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The battle of the Somme was 100 years ago. I saw some historical photos and it looks like another planet with the utter lack of plant life. The deep craters caused by explosions heard in London? that doesn't seem possible. There is endless wire and mud. Before it became the western front, it was apparently lush woods and meadows. Today, thousands of re-enactors participated in an observance across the UK, acting silent reminders of the individuals lost in that battle. Arial photos show the landscape has become somewhat green again, but trenches of the Western Front are clearly visible.
Sometimes a project just comes together. We built the espalier for the raspberries and blackberries. Unfortunately, one of the plants is already rather significantly damaged due, it seems, to the trellis supports we originally used. The netting is still not up. This year's garden is a learning process for both of us; it has been 35 years since I worked a vegetable garden. Today, I harvested enough peas for us both to have a real serving at dinner. Although bitter when raw, not sweet as expected, once cooked with a bit of sugar in the water, they were quite nice.
After a long, sweaty day cleaning the porch - which never happened last year for whatever reason, and which now looks spectacular - we went into the pool. It was a rejuvvenation, leaching away whatever weight and strain had accumulated in the body during its labors. Sitting on the porch as night approached, listening to the amazing, groovy, trippy, retro, Gatsyby-esque styling sounds of WFUV, it was a perfect summer holiday weekend evening. The sky settled into a Maxfield Parrish dream that slowly faded as the fireflies came out for their twilight dance. Why can't every Sunday night be like this?
Happy Birthday, America. I hope the great experiment in democracy is still around in the 22nd century, but the political, social and economic climates are rather troubling. In this election year, there is no good choice, only the lesser of evils, if such a thing is really possible. I am personally unwilling to give my vote to either supposed candidate - the Clintons (plural intentional) seem to be House of Cards come to life, and Trump's business / administrative capability is not apparent me, not like Bloomberg. I hope the fireworks being rained out this year is not an indication of anything.
I have tried so hard to like The Knitting Guild. Their website redesign a few years ago was horrible, so I continued in the print realm only. I began downloading the digital version of the quarterly magazine last year, after reading the print version, as part of my move away from storing so much paper. Today I tried to download the two most recent issues, only to discover I can't: my membership has expired. What? I never received notice, by hardcopy or email. Bugger all. I really hate dealing with the organization and rarely like the patterns in the magazine.
Two days of strong sunshine and upper 80 degree weather, and the pool is at a balmy 84 degrees at 6 PM. We've never gotten above 82 in the past, due to all the shade from the trees that were. What makes this more astonishing is that we added a lot of fresh, cold water on Sunday night, and then it rained buckets on Monday night. With another day or two of very warm, July weather on the way, the pool will get even warmer - we might learn at what temperature going for a swim stops being a refreshing experience.
I've had the discs for months, waiting for me. But now that I've finally taken a couple of listens, the latest release from Jean Michel Jarre has finally taken hold. Several times in the last few days, I've had some of the songs ricocheting inside in my head; they've become part of my internal soundtrack. With two double albums, there's a lot to choose from. Listening to them in the car, there are a few songs I choose to skip over, and there are a couple that have me reaching for the volume control to "turn it up to 11".
After today I am afraid to read the news. There seems to be nothing but hate, fear and violence on all sides, resulting in unnecessary death and destruction - but isn't that what everyone is protesting, concerned with, trying to change? Its a self-defeating circle and no one knows how to break it. And then there is the use of drone technology - not unmanned, arial vehicles, but remote-controlled telepresence - by local law enforcement to execute a civilian citizen: no attempt to capture, it was clear the suspect was going to fight back. The dystopian sci-fi future is nigh.
This is my idea of a Saturday: get up, coffee and breakfast. First load of laundry started before going out the door on a small errand run. Back by noon, an hour of cleaning, an hour of gardening, followed by a second round of laundry as I shift gears downward. Folding laundry. Internet email, research, puttering. Downloading knitting classes. Organizing stuff, taking care of odds and ends. Done by 5 PM or so, so the evening is really free, yet I still have accomplished a fair amount today. That means Sunday can be a day full of rest and relaxation.
Preparing for knit camp, I'm skimming the various Elizabeth Zimmerman publications I own. I must admit, I haven't read many of them cover to cover, and I've never yet knit an EZ pattern. I am scrambling to figure out what knitting project I want to put together for camp, and what I want to do for show and tell, given I don't knit with "sheepy wool" and don't have an EZ or Schoolhouse Press project to show. It makes me realize how much of my recent knitting has been about wardrobe rather than exploration. I want to change that balance.
