The Summer of Itch

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It isn’t a secret that I am not a fan of summer. I tolerate it. This summer has actually temperature wise been amazing. Here in Maine we have not really had the hot and humid days that we often get. It has been quite mild. It could have been a glorious summer.

Instead it has been a very itchy and uncomfortable one. It all started in May. A Tent caterpillar got into my jeans. I ended up with a very itchy rash on my right leg, my rear end, waist and both arms (from pulling the legs inside out to check inside my pants). Anywhere the caterpillar went inside my jeans I ended up itchy. That lasted about a week. I managed it with Benadryl and itch cream.

Then at the end of July I got bit by a tick. I didn’t know it though. While camping I discovered a big bulls eye rash on my hip. Okay, so I have Lyme. Two blood tests showed I had it but caught it early. Good! The day I took my antibiotic I started itching all over my legs, one arm, my neck and face. I figured I had hives. I talked to the doctor and she figured it was hives. So then I got Prednisone and a different antibiotic. The itching did not stop. It was terrible. I took myself off the antibiotic until I could see the doctor. Coincidentally, the doctor said I had Poison Ivy. I have never had it in my life. The doctor said because it was my first time I got it bad. He also said because of the antibiotic my T cells and white blood cells had gone into overdrive.

So I started back up on the antibiotic and proceeded to start itching in different places. My back, stomach, breasts, even my scalp. Not an allergic reaction but certainly a consequence of the antibiotic. It wasn’t hives and it was not as itchy as the Poison Ivy so I have been putting up with it.

But I’m not done. Wouldn’t you know it but I started itching a tad bit down there. You know, in my private areas. I had been taking a Probiotic along with the antibiotic the whole time. I had been trying to rest and eat right. So I figured in my denial, that I would not get a yeast infection as well. The itching was mild. I ignored it. I had called the doctor so much that I really didn’t want to again. So about a week into the mild itching I decided to buy some cream. It worked and I was happy. Then while camping the cream started to not work. So again, instead of calling the doctor I went to the drugstore and bought some over the counter anti fungus cream and suppository. Sorry this is so graphic. Well, it didn’t work. I was so itchy, and swollen and uncomfortable that I finally did call the doctor. They must have heard the panic in my voice because for the first time they called me back very quickly and said there was a prescription called in for a pill. (Yes another one) and that that should take care of it. It may take a few days but it should help. Well we are almost 24 hours in and it is a bit better.

I am so, so, tired to itching. I decided to not show pictures of all my rashes and itchiness. Instead I am showing happy pictures of my garden, a dress I am working on, a shawlette I am knitting, and a lovely, beautiful picture of some red leaves I found while camping. I cannot wait for fall. For a freeze actually. Freeze all the bugs and ticks and itchy things for this season. I have had enough!

August First!

For the first time in a long while, if not ever, the summer is going by too fast. It is August first. Already! Slow down please. Maybe it is us. Maybe we are going too fast. Not having enough time spent just sitting. Just being home. It just isn’t that kind of summer I guess. We have been on the move quite a bit.

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We went to visit Dean’s sister that was staying in Maine. She rented a log cabin on a high hill and it had the most beautiful views. We just returned home yesterday from a three day camping trip to the coast. We biked some trails in Portland and visited with two of our sons. We had lobster! We celebrated our 27th year being married too!

We have had our share of home days but they just seem to be busy this year. The girls have been working for friends and neighbors to earn money for the school program they want to attend. It is pretty pricey, at least for us it is. They are very good workers and they are getting a nice amount saved up.

My redone flower garden is looking good. Makes all the heartache and work worth it. The vegetable garden is coming along as well. It was a late start to warmth this year in Maine and the garden is a little behind but doing okay.

We did have a hot spell or two and we stayed inside with the shades drawn. I was cleaned out and organized all my seeds. I had seed packets from five years ago! This week I need to go plant some fall veggies. Beets, carrots and kale. Spinach too but not for a few more weeks. It bolts so fast in this weather. So far my broccoli is doing okay this year but I have decided to not plant it again. I have been trying for years and really it isn’t worth all the time and money for netting, soap for the flea beetles, and all the extra time it takes to care for it. I can’t plant enough for storage in the freezer and it takes up valuable space that I could grow things I can store. Like beets or cabbage. So next year no broccoli. I can get it at the farmers market.

The blueberries and raspberries are really coming now. And just yesterday my daughter showed me some blackberries that are ripening. It is a great time of year for berries.

The girls have been working on crocheting. Sometimes we do a lesson together using YouTube lessons. But a lot of times they just sit and do their own thing. It is fun. I finished a hat for a baby shower gift. I still need to knit up the booties. I want to do a sweater but I am running out of time. We’ll see.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

 

 

Daytrippers

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At this point in time I can honestly say this has been the best summer weather wise that I can ever remember. We have had a nice mixture of sun, rain, a little heat, and nice cool breezy nights. Perfection. This morning I read that we are going to get some hazy, hot, and humid weather this week. I will try and remember that the summer has been glorious so far.

