Thursday, February 28, 2013


Not every adventure up here is abut the magnificent scenery.  Even in a spectacular setting, domestic chores require attention. It started with a cuppa with a friend.  A good start to any day.  When you add in a conversation about wool and patterns and lying in bed thinking about how to graft in rib, well, it's hard to top.  Nonetheless, our mission was liberating some snowdrops overpopulating a corner of a field, so we were off in boots and armed with garden fork and buckets.

One of the pleasures of getting to know a friend better is learning the things that you might not expect them to do.  'Can you climb  over the gate?' she asks, solicitous of me as a city girl and all of us of an age where various joints behave occasionally under par.  I did, thinking that she would wait on the other side, but she fair flew over that fence.  I'd need to go over fences at least half a dozen times a day for the next decade to catch up with her fence climbing experience.  Next time someone says something is like riding a bicycle meaning you never forget how--I think I'll add climbing over farm gates.

Collecting them was great fun--at least for me.  I hope my friend enjoyed it, too, but then after the collecting, comes the planting.

My bulb planter was missing in action and I have never had a proper dibble--a  pointy stick-shape sometimes with markers to indicate depth, but a trowel and a stick would do.  The bench is not just for highlighting the tools--at my age, I give my joints a helping hand whenever I can.

The bed formerly known as the strawberry bed has been offered to me, so this long narrow bed has become an easel for my pent up gardening creativity.  It is an awkward space, so I decided to define it with a line of spirea--my gardener suggested dwarf shrubs and told me about a new variety with different coloured blooms on the same plant. Not my mother's kind of spirea, with the lacy white blossoms, but a good memory nonetheless.

Here they are, spirea newly planted, lonely sentinels holding the space as bravely as they can and hoping for spring.

Then the first step was to scatter my newly acquired bulblets in a random pattern.  I do random well.
A little fortification with some mac and cheese and then I was at it
with dibble and trowel.  With the assistance of Solomon and  Sheba.
And in time, all the randomized refugees were in place.  Thankfully a friend stopped by for the last bit so I had company and an excuse for a cuppa.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On the Road to Smoo Cave

An amazingly good day, especially for February.  We headed West.  We were aiming for Smoo Cave but would be content to be out in the sunshine.  The car was warm and the light so clear that the Bens stood out sharply on the horizon.

Smoo Cave --the name, like so many place names--reflects the different folks who have lived here.  Smoo is derived from the Norse name for Cave.  But the doubleness of Smoo is compounded by the fact that, like me, it is a hybrid.  From inside the first chamber, you look out on the sea, which has shaped (and continues to shape) the opening.

The interior of the cave, by contrast, is shaped by the fresh water running over a spine of limestone.  For those of you who may not have studied the geology of Southern Indiana or wandered through the caves around Bloomington, Indiana, this limestone cave with sinkholes (swallow holes so the displays told me), felt like home to me. 

The third chamber is visible only by boat, which on our season-jumping visit was not yet in operation.

I lingered in the cavern after the other visitors (another hardy couple stopped by briefly) hd gone on in the hopes of catching a bird in flight acrtoss the mouth of the cavern.  This fulmar obliged me.  Fulmars are best enjoyed at a distance.  They can be aggressive and they have a habit of throwing up smelly bits on transgressors--kind of aerial skunks--in keeping with the hybridizing motif.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Almost a Hat--Snow Day

I'm not clever enough to turn the photo.  This is latest felt hat still sitting on the mould.  This is second or third steaming to shape.  At least one more steaming and then trimming brim and refelting edges and then final steam.

Silk does not show as well as I would like. I like the lustre that it gives to the wool.  I had the idea to trim the hat with felted ropes in colours of the hat.  So just trying it on here.  I'll walk around for a couple days and then decide something possibly altogether different.

Solomon asking me for at least the zillionth time today to make the weather more cat friendly.  Sorry, Solly, you, the almost hat, and I all have to wait it out.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Bright sun, sharp wind, a storm looming

The sky behind me was bright as I climbed up the hill to Loch Heilan, so my camera with its characteristic optimism strove to make the sky lighter than it was.  If I had not been facing a northwest wind driving a blatter of hail into my face, I would have lingered long enough to make the camera see a bit more darkly.

The weather is equivocating, as the rainbow against the dark clouds suggests, and I trundled out under the ambiguous sky.  My walk was shortened by the wind and the hail but all the sweeter for that.