atwitter: july

July 30, 2010

There’s nothing like summer to get you all atwitter! A few things that have me worked up:

santa rosa plums!

Santa Rosa plums. We planted our tree as an afterthought, an espaliered affair that hides behind our outdoor fireplace. But it gets lots of southerly sun, and it’s just above our bees so we got an unexpected bonanza this year. I followed a recipe for Santa Rose Plum Jam Conserve from local jam artisan June Taylor in The Pleasures of Slow Food. Divine! From here on out I will always leave the skins on my plum preserves because they add such twangy tart to all the sweet. (The secret: cut the pitted fruit into bite-sized chunks before cooking, so the skins aren’t too over-sized and off-putting.) Then Mr. T and I made plum ice cream. All the foodies have been blogging about David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, and rightly so. It’s full of flavors that you know will be wonderful like Pear Caramel and Guinness-Milk Chocolate. Plus all sorts of mix-ins like Buttercrunch Toffee and Candied Lemon Slices. When I brought my plum ice cream to a dinner party, someone called it the bomb. I think he liked it. (Next up: Malted Milk Ice Cream with crunched-up malt balls. Yowza!)

smocked in sweden sweater

knitting projects. This one still needs button loops, so I don’t have modeled shots or a ravelry update yet. I’d hoped to finish it before our trip so I could wear it; instead I was still working on it on planes, trains and automobiles. It’s Ysolda’s Coraline, but I’m calling it my Smocked In Sweden sweater because I started the smocking during the long drive from Stockholm to the south. There will now always be red farm houses and purple lupine looped into that smocking. The smocking was so fun to knit that I had to remind myself to look out the window at all that gorgeousness.

que sera sera, sleeves

I’ve always wanted to knit a gold cardigan, and after finishing that one up there, all done up in alpaca and too hot to wear anytime soon, I looked for a pattern that would work in cotton. I stumbled on this version of the knitty pattern Que Sera, and I had to flat-out copy it. All that color! All that texture! And it is the most fun pattern ever to knit while watching swimming lessons. I’m not sure the color will flatter this dishwater blonde, but I’m hoping the sweater will be stunning enough that no one will notice.


honey! Speaking of gold, look what we got. Our first honey harvest, after two seasons of keeping bees. We hadn’t planned to harvest so soon. But we don’t use foundation in our frames (you can read about that here), and sometimes without foundation, bees will build wonky comb. In this particular box, the bees built the comb in perfect rows, but diagonal to the frames. If we hadn’t been traveling, I’d have recognized it sooner, and would have cut out the errant comb or two and refastened it properly with rubber-bands. But left on their own, the colony filled the entire box this way. You can’t pull the frames from the box when the comb is attached at angles, so Chris and I had to remove several frames at a time, destroying the comb and watching honey ooze everywhere. We cut them into a big cake pan, did our best to shoo away the bees, and eventually brought it inside and used the crush-and-strain method to extract the honey. You can see a video of the method here. Basically you crush the wax to release the honey from the comb, and then strain it into a big container.


Now we have about a dozen jars of honey with a very delicate floral flavor, and lots of beeswax for crafts. Since we have two hives and a hillside of blooming lavender, there should be more by the end of the summer. Thank you, girls!

farm city. I knew about this book by Novella Carpenter, about her experiences starting a small farm on a vacant lot in a seedy part of Oakland. You might think I’d have wanted to read it, since she’s local, but I’m not so keen on books in the look-at-the-fringe-thing-I’ve-done! genre. I’ve read 168 novels in 168 days! I dressed in clothing made from trash for a year! The writing in that sort of memoir doesn’t tend to do it for me. But one day I picked up a copy at the bookstore, and was drawn in by the first line: “I have a farm on a dead-end street in the ghetto.” By the end of the first page I was won over by the writing; reading on the back flap that Carpenter “attended UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism” gave some insight into that. It’s a fun tale–despite the fact there’s enough meat-animal killing to make a vegetarian like me wince. Carpenter’s mindfulness about the process makes it readable, though, and thought-provoking. (Quirky discovery: half-way through the book I realized that Carpenter is the sister of Riana Lagarde, whose These Days in French Life flickr photos I’ve followed for a few years. Small world!)

a new blog project. I have big plans for something here in September. It’s a secret for now, but my wheels are spinning.

twenty two years

an anniversary. As of today, I have been married to this man for 22 years. Twenty-two years! Either we are very old, or we married very young. Or both. In the photo, it looks like he’s leading me off to a lifetime of fun. We’re still going. (Happy anniversary, Sweets.)

