smoke and friends

I woke up at 4:30 this morning in a panic about the smoke. I was worrying about it getting in. I was worrying about not getting to be outside. I was worrying that I was worrying too much. I was worrying that I was not worrying enough. There was a lot of worrying.

Then, on the way home from school dropoff my friend Andrea invited me over for our dogs to have a playdate. I got to spend a couple of hours hanging out with her, drinking coffee, eating biscotti, and watching our dogs bark at each other while also learning about her fancy air filters. It was rejuvenating.

Because Docker got nice and tired out wrestling with and barking at her dog, I was able to crate him even though he hadn’t had a walk so I could go to yoga with another friend who told me she was trying the yin yoga at my climbing gym. I usually do the Friday class and was pleasantly surprised that the Friday teacher was subbing today . That was also rejuvenating.

I may not be getting any steps but getting to talk to friends and go to yoga are both good for my mental health too!

sweater problems

I posted about my breezy cardigan in progress last year on November 3. As you can see, I have made almost no progress since then!

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looks just like last year’s shot!

The problem is that i think the sleeve is too big. I knit a whole sleeve and didn’t like it and ripped back but I’m not sure it’s making any improvement.

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bunch sleeve?

Then again, the store bought hoodies I wear aren’t exactly form-fitting either.

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same problem, different sleeve

So maybe it is not so bad and I can just just keep knitting? That is the plan I am going with for now. The body of this sweater is just so much knitting. I can’t face frogging the whole thing and starting again. It’s an open, loose cardigan, it doesn’t matter if it has loose fitting sleeves as well.

Right?

(Please say right.)

challah!

Look at me, missing days left and right this year. Alas. Apologies, etc.

Moving on…

I made challah yesterday. I use Mollie Katzen’s recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, using the honey and butter options, and using half whole wheat flour and half white bread flour. I also added a half a cup of vital wheat gluten this time around and it made for a very, um, sturdy, dough.

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ready to rise

It was harder than usual to knead because of the sturdiness but I think it was totally worth it.

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braided and ready to rise again

I have taken to using a scale to insure that I have equal amounts of dough for my braid. Also, I start the braid in the middle and work towards each end. I find that I get a much more symmetrical loaf that way. Next up is learning to do a braid with more strands in both directions. I can only do a three-strand braid backwards for the moment.

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don’t cut it before it has cooled

These loaves are kind of enormous. They weigh about two pounds a piece. I gave half of one of the loaves to the owner of my favorite coffee vendor at our Farmer’s market. I follow their Instagram and they followed me back and she expressed dismay last week that she didn’t get to taste the bread I had posted on Instagram so this week I decided to make some for her. She sent me a photo of it with her dinner and said it was delicious! I am pleased that she liked it.

My family likes it too, of course. It’s not a low carb day when I make a batch of these but at least it is carbs made with love.

where there’s smoke, there’s climate change

Most of my day today was spent thinking about smoke and fire. There is a large, mostly uncontained fire burning in Paradise, CA to the northeast of where I live. Because we live in a valley, if the wind is heading in our direction it funnels much of the smoke straight down towards us. As a result, I spent a lot of today looking like this.

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very fashionable, no?

The mask makes my throat and lungs burn less but it doesn’t do a thing for my slightly crazy curls.

I tried to get a picture that showed the smoke clearly but it is a challenge with an iPhone.

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smoky train

I think the sun made it most obvious that something was wrong with the sky. It gave the light an eerie apocalyptic glow.

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angry sun

What I am saying is: all of this is terrible. It is very late in the year for a fire this bad. We had almost no rain in October this year, which is not usual. Climate change is a real problem and it is long past time for us to do something about it before we all end up looking like I do in the photo above every time we go outside.

 

outside of my comfort zone

I took up rock climbing over the summer accidentally. It does seem odd that I could have slipped and fallen into rock climbing but it was really unintentional. My younger son was interested in rock climbing so I took him bouldering which we thought would be easier and less scary than top rope climbing. Well, it turns out it’s a lot harder so I took a belay class intending to just belay him. I told the instructor that when the class started, that I didn’t want to climb. He told me I needed to climb a little in the belay class so someone else would have a chance to belay. So I did, and then he kept encouraging me and I made it all the way to the top of a climb. (A very easy climb, but still a climb!)

My son and I met up with a friend and her kids at the climbing gym a few times and she and I belayed the kids and also got to climb a bit. I was enjoying it and then started climbing with a friend of mine who has been doing it longer and is much better at it than I am. She has been giving me tips and encouragement and I have impressed myself with how I have overcome feeling scared about being up high and trusting my body to be able to push me up and hold me there! There is some learning to trust the rope too. It does a lot of the “keeping me up high” work.

