Morgan Ave, Russian Blues, & Tomato Salads

I tool this photo from the L Train on the way to Queens. I so love the mosaic tilework in the old NYC subways. (The subway also has one of the coolest giftshops ever. You can even get parts of old trains, and replicas of the tiles.)

Here is the actual Morgan, napping in her favorite chair next to my desk. I swear this kitten is all tail.

While we were gone, Grey Cat held down the fort.

As an aside, I swear Grey, whom I adopted as a wild stray from Bosworth's Funeral Home parking lot in Hoboken back in 1990, looks so much like one of these 1902 Russian Blues. (And the kittens on the top of that page look just like RheLynn's infamous Squint!)

Emma slept, when she was not busy scolding kittens.

Isis tests out the new cat tree. This top level already has been the site of many King of the Mountain wrestling matches.

Carrie K's delectable photo of her garden produce directed me to a recipe for Panzanella Salad. Aurora mixes up fresh tomatoes, stale sourdough bread, cucumbers, fresh basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinagar. Yum!

The Hoboken version of this salad is one of my all-time favorite (and easiest ever) dishes: fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and the aforementioned basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, with a little freshly-ground black pepper. Best eaten with a hunk of Italian bread you can drag around in your bowl afterwards to sop up all the oily-vinegary-tomatoey goodness left in the bottom.

So if you're lucky enough to have garden-fresh tomatoes (or access to some) try spritzing them with some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar! I have to try Aurora's version with the cukes and sourdough...sounds yummy. (You don't even have to mix a dressing, just drizzle that stuff right on your salad...mmmm!) We're just beginning to get tomatoes now, I can't wait!

By the by, O'Kitten will once again be gone to the lake for three days for knitting and napping respite. I'm packing freshly picked sweet corn and our first cantelope, plus a just-delivered shoo-fly pie and some real doughnuts (the best I've ever had) from Pennsylvania Dutch Country as well. So I shall return fat and happy on Wednesday (Mr. O'K starts school on Thursday). Pray for rain and tomatoes.


Finally, Pictures from The Point

As I mentioned previously, my visit to The Point was one of the highlights of my visit to New York. Coffee, yarn, and knitting--what could be better, I ask you?

The place is beautiful, with wire baskets brimming with yarns of all kinds on the walls, and the entire back wall is simply dripping with skeins of handspun, silk, alpaca, and more gorgeous stuff that I can think to name. (Did I mention there was coffee?) And they were having a huge 40% off sale while I was there!

The set-up is great--small tables for little knit-ins and sit-ins, and one really long worktable (you can see it at right, above) for workshops and lessons, or bigger groups just hanging out. And, space being what it is in The Village, this is a Great Thing!

This is the knitting pal I met and hung out with while I was there. Ravi was an expert on all things yarn and helped me pick out yarn for my Knucks (no, I haven't even started casting on yet, I'm still just admiring my yarn...) and this Razor Cami I want to try. I just started a swatch for this today, and the chocolate Millefili Fine is so pretty (and so tiny!).

So here's the yarn I got. It was all on sale, really it was! Two skeins of Millefili (at right) and two skeins of Lorna's Hand-Dyed Shepherd's Sport for Knucks...one in Blackberry (far left) and one in Bucks Bar.

And so I spent a couple hours there chatting with Ravi and drinking iced coffee and it was a lovely, lovely Sunday afternoon in the city. I can't think of many better ways to spend a day.

I do have 2 knitterly questions--I need to get some size 5 circulars for the camisole. The pattern calls for 24" circs, but that's for an XS 30-32" bust size and I need to make it for a 34-36"--I hate stretching around circulars so I'm thinking at least 29" if not 32". Any recommendations? Also, I'm thinking bamboo might not be ideal for the Millefili, as the cotton is proving to be a little splitty (it kinda reminds me of embroidery floss, actually, although it's not that splitty). [And no, I don't think I can afford Addis!] Any thoughts?

A Moment for the Moon

Caught between the moon and New York City...

This is the view of Manhattan from Hoboken. (And yes, you can see the moon, if you look closely.) That funny building on the far right is the end of the Holland Tunnel on the Jersey side, the tunnel which connects Hoboken and Manhattan by car and train. You're looking at the southern tip of the city, so towards the left end of the group of skyscrapers is where the World Trade Center stood.

The shiny buildings reflecting the last of the afternoon sun are the remaining World Financial Center buildings; Tower 5 of that group fell on the building where Mr. O'K was attending school at the time. He was on his way to class that morning, just about to get on the train to the World Trade Center from Hoboken. He stopped to see what a bunch of workmen were staring at: across the river, a plane had just crashed into one of the WTC towers. Chris watched, stunned, as a second plane--a large jet flying far too low, fast, and steadily to be any normal passenger plane on a course for one of the three airports that had surrounded him his entire life--he watched as this plane flew directly into the second tower and exploded.