So you know I’m going to ask: What has you all atwitter?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie July 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Oh Patricia…LOVE the sweaters. *So* pretty…and the honey. YUM! Happy Anniversary. I hope you and your *Sweets* have a beautiful day. xoxo -Debbie


patricia August 2, 2010 at 7:28 am

Thanks, Debbie!


molly July 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. YOU have me all atwitter! now i really want to read farm city (especially because i’m a closeted fringe dweller).


patricia August 2, 2010 at 7:29 am

You should read it. And I love fringe dwellers; I just don’t always love their tell-all tales. But this one is good!


Jeanine E July 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Congratulations! I feel so inspired to have bee hives…some day. All of your photos today made me feel like getting about and ‘doing’ things! Cheers to life and to your future plans. 🙂


patricia August 2, 2010 at 7:32 am

Jeanine, there was a nice article on beekeeping in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday.
So even if you aren’t ready to keep bees yet, you can dream some more about it!
Thanks for the kind words!


Susan Paulkonis August 1, 2010 at 7:03 am

Yes, I love the background that goes into sweaters, too! I have a pink sweater that got finished during a tournament in Santa Cruz, on a beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean, and it still smells like salt air to me.

Congrats to you and Mr. C. What a lovely photos. Yes, a life of adventures.


patricia August 2, 2010 at 7:33 am

Nothing like knitting the memories in. You can’t get that with a store-bought sweater.

Thanks, Susan!


Laura August 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I have to tell ya….. whenever I need a little pick me up, I go to your blog. Your pictures, your stories, your memories are so full of love and life that it makes my heart smile. I love the sweaters and the honey. As for your anniversary… I would like to mention that I sat across from you at Nations eating a grilled cheese sandwich w/ onions and guessed your secret crush. Hmmm I do recall pushing Mr. CZ’s senior photo across the table. Congratulations on your happily ever after.


patricia August 2, 2010 at 7:39 am

Oh my gosh, I forgot about that trip to Nation’s. Was that also the time that the waitress had those big pink cheeks and impatience to match?

You always make *me* smile. I’m off to respond to an email that you sent me eons ago…


Valarie August 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

Happy anniversary patricia. May you have many more. We are married the same about of time. We have just come back from Gotland where we made honey three different times. It was so much fun. I had never done it before. Now we are getting ready for the big college send off as I’m sure you are too. Be well and enjoy these last days of summer.


patricia August 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

We have a lot in common, don’t we Valarie? Welcome home! Good luck getting through the big college send off. I think I’m in a little bit of denial about the whole thing. Plus, my son is with his friends so much that we hardly see him! Enjoy your summer too, especially with your daughter.


Carrie Pomeroy August 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

What a sweet wedding photo. Thank you for sharing it.

What has me atwitter? Reading Sharon Astyk’s books about building personal and community resilience to prepare for the upheavals of climate change and peak oil. The 13 ears of corn popping out on the corn plants in my Three Sisters garden. An upcoming trip to the Oregon coast. The Minnesota State Fair starting at the end of the month. My new Big Dummy cargo bike, which last Saturday allowed me to haul my 7-year-old son, two Chippewa blueberry plants, a Red Lake currant plant, and a bag of worm castings. Wheeeeee!


patricia August 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm

The Oregon Coast! You’re coming out west! We lived in Oregon for a short while, and the coast sure is beautiful.

And how exciting about your Big Dummy. (That was fun to type.) I had to google your Dummy to see what it looks like–it’s quite a bike! We live in a hilly neighborhood, and it’s been tough to cycle much for transportation, at least with young kids. I’m newly intrigued with the idea of cycling more, especially after seeing all the cyclists in Denmark and Germany. Cargo bikes seemed particularly popular in Copenhagen.

Thanks so much for sharing what’s exciting in your life, Carrie. Hearing what has others worked up is the best part of these posts for me!


Just Peaches August 15, 2010 at 6:37 am

You were gorgeous on your wedding day — that photo looks like it could have been clipped out of a magazine. Funny, the milestones in our lives are so similar (only you’re a couple of years ahead of me). I met my husband in ’87 and we will be celebrating 19 years of marriage in January. Congratulations! It is such a gift to have a partner in life. Have you ever considered that you have spent more life with him than without him?

You’re post excites me. So much happening! I finally finished my first (baby sweater) one arm was about two inches longer than the other, okay and maybe it was a bit wider…but the trim was gorgeous. I need to get on flikr so I can show you my catastrophes. Anyways, I’ve written it off as a learning experience and now I must head out to the knitting store to try something new (in some gorgeous colour). Honey & plums (oohh wouldn’t those be nice colours?) Its making me hungry!


patricia August 17, 2010 at 7:19 am

Well, I won’t have spent as much time with my hubby as without him until next year. That will be our middle point.

Congratulations on finishing a sweater! You get better at each project so keep going! Going to the knitting store to start a new project is about as good as it gets. At least if you’re a yarn freak like me.


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