Mother’s Day hike, 2011

which actually took place on Saturday, May 7 this year.  DH chose the profile trail of the Grandfather Mountain area.  The grandfather’s face here below was captured from a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook near the Linn Cove Viaduct.  Since the viaduct was specially constructed to minimize destruction of wildlife habitat on Grandfather Mountain, I must assume that this is some other grandfather.

grandfather's profile labeled

bearded old man mountain

The part of the Grandfather Mountain area where we were walking is known as the backcountry.  It has been acquired by the NC State Parks system and there is no charge to park and hike here. There is a shelter at the trailhead where hikers are required to fill out a form for a permit.

trailhead

Profile Trail Trailhead Shelter

We only hiked perhaps 3/4 mile, partially because we arrived late in the day, and partially because I had to stop so many times to take pictures, but mostly because we’re an out of shape bunch who can only hike straight up for so long. The part of the trail I saw was beautiful, and easily walkable, and so many flowers were in bloom.

wildflowers 1

these pretty blue ones were everywhere!

lots of these, and these:

wildflowers 2

little meadows full of these!

another shot of the blue ones:

wildflowers 3

so pretty!

and the only trillium I saw, which was missing a petal, which I guess makes it only a billium:

billium

a billium, I guess

perhaps it is late in the season for these at this altitude? But it was that pretty anyway, so I included the picture. This tree is valiantly clinging to the bank of the Watauga River, which has been trying to undercut it for who knows how long:

amazing perseverance

amazing perseverance

and this one was probably split by lightning. They are both wonderful examples of the amazing perseverance of nature.

still undefeated

still undefeated

a gossamer-winged damselfly sitting on a rock by the river:

damselfly

damselfly

this fallen tree with its silver bark and lichen encrustations is begging to be a yarn colorway, don’t you think?

lichen and silver

lichen and silver

and this stump with its fungus fans just has to be a fairy castle:

a fungus I can love

fairy castle

I’m loving this tradition of the Mother’s Day walk in the woods. I hope there are many more.

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To Eyre . . .

So there’s a new Jane Eyre movie, which I’m so dying to see, should it ever come to my benighted viewing area.  In a featurette, Jane can be seen wearing this shawl.

another view:

In glorious Ravelry tradition, there is of course a KAL (knitalong)  for projects inspired by this movie costume garment.  I’m knitting To Eyre, a pattern Carol Sunday whomped up in no time flat.  I so want to be her.  My Eyre shawl is being knitted in Cascade 220, smoke blue, on size 8 needles.  I’ve just started it today, and it’s going well.

to eyre 15%

In other good news, I took a few good pictures of azaleas and such before last weekend’s storms made them look a bit raggledy.  These are on flickr, and in full size they are suitable for 1600 x 900 windows wallpaper.  please feel free to grab them if you like them.

pink azalea wallpaper 1600 x 900

pink azalea wallpaper

deep pink azalea wallpaper

deep pink azalea wallpaper

pink and white azalea wallpaper

pink and white azalea wallpaper

dogwood wallpaper

dogwood wallpaper

jonquil wallpaper

jonquil wallpaper

Please have a Happy (insert spring festival of your choice).  For me it’s Easter.

2008 Sedalia Spring Fiber Festival

took place last Saturday in Big Island, Virginia, at the Sedalia Center, which used to be an elementary school, was bought by the county, and now hosts various events. Not a large festival, very cozy and friendly. Look at this setting! at the foot of a few gorgeous peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

sedalia center fiber festival

My friend Denise and I drove up on a last minute whim, and had a wonderful fibery day. I’m still upset that I didn’t win the drawing for the Kromski 16″ Harp loom, but look at this loot!

Sedalia FF loot

Furthest left there is honest to goodness combed Cormo top from Overlook Manor Farm, so wonderfully soft, most likely spins like butter, though that sounds very messy, doesn’t it? Spins like a dream? Better. Then a pattern for a swirly shawl, and jojoland melody yarn to knit it in. Then the Holiday 2007 issue of IK, which is sold out everywhere, what a find! A beautiful skein of potential socks in colorway “cherry blossom” from rock creek yarns. A tool for making braid, and a book to learn how, from Lacis, by way of I See Spots Farm. Last, no photograph could do it justice, because you really have to stroke your face with it to appreciate it fully, and the colors are complex and beautifully blended, but that roving is 50% Polwarth, 50% angora from Woolybuns by way of Greenberry House, in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. What a glorious Stash Enhancement eXpedition (that’s yarn SEX to you). I’m so proud of my self-restraint in coming home without a new spinning wheel or drum carder. When I go to SAFF in the fall, an intervention may be in order.

