Camassia Natural Area, West Linn, Oregon; April 26, 2014.
I cast on the other night for the Fimma sweater, totally inspired by my dear friend Amy talking about Lopapeysa sweaters on her blog. I've knit a couple of fair isle sweaters in the past and I forgot how much fun it is. I was in the mood for something new and fun and . . . worsted weight. I'm not sure what gauge I'm getting — too lazy to check. It feels a bit small — this is the size 4T, and it looks like it will probably fit Meems right now. Of course it's thick and heavy so my timing is suspect, but the fact that, as I write this paragraph, it is absolutely pouring down cold rain and hail balls makes me feel a bit better (all things being relative). That's how you feel better about it pouring down cold rain and hail balls — make an Icelandic sweater.
My thought is that I will steek this [bites nails and cringes]. I don't actually think it's all that scary. But it seems like it's one of those fun things to be scared of, only to be pleasantly surprised at how do-able it is, and I need that this week. Got anything else like that for me?
Between downpours, my girl and I have been having sweet days. She is eighteen months old now and must be the sweetest creature on earth. She "talks" almost constantly — classic baby babble, and was there ever a sweeter sound? Oh, my love. Happy, happy girl. She knows what she likes, which is almost everything but sippy cups and baths. We're working on transitioning to sippy cups. When they're handed to her she throws them down as if you just handed her a cup of hot cod liver oil. I think we've tried four different sippy cups now. She sees the sippy cup coming and she starts winding up her pitching arm. In her future big-girl room we sit in the window seat and point at all the things we can see from the window: Birdy. Tree. Flower. Birdy. Car. Dog. Birdy. Our neighbor's trio of enormous dogwood trees flower pink, and glow in the rain. Wow, says Amelia. She carries pink petals and rocks in her hands as we walk down the block.
I like the anticipation of April. I like it when things haven't really started yet, but they're just right there. Almost there. I like going out when it's sunny and lovely and staying in (though we still go out) when it's sopping wet. My wildflower seeds are sprouting. Sprouting!!! I am easily pleased, but really, doesn't it feel like a miracle, every time?
My goal this weekend — tomorrow — is to cook something. That will be a miracle. I can't remember the last big meal I cooked for Andy. He's done so much cooking lately. I'm good at picking up Thai food. I'd better start trawling food blogs right now. I don't remember what to cook, let alone how to cook. Not even kidding.
***Woopsie, forgot to tell you that I finally finished the bobble lampshade! Very happy with it.
Despite the sleep deprivation, I can hardly wait for the mornings to come: the birds, the clear light, the glow, the green, the birds, the baby talking — ba ba, na na, ma ma, mum ma, DA?!? [screams and points]. "Buuuuur-DEE?" Ba ba na. "Dawg?" She's the original uptalker. It's the sweetest music, all of it. The dogs race for balls in the dog park near our house. High above the baseball diamond the trees burst forth in sprays of green, each one a different shade. It's ridiculously picturesque. Trees like an oil painting of trees. There's a tree-lined path straight through the middle of the park, like a colonnade. We saunter it each morning, listening to the birds, talking to the sun and flowers. Slow, slow. Stay like this, just here. Growing up, I lived one house away from a huge park. A school-yard. My school. Gravel fields. A backstop. A giant swing set — they probably don't even make them that tall anymore. One time I jumped off and wiped out and screamed so loudly my dad heard me in our house. Towering oak trees. Sand pits. The tall chain-link fence surrounding the whole lot, way off in the distance. The railroad embankment covered in ivy and phlox. The scruffy baseball diamond, the single splintered bench per side. The giant brick wall (the side of the school gym) against which my sister and I hit a million tennis balls (I was good, she was great). The cracked and peeling hopscotch board. The four-square boxes. The rusty basketball hoop on its tilted pole. The crabapple tree where my neighbor Hali and I spent an entire afternoon singing "Rhinestone Cowboy." The bridal veil bushes. The outfield toward which I boinged sharp little rocks with my new tennis racket — they flew like rubberbands — until a string broke, which shocked and worried me so badly — I'd just gotten the racket that day, after a long wait — I wanted to run away from home. The park was always so incredibly empty, except for us. No one besides us neighborhood kids ever played there when school was out. No parents ever went there. Mine could sometimes see us from our house, if they looked, but no adults ever "went to the park" with any of us, and we wouldn't have wanted that. We went outside after dinner and we came home when the streetlights came on. Every single night. Lightning bugs and hosta flowers. The smell of the mosquito spray belched out by giant trucks that came to fog the neighborhood in the worst mostquito years (good lord). Humidity so thick you were always damp. Lawns green and thick and long. If we were going to go in someone's house, one of us ran home to tell our parents, and then we still kept an eye on the streetlights, and left when they came on. Oh, the wild suburban spaces we roamed. The overgrown backyards and train embankments and far, shady corners of forgotten spaces behind the Prescotts' potting shed. Things were so different then. The park in River Forest is a fancy park now. I sat in it and cried a little the last time I was home. I was crying about lots of things, but a little bit for the park. The school is gone and the fence is gone and the gravel and buckling asphalt are gone and it's a lovely, green, well-manicured, shady, beautiful, fancy playground with perfect grass and cedar chips and swirly slides and safety swings. It belongs to people from all the surrounding streets, not just ours. An obvious improvement, of course. But. I wonder if the kids on our old block still play alone in it every night the way we did. I wonder where my dearest little sweetest wild violet will run wild.