The firesale has begun. The store we longed for, waited for, celebrated and shopped regularly once it hopened, is closing after just two years. My heart breaks. Was it a failure of the community to support the store? Did the community ever discover it, what with both WholePaycheck and TraderJoe's right around the corner? Did the store advertise enough in a consistent manner? Was it too big a space? We'll never really know, but our favorite local go-to place for just about every high-quality, unusual or hard to find edible will be gone in a matter of days.
The day passes in a blur. I wedge in a few minutes of computer trouble-shooting for my mother in law. Only after arriving home do I realize I didn't listen to the song that is a hallmark for 12th of July for me. The first time in years. But as I rush to and fro, and try to figure out what the packing list is, and can I complete a swatch in time, and all the other preparations, I am not compelled to listen to the song. And I've missed Manhattanhenge. I can slow down when I'm in Wisconsin.
We now have a family car. The Honda is gone, replaced with a new hatchback that is quite a bit larger - it is a big brother to my Zuzu. Himself is having difficulties adjusting from standard to automatic transmission. I am delighted at his choice - and rather surprised at the same time. It is comfortable, not too big, and with AWD, perhaps a better choice for driving to work in bad weather. The deep metallic blue is attractive, even if DH sees it as "aubergine". It drives very much like ZuZu and I think we will both enjoy this car.
The flight was easy. The rental car, while not as pictured, is satisfactory. I was able to listen to podcasts on the three hour drive north. Traffic was not even noticeable, and the condition of the roads was about what you'd expect given the state's recent financial history. I was disappointed there was no view of any of the lakes I drove past, it was as if the roads were deliberately constructed to block any view. The hotel is indistinguishable from others in the chain. I do hope that the material covered in the next three days is sufficiently enlightening.
I keep telling myself this is my vacation. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. If I want to stay up to 1 AM watching classic movies I've never seen before - fine! Do it and knit away! If I want to be apart from the other campers - it's OK! I'll be with the crowds from 8:30 to 5 every day, but this is my vacation. Even in the Maine knitting retreats, I would always find several hours to hide away from others, I have a basic requirement for a lot of personal space each day.
In some ways, knit camp is like paradise. There are fifty years worth of hand knitted garments not just on display, but available for close, hands-on inspection. You can even try them on - which still stuns me. Having the chance to see real Bohus knitted sweaters up close and personal has me absolutely itching to play with the colors I've been collecting the last few years. But I need to master the seamless, yoked sweater first, so that is what I've been knitting like mad since Thursday. At this rate, the vanilla sweater will be done in two weeks.
I have identified the problem with knit camp: the food. The buffet lunch provided by the hotel is pretty bad, with extremely over-cooked proteins, and the same "salad bar" (quotes deliberate) day after day. The bonus breakfast we're given access to is adequate, but homemade bread is nothing to rave over. Coffee everywhere is either weak or bitter. Only whole milk is available. Food orders delivered incomplete, without acknowledgment. This particular town is living up to the awful reputation of food in the midwest. I know from recent meals in Dayton, Columbus, and Kalamazoo that it can be better.
The wildflowers along the highway were the only bright spot on what ended up being a very long day of travel. Drifts of periwinkle, white, yellow, and pink softened the roads. I tried to name them all based on the rough details I could discern while driving at highway speed. The white crown of Queen Anne's Lace is easily identified from my childhood memories. Wild chickory, cinquefoil, and rudbeckia are also readily discerned. I could see other low-clumping yellow blooms and sprays of white flowers but not in real detail. The pink splashes looked like dame's rocket and liatris.
The weather gods have granted me a perfect summer day for my recovery day. It is delicious - warm, bright, a light breeze, so the windows are open. The pool is sparkling and warm. I dream of a few weeks of summer vacation that is truly both summer and vacation. I love the idea of a staycation, but am also tempted by the prospect of seeing the eastern shores in summer. Neither is likely this year - again - for various reasons. But I'd really like another few days of this before I return to the carnage that awaits for me at work.
Re-entry was hard, as I knew it would be, even with a day's transition back to my regular life; I'm not sure I can imagine what it would have been like without that day to ease into the real reality. Events that transpired just before I left work conspired to ensure a certain level of chaos in the workplace in my absence. It really makes me look hard at my job, the workplace, what I get out of it versus what it takes out of me. To be honest, I am pretty sure the commpany has the better deal.
The pool is somehow more serene this year. It is cleaner, for sure, though there are still the occasional twigs, leaves and acorns. And it is warmer, definitely - it has already hit 88 and the dog days of summer have just started. I think it seems more serene because you can really see the sky now, in so many directions - there is blue above and below, it is no longer under a canopy of leaves. We can easily spot the sea planes when they are buzzing along the shoreline. And there are fewer creatures that end up in the pool.