Today’s flowers for you include:
1st hydrangea bloom

The first hydrangea mopheads of the year. This is an endless summer original, which bloomed pink it’s first year, and a beautiful light red-violet since, and:
clematis 1

white clematis henryi with flowers the size of dinner plates, and:
clematis 2

this lovely blue clematis on my front lamp post which might be variety rhapsody, but I never can remember. It has a profuse habit, and a long blooming season too.

I think I may have just topped my personal record for most links per post.

Mother’s Day Mountain Hike

It was my daughter’s idea to take me to climb a mountain for Mother’s Day. It was also my 23rd wedding anniversary. This turns out to be an excellent idea, though it had many opportunities to fail. We got a late start from home, arrived at our hotel in the wee hours, and didn’t get much sleep, but I used my Mighty Bright Xtra Flex Super LED Light in the car (use a rav link to amazon if you want to buy one) and got a lot done on my loksins here, and on rav
loksins 25%

On Saturday we slept in a bit, then mosied up the Parkway, stopping at the Folk Art Center so DH could go in and see if the road was open ahead, since it had been closed for maintenance all winter. He came back to the car, the wife, girls, dogs, with his shoulders bent, head hanging and miserably mumbled “You have to come in, it’s Fiber Day till 4pm.” He’s the best DH ever. We petted sheep, and watched shearing. I saw unique spinning wheels including a great wheel, and a Dutch wheel that had a skeinwinder, distaff, and lazy kate right on it. I managed not to buy anything just to thank him.

So we got back in the car, cruised up the parkway to the parking area we had in mind. We meant to wander around Craggy Gardens. Instead, we blundered onto what was probably the Snowball Mountain Trail (8 miles round trip strenuous) and got probably 2 miles or so straight up the mountain before we decided that might be enough for an old guy with a heart attack and an asthmatic old knitter to do. I think the snowballs were not quite enough in bloom yet, but they looked pretty anyway.
snowball shrubs

I found three different varieties of trillium as well. This one at the foot of the trail,
trillium 3

This one halfway up,
trillium 2

and this one at the top.
trillium 1

This low marker was at the top too.
foot marker

I can figure out that USDI is United States Department of the Interior, and NPS is National Park Service, but if anybody knows what the rest means, please tell me.

This is what we looked like at the beginning of the hike (minus me who took the picture, and Merlin at my feet)
DH DD DD DM

I didn’t take a picture at the end, because we weren’t a pretty sight then. But there was one more treat in store for us–driving down the parkway on our way back to Asheville, right in front of us, a young bear nearly stepped into the road, paused, took a look at us, thought better of it and hightailed it back into the forest. I’ve been in those mountains so many times, and I’ve smelled bear before, but never seen one. And in broad daylight! The NC black bears are usually too shy to be seen by passersby. He must have been very inexperienced. We got a really good look at him. Close enough to see the alarm on his (or her) face!

On Sunday we shopped at the Grove Arcade. The girls created custom fragrances at Bath Junkie, and I of course, bought yarn.
trekking

I think there’s a pair of socks for DH in here somewhere. He certainly deserves them.

On the drive home, smack in front of us there was a glorious rainbow most of the way. I was too rapt to think to take a picture, but they never do justice to the real thing anyway. Use your imagination. And then we slept.

I’ve neglected my blog . . .

but I do have a good excuse. And my husband now has a very heart-healthy diet, because he doesn’t want to stay at this particular bed and breakfast again any time soon:

Edited 4/4/2011 because I removed the DH in ICU pic.  You know you didn’t really want to see it anyway.

Edited 4/17/08 to babble on a bit about why I included this image here.  First, no, that is not tape on his face, just a little photo-doctoring to spare you (and me) the full impact.

I don’t ever want to forget how those few days felt. I especially don’t want him to forget how it felt. I want him to take better care of himself because this experience scared the hell out of me. I want myself to remember to cherish him, remind him he is the love of my life, and show him I feel this way in every little thing I do for him. I’ll see this image fairly often if it is published here, without having to put it in a frame on my bedside table. That would be too strange, even for me!

Me, I got a lot of knitting done, and Sorelle (my version on rav) will be forever the sweater I “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” -EZ. At least, I knit on it through maybe the scariest one so far, and I credit knitting for my calm and confident outward demeanor through the whole ordeal. Anyone who knows me knows that calm and confident is not my usual inward demeanor. He’s doing very well now, and starting his cardiac rehab tomorrow. I don’t think the rehab staff will have any trouble with getting this patient to comply with diet and exercise recommendations.

