Book Review-The Age of Ceasar

 I promised myself I would do a few serious books this year, and have gotten several completed. My definition of serious? Classics, biographies and non fiction. While several fiction reads have been toward that direction, I’m not counting them. The one I just completed was inspired by Girl #2 being home. I admit I had it checked out for six weeks before I finished, but I didn’t start it until the latter part of June, so it was about a month of fairly steady reading.

Plutarch was an ancient writer, and he did the biographies of a variety of Romans. His original works were paired, allowing the reader to compare two lives, one lived well, and the other not so much. In this version, the translater, Pamela Mensch, selected five Caesars, so you are basically reading five biographies by Plutarch, with Ms. Mensch’ annotations. Mary Beard, (very famous and amazing classicist, according to a girl #2, wrote the intro which helps someone like me understand what’s going on!) There are five biographies: Pompey, Cicero, Brutus, Ceasar and Antony.

My conclusions? Most of these guys were more honorable then your average U.S. Senator, regardless of party. I had never heard of Pompey, but he was quite a tactician and pretty humble. I hadn’t realized that Cicero was so high in the political structure (he was consul!); he was a great orator of course, but he could turn the entire country with his words, and loved Liberty above all else. Several times it talked about him ruling Rome without holding office because he was so influential. Brutus wasn’t the bad guy most think he was, Ceasar was understandable, and Antony couldn’t keep his toga on….I found Plutarch surprisingly engaging, even funny. He was pretty relaxed in his narration, and the sections were small, so it was easy to find a stopping place. I found myself wishing for an ancient map to track everyone’s moves, because most of these five intersected with each other throughout their lives.

So, if you want to learn something new this summer, you may want to check this out! I was surprised in a good way, finding this much more interesting and engaging than I had anticipated. And, as with any classic, you learn that man really hasn’t changed that much over the centuries, we can be brilliant and quite stupid, depending on the day!

It’s a Jungle Out There!

DSCN1199It has been so hot! Too hot to go out and weed, until this morning, and now we have a jungle forming in the garden. At long last the plants are starting to kick it into gear. We had things in seedling form for two months; they just didn’t grow. It was discouraging. We came back from California, expecting a noticeable change and there was very little. UGH!

We had thought the problem was that the compost was getting too hot for the little seedlings, because it does get very dry. We spread straw all over before we left for graduation, hoping that the whole garden would look better when we returned. Not so. We resigned ourselves to getting rid of the noxious weeds this year and little, if any produce. Next year!! (sounds just like my farmer uncles)

DH is a soil man, and he was perplexed. All that wonderful compost and things looked terrible…he finally decided that it might have been a nitrogen fixing problem with the compost. That, and the cardboard we laid to deal with the noxious weeds, might have been too much for the little seedlings. The pure compost was busy fixing (I don’t understand that, so I can’t explain it) and until it was finished, the plants couldn’t get the nitrogen they needed.

The areas that weren’t in raised beds started growing first, especially the tomatoes which

we had really babied along. (It takes A LOT of tomatoes to make a quart of tomato sauce!)  Some of the corn was actually “knee high by the 4th of July” which I understand is necessary to get corn.  (The buckets are to collect extra rain water when we get it.) Some of the corn, (it’s very spotty) is as tall as me now, and I found a baby squash this morning while weeding.

DSCN1205However, the canteloupe, which was an after thought and where we used our little bit of personal compost was going crazy!

 

 

 

Earlier this week I noticed that one pepper plant DSCN1198in the raised bed had suddenly turned a darker green and was sprouting leaves everywhere, also buds…hurrah! He’s the dark one in the lower left.

The green beans are starting to pick up steam now, after looking sickly since May, even with the second planting I did.

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The sprinkling of carrots is taking off, though the onions and garlic are likely a lost cause for the year, as are the turnips, rutebegas and cabbage. We may have a chance now with some beets, and a replanting of spinach should be fine.

 

Get this, though, the lettuce started growing this week. DH keeps reminding me that this is God’s garden, and He will provide the food we are supposed to have from it. If not from here, it will come from somewhere else.

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Seeing this lettuce is a delight; it is called baby romaine, and I was really looking forward to salads. Maybe I’ll get some just when the tomatoes are going, and maybe a lone cucumber or two. (another fail, though one plant is determined, it is only 2-3 inches tall, but is sporting one very nice bloom.)

SOME of the sunflowers have gone crazy now…look at this monster! They are still pretty short, but some are literally growing close to an inch a day I think!

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The grapes are in their glory! They are now four years old, and they have literally covered their corner of the fence. We have grapes in visible clumps, getting bigger by the day, and looking VERY happy. There will be plenty for eating fresh, maybe a batch of jam, and some juice. We will attempt to do raisins, but with the crazy little birds, that might not work so well. We’ll try. No photos of this, they are just a huge wall of leaves!

Too bad I took all the pictures before I spent an hour weeding. By sunset, it will look much better out there, with all the contraband dried up! You probably noticed that we have what looks like grass every where. That is the straw sprouting…its wheat. We  pull the larger clumps and just lay them on the ground, for extra nitrogen. In the fall we will let whatever is left go, and collect the stems. Last year I actually ground a bit up for whole wheat flour, I think I gathered up maybe a cup of wheat kernels, which grinds into a cup of flour.

