What I did on my summer vacation

November 1st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

The first of the canning

Well, Hello!

It’s been a little bit, huh? Since I’ve posted here.

I guess I’ve been working hard and playing hard. Lots of hours in front of the computer, and then off to see music or can tomatoes or some such, and then I seem not to want to spend any more time than I have to with my favorite technological companion, the Mac. I even had a post about rhubarb ice cream all set to go, just waiting for photos, which I never took, and then it didn’t seem so relevant anymore as spring’s rhubarb season passed on it’s merry way.

So, I feel like it’s the kind of time for a “What did you do on your summer vacation” kind of essay.

I went to visit my dad in Anacortes, WA, and took him to my favorite hipster trifecta of Seattle: Serious Pie, Stumptown Coffee and Molly Moon’s. And it was splendid. We took a ride on his motorcycle to the one wavy spot in the sound, and let the sea salty wind tickle our faces. And I only took film cameras, and haven’t even thought about developing yet.

I canned a ton of things. It was the summer of pickles and jam. This recipe for gherkins turned out awesome, and I jammed quite a few pounds of sour cherries from my friend’s tree. (She doesn’t like them. Lucky me.) And I pickled garlic scapes, dilly beans, beets, hot peppers, and sour cherries, plus made some insane killer fiery hot sauce.

I got one from the garden

The Sh*tty Barn

I grew an artichoke.

I Shitty Barned almost every week, and discovering tons of new music to obsess over. Check out Blessed Feathers and Anna Vogelzang. They are on heavy rotation around here. (Anna’s on tour right now! Could be in a city near you!)


We took a short road trip out to South Dakota and bummed planless around the Black Hills and The Badlands. It was amazing. Lots more film. And lots of digital, too, just not processed yet. I finally saw wild (mostly) bison. It was incredible. And bighorn sheep, wild burros, tons of turkeys, pheasants, and pronghorn, which I learned are not antelope, nor are they related to either deer or cows, like we thought, but are their very own thing. We camped in The Badlands for a night, and it was cold. Below freezing.

Scary spiny chestnut husks, and Kerry

Vising from the north

I spent some time with some friends from the north, and learned that chestnuts do actually grow in Wisconsin.

Garlic Harvest

We harvested our first garlic.

I shot my first engagement session. With friends. I’d like to share some favorites soon.

So, please forgive me for not being present here all summer. I’ll try to be a bit better. But I can’t guarantee it. There’s still lots of work and play to be done. See you soon, and thanks, friends.

So I got a funny email this morning.

September 9th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Rape of the Sabine

If I jog your memory, you’ll recall that we went to Italy three years ago, and amongst all of the awesome Italian stuff that we saw and did, we ate at a place in Florence that we fell head over heels in love with. Well, this morning I woke up to find a lovely little message in my email inbox from them. And when I followed the link to their presumably newish blog (fyi, there’s music on that blog. So if you decide to click, go ahead and mute if that irritates you. And also Giada De Laurentis’ boobs. Just sayin’), I found that they’d blogged about little ol’ me (blogging about them 3 years ago). And now I’m risking a space-time continuum paradox by blogging about them blogging about me blogging about them.

But it just struck me funny, and of course I’m flattered that they followed a link to me and liked what I said. They used a photo we took at dinner there one day, luckily with attribution, since I didn’t know about it before clicking over, and quoted my post. I feel like some kind of big shot. Now if only I could go back there. I do miss Italy and Mossacce’s minestrone. Thanks Mossacce, maybe we will meet again! I’ll have to introduce myself if we do.

Oh, Grady

August 10th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Thank you for all of your awesome comments about Knitcircus! I feel like it’s an exciting time for the magazine!

Well, we’re back, trying to reinsert into real life again. That’s always so hard. And I’m still on west coast time. So getting up was hard this morning. I still have a couple of stories to tell you from the trip, though, and then my computer comes home this evening and I’ll have a ton of photos to process.


First of all, there were the blackberries. We got to our campsite at Humboldt Redwoods Park pretty late, after a long, curvy drive up the coastal Highway 1, and by the time we set up our tent, there was NOTHING open to find anything to eat. So we’re wandering around Weott, CA, and I tell Nate to pull over. Blackberries grow on the roadside in CA like weeds, and there are more than anyone could eat. I remember when I was little there were huge blackberry bushes by my house, I got my first bee sting out there picking berries. Of course there were bushes laden with huge ripe fruit where we were wandering around, so I got out and started picking our dinner. I think Nate thought I was nuts, but he joined me, and dang if we weren’t both thankful for those berries. We picked again the next morning and had a lunch of berries the next two days of our roadtrip.


