Fallen Down the Rabbit Hole

Some people stalk knitting patterns (“what should I cast on next?”).  Some people stalk yarn (“oooo pretty”).  I’m stalking spinning wheels.  It’s become my new obsession.

I’ve narrowed down my latest favorites to a Kromski Sonata, Kromski Minstrel, Ashford Traveler and Louet Julia.  I hope to make a final decision and buy one by Christmas. I have time.  Suggestions are definitely welcome!  My criteria are – double treadle, castle style, lots of ratio options and accessories so I won’t outgrow it soon, no more than 550 euros, and preferably possible to set up for both double drive and scotch tension (although I know the Sonata and Julia are only scotch tension).  Oh and it should appeal visually too.  If looks were the highest criteria I’d go with the Traveler.  I don’t know why, but I just like it’s looks the best.

Anyway, I did sit down today and spin up an entire 100g of BFL combed top in one sitting.  And now it’s all gone! I’ll have to get more asap.  I am in training for the 1 day spinning bootcamp coming up in 3 weeks.

This is my 3 bobbin EVER.  I’m pretty proud of it.  Now I’ll have to ply it with the other full bobbin I have of this wool.  Oooo I’m nervous about this.  I’ve never plied anything before.  Time to go stalk youtube for how-to videos….

And, at the same time, this has grown in the back garden.  It’s a dahlia, but I don’t know anymore which type.

In Other News

This morning DB and I left the house at 8am to bike to the beach.  It was cool and a little drizzly when we left but the drizzle didn’t last long.

We biked our usual route to Parnassia beach, 10k door to door, through the dunes.  This year, because of the very mild winter, we see so many bunnies in the dunes! We must have seen 16-18 of them, without even trying, which is 10x more than usual.

The plan was to have drinks and croissants at the beach restaurant, then head back home right away.  We had a busy day ahead.  But we got there at 8:40 and they weren’t open yet.  So we went down to the beach and kicked a ball around for a while.  We found the ball on the beach.

It was so quiet! There were only dog people there, and us.  And even then only about a dozen people in total and just as many dogs.  The clouds were dark and impressive.

When we left, our bikes were still the only bikes in the parking area.  I’ve never seen it so quiet, even in the winter!

This afternoon we started getting ready for the big kitchen rebuilding.  We took everything out of the cabinets and put it all in plastic tubs and on the dining table.  Tomorrow we’ll empty the fridge and cover everything in plastic.  Monday morning begins two weeks of camping upstairs.  It’s going to be annoying, but the final result will be so worth it.  I’ll be sure to take in process photos during the 2 weeks.

Good-bye red kitchen! I won’t miss you at all!

Typically Dutch

The weather is perfect this year for flower growing. This is especially good since last year’s weather was terrible for flowers and the farmers really suffered. The fields are full of color and the air is thick with the smell.  I wish I could share the smell with you!

DB has never been to the Keukenhof.  I’ve been twice before.  I had planned to take 2 colleagues from out of town there today but they had other plans so DB and I went there by ourselves.  I was really afraid that it would be super crowded so we went early.

Along the way I insisted we stop and play tourists and take photos of flowers “in the wild” with farmers and tractors.  There are fields like this all along the western part of the country right now.  Field after field of daffodils and tulips and hyacinths.  Later there will be gladiolas and other summer flowers.  But now is the best time to visit the Keukenhof.

The park was so beautiful.  It was a little bittersweet since I had still fresh memories of being there with my parents (although the weather was much better today than that day in 2001).  It made me miss them both but especially my dad.

We actually bought bulbs too! The bulbs that are now blooming need to be planted in October, so we ordered now and they will be shipped to us in September.  We also bought some Dahlia and Anemone tubers that I will plant tomorrow.

We got there around 9:30 and by 11:30 it was definitely time to leave.  The bus loads of tourists had arrived and it was impossible to take photos without them included, or even to walk around.

It’s really a lovely park and when the flowers are in bloom you not only get to see them in the most perfect condition in the park, but the surrounding area is covered in colors as well.  If you haven’t been, you really should go!

I actually wanted to ride my bike down there, but this was one occasion when DB wanted to go by car since his bike is not in the best condition.  After we got home we discovered that my bike also has 2 low tires and we couldn’t get them pumped up with the pump we have, so we would have gone by car in any case.  Tomorrow – off to Haarlem to get my tired looked at so I can bike to the dunes on Sunday.

If you can make it through the dark winter here, the rest of the year is well worth the wait!

New Plants

Wow, gardening is tiring! Just 4 hours in the garden, planting new plants, pulling weeds, cutting the front hedge, and I’m sore and tired.

I started by going to the local garden center.  It was packed, as I expected on a sunny Saturday morning in Spring.  I spent an hour wandering around, picking out what I wanted and wheeling my heavy cart around.  When my cart was full I figured I’d better get out of there.

Above is the small area just next to our front door.  It’s a place where I’ve not been able to grow anything.  It’s the sunniest place we have and it doesn’t get any rain.  Everything dies that I plant there, mostly from neglect.  I am determined this year to make it look nice.

I bought the plants and pots and rose quartz stone.  It will have to be watered every day. Every single day.  It will become a ritual.

The thing I like about having a lot of little pots is that I can change out what plants run their course and put in new ones as we go through the season.  I won’t be precious about them.

I also planted pansies on either side of the little fig tree, and put a hortensia/hydrangea in a pot.

And planted some new strawberry plants.