There are other facets of my life where I have stepped out of my comfort zone recently and one of them is marches and protests. I went to a protest tonight about politics. I am very concerned about the state of our democracy and wish that I felt like things could get better. I showed up for a rapid response protest without a sign and without much idea of what I would do there, but a wise friend told me recently, showing up is often the most important thing (in life and in protest).

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my favorite sign from tonight

In spite of hating crowds, since January 2017 I have attended two women’s marches, a rally against the muslim ban, a rally against family separation, and now this response to the firing of the Attorney General.  I want to believe these things will make a difference. I hope they will make a difference but I am not sure they will.

I will say this: I would much rather be rock climbing.

FO: Honey Cowl

I can’t find one of my FOs from the past few months. It is the purple cotton poncho that I was knitting last year during NaBloPoMo. I will keep looking for it, but in the meanwhile here is another FO I just finished today made with the same yarn.

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finished honey cowl

I started this in the summer to have a simple knit to work on during my summer trip. I have knit several Honey Cowls and I highly recommend the pattern!

Hopefully, I will find the poncho. Clearly, I haven’t been wearing it but maybe it is time to start doing so!

FO: Knitted Knockers

I’m going to try to post about the few things I’ve finished since I last posted. I am not sure I have pictures of everything, but I will try.

First up: Knitted Knockers!

At Stitches West this year I stopped in the Knitted Knockers booth and picked up three shades of Cascade Ultra Pima (the yarn they recommend) as well as donating a couple more skeins. Knitted Knockers are exactly what they sound like: a knitted breast prothesis for breast cancer survivors. Apparently the cotton is light and breathable and the way you knit them allows for adjustments in size if needed. I knit several sizes in each of the colors I got.

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knockers come in many colors

These are not stuffed because I am going to mail them back for distribution and this way they will be easier to mail. They were quite fun to knit, actually, and I would consider picking up more yarn to make more. If you’re looking for a quick charity knit, I highly recommend this one!

pho good

Sunday means the farmer’s market in my world. On this particular Sunday I was buying the remaining ingredients needed to make chicken pho. My friend Peggy suggested trying to make it at home and we each procured some of the ingredients. My last purchase was the chicken legs and thighs from my favorite chicken vendor, Pasture Chick Ranch. I have been buying my chickens from them almost exclusively for the past few years and I think they are really tasty. Today was no exception!

At the suggestion of another friend, I followed the Serious Eats recipe for Pressure Cooker Pho and it was an excellent suggestion! I think my version turned out to be delicious.

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I like my pho heavy on the noodles, light on the chicken.

Peggy picked up enoki mushrooms so I added those when I was cooking the individual portions of noodles. If I made it for myself again, I would add more veggies, maybe spinach or bok choy, but I think my family preferred it the way it was. I definitely need to make it again because I doubled the recipe but then fewer people came over than expected. Also, Peggy bought a rather large bag of noodles!

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Sooooo many noodles!

This is the bag after I had cooked enough noodles for eight people. Overall, though, I would say this recipe is a keeper and other than having to have some unusual spices on hand, not too complicated!

 

bike spectating

Day 3 and I have already missed a day! Alas. Moving on…

I spent a good portion of today spectating my husband’s 100 mile (!!) bike ride! He took up biking a couple of years ago as a way to get to work and get some exercise in the process. Then he started going on bike rides with a local bike shop and his coworkers encouraged him to go on longer, harder rides. The result was that he signed up for a 100 mile ride to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. A worthy cause to say the least!

I woke up bright (well, dark actually) and early at 5 to drive him to the starting point and then met him at a couple of stops along the way. The kids and I met him at the finish line to cheer his achievement and drive him home. We only have one vehicle and adding the distance to and from our house seemed like a bridge too far.

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Coming over the finish line at dusk after starting off at dawn!

So big congratulations to my husband who did a Very Hard Thing today!

Now I need to collapse into bed because I did a Slightly Less Hard Thing (getting up at 5am) and I am tired myself!

November again!

Hey, it’s November! It’s the time of year when I blog consistently (mostly) for a whole month and then declare at the end that I will keep blogging consistently, thought less frequently, and then I just… don’t.

(I’m managing your expectations here, how is that going?)

Normally I start off with a recap of all of the knitting projects I’ve finished since I last posted but this time it is really not many things! I’m not sure what happened to my knitting mojo recently. I haven’t been doing much crafty stuff at all, really. Maybe this month will inspire me to get back on that horse!

(And maybe not. Again, managing expectations.)

Either way, hello! Welcome to my November of blogging!