Warm and cloudy, my favorite combination. Amelia's nose is running and she will no longer let me wipe it without twisting in frustration. We walk through the quiet, cloudy streets. It's so quiet. At home, our yard is under construction: We've finally taken the leap and hired a landscape architect to help us design and install perennial borders in front of the big windows (where we had the sewer party that basically destroyed all the shrubs that had been there a few years ago), the front porch (where the removal of the neighbors' eighteen-foot-tall laurel hedge changed the conditions from deep shade to blazing sun, and fried everything we had there), and the picket fence (which basically had nothing but peonies in front of it). The clematis stays, but almost everything else is moving or changing. I'm very excited. I tell you, once I get an idea and make that Pinterest board, consider it done (not really, but without the board I'd probably never get going, somehow). These are some of the last areas of this property that needed help and they were just beyond us. It's pretty exciting to see the guys out there creating actual beds, with edges, and properly making circles around trees, and planning for plants that will actually do well in their spaces. I'm hoping for something a little wild, a little bit prairie, a little bit meadow, a little bit woodland, and a little bit English. How's that for a directive?
Down in the veggie beds, which are on the parkway and not actually in the yard, I planted my wildflower seeds over the weekend. I took your good advice and made my own mixes and used a couple of packets, including one for a fairy meadow (yes, please!). I'm pretty haphazard these days. I feel lucky when I've fed everyone three meals and gotten a shower and four or five hours of sleep myself, so I did not belabor this project in the end. I mixed the seeds with some sand (you told me to do that, too, I think, so thank you!) and just shook that mixture all over the prepared beds. Amelia sat in her high chair and watched and played with a ponytail holder. I LOVE that she says "WOW!" about a hundred times a day, and it means both "flower" and "wow!" She sat out there with me saying, "Wow!" and we watched the world go by for a while. I sprinkled the beds with the hose (which she thought was hilarious) and now we are waiting five to ten days for something to happen. I can hardly wait.
Andy stayed up last night to watch the lunar eclipse and took these amazing photos! Aren't they cool?
Amelia and I were planning to just go for our usual walk around the neighborhood, but the minute we stepped outside and felt the warm sun and heard the birds singing, I knew just where I wanted to go: Leach Botanical Garden. It was so quiet and peaceful you'd never guess it is literally just blocks from super busy streets and lots of traffic. I think we were the only people there besides the staff. Everything was lacy green and so peaceful. All we could hear were birds and the gurgling water of Johnson Creek. It's such a beautiful little place.
This garden is former estate of John and Lilla Leach who were, among other things, a pharmacist and a botanist. Originally called Sleepy Hollow, the property was purchased by them in 1931 and donated to the city after their deaths. They lived in the manor house and had the little stone cottage built just across the creek (do you love their outdoor table [the moss-covered thing next to the cottage] and fireplace?) to use during the summer. When Amelia and I were there, the cottage was actually open and being swept out by a volunteer who was spring cleaning (they had literally just opened the bridge to it an hour before, they told me). She invited us in — a very special treat, as it is not often open. It was truly like being in Snow White's cottage — one little room, wooden paned windows looking out onto the green, the water just outside the door, a cobblestone path. I came out and said to the lady who was sweeping outside, "It's really is magical!" and she said, "Oh, I know!" She said her favorite thing to do was to spend a summer evening sitting in the stone circle around the fire. She said that there was mica in the fireplace that sparkles in the firelight. Her eyes were sparkling, too. It was so lovely there. I can only imagine it at sunset, or with an evening fire in the fireplace (unfortunately it closes to the public at 4 p.m.!). I love how the woods are reflected in the glass in the photo of the cottage window.