So that you’ll forgive me for the depressing family emergency stuff, and not judge me for the tackiness of taking that picture AND the nerve of then publishing it, I’m lifting our spirits with this collection of spring photos.

These are from my yard:
dogwood macro

I’m going to grab a color palette from that dogwood closeup to dye yarn with. I just love those colors together. They say spring to me.

azalea in my sunroom window
azalea 2

I just love the show Piedmont NC puts on in the spring. These next are from the arboretum, one of our favorite places to take a walk. We’ll be doing that a lot, now. If I can pry the boy away from work sometimes.

japanese maple
spring magnolia var susan
dogwood var cherokee red
buttercup

That last was a buttercup growing defiantly by the otherwise well-cultivated path. I like its moxie.

This next I don’t know the name of, but it’s a beautiful ground cover:
arboretum

and some more moxie:
pansies

This is an old tree with a very large trunk, and all round it an enormous, glorious, homogenous bed of yellow pansies, with this little bunch of blue close to the trunk. It’s either artfully placed to look like a volunteer, or else it is in fact, a volunteer. Either way, I like it. I especially like that if you examine the yellow pansies closely, you find this:
a rogue

Sparsely scattered throughout, every so often you can find a rogue blue petal! It’s worth looking closely, and looking at a lot of all yellow flowers, to enjoy the rare blue petals. I could so easily have missed them. There’s a life metaphor here, which a more clever blogger would surely be able to put into words. Me, I’m just happy when I have a chance to enjoy a rare beauty.

what I did on spring break

DD Juliet didn’t remember the Biltmore House in Asheville. I didn’t realize it had been that long since we were there. So off we went.
Biltmore House

The path from the parking lot leads to this prospect. 1st impressions are important, no?

We walked the main house tour first, plenty of steps there, then a short break in the shops, located in the former stables. I would happily live in those stables. Must have been a cushy berth for an equine sort. Next, the rooftop tour. Our guide tells us there are more than 250 steps on the rooftop tour. Didn’t I know it the next day.
nice backyard

This is the backyard view of George Vanderbilt & co. Just a little country place.
view from Biltmore House rooftop

The front yard. Nice for a picnic.

A few friends I met on the roof :
Biltmore carving - cute butt Biltmore carving-moustache being

The first fellow, I couldn’t resist patting his butt. The second fellow is very handsome, but he may be suffering from a little gender confusion. That may actually be an asset in the dating sphere these days, I wouldn’t know. But I do suggest a supportive foundation garment. DH’s favorite rooftop sight was this:
pretty much straight up

Yes, that’s looking pretty much straight up at several tons of slate tile hung there for the most part over 100 years ago. Hope the wires hold. Time to go down? ok.
Biltmore Conservatory

Just a few minutes left in the Biltmore Estate day, enough to have a quick look at the conservatory, still very much a working place, as it provides botanical decoration for the house, winery, inn and other buildings on the grounds. These pretty flowers may be in Edith V’s boudoir tomorrow, who knows?
chinese lantern floweramaryllisthey are very smallpurple orchidwhite orchid 2wowwhite orchid

I think the last one is the most impressive, but I can’t decide which is the most beautiful.

The next day, we stopped to let the guys get a little exercise. Arthur fetched sticks in a lake for the first time in his life. This is what a standard poodle is supposed to look like:
Arthur is a water dog

Merlin was in no way interested in having a swim, but he enjoyed the walk.
Thank you, but I do NOT want to go for a swim

and then home again, home again.  It’s good to be home.

blue is the color of . . . .

Veronica. A lovely ground cover that grows beside my mailbox, and for a week or two in early spring, is glorious.
veronica

So for the rest of the year, the chorus of the Elvis Costello song by the same name is so appropriate:

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes
Veronica has gone to hide
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes.

This time of year, Veronica cheers me up every time I check the mailbox. I stole her clothes myself, recently, dyeing yarn for a colorway I’ve been thinking of as “driftwood”. You are looking at a gauge swatch of the same, a la Cat Bordhi from New Pathways.
gauge swatch

My first go at Judy’s Magical Cast On, and just as Cat claims, it IS truly magical. In the picture below, I’ve flattened the bottom of the swatch, so the cast on stitches are clearly visible. Only not clearly identifiable. Can you tell where they are? Nor can I. Judy Becker is a wizard.
truly magical

Same magic on the non-public side. Can’t find it at all. Made me brave enough to cast on my first pair toe-up, and both at the same time as well. So here’s two little sock toes, just begun. So far so good! I like how the yarn is knitting up.

rushing rivulet wip1