Then he came running home, woke me, and told me what had happened.

We turned on the television, and the New York coverage was shortly interrupted by the Pentagon crash. We walked the block from our apartment down to the waterfront, and the view you see above was our view, with, of course, all the smoke and sirens and fireboats and chaos now going on across the Hudson River. Small groups of people were gathered silently along the waterfront; one person had brought a radio and the news rattled on quietly in the background.

And that is where we were standing when we watched the tower melt to the ground, like a candle, except rumbly, like an earthquake, and much faster. Then nothing, we could see nothing more, nothing but smoke billowing into the crystal blue sky.


If You're Wondering Where I've Been, or...

Llamas Will Be Llamas

So my parents are away in Pennsylvania this week, leaving me with farm and garden and animal care. Of course it can't rain a drop, meaning lots of watering, the truck broke down today, leaving us without a vehicle (and me with no way to get to the Michigan FiberFest this weekend! augghh!), and then there are those little surprises that come with being an aspiring farmess that keeps life, well, exciting, to say the least.

To preface, let me say that we took our 1988 Bronco for a complete oil change and tune-up earlier this week. (Nothing like messing with an old vehicle to make it break down completely, which is what it did today, requiring a 20-mile tow back to town.) But back to the story...when I got home from the garage, I saw a light brown female llama in the pasture where there should only be two male llamas. And, of course, there is a reason to keep boys and girls apart. (Need I state the obvious? Here I add that Llannie has been neutured, but Graty is, um, intact.)

Yes, Lacey, our young, first-time pregnant llama (due to deliver in October) had found her way through the new fence into the BOYS' pasture. Miss "The-Grass-is-Always-Greener" was parading around on their side of the fence like she owned the place, while Graty, kushed in the barn door, ogled her with pathetic longing and Llannie paced around behind him, completely aggravated.

I got her halter and, as I was trying to drag an old (and extraordinarily heavy) barn gate out of the weeds to cover the weak spot in the fence, Miss Lacey decided to take a little stroll into the barn.

Well, of course that was all the opportunity Graty needed, and suddenly all hell broke loose--she was clucking and spitting and spewing like a creature out of Alien, Graty was covered in green bile but atop Lacey nonetheless, and Llannie was screaming his disgust at both of them.

She hit me SQUARE in the face and chest with llama spit (yes, it smells, very bad) as I ran up with her halter and, of course, was then only too glad to have Graty dragged off of her and to run angrily back into her own pasture. She then continued tutting and clucking at me for the half hour it took me to get her back into the barn to take her halter off, since I was now somehow part of the evil violation she had just undergone.

Then Graty hummed for her to come back SO pathetically (Mr. O'K chided me for "ruining Graty's first time") while pacing back and forth but failing, of course, to elicit any sympathy whatsoever from Llannie. (Or from Lacey, but that goes without saying.)

When the boys finally settled down and went back to their grazing, Miss Grass-is-Greener (still trailing her lead) strolled right up to Graty at the fence, and, heaping insult upon injury, clucked at him a few more times! I kept telling her there was a *reason* she was supposed to stay on her side of the fence...boys on one side, girls on the other...

I know you really wish I had photos of this event, but, for obvious reasons, alas, there are none. Some soon, really--of happier moments. Maybe if it rains...


O'Kitten, Down the Shore

When you live in New York or New Jersey, you do not go "to the beach," you go "down the shore." And once you are there, you are not "at the beach," but "down the shore."

I began going down the shore (to Seaside Park, NJ) in the Fall of 1986. Having grown up in Georgia, the Jersey shore mystified me. At that time, there were no sand dunes. Boardwalks with amusements, games, souvenir shacks, snack stands and bars were built right up over the beach. Worse still, you had to pay to get to the water, and you couldn't even walk on the beach at night. And, horror of horrors, this was the year hospital waste and used syringes were found washed ashore.

The water was dark, murky, and ice cold, yet the sand was scalding hot. Compared to my southern experience, the waves were enormous and terrifying. So my first impressions of the Jersey shore were not so favorable.

But after a few years, the water became clear, even a lovely blue on sunny days. Volunteers planted dune grasses and other native shrubs and the dunes actually came back. The bizarreness of the boardwalk, its tackiness and color and noise, grew on me and I began to long for it, for Maruca's pizza and Kohr's ice cream and the hermit crabs with their crazily-painted shells, the T-shirts that say things like "Italian Stallion" and "Jersey Girls do it best," the games you can (almost) never win but keep betting on, the families and odd couples and old people and endless roving packs of teenagers that never change, no matter the year, the salt water taffy stands and temporary tattoo carts and noisy game arcades and, of course, the carousel.