 

Transition Land–Taking a Risk

I have been busy this summer taking a vacation. I have worked hard at it! I have had regular therapy  Skype sessions with my friend, Karelyn, who is transitioning right along with me, from the same boss and same job! I have completed numerous crafty projects and books, spent hours on the piano playing Bach, Mozart, Hadyn, and (gasp) Chopin and Schumann. Right before we went camping, I finally took a risk. I designed a website/blog for teaching piano and (here’s the risk part….) I sent the link to the area Suzuki teachers and both the homeschool groups to post on Facebook. I know what you are thinking…that was a risk? Yep it was. 


The past several months, I have spent my time developing some wonderful friendships with you in Blog Land, and I can not express my gratitude to all of you adequately. You have become my colleagues, friends and cyber neighbors, and I would do this all again if that was the only way I would have met you! I have been tightly sequestered since March 22, with no one able to reach me except for people at church and two contacts from work. So, you have been my safe place, and have blessed me with your wonderful, normal, and sometimes funny presence!

 It may have been a little odd to be so closed off, but I needed time, and I realize I still need time. My 4-H kids and contacts are everywhere, and the constant explanation and reopening of the wound would have been detrimental to the necessary healing, so I have barely left home when we are in town, except to go with DH to pay bills, get groceries, etc. I was just not ready to be outside my safe bubble and meet a 4-H family out on the street and have to be fine. I think I am still a few months from that if I am honest! In spite of that, I have NOT been bored or very pensive here at home!


Some of my new friends may be feeling really confused now, so let me quickly recap. In mid February my boss drove 400 miles to hand me a letter saying he chose not to renew my contract on June 21. So, after 31 years as a 4-H professional, and 27 in South Dakota, I was essentially fired. By not renewing my contract, he didn’t have to justify the decision to anyone. My colleague, Karelyn received a similar letter a few days later. We decided to quit March 21 instead of hanging around until June. 

So back to that “risk.” Since publishing it, I have had traffic on the site, and actually have a new student already! I started with basic info and a contact page, and have it set up so that I can post to the blog portion as I make decisions about schedules, fees and studio policies. Those posts will now become items I can share through Facebook, which will allow my current parents to point others to my page. It’s a new kind of “word of mouth.” Last night I had another inquiry, so I am guardedly optimistic that this endeavor will indeed work!

Now that I have a plan formulating, it is much easier to think about what the fall may bring, and being out and about. 😉

Book Review–The First Princess of Wales

Karen Harper’s historical novel is about Joan of Kent, who lived in the 1300’s and eventually married the Black Prince, Edward of Wales, and was the mother of Richard II. To say she had a checkered past, is to put it mildly, but considering the prince waited to marry until he was nearly 30, in an age where one could easily be dead by 30,  you can’t help but wonder if this was indeed a love that spanned time! 

This story did get me looking up all sorts of stuff, more info on Edward, Joan, surcotes, and kirtles, even the plague! It covered battles, described knights and their chargers, medieval warfare, lots of interesting fodder for a history buff like me. I didn’t care if it was close fiction or grandiose fiction, I was intrigued by the court politics, power of the King and everything else from a time period with which I am ill acquainted.

For a medieval novice, I found it interesting, and it piqued my interest enough to have me looking up the real history, so I call it a win!

Peace Sweater #11

Progress! I’ve been working on this project for a while, and used the car trip to the Big Horns to finish up the first sleeve! 


I’m pretty pleased with how this looks before blocking. I think a gentle steam finish will even things out, and the curve on the back side looks like a good fit for the arms eye on the sweater’s main body.


It is amazing to me that this project is drawing to a conclusion! One more sleeve and the collar before the knitting is finished, and the actual construction begins. Thanks to the notes I took a few weeks ago, the second sleeve is progressing smoothly; I am half way through the second border, and will be on to the main pattern in just a few rounds! It’s time to get serious about purchasing hardware and the other finishing parts. I hope to have this complete for the county fair in mid August, and that is indeed looking possible!


Dale of Norway Peace Sweater DG1501

Knitpicks Stroll Fingering: White, Wonderland Heather

75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon

SAL July 16

It’s already SAL time again! Our group of stitching enthusiasts work at our own pace, on our own pieces. We use our three week check in to help us stay on task, and keep progressing on our individual pieces. We live all over the world, and welcome new folks. If you would like to join, contact Avis, is the communications lead for the group.

I am reproducing a copy of a hardanger piece my grandmother stitched as a teen/ young woman in Norway. The original is over 100 years old, and in wonderful shape. I am planning to enter this piece in the Nordic Needle contest next spring, if they will accept it. (I didn’t design the piece, so they may decline it, but I’m hoping they will accept it in my Grandmother’s name.) I entered a piece for the experience last year, and of course I didn’t make the finals, but I recently learned that I will receive a copy of the winner’s patterns, which is even better!😍

Enough on the back story….

Here is where I was:

Here’s where I am now! Yes, I actually worked on this in the car on the way home from our recent camping trip, though I waited until we got to town and could make sure my hands were CLEAN!

I am closing in on the second round; it is going much faster than I expected, and best of all no major ripping!! Last time so many asked bout the original, I’m including a photo here.


I encourage to visit the rest of our group, and see all the amazing things that people are working on.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristina,
SusanHelenMargaretCindyStephLindaCatherine,  Mary MargaretTimothy