters, and he apparently disapproved of me paying so much attention to the butterflies, and so little attention to him.


The trees looked promising this season until the rain took its toll. They are rather less spectacular now, since most of them have been stripped of leaves save for the lowest branches.




Then I stumbled across the tiniest maple tree that was all decked out:


It was barely five inches high. I hope the little guy grows until eventually it becomes as big as the other maples in the yard.

A few years ago a huge old tree was ripped up by its roots during a bad storm. The crater its roots left behind turned into a small pond that is largely populated by frogs. I never can sneak up on the frogs. Unlike the butterflies, they always know I'm coming and before I even come into full view of the pond I hear little croaks of alarm and then splashing plops as they jump into the water.

I did get some pictures of the maple leaves floating in the pond, even if the frogs eluded me.



Last but not least, we have the true harbinger of the changing season. We always have a lot of crows around, but in autumn they become overwhelming. You can't step outside without hearing them cawing in the trees.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Attack of the Killer Squirrels

Living in a rural area means that we have a lot of critters of the small and fuzzy variety. Of course, we also have critters of the Big and Scary variety, but luckily I don't encounter those quite as often.

Ever since the ice storm I have noticed that all the fuzzy little things have moved closer to populated areas. I think a lot of hidey holes ended up being destroyed when so many trees and branches came down. I used to rarely see squirrels on our road. Rabbits, sure. Groundhogs were even a fairly common sight, as were chipmunks. But squirrels were like elusive little gray ghosts. You knew they were around somewhere, but you never really knew where.

This year has been different. They're everywhere this year. Every time I look out the window, or pull into my driveway, there are squirrels cavorting in my yard. They're digging in the ditches by the road and leaving piles of chewed up hickory nut husks everywhere. They went from being rarely seen to rarely not seen.

The thing about squirrels is that they're fearless. I don't know if this is because they're too stupid to know any better, or because they're simply brazen and don't care. Either way, I find myself having to drive like a stunt driver to avoid turning them into furry little splats in the road. Our road is very narrow and steep, so all of this swerving and slamming on brakes often takes its toll on my nerves.

I think they're aiming for me, though. I think they wait for me to pass and then radio ahead to other squirrels, so that my drive to and from home is fraught with kamikaze squirrels who launch themselves with great abandon towards the wheels of my car. Of course their frantic dashing is usually aimed towards snatching some acorn or other treasure from my path, lest it be crushed into useless powder before it can be stashed away. I halfway expect to see them clad in tiny helmets as they run crazily around in the road, tails whirling like windmills.

I guess it could be worse, though. Squirrel are just a part of living here, like the rabbits and the birds and the shirtless drunken country boys riding their horses down the road at 2:00 AM.

I just hope the squirrels and my car can survive each other.

Body Odd

I posted before about my annoyance with sweaters this season. It's nearly impossible to find a well made sweater that doesn't have elbow length or dolman sleeves this year. I ran into that problem again this past weekend, when I once more made a fruitless trip to look for winter clothes. The temperature has dropped like a stone here, and it's colder than usual for this time of year. We're usually not this chilly until mid November.

In addition to sweater shopping, I decided to look for slacks to wear to work, and a pair of nice leather gloves. Leather gloves are something I mean to get for myself every year, and then don't due to price or not finding a style I like, or not being able to find a pair that's not trimmed with rabbit fur. I can wear leather, but the feel of fur gives me the creeps. It's just too real feeling. It reminds me of my little hamsters and how soft their fur was. I don't want to feel like I've got their pelts around my wrists.

But my efforts to buy either of those things were met with frustration. See, I have an Odd Body. My waist is two sizes smaller than my rear, and my hips are a size in between. So slacks are a constant struggle for me. I own two pairs. That's it. I've owned two pairs for three years, because every year I go shopping for slacks, and every year I come away from the stores empty handed. If it fits one place on my body, it doesn't fit the rest of me. I could go up a size or two and then have them tailored to fit, but tailoring is so darned expensive that I find myself resisting the idea of it. This is the year I will probably give in and have it done.

When I was a teenager, and then into my early 20s, I was lacking in the hip and rear department. Clothing hung like a tent on me. I was frustrated when I outgrew the Juniors department and found that everything in Misses made me look like a kid playing dress-up. Once I got over age 25, got a desk job, and ran out of time to do all the active things I used to, I sprouted curves. But only on my lower half. Now I'm frustrated that all the things that hung like tents on me now squeeze me like a drunken relative at Christmas.

