Wednesday, September 28, 2011

pointless weather rant

It's a good thing we didn't move to Maryland solely for the weather. As we are now officially a week into fall and I have experienced all four seasons here, I have to say, they have all sucked! "This weather isn't normal," the natives keep telling us, and I can only hope it returns to normal tout de suite.

This winter we experienced the worst snow storm I have ever seen, and that's saying something since I came from Northeast Ohio. I have never seen wetter, heavier snow, and I honestly feared my heart would give out as I shovelled it. The spring came early, it's true, but it rained all the time, and, unfortunately, the hot summer days came early, too. Summer was unusually hot and very humid, but, at the same time, it didn't rain for weeks on end. Ben and I had to carry water every evening to our struggling plants all through July and into August.

At the end of August, hurricane season arrived, and it has pretty much been raining ever since. The plants that struggled through the dry early summer succumbed to the ceaseless rains of late summer and early fall. We can bring water to dry plants, but we can't dry out wet plants - as far as I know, anyway. Our beautiful cherry tree was the first to go, and it was incredibly depressing to see it standing there with all its leaves dead and brown in the pouring rain. The huge hole it left behind is pretty depressing, too.

I will admit, it is still early fall and I am holding out hope that somehow it will stop raining, the leaves on the trees will start to change color, and everything will be lovely. But I have to tell you, I am not optimistic.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

almost a perfect day

As you may remember, last fall I was still living in Ohio trying to sell our house while Ben lived and worked out here in Maryland, trying to find a new house for us in his "spare" time. I wanted Ben to come home every weekend, but, needless to say, that was not feasible or even possible. Some weekends he managed to enjoy a day trip with Julie and Andrew, and one of their favorite trips turned out to be a day spent in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. They have been telling me about it ever since, and we have been waiting for the "perfect" day to make that trip together. We decided on last Saturday, which, as my previous post details, was not the perfect day. But it was the day we spent there, and I enjoyed it very much. Moreover, I can't wait to go back again.

Harper's Ferry is really the perfect melange, if you will, of things I enjoy doing on an outing (as we prefer to call it.) It is close, first of all. It took us about an hour to drive from our house to the parking lot where one boards the shuttle bus for town. It is best to go early in the day before it gets too crowded. We love to get an early start. It is really beautiful and scenic. Harper's Ferry is situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, which cut through steep, tree-covered hills as they converge and flow south. There is a train tunnel through solid rock that is still in active use by the railroads. We saw easily a half dozen trains while we were there. We love to see trains.

The town itself climbs up the side of a hill, with the oldest part of town along the river bank. Interpretive signs explain that this quiet little town was once a bustling center of industry, with many businesses harnessing the power of the rivers to run their great machinery. Arms were manufactured and stored there, to be shipped up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Now, maybe you knew all this already, but I didn't, and suddenly I understood what brought John Brown to Harper's Ferry instead of somewhere else. So. Something else I love to have on a good outing - an interesting educational experience. And that was just the first of many as we gradually climbed the flights of stairs up the steep hillside.

We found a nice mix of shops and historical buildings, many of which were outfitted as they had been during the prosperous times before the Civil War. We did some shopping, as I mentioned in my earlier post, and had a nice lunch. But we also climbed further and further up the hill in the drizzling rain, coming to a beautiful native stone church overlooking the town, and above that, Jefferson Rock, where Thomas Jefferson once stood and commented on the spectacular view of the rivers. Thomas Jefferson. I know it is no longer politically correct to admire Thomas Jefferson, but I do, and I was awed to be walking in his footsteps, as it were.

I know there are things I am leaving out, but the point is we had a great time, learned a lot, and will definitely make return trips to Harper's Ferry. It is one of those places that I look forward to seeing all different times of year, and I know I will learn more each time I am there. How nice that it is only an hour away.

Monday, September 19, 2011

the thing about hats

I don't like to wear hats. Even before I gained as much weight as I have in the past year, I never thought I looked good in them. And now I really don't. You see, the thing is, I have a big head and a big face. I need some hair to "frame" my face, in that old phrase that mothers (at least mine) used to use. I believe some hair around my face softens it and also hides part of it. I was definitely one of those girls who used to hide behind curtains of long, straight hair back in the day.

That being said, there are times when I think it is necessary to wear a hat. Other than in the winter, I feel those occasions are fairly infrequent, but they do pop up from time to time. To that end, I knitted myself a couple of wide-brimmed sun hats which I really like and which allow some of my hair to still frame my face. I also bought an adorable straw hat at Hats in the Belfry, a cute little shop in Fells Point.

The type of hat I think looks particularly bad on me is the ubiquitous baseball cap. Most of them are not big enough for me, and they all smash my hair and make my face look extra big. Hate that. Unfortunately, that was the only type of hat available to me on Saturday when we went to Harper's Ferry and it began to rain. Rain had not occurred to me so I was without an umbrella or a raincoat. An unfortunate oversight on my part, as I particularly hate to get my hair wet. The only thing worse than hat hair is wet hair, in my opinion. So I wore the baseball cap to keep my hair and glasses dry, but I was not happy about it.

One of the many things I learned about Harper's Ferry was that Lewis and Clark stopped there to outfit their great expedition. I found there were still lots of little shops where I could outfit my own somewhat smaller expedition, as well, and we began to wander in and out of them, searching for a hat that would keep me dry but wouldn't be a baseball cap. And, you know, I found it. I won't try to describe the hat, but it is big enough to fit me, it is made of waterproof fabric, it has a nice, rolled brim, and it is definitely feminine. And, most importantly, it is not a baseball cap. As I explained to Jules, when I have to wear a hat, I want to wear a hat. I wore it the rest of