Thursday, April 30, 2009

Status: Sleeveless

It's the last day of April, and my goal of finishing Cables and Os hasn't quite come to fruition. I've made steady progress, but some company over last weekend and some sewing projects I allowed to distract me put a dent in my knitting time this month. So, here it stands:

I'm now aiming for mid-May. At least I can take comfort in the fact that we're back in winter here and this probably wouldn't keep me warm enough if I did have it completed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I wasn't going to whine about the weather.

Honest, I wasn't. But after two straight days of this, I can't stand it. Look at the calendar, will you, please! Then, look at these:

And then tell me (insert deep breath here) how I'm supposed to feel like running (which I'm supposed to be doing in about an hour but it's still snowing out and I have this issue where my fingers and toes go numb when I'm out in the cold for very long and I have this personal requirement about running only when it's above 45 and I could come up with a million other excuses but the truth is I just don't want to deal with it), or planning my garden (let alone planting it), or doing much of anything outside that involves more than opening the door to let the dog out and back in (exhale what's left of breath here).

So, I think I'll go knit instead. Indoors. At Dudley's. Where they have great coffee. And it's warm.

Or, maybe I'll succumb to the guilt of knowing that all my running friends will be there and I should just suck it up and act like a true Bendite and stop wimping out because after all it is only for an hour. And someone told me once that there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. And I can stand anything for an hour. Right?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Last month, I asked for guesses on the year this fabulous pattern was published...

Since you were good sports and played along, I've decided to select a winner with the closest guess, rather than requiring the exact year. And, with her guess of 1972, Melissa wins! The year was actually 1971. And yes, I did wear one of these, exactly as you see it featured above. Hey...I was eight, and it was the 70's...

For Melissa's nearly-accurate guess, she'll be receiving a set of my summery Hummingbirds & Dragonflies coasters. I know, I know...I said the prize would be knit...but summer's coming and these just seemed like fun.

Thanks for playing along!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One of a Million?

That's my estimate of how many blog posts I'm among out there featuring a photo similar to this one from our beautiful Central Oregon this week.

Click on photo to view the Three Sisters and Broken Top

I made the drive to Sisters Sunday morning for the Stitchin Post's customer appreciation days (thanks for the heads up, Sarah...I love that store...and it should love me back...), and actually remembered to take my camera for a change. It's a wonder there aren't more accidents along Hwy. 20 on days like that; it's hard to keep your eyes on the road when the Cascades are looming so large you can almost reach out and touch them.

I have an ongoing love affair with the Cascade range, probably because of growing up with Mt. Shasta out my front window. If you're a geology lover, there is a fabulous book on the Cascade volcanoes called Fire & Ice by Stephen Harris. I picked it up several years ago at the visitor center at Mt. St. Helens. It's out of print now, but available used on Amazon and probably also through the library. Check it out! It will give you a whole new appreciation for this beautiful chain of mountains.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jackpot: 46, PJ: 0

Alas, foiled again for another year (see previous post). One of my nephews found it. Somehow, the camera didn't make it to the hunt with me, so this has to be a photo-free post. For the record, though, it turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon: mid-60's...sunny, blue skies...ahhh...

And now, I'm off to devil the dozen I did manage to find. I always think of deviled eggs as such a "retro" dish, but I have to admit I love them. Any favorite recipes out there? Here's mine:

To six mashed egg yolks, add:

1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
3 tbsp. mayonnaise or sour cream (I prefer mayo here, even though I'm not a mayo fan)
1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix together, refill the egg whites and dust with paprika and chopped parsley. I think it's the Worcestershire that makes the difference. Mmmm...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On Tradition (warning: long post)

I love a good tradition. I find great peace in knowing that no matter what else changes in my life, there is something I can count on to remain constant through the years. It helps me mark time, reflect on my past and shape the future. It ensures a real-life, non-electronic connection in a world that now relates largely via facebook, twitter, and email. While those are fabulous tools, and I use them, they're no substitute for the real thing.

My favorite tradition comes this weekend. Every year for the past 85 or so--rain, shine, or snow--my Dad's side of the family has gathered on Easter Sunday. Not for brunch. Not for dinner. No fancy Easter dresses. This is not your average Easter tradition. It goes something like this:

Sometime around noon, after attending various Easter services we all converge on the home of one of my cousins, several miles outside an already remote town in far northern California. We number around 80-100 people most years, ranging in age from newborn to 90. I travel four hours to be there; others travel twice that. While waiting for everyone to arrive, baseballs and Frisbees are tossed; others pass around new babies or give hugs to a great-aunt or -uncle. Eventually, we head for the food.