And I also fertilized roses and the cherry and pear trees and the blackberry bush. I’m expecting great things in the garden this year.  I make the best of my small spaces.

And Then There Were Two

cars

There are now TWO cars, belonging to this household, parked in front of out house.  This is a normal situation for an American household with more than one adult in the house, but it is not normal here.  Some households don’t have a car at all.  In this household there is only one person with a driver’s license, so two cars is a bit excessive.

The one on the left is the Amazing C2.  I bought it new exactly 8 years ago and it has been a fantastic little car.  It still IS fantastic! We call it Amazing because it always amazes us how much stuff you can fit into that little car.  Go to IKEA, fill it up, it works.  With only two people, it’s been just big enough to do what we want to do.

The one on the right is the new, as of 3 days ago, member of the family.  A brand spanking new Prius.  Of course Toyota changes the model names for every country where they sell these, so it’s hard to tell you WHICH Prius it is.  Here in NL, it is the Prius Dynamic Business, with the built in a Solar Ventilation System and electric sun roof, backup camera, and all those other Prius bells and whistles.  It’s pretty amazing. I love it.

I’m still getting used to driving a bigger car though.  When I moved to NL I brought with me an Audi A4 station wagon, which was even longer than the Prius.  I was used to a big car then.  Of course in Switzerland there is more room for parking and driving and it’s easier to have a big car.  Here in NL, you have to be an excellent parallel parker and be used to competing on the roads with bikes everywhere, pedestrians, scooters, buses, trams….. I’m used all this traffic now, but when I first moved here I was sure I would kill a biker.

So now comes the big job of selling the C2.  It’s 8 years old but only has 38k km on it!  Can you believe it?  That’s less than lots of people drive in a single year!  If you know of anyone in NL looking for a great little city car, one owner, low km, please let me know!

Despite the Weather

Despite the terrible weather we’ve had this year, some beautiful things are emerging from the garden.  The Snow White tree rose in the front of the house is looking better than it has in a couple of years.  I really was worried about it after this past winter.  I had to cut a lot of it off, but maybe that’s what it needed to come out and bloom like this now.

I also have a 3 David Austin roses in the front garden, but they just struggle to stay alive.  Two of them are currently blooming – just one flower each – but they are holding on.  They are such fragile things.  Each year I expect to have to dig them up and replace them with something hardier, but each year they manage to grow a few inches and only half of that dies back.  The flowers though are so beautiful.

And in the back of the house I have some little succulents growing in a place that doesn’t get much sun.  This year they are blooming!

I don’t have a photo, but we have about 5 meters x 2 meters of blackberries growing along a side fence, just bursting with flowers and green berries.  We’re going to have kilos of berries in August.

So, even though we’ve had far too much cold weather this year, all is not lost.  It’s not all bad news.  I’ll just keep looking out the windows at these signs of life and I’ll feel a little better about wearing my winter jacket.

California – Part II

Most of the time we were in California we were at my mom’s house in Atwater.  My mom loves to garden.  She is well known in her circle for her flowers and fruit trees.  Above is just one of her many irises in bloom.  Irises are lovely but so short lived!  The flowers are gone before you know it.  She spends a lot of time taking care of them for those fleeting moments of beauty.

Just a day after we left California my mom was outside watering her plants when she tripped over the garden hose and fell down, breaking her wrist.  Luckily it’s not a bad break and she has a removable cast and can still drive and do light weight things around the house.  This does NOT include picking up the cat who is just too heavy for that!

Speaking of gardening, the King of Gardening in her local area has to be John E.  We went to see his garden for the first time last year, and went again this year with a different group of relatives.  It was earlier in the growing season than last year, but there were still ripe cherries and oranges and lemons and peaches.  Yum! (My mom took these photos, except for the one of her, which I took.)

John, funny enough, also has a bicycle collection.  He also rides a unicycle, which he only started learning after he retired.

Besides hanging out at Mom’s, and going to John’s, and visiting with relatives (thanks K & J for dinner!), we didn’t do much in Atwater.  There isn’t much to do in Atwater.  But you can sure grow things!

 

 

New Sewing FO

See? I kan haz sewing FOs!  This is my new red wool jumper (jumper in the American meaning of the word, not the British meaning).  I bought the fabric in California 3 or 4 years ago.  I cut out the pieces about a year ago.  It just sat in a pile for a very long time before I decided it was really time to finish it.  It’s extremely simple and comfortable.  I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot.

Of course I didn’t just make it how the pattern said to do.  Oh no.  You see, the pattern didn’t call for any lining, just facings on the inside.   I didn’t think this heavy wool would feel nice this way, nor did I think it would drape as nicely without lining.  So I went out and bought some stretch lining and figured out how to put it in.  Here’s a photo of the inside:

I’m really happy how this worked out.  It feels great.  DB took the first photo last night before we went out to dinner.  It looks a little schoolmarmish for a dinner out, but hey, I AM schoolmarmish so that’s what you get.  Maybe the red makes it a little sassier.

By the way, I took a photo of my elbow this morning.  Thursday afternoon in Amsterdam I slipped on ice and fell hard on my right hip and elbow.  The hip is fine, but the elbow is bruised and sore.

This morning at the gym I really noticed that my upper arm is sore from this fall.  Otherwise, as long as I don’t touch it, it’s feeling pretty ok.  The weather has warmed up and all traces of ice and snow are gone from Haarlem and probably also from Amsterdam.  It’s starting to smell like Spring outside.  My rose bushes are putting out new green shoots.  Almost time to get the gardening gloves out!