Friday, September 28, 2007

Homeward bound

Sort of...I consider Rochester my home, but my formative years were spent in Rushville, Indiana. (The picture is a view from the air.) According to Wikipedia, there were 5,595 people in Rushville as of the 2000 census. When I left town (1981), there were about 7,000 people there.

Some other facts of note from the 2000 census: The racial makeup of the city was 96.45% White, 1.58% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.40% of the population.

There were 2,434 households, and the average household size was 2.39. The median income for a household in the city was $30,233, and the median income for a family was $36,646. Males had a median income of $30,127 versus $22,440 for females. About 8.1% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.3% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.

Sounds like fun, huh?

In a few days, I'm going to visit the one high school friend I'm still in touch with, who now lives in Australia and is coming back to visit. She's a truly lovely person, and I can't wait to see her, but I am feeling somewhat traumatized about the thought of going back. I had some great high school teachers, and truly great piano and band teachers (married to each other), but otherwise, growing up there as a bisexual feminist Buddhist tree-hugging vegetarian progressive (even if the only one of those identities I realized at the time was feminist) was quite stifling.

Franklin just visited his parents in Indiana, and he seemed to survive just fine, but he had an amazing yarn store to make up for any lack of cultural diversity. I googled "yarn store Rushville Indiana" and came up with a quilting store that doesn't look like my style, although perhaps I'll check it out just in case!

As my lovely friend from Australia said after reading our classmate Monica Holloway's book, Driving with Dead People, "People in Rushville don't really want to see what's going on around them. They just go on as if everything is fine, even when it's clearly NOT."

Of course, our memories are filtered through the angst of adolescence, troubled families, and the death by suicide of one of our closest friends. And of course, people in Rushville, while not ethnically diverse, are just as diverse as anyone in their ability to deal with life's difficulties.

Nonetheless, rural isolation, a lack of social and cultural resources, relatively low incomes, and a dwindling population and economy add up to a less than ideal world for people to enact their highest and best potential.

At least that's how I remember it. I'll let you know what some 25 years have brought to the town when I return from the Crossroads of America.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A(rgyle) B(icycling) C(onspiracy)

Some people are Jason...a little while ago, he asked me if I would write a "guest essay" for his fairly new site, RocBike.

Now, this was shortly after I started my own little blog here, and I was heady with the prospect of being "published" at not one, but two (!) websites. So of course I said yes.

Then, about a month later, Jason asked if I would write another. Well, how could I deny him? However, this time I took quite a bit longer to produce, the sheen of celebrity having rubbed off somewhat.

Jason, being sneaky, sent me an extremely witty email, asking could I please, pretty please, submit my essay. The combination of wit and flattery gets me every time, so I promised him, and even gave myself a deadline.

The next thing I know, I am being asked for a bio and a photo, I've been added as a member of "Team RocBike" and now have posting privileges!

What's more, Adam came up with a new look for the site, and can you believe it, it's ARGYLE!

Obviously, this is another sneaky way of sucking me into their cycling conspiracy...for heaven's sake, anyone knows that a knitter, upon seeing argyle, is going to be compelled to design some bike-related accessory with said argyle pattern.

Clearly they are teaming up against me to make sure that I neglect work, family, graduate school, and my OWN site, all with the plan of drawing me into the world of the cycling blog-o-sphere.

I admit, I am powerless against their sneakiness.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cycling on Cape Cod

I had some great bike rides on Cape Cod, back in early August, including the Province Lands dunes...

and the Cape Cod Rail Trail, where I saw this cormorant on the line by a pond.

and one not so great heading in to's the infamous intersection...

Check out RocBike for the back story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good news and bad news

The bad news is that DD has a cold, and now I am home trying to fight it off too because I canNOT get sick!

The good news is that I got my invitation to Ravelry yesterday so now I have an excuse to lie around all day and explore!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sure signs of fall

A sleepy DD at 9 am on Rosh Hashanah, a school holiday. If you love the shirt (how could you not?), she got it from Alternative Outfitters.

A spider has taken up residence on our front porch.

The goldenrods and asters are in bloom.

The first leaves have fallen.