Second, there was Lagunitas. We’d actually planned to stay in Petaluma for the express purpose of going to the Lagunitas Brewery. It’s my favorite beer, it reminds me of my dad, since he introduced me to it before I could even get it in Wisconsin. Well, I apparently didn’t do my research properly, because on the evening we showed up there, they were closed. This guy, Ron, was on his way out though, and when we told him we were only around that evening, he said that if we were up for drinking some beer the next morning, to show up around 9 am and ask for Don, that he’d likely show us around. We came by the next morning, and although Don wasn’t there, Michael was, and he happily gave us a private tour. He took us up to the employee lounge, started giving us samples and getting to know us, and after awhile he must have determined that we were alright, because he then gave us larger and larger pours of everything he could find in the fridge. Then he took us around to see the brewery. He was a cool dude, interesting, fun to talk to, and it was a really awesome experience.

Camping on the beach

And then there was Grady. Oh, Grady. Nate and I had planned to get to Redwood National Park early and try to snag a first-come-first-served campsite at Gold Bluffs, a campground that was steps from a pretty remote beach. We knew it would be difficult, but it was more difficult that we’d even anticipated, because everything was taken when we got there, of course. We stuck around for a little bit, to see if maybe anyone else was packing up late, but to no avail. This one guy was hanging out in his car, with no tent on the ground, so we decided to ask him if he was heading in or out. He was in.

I’d resigned myself sadly to no camping on the beach, and a few minutes later was actually turning to go, and figure out where we might sleep for the night, when Grady walked up and said he was alone that evening, waiting for a group of friends the next day, and he thought maybe it would be ok if we wanted to pull up some dirt on his campsite. Really? Really. With tons of thanks, we accepted. We all had stuff we wanted to do that day, but we brought some beer back that evening to share in thanks, and he ended up bringing a ton of food back and generously sharing it with us, and we had such a nice time getting to know this laid back guy from southern Oregon.

It was serendipitous, or good karma, or something, because Grady came into our lives at just the moment that we needed him. I love when that happens, and although I know I’ll probably never see him again, it is so cool to have someone jump through your life at just the right time like that. Oh Grady, I’ll never forget the gift of sleeping by the beach that you gave me. It was fantastic being there. Thank you for that.

There were giant redwood trees, there was wine and vineyards, eucalyptus trees that smelled so much like home that they stopped me dead in my tracks, there was Leslie, and there was the ocean. But I need a few more days to process.

Smells like home

August 2nd, 2010 § 9 comments § permalink

Ad Hoc

Two hours after the flight took off, I felt like I’d been on vacation for 4 days. That was a good sign.

Nate didn’t know what “hilly San Francisco” really meant until I took him down Divisidero. And he’s getting used to the way of the fog. Oh fog. How I’ve missed you and your mysterious ways.


I had to take him through the rainbow tunnel, even though it meant waiting in traffic to cross the Golden Gate.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Napa Valley. The only time I’d ever been there was when I was under drinking age, and my dad took me around the loop on his motorcycle. I don’t even remember vineyards, probably because I was slightly terrified of the bike. It’s lovely there, though. Beautiful, of course. I ran 10 miles around Napa, through vineyards, in the fog, smelling the eucalyptus. It smells like home. Later, wine tasting. Lovely wine tasting. I think I might finally like Chardonnay.

Green and yellow beans, tempura squash blossoms, cucumber, endive and radicchio


And food. Bottega and Ad Hoc and Bouchon (typography!). I can’t even describe how good. There was a salad of green and yellow beans, tempura squash blossoms, cucumber, fresh baby summer squash, endive and radicchio, with the lightest dressing. I could eat that forever. I would eat Thomas Keller’s table scraps.

And now I watch the fog roll into Petaluma, and look forward to the ocean. We came here to go to Lagunitas, but it turns out they were closed, which I guess was a research failure on my part. But as we drove in, some of the brewers were leaving for the day, and gave us dinner recommendations, and a suggestion to stop by early tomorrow morning to check out the brewery. I think we’ll just have to do that.

More imagery, less words

June 23rd, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

I scream, you scream we all scream for ice (by pricklypearbloom)

Nook in my Father's House (by pricklypearbloom)

What day is it? Wednesday? It feels like Monday or Friday. The past number of days has been kind of strange. This is the longest cold I’ve ever had in my life, and just when I think I’m kicking it, it gets worse. So I think I’m kicking it, and went for a run yesterday, but who knows?