So, to celebrate twenty years of the Jersey shore, on this visit I got an airbrushed T-shirt. What screams "Down the Shore" more loudly than a good airbrushed shirt? (Hey, I could've gotten the panties that said, "It won't lick itself"--I did exercise some restraint.)

Obsidian Kitten, down the shore.
Come on in, the water's fine!


Friends to visit, things to come home to...

Our visit to our friends at Queso Cabeza.
They've got 10 llamas, 19 Icelandic sheep,
3 Icelandic chickens, 2 dogs, and at least 2 cats.
Above, some of their Icelandic ewes take the shade.

Yes, Queso Cabeza does mean "cheese head."
They're from Wisconsin. It's a Wisconsin thing.
This handsome guy is an Icelandic Ram.
He'll be shown this weekend (Aug. 19-20) at the Michigan Fiber Festival.
You can find me there at the Queso Cabeza booth on Saturday.

Trying to feed Tiny the Lamb a carrot.
He doesn't like me as much as his mama.

This is Teapot, the mother of our Graty.
His given name is Chilean Gratin.
You may notice the "cheese" theme.

Young Emmett (a.k.a. Emmenthaler) approaches
his second birthday this weekend.

Back at home, I found our
first ripe pickling cucumbers.

Trying to put the big bag-o-yarn to good use, I came up with a little diamond pattern that I hoped looked like those retro 50s astro diamonds. Okay, not quite, but Mr. O'K said, "The colors are awful enough that they remind me of my grandmother's kitchen," which was exactly the look I was going for with the dark chocolate brown, pale mint green, and pepto-pink. So I'm happy. Don't ask me what it is I'm making yet--I don't know.

In honor of Dee's lovely Daily Stitch blog [knitters, fear not, there is also much knitterly content to be found there]. Dee also knew where M Street was in Seaside Park, one of my vacation destinations, so here, as an extra-special bonus presentation, are pictures of two of my cross-stitch projects.
I made the MOO pillow special just for our move to Michigan. (Hehheh, I said moove!)

This piece--incidentally very tiny and which took forever--has been tacked on the door of my room for, oh, like two years (hence the sagging). I don't know what to do with it. I don't want to frame it. Make a pillow maybe?

Tomorrow, pictures of my adventure at The Point, and/or fleece and fiber at Queso Cabeza, and maybe even pictures of the rapidly growing kitten tribe--those big house monsters...what on earth do they eat that makes them expand in size so quickly?


Having a Ball in the Big City

Look what my mother-in-law gave me! She collected ALL of this lovely yarn from the ladies in her "Homemakers Club." There are about a dozen of them, many (or most) in their 80s and 90s (with the exception of my m-i-l), who meet weekly to work on craft projects, and when they heard I was a girl of little yarn stash, they swooped in to the rescue! Wowee! On the airport scales this bag weighed in at a hefty 37 pounds'o'yarn!

And I am so delighted and grateful, because every skein and every ball was lovingly wound (no tangles here!), if there was a label it was attached (or in a plastic baggie), and there is some truly lovely stuff in this massive care package. More on this to come, believe me!

A real highlight was a visit to The Point Knitting Cafe, where I met some really cool knitters and fabulous folks (Hi, Ravi!)--if you live anywhere NEAR New York City and you've never been here, you absolutely MUST visit The Point. Coffee, yarn, and knitting fellowship in the coolest cafe ever--what more could one ask for? A great selection of yarns, too (and you can order online...hint-hint!)

I'd write more, but I'm about to hop in the van to visit Queso Cabeza, the birthplace of our llamas and home of our friends Rick and Laura, llama- (and now Icelandic sheep-) raisers extraordinare. My parents and grandma are coming along to visit the animals and view much fleece-crafting fun. So there will soon be more pics of New York (yes, there was a heat wave), farm animals, and additional knitting and travel content.

Saying goodbye to a slightly hazy NYC skyline from the plane, and hello to farmland...

I did finish 50 granny squares for my baby blanket, and started a new knitting project. The cats did not wreck the house (Morgan gained a half-pound!), the chickens grew, and it is a lovely 70 degrees here on a very green and farmy day. More to come soon, promise!

I haven't even had a chance to check my email or hopped onto anyone else's blog yet, but tonight is likely to be an owlishly late night, so hope to see y'all soon -- I've missed you!