Ah, the food. Each family brings a main dish plus a salad or dessert. There are at least a dozen iterations of fried chicken, plus lasagnas, baked beans, green salads, bean salads, brownies, deviled eggs, cakes, pies, cookies... This is not a day for counting calories or fat content. You won't find a nutritional label for miles in any direction.

The food line snakes through the house, out the door and around the yard as everyone fills a plate and finds a place on the lawn to sit and catch up with someone they haven't seen for a year or more. In addition to our roles as parents, children, brothers and sisters, we are cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. We are second cousins, first cousins-once-removed, and other relationships we've yet to figure out.

Oh yes, the eggs. Usually about 70-80 dozen of them, for the hunt. Each family brings one or two dozen depending upon the size of their crew. One of my older cousins is currently responsible for creating the Jackpot Egg...the holy grail of the hunt...elusive to me for the past 45 years. Judging from the way we all talk about this egg, you'd think the prize for finding it must be an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii.'s a bag of chocolates and bragging rights until next year.

Being selected as a hider is a big honor, usually bestowed on four or five of the uncles and older cousins who are most immune to bribery from those wanting the jackpot egg. The hiders gather up the dozens of cartons and head for the hills a mile or so from the picnic. They have about an hour to hide nearly 1,000 eggs before the rest of us arrive.

Easter Egg Hill is divided into two sections, separated by an irrigation ditch. To the east is gently sloping pasture, set aside for the kids aged 8 and under. There, eggs are resting on tufts of new grass, easily visible to the 2'- and 3'-tall set. West of the ditch is for the big kids aged 90. It's a hill covered with chaparral, wild celery (icknish), oak and ponderosa pine trees. On this side, the eggs are harder to spot: tucked into the bushes and plants, down squirrel holes, in the crook of a tree branch.

The little ones go first, so everyone can watch them run aimlessly over the pasture, tripping over their baskets and walking directly over top of several eggs.
Then, it's a sight to behold when the starter turns toward the hill and yells "3...2...1...go!", and 60 adult bodies launch themselves across the ditch and up the hill, risking twisted ankles and scraped knees.
The race is on for the prizes that will be awarded to Finder of the Most Eggs and Finder of the Jackpot Egg. It's a tough crowd and competition is fierce. As I mentioned earlier (and I'm not bitter...really...), I've yet to find the jackpot egg. My totals are always respectable, but never prize-winning. No matter how I change my route up the hill and try new strategies each year, my totals always seem to be around 13 eggs and not one of them bears the word 'JACKPOT'.

So, accepting that another year will pass with me in the middle of the pack, I turn to my personal tradition. Once I've found the majority of my eggs, I wander the hill, breathing the fresh air, listening to the birds, and taking in the new spring growth around me.
I remember my dad and aunts and uncles who have wandered this hill before me...the way they made their families top priority through their actions, words and traditions. I say a silent "thank you" for them having been such strong, positive influences on my life. I miss them, and I recommit to paying forward the gifts they gave me.

Within an hour, we're all gathered back together, reporting our totals to the counter and waiting for the prizes to be awarded. Invariably, we learn there are still 97 eggs out there somewhere. We agree to leave them for the squirrels, deer, and other residents of the Hill and we all head home, another Easter complete and a week of deviled eggs on the horizon.

In our Monday-to-Friday lives, we are business owners, lawyers, veterinarians, engineers, ranchers, artists, judges, homemakers, teachers, etc. But on this day we're just Bray kids, doing what we've done every Easter for as long as we can remember, because the generations before us did it, and we've learned from them the importance of continuity. And we know we can count on each other to show up. And isn't that really what life's about? Learning from the old and teaching the young. Being present for those who matter. Showing up.

I think so. It's tradition.

Happy Easter.

Friday, April 3, 2009

They missed the memo

Back from our road trip to Idaho/Wyoming/Montana, where it appears--as evidenced here--word has not yet reached them that Spring has begun. We traveled some absolutely gorgeous country, from Jackson, Wyoming through West Yellowstone and Bozeman, Montana. If you've never been to that part of the world, I highly recommend putting it on your list. And if you're not a winter person, I highly recommend it sometime June through October.

A small fraction of the elk currently on the National Elk Refuge at Jackson, Wyoming.

Along the Gros Ventre River, just outside Jackson.

Limited visibility (no kidding!) on our way through Island Park, Idaho. Consequently, I have no idea what Island Park looks like...

Rolling clouds along the rolling hills in Northeastern Idaho, during our one day of blue sky. Loved this shot.

Lucky for me, I have a husband who likes to drive so I was able to spend the better part of 2,00o miles doing this:

Beginning stages of the Cables and O's Cardigan.

I wish I were a faster knitter, but I have to sacrifice speed for accuracy at this point. My goal is to get this done by end of April...I'll keep you posted.