Beer, Wine, and Holga (by pricklypearbloom)

Orca (by pricklypearbloom)

These are a few more shots from the Pacific Northwest, from where came the great summer plague. Not that it was a bad time, because it certainly wasn’t.

I’m of few words this week, though. Enjoy the photography!

Wrap up Seattle

June 17th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Serious Pie (by pricklypearbloom)

My dad loved his business cards, I found a new favorite coffee place in Seattle with ohmygod awesome cappuccino, went running in the Seattle hills, fell in love with a neighborhood, took the ferry and explored Orcas Island, saw where they build really big planes, ate some awesome pizza and ice cream, and drank some awesome beer. It was a great long weekend trip, and I can’t wait to go back and drink more coffee. I already know what I want to do next time. But now I’m home and I’m sick. Which is a total bummer. Double bummer.

After (by pricklypearbloom)

I’m still processing photos, and there will be film from the trip later, too, and it will all be here. I tried to take more film than digital, but one of my rolls did something wacky at the end so we’ll see if I actually got anything on that one. I’ll try to share tidbits in this space, too, though. Have a great weekend, ya’ll.

Pieces of a puzzle

February 18th, 2010 § 8 comments § permalink

Close up (by pricklypearbloom)

I’ve been having weird dreams this week. Weird. I wonder if it’s something about my sleep patterns or the weather or the moon or something else? Dreams about giant snowflakes the size of dinner plates, of course I had to take pictures of them, and living in a house at the top of the giant hill at Alpine Valley Music Theater, and still missing the beginning of the Dave Matthews Band show like I seem to every year. And dreams about The A Team type vans rescuing people in the jungle (with big spiders!), and then turning into boat vans and sinking feet and feet down into the ocean with me in it. Do you ever have dreams where you can breathe underwater? I’ve had quite a few of those in my life, and always wonder what they mean.

Then last night as I was dozing off my husband exclaimed something in his sleep, and then repeated it when I asked him to. Unfortunately both were mumbles and although I tried to repeat what I thought I’d heard a few times in my head to remember, I was too close to sleep and have forgotten what I thought he said.

Still needs sleeves (by pricklypearbloom)

I’ve been knitting diligently on my February Lady sweater during the olympics, and although I had some trouble getting the first sleeve going I now only have a sleeve and a half before I’m done, and I think I can do it by the closing ceremonies next weekend. That’s my goal. And I’ve purchased some orange yarn for this.

I finished reading The Road last night. Man, that book is depressing. And gripping. It was really really good. I get into the whole post apocalyptic storyline easily and quite often, but this was intense. It’s not a super long book, but I slammed through it in less than a week. And now I’m trying to decide if I actually want to see the movie. I wanted to read it first, just because I’m like that, but I’m wondering if the movie will be a letdown or overwhelmingly depressing.

He makes a pretty cup of coffee (by pricklypearbloom)

We booked our flights for a long weekend trip out to Seattle to visit my dad in June. I’ve got the requisite plans to stroll through the market and drink beer at Pike Place Brewery, and of course go to Delancey. Nate wants to go to the Boeing museum, cause he’s a plane geek. And hopefully we’ll get to spend a bit more time on San Juan island than last time we were out there, driving around and seeing what’s what. Do you have any other recommendations for something interesting to do in the city? Or awesome yarn or fabric stores?


July 20th, 2009 § 15 comments § permalink

There were so many alternates I wanted to title this post. The Wilderness. Whitecaps on Poplar. Adventure Canoeing. That was one of my favorites, care of J. And more that I have since forgotten.

We spent 3 nights in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness earlier this month. I wouldn’t call myself the outdoorsiest girl in the world, but Nate convinced me last year that if I could handle a few days in the woods a mile from the car on the lake in Door County, I could handle dropping into the Boundary Waters. He’s been there a handful of times before, but this was my first experience.

Portage (by pricklypearbloom)

We paddled in on Poplar Lake with friends J and C on Wednesday, and it was a beautiful day. Not too hot, pretty calm, sunny. We portaged twice, doused ourselves in bug spray after the first where we were swarmed by mosquitoes, finally settling into a campsite on Caribou Lake, two lakes into the BWCAW. We were shooting for Horseshoe Lake, one more portage away, but after traveling on foot and canoe for a couple of hours we were wanting to get settled.

Portage (by pricklypearbloom)

We settled into it pretty quickly. I found myself surprised every time I would see other people out there. There certainly weren’t many, though. There were a few other occupied campsites on our lake, and every so often I would see another canoe out on the lake, someone passing through or out fishing. The only sound other than the birds and wind was the occasional jet 40,000 feet above us. And sometimes the whisper of someone’s voice across the lake. It was so quiet. And that’s a rule, they tell you not to yell. We joked that we’d get kicked out of the wilderness if we got too rowdy.

Fishing (by pricklypearbloom)

Over the following days, we did some fishing. Neither Nate nor I caught anything, although I hooked a big ol’ Northern, but lost it inches from Nate’s net. Oh well. J was the most persistent fisherman, and managed to nab 2 walleye and a good sized bass that we ate the last night we were there. And they were delicious. Nate and I saw a moose standing at the shore of the lake as we paddled one day, with her two calves. There were loons too, we saw a few, and heard many more. We drank coffee and a bit of wine that we packed in, ate fancy camping food, made many jokes about snacks and napping, laughed alot, got crabby, got sunburned even though I wore a ton of sunblock, finished a book, and I, for one, fell even more in love with these two friends of mine. I miss them terribly now, my day just doesn’t seem whole without them in it.

I couldn't get enough of the reeds (by pricklypearbloom)

The whole experience was so relaxing and so challenging at the same time. We sat and looked at the lake a whole lot, settling into a comfort with each other that was so lovely. We battled mosquitoes that came in swarms, escaping them by paddling out in the lake during the day, but steeling ourselves for them when we had to walk into the woods to do dishes or brush teeth at dusk. Laying in the tent at night you could hear them, a steady whine just inches away, trying trying trying to get in. There was frustration as the fish refused to bite, and the bear bag that we hung just wasn’t in a good place, nor high enough, and we hoped that we wouldn’t have to find out if it would actually do its job. The wind blew, it rained a little bit, and the wind blew some more.

Staring at the lake (by pricklypearbloom)

But the paddle out was the most challenging experience of the whole time. Harrowing, is more like it. We were pushed, literally, by mother nature, close to our breaking point. It was windy that morning. The mediumish lake that we’d camped on was a bit choppy as we paddled to the first portage. Liz Lake, small and narrow, was better. But as we emerged from the woods after the second portage, to larger Poplar Lake where we’d entered, we could see the whitecaps out past the little bay, and our hearts sank. This was going to be hard.

As we were gearing up to face the onslaught, a guy passed us on the portage. He was solo, just himself, his pack, a canoe, and some paddles. Not only am I so amazed that people can do the BW solo, but he was going out on that lake on his own. I wished him luck, and he replied, “It’s all in your attitude.”

Water's edge (by pricklypearbloom)

When we turned that first corner, Nate and I were scared. I could hear it in his voice, which scared me even more. We weren’t pointed into the waves quite right, and hit those swells a bit broadside and rocked the canoe a few times. We really thought we might dump it. Luckily, we didn’t. We all stopped a few times in the leeward calm of islands and peninsulas to regroup and rest. What should have been a 45 minute paddle took us an hour and 45 minutes. I worried that at some point the granola bar and beef jerky that I’d eaten to fortify myself for the trip would run out and my energy would just be gone. But we kept paddling. And I kept reminding myself that it’s all in the attitude. Just keep paddling.

We made it, windburned, exhausted, but with all of our gear and ourselves dry and safe. And that relief, that joy, above all the fear and anger at the wind, felt so so good. We were pushed to the edge, but having conquered the challenges, especially that paddle out, made us feel so strong, and grateful. The trip was certainly a success, in more ways than I can count. They say something happens to you when you’re on your own in the wilderness. Now I know that that’s true.

You can see the whole set of photographs, not including film which isn’t yet developed, here.

Two by Two

July 16th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

Two by Two Scarf (by pricklypearbloom)

I took a bunch of knitting out to the woods, but I only knit on anything during the car ride up to the north. I finished this scarf in the hotel the night before we camped. I started this thing forever ago. I only have one skein of the yarn, and started a scarf, then ripped it out, and then started this. I’d tell you what kind of yard it is, but I’ve been processing photos for awhile and that would require me to get up and search for the tag. And who knows where that might be?

Two by Two Scarf (by pricklypearbloom)

It’s skinny, and short, knit in a knit 2 purl 2 pattern that alternates every two rows to create sort of a large seed stitch look. I think it’s cute, and I’m glad it’s done. I took it out camping with me, mostly just to take pictures of it, but I’m glad I did, because it got CHILLY out there!

In the street

June 12th, 2009 § 8 comments § permalink

Fire Engine or Cherry Red? (by pricklypearbloom)

8 (by pricklypearbloom)

Untitled (by pricklypearbloom)

Untitled (by pricklypearbloom)

Jane said to her friend across the street as she was describing me, “Tracy likes to laugh alot.” I don’t ever want to forget hearing her say that.

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