What a wonderful morning we had. Trillium blooming and ferns unfurling. Walking slower than slow with my girl in the dappled light. She kept pointing and saying "birdie" and "wow!" (which is her word for "flower"). We talked about everything as we wandered. It's not really stroller friendly or very handicapped accessible — most of the trails are quite hilly or very narrow with lots of tree roots and rocks. But the terrace is flat and open and it is a gorgeous spot to just sit quietly and watch. We bought beeswax candles and lavender soap in the gift shop. We didn't go in the manor house but I'd love to go next time. Sweetest little place. What a lovely gift John and Lilla created and left for us all.
Hello, dear friends. Is the weather as beautiful where you are as it is here? With the dandelions sprouting and the birds singing and the sun warming your face? Oh, I really hope so! Amelia is in a wonderland of flowers, twigs, mud, mulch, rocks, birds, balls, boots, and a first for her: stickers. Every day there is much walking and much stumbling and much almost-running, and swinging and sliding and standing on the ottoman when she should be sitting. She gets up there and turns to see if I am noticing with a half faux-innocent half utterly impish smile on her face. Big belly out, cornsilk hair in her face, blue eyes twinkling, blue eyes wide. Yes, my love, I see you. On your bottom, please. Thank you. Twinkle twinkle.
Dude, I have been working constantly this past week. Agh. I don't live like this anymore, so I'm quite out of shape. I couldnt focus. I listened to every single version of "Everything is Free" (by Gillian Welch) on Spotify about a hundred times (great song). I drank about seven chais from Roman Candle. I ate a fried-egg and avocado sandwich. I shooed the cat off my table about fifty times. I opened the door and I closed the door when it got too cold about fifty times. I read the biography of Ryan Adams (on Pandora) again. I tried to memorize "Everything is Free" but I still can't get it entirely right. Check out The Holmes Brothers version of it — I love that one. I looked at versions of my new web site. I looked at the new Liberty collection for spring/summer 2015, inspired by the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice and Wonderland and It. Is. Amaaaaazing. And I proofread approximately forty-eight pages of patterns oh about six hundred times. And a bunch of other stuff that involves getting things wrong and then trying to make them right. Story of my life. Of anyone's.
Meet Miss Phyllis Mouse. She's a wee bit shy, but she's been very anxious to meet you! :)
Oh how I love spring! I love the dull, dark days and the vibrant, inchworm greens. I love the petals fluttering in the wind and falling on top of kitties sitting in the hyacinths. I love the wet-black mud and the crusted sprouts asserting themselves through the muck. I love the drama of whipping rains alternating with golden sunset, and a hole in the sky that brings dinnertime rainbows. I love the windows open and then the windows closed and the heat back on. I love the translucent white of cherry blossoms and the translucent green of new hydrangea leaves. I love the fat lilac buds that haven't popped yet and the fat tulips waiting to open. I love the lacy canopy of ornamental pear trees that line the streets. I love sleeping in a very warm bed with a cold rain falling outside. I love snuggling with my girl in the early mornings when all is still dark and it is nothing but pillows and covers and soft rabbits and us. I love walking with my honey and a sleepy boo up and down the winding streets to get ice cream on a sunny afternoon. I love walking. I can hardly wait to get outside every day. It's the very best time of year.
I watched Little Women (the 1994 version) yesterday on cable while Amelia slept on my chest. The scenery and the March house in that movie are so beautiful, all those dove gray and mushroom-colored interiors brightened with flowers, candles, eyelets, aprons. She slept for an hour and a half and it was so nice just to sit and watch a movie. Part of a movie. The exterior of their house is such a great color — super dark brown, like sepia. I had the clicker in my hand and I kept pausing it on certain scenes just to take in all the details. That cool pergola thing made out of branches they have in their front yard? I love that!
Thank you ever ever ever so much for all of the wildflower ideas! Wow. So much amazing information there, and so many things I didn't know. Thank you thank you! I'm totally inspired. Rainy days are for reading about flowers and putting together a plan for planting. For some reason, the raised beds just feel so much less intimidating than any other gardening I've done. I'm really excited. I've been wanting to do this for a long time.
Andy and Amelia are at music class right now. Though I heard him say to her this morning, "But c'mon, let's just call it what it really is — band practice." Sweetest, sweetest loves of spring. Xoxo
My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com
Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.