As far as gloves go, my hands are another issue. I have long, skinny fingers and wide palms. My wrists are scrawny things that make my hands look larger than they really are. Small gloves don't fit. Medium gloves almost fit. Large gloves? Too bunchy around my wrists and fingers. They fit the length of my fingers, but that's it.

So what exactly are my options? Knit gloves that stretch, but get soggy if I have to scrape my windshield or touch anything wet. Fingerless gloves that leave my fingers exposed, which is bad due to my joint problems since it makes my hands stiffen up and ache.

I guess my only option this year is to do what I did last year. Gloveless and wearing nothing but dresses with tights and boots. Which is a good look, but not one I want to do every single day at work. I need to find that magical place where they sell things for a woman with a size 2 waist and a size 6 ass. Hopefully this place will also carry sweaters with sleeves and leather gloves that fit my odd hands.

Until then, I will continue to search, and likely walk away frustrated about a body I shouldn't have to feel bad about. That is the only time I ever feel bad about myself, is when I've tried on a dozen things that don't fit and eventually give it up as a lost cause.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Off with her head

History has always been a passion of mine. The often dark and bloody history of England has been especially fascinating to me. My mother grew up in England and always supplied me with books about the kings and queens and battles there.

Of course everyone is into Henry VIII since Showtime started airing "The Tudors", which is now in its third season. Henry and the unfortunate Anne Boleyn were always extensively covered by in books both fictional and factual, and of course in movies. Now there are even more books coming out, which is good for those of us who love that period in history!

So out of boredom one night, after reading a book on his various wives and their often tragic endings, I decided to make an Anne Boleyn doll. I do not work off of patterns with crochet. It's all done freehand, since I have what can only be described as "the dumb" when it comes to reading crochet patterns. She is entirely of my own design.

Being as my sense of humor can be a little warped at times, I decided that she of course needed to be the headless version, with the classic black Xs for eyes.



I even recreated her famous "B" gold and pearl necklace using gold filled wire and seed pearls. The longer necklace is made with teensy faceted garnets and pearls. She stands about 5" high.

I'll have to take some better pictures of her dress. I only had a few minutes to take those yesterday, so her dress isn't arranged properly.

I brought her in to my office to show to a friend, and she pretty much went on a tour of the offices here. People kept coming and picking her up to show her to other people. I was afraid she'd go a-wandering and not come back eventually, so now she's safely on my desk at home where no one can bother her!

I do plan on making the rest of his wives at some point. It probably won't be until next month, though.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feast your eyes upon...

I made it on to craftgawker. go me!


of course that pin sold in between the time I submitted it and the time they approved it, but oh well! perhaps it will still drive some traffic to my etsy shop.

Hook, line, and sinker

Every year as the weather creeps closer and closer to winter, I get the urge to break out my crochet hook and make myself something warm and cozy. My ability to read crochet patterns is somewhat limited (in other words, the damned things make almost zero sense to me unless they're the kind with pretty little symbols instead of abbreviations), so my projects are never overly ambitious. I tend to stick to things that are fairly straightforward like afghans, scarves, shawls, or hats.

I'm nearly done with the wrap I've been working on. Realizing that the end was near, I started considering my next project. I decided on a mobius cowl that I can wear indoors without it looking too scarf-like. I bought the yarn for that, and then I bought more yarn. The "just because it's pretty" yarn that you buy when you have no real project in mind, but cannot resist its fluffy softness or nice color.

The funny thing that I've noticed is that most people don't seem to know the difference between knitting and crochet. I'll be sitting there working on a scarf and someone will come along and say "oooh! knitting!" well, no. I'm not knitting. I'm crocheting. Explaining it to people results in a blank stare like I've just revealed to them the secrets of the universe while speaking an alien tongue.

Of course, all of these projects make for lots of little scraps of yarn. I know most people use them for granny squares, but my granny squares aren't squares so much as they are mutant yarn monsters. I just can't seem to wrap my head (or my hook) around granny squares. They're one of the easiest things in the world, according to everyone who crochets. But mine always turn out looking like someone gave a ball of yarn to the world's most hyper kitten and said "here, see what you can do with this!"

Actually, the end result from a kitten attacking a ball of yarn would probably look better than my granny squares.

Oh well. Perhaps I will practice more until they look like proper granny squares and not something you'd see killing all the villagers with the power of worsted weight.