A lone osprey, finished raising its young, fishes along the Erie Canal.

Zoe, invigorated by the brisk air, gallops down a trail.

There are apples on my favorite apple tree in the forest.

The sky is more beautiful and varied than any work of art I've seen in a museum.

I walked out of Finger Lakes Fibers with a skein of yarn that matches the natural world I've been enjoying all weekend...

...not consciously...after running into a friend from Rochester, which is 2 hours away, I focused all my energies and walked around this lovely store with three skeins of yarn, all variations of those colors, chose only one so the budget wouldn't take too much of a hit, THEN realized the connection.

I am so smitten by the yarn, Lola by Schaefer Yarns, that I signed up for a sock knit-a-long with the good people at Finger Lakes Fibers. I'm trying to learn to love knitting socks, so I'm hoping that between the KAL and my other purchase of Cat Bordhi's new book, I will make the leap!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Preserving the Harvest

A dear friend has asked for recipes for preserving. I am happy to oblige by sharing my favorite books. (These are linked to Amazon so you can get a good feel for them, but I encourage you to support your local library/independent bookseller/used bookstore.)

My "bible" (somewhat literally, since the growing and preparing of food is definitely a spiritual practice for me) is Preserving Summer's Bounty by Rodale Press, the same folks that pioneered organic gardening before "organic" was commodified by corporations and codified by the USDA. This book has everything you need to know on canning, freezing, drying, and juicing pretty much every variety of fruit or vegetable, and it has a section on herbs as well.

There's another cool book published by Chelsea Green called Keeping Food Fresh. Actually, it has a different title on the website, but I'm pretty sure it's an updated version of the same book I have. This book has techniques for preserving foods without freezing or canning, by using salt, oil, lactic fermentation, and other methods. I haven't made as much from this one, but the recipes I have used are great, leading to some great pickled veggies for summer potato salad! Many of them are from traditional European methods.

Another favorite, which I found in a used bookstore, is Putting It Up with Honey. I prefer to use local honey whenever possible, rather than sugar which is mostly imported from faraway locations.

And I gotta tell you, I love Mary Jane's farm...her Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook, for the Farmgirl in All of Us (don'tcha love that title?) is just that...chapters on preserving, cooking, needlework, and more. It's chock full of ideas!

Now go to your garden/farmers market/u-pick place closest to you, and get busy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Zinnia Season

Like me, the zinnias are pretty energized as late summer closes in!

And the dahlias are right behind.

A favorite knitwear designer, embroider, artist, blogger of mine is Kristin Nicholas. Check out her books and blog for lots of zinnia-inspired designs.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Late Summer Excesses

According to Chinese medicine, my dominant elements are Earth and Water. (Okay, you can stop reading now and skip to the pictures if you find yourself snickering at that first sentence. But, I'll just tell you that principles and treatments from Chinese medicine and ayurveda have changed my quality of life dramatically.)

Aaaaanyway, late summer is associated with Earth, and for me, that manifests as having a ton of energy and a desire to reap the benefits of the harvest, put up a ton of food, and organize, organize. Lucky for me, I'm a full-time educator and a part-time student, which benefit from this high-energy state. Not so lucky, I tend to overdo it, have difficulty sleeping, and find it hard to relax.

This past week was the first week of school for me at graduate school, my place of work, and DD. So, that means my time was spent: admitting, testing, advising, and registering community college students; buying school supplies, including going to 3 different big box stores to find the right color of binder as prescribed by the teacher (okay, we never found one and I said "make do!"); and getting myself geared back up for lots o' reading and writing.

But, there are benefits from all this energy...these

became these.

(There's actually about 5 times that much, but it's in a dark closet.) T. and I picked 34 pounds of peaches and 12 pounds of plums, and I turned them into spiced plums, plum jam, plum butter, peach butter, peach jam, peach preserves, dried peaches, and peach cobbler.

And the piles, bags, shelves, hidden-under-the-bed with god knows what else stashes of yarn (no pictures...I have some dignity)...became neatly organized into this:

And today, tomato and pepper excesses turned into the winter's salsa...

I did take some time, though, to enjoy the view from the hammock.