My migraine headaches have varied a lot, although they have been less frequent visitors this year - please, may this trend continue. In recent years, a warm cloth was what I generally wanted on my face. This morning, awoken by the pain at 4 AM, all I could think of was a cold cloth across my eyes and one across the back of my neck, like we used to do for my nosebleeds. No aura, but the threat of nausea was real, and I couldn't get comfortable in bed with the cool, damp washcloths. Another twelve hours until I felt normal.
I have capitulated. My computer at work is not completely functional. Now, after the latest updates my aging home laptop became non-functional: websites weren't loading in any browser while beach balls bounced all over the screen. I was hoping to wait another two months before replacing the Mac, give myself some time to save money. I knew what I wanted to buy and the universe conspired to put me in the local Apple store, with what I wanted in stock and a small discount. So I walked out with a new computer and now the migration of data begins.
I think I may be a convert now to late evening swims. Going in to the water just a few minutes before official sunset, it was still quite warm from the heat of the day. The environs had gone quiet as the day ended, all kids gone inside, and traffic down to a minimum. I watched the sunset from the water, the streaks of pink and orange slowly fading from the sky. The garden light sculpture came on, and the house lights became visible with a gentle glow. It was a serene swim, one I look forward to repeating soon.
The struggle with my "new" laptop at work reached the tipping point today. When the CEO suggests it is time to set it aside and find a better solution, I can give the equipment back to IT with a very clear conscious. It has been well over a month of trying to get everything working. The laptop was fixed once (electrical issues) then replaced, sans the hard drive. The OS was repaired. Then the hard drive replaced. I kept moving back to the old laptop, trying to keep my documents available; I lost parts of my calendar once. I'm done.
I watched history being made, a woman nominated as a major party's presidential candidate. And yet it didn't make me happy. I believe Hilary Clinton to be a seriously flawed candidate for president. Her refusal to take responsibility for classified emails and a private server, and Benghazi are deeply troubling. With the media's burial of the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play stories, and Bill's sexual misconduct, I fear for individual freedoms and our democracy. On the other hand, the level of ignorance and hate shown by Trump (race, gender, religion, Russia) with no actual platform plans are equally stomach turning.
After a difficult day all around, I again retreat to the pool for an evening swim, watching sunset and fireflies rising. Afterwards, we are hooked on a NatGeo program about giant oarfish. Against the deep blue water, the silvery, reflective fish that undulate like ribbons and humans covered in grey diving suits both seem like CG constructs, not actual, living creatures. We are shown many other living wonders of the deep that are fascinatingly bizzare. But the King of the Herring, the great sea serpent is the star of the show as we both sit in rapt fascination and wonder.
I was crushed today to hear that Jerry Doyle has died. Mr. Garabaldi from Babylon 5, another of that family to journey beyond the rim. There is quite a contingent already there to greet him: Andreas, Richard, Michael, and Jeff. I was immediately overcome with desire to start binge-watching the series. Tonight's impossible: so this weekend. Never mind that I can't watch 110 episodes in a weekend. But perhaps it is time to finally sit down with the 20th Anniversary Fan collection and pretend I was there. Oh, and 2016 can go fuck itself, sideways, with a rusty fork.
I will say it bluntly here: I don't want to hang out with high school students. I go to knit nite for adult conversation. Hell, I'm not even fond of the 20-somethings who seem to have joined our circle recently. I have to deal with college students and 20 somethings at work, I choose to not socialize with them on my own time. Call me a grumpy old lady, but there's no decent conversation with them, we don't share taste in music, art, literature or pop culture, they can't knit, don't have an appreciation for good fiber - why bother?
Watching the coming attractions previews at the movies today, it seems are no new movies coming. Everything is a remake of an old classic, a comic book, a game, a tv show - anything but an actual new story. Most of those remakes look pretty awful. We saw Star Trek Beyond in IMAX 3D. It was OK, rather formulaic: I could predict many solutions. I've decided that 3D just isn't for me. I am distracted by the blurriness at the edges, of what isn't rendered crisply in 3D. Best moment: Beastie Boys' Sabotage as both a tactical weapon and classical music.
Weeding can be such therapy, if it isn't a sweltering hot and humid day. I really like pulling out the green intruders, watching the earthworms squirm to get out of the way of the roots being yanked from the ground. Having watched one garden be consumed by a very invasive weed, I am now rather determined and ruthless about weeding. Is it what I *want* to do? Absolutely not. But I am willing to spend time each weekend keeping the party-crashers at bay. It helps me stay connected to the garden in deep summer without risking any new plantings.
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