We biked on Swan Island here in Maine. It was beautiful and quiet. We took a ferry out to it with our bikes and a picnic. The total distance was 9 miles. I felt it towards the end. I was very glad I did it though. Endorphins were coursing through my body! The girls did a good job too. We did rest along the way and took in the sites. At the tip of the island we had a picnic. It overlooked the river. Another day we took a trip to Sebago Lake. We have not camped yet this year. We are daytrippers!

We picked strawberries twice and froze a bunch. I also made 11 pints of strawberry jam! I gave a few away but most will go in the pantry. I also cut and froze some garlic scapes. The garden is starting to produce. We have eaten lots of lettuce, and snow peas. I see a little head of broccoli in there and some tiny squash. I even have a pepper and the tomatoes are getting bigger too. Slow start to gardening this year but it is coming along. This week I need to plant some fall beets, and maybe some more greens. Probably after this week of heat.

I finally got around to seasoning my new wok. We had a colorful stir fry the other day. I cooked it on the side burner outside. I have electric stove tops inside and I thought the gas would be better with the wok. The veggies kept their color and were still a little crisp just the way I like them.

I moved a little table we had outside to the back deck. Not sure why I never thought to do it before. It is perfect for a cup of tea and my knitting or my notebook for planning. I have been spending mornings out there listening to the birds and watching the sun get higher in the sky. I can keep an eye on the deer that are trying to eat my raspberries too. I am working on a sock as you can see. I used double points for the very top and for the heel and gusset and am trying out a size 9 circular for the leg and foot. So far so good.

I hope you are having a lovely summer wherever you are!

Mr. Grunt Worker

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I love this picture of my husband. He is pacing in front of all the wood he cut while working at his money paying job. He is a travelling salesman to lumber and building product stores. He works both on the road and here at home.

My husband does not work in the garden. He doesn’t even know what is in the garden. He knows the usual things that I grow. He sees me working in the garden. He knows the lettuce we ate last night came from the garden. He doesn’t work in the garden because he is too busy. He works all day on the road. Not physically hard work but it takes brain power and personal skills. (One of those I do not possess.) On the weekends he does a lot of physical work around here. I call him my Grunt Worker. If I mention something needing done, poof, it is done. Or at least started or in the plans. He moves huge amounts of soil, compost and brush for me. He builds the raised beds for the garden. He dumps compost where I want it. There isn’t anything he won’t do. For me.

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I know how lucky I am. Really I say ‘my’ garden but it is ‘our’ garden. Without my husband there wouldn’t be such nice strong pea fences. There wouldn’t be the quality compost that he takes charge of. It is a nice partnership we have going. He is the Grunt Worker. I am the planner, planter, weeder, and harvester.

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I think our marriage and life together is pretty much the same as how we work in the garden. I am the planner. I do a lot here at home. He is very helpful. Will do anything I ask him to do. He won’t have the idea to put in new flooring. I have those ideas. He will do the work though. He doesn’t think about things like how much laundry is piling up downstairs. He does bring it up for me so I can hang it. A partnership.

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He really loves me. I’m pretty lucky about that too. Hope you all are enjoying your summer, your gardens, and the ones you love.

 

 

 

Just Time

We didn’t do any big celebration for Summer Solstice this year. It was in the middle of the week. Dad had to work the next day. It has been really wet. Too wet to try and light a fire. It is fine though, we have lots of things planned for the summer. We also have lots of un-planned time as well. I think that is what summer is for! Each girl has a week of camp. We ‘sort’ of have a camping trip planned for some time this summer in the eastern part of the state.  There will be a 4th of July party. I have a loose plan to take the girls to an island, on a ferry, with bikes. We have plans to visit all the boys at some point too. But for the most part it will be a free, uncluttered calendar, kind of summer. I am very happy about that.

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There has been time. Just that. Time. In this first full week without lessons, or plans, or driving, there has been time for sitting, knitting, baking, and playing. It is amazing to watch how the girls transform back into their playful, relaxed, and thoughtful selves. I sometimes wonder if it would be boring to always have so much time. It wouldn’t for me but I wonder about the girls. For now though I know they are enjoying all this unstructured time.

I made myself an apron. With a friend, we each made one. It is a wrap around apron and I absolutely love it. It is so comfortable. It has two deep pockets. I can easily wear it all day if I needed to. No ties around the waist. I can’t say enough about it. I made the first pie of the season. Yes, the season, in my opinion, starts now. It is now that all the fresh fruits start to ripen. This pie is a Strawberry-Rhubarb. Both in season right now. My daughter decorated the pie for Father’s day. We both talked about doing a year of pies. This being the first we wondered what July would be. Blueberry? We are working on what each pie would be. Twelve Pies! Can you imagine? Stay tuned.

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There was an afternoon when we sat outside being silly. My daughter taught my how to take a selfie. It isn’t as easy as you would think. It must come naturally for her at her young age of thirteen. After too many shots to count we did get one, maybe two, that were acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. Yes, I am still wearing the apron.

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The moths are stuck to the screens in the morning. That is always fun to play with them and identify them. I have started the sleeves on my angora sweater. It has a Moorish Lattice on the yoke. This sweater is the softest thing. I wish you could feel it. I tried to do the sleeves two at a time with a magic loop. I learned the technique and felt comfortable with it but my yarn is so fine and stretchy that where the loops were being pulled the sweater was getting stretched and holey. So I switched to a 16 inch circular and it looks much better. I am glad I learned magic loop though!

Today it is rainy. The girls are playing with a castle that one of them made out of foam board. She made it in two days. It is huge. This is what passing the time is all about. I am looking forward to more of it.

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far.

 

 

Not Just for Show

The hot weather has arrived, just as they said it would. Yesterday was a bit much but I stayed cool by sitting in front of the fan, sitting by the lake, and working in my sewing room, which is in the basement of our house. Now that all my boys are off on their own I have the whole basement to myself. The main room, which has big windows and a sliding glass door is where I have my machines set up. The little spare room is where I am increasingly filling up with ‘extras’ such as batting, fabric, and supplies. With a wood stove in the corner it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Just the place to go for me!

I have three machines that I use often. Two others are antiques and I love having them but I don’t really use them much. The main machine I use is a Singer Quilting Machine. My husband bought it for me after another Singer I had died. My father bought me that one over twenty years ago. It was the machine I learned to sew and quilt on. I think I still have it somewhere up in a closet. Couldn’t let it go I guess.

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More and more I find myself also using a little black Singer 221. I have been using it on my small pieced quilt blocks. My long time friend gave it to me for my birthday. I go to sew with her at her house and would use it there. Now I can bring it with me when I sew at her house. It came with a black carrying case. It is perfect for travel sewing. It is such a nice machine to use. It is quiet and very precise. It has been fun learning to sew with it.

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Another machine I use often is also a Singer. I call it my ‘Green Machine’. It is a workhorse. I use it for sewing denim and canvas. It is perfect for anything thick and bulky. It is a Singer 257.

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My two antique machines are not in my sewing room. One, another Singer, is up in my bedroom. The same friend that gave me the 221 gave this Singer 66 Treadle. She also game me the wonderful table too. It is so pretty. I have used it and need to practice more. I know I will be able to sew should the power go out!

 

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My father is a ‘Ford’ man and I am a ‘Singer’ gal. Except for one. Another friend gave me his grandmother’s antique sewing machine. When I first saw it I was so surprised, because it didn’t look like any sewing machine that I had ever seen. It is a Wilcox and Gibbs machine. My friend that gave me the Singers cleaned up the Wilcox and Gibbs and sent me lots of videos on how to sew with it. I did figure it out. It is a chain stitch machine. No bobbin. It is a beauty too. I keep it in my dining room, with the lovely cover on to protect the machine.

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So there you have it. A little tour of all my machines. I never imagined I would have so many. My friend still has me beat by a long shot. She has an ‘museum’! She also fixes and revamps antique machines for a business so naturally she will have many around. We all have our passions. We need to go with it. I love to sew. Proudly I can sew on all of my machines. They are not only for show.

A Real Spring

 

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If you live in Maine you will know what I am talking about today. We have been experiencing a real Spring. Cool temperatures with rain. Lots of rain. So much rain I have had to combat slugs for the first time ever. I have lost some broccoli plants. It is sad. But I am hoping they grow back. Now that I am fighting with slugs.

I almost caught myself complaining about this weather we are having. Almost said that I am sick of the cold and rain. I am kind of sick of it but then I remember how much I really abhor the hot, and humid weather. The sun has come out a few times in the last few weeks and it was beautiful. There was a slight breeze and it felt a little like fall, which is my absolute favorite season.

It isn’t fall though, it is Spring. I cannot remember the last time we have had such a prolonged Spring season. Many times it is muddy, with snow melt and then it seems to get hot really fast. I find myself complaining that we hardly had a Spring and now it feels like summer! Well I am enjoying this lovely weather. Yes it is rainy and cool but it has been really good for my garden. My tomatoes and peppers are nice and snug under plastic so they have not suffered. My spinach and lettuce love this weather. The broccoli that didn’t get eaten is doing well. My asparagus is a forest! The garlic is up and thriving. Shallots are up and healthy looking. I have greens galore. They love this cool weather.

The forecast is for the temps to slowly inch up in a couple of days. Then another day or two of rain and then on Monday and Tuesday we will be hot, hot! I will have to shade the greens and broccoli. Uncover the tomatoes and peppers. I will have to wear next to nothing and sit in front of a fan. I will try not to complain. We had a nice Spring. Summer is just around the corner and I have known it would come sooner or later. Another week and the girls and I will be free to escape to a lake or the ocean. We can watch the garden grow. Make sun tea and sit in the shade. Read some books on the beach and drink lemonade and eat fruit salad. Doesn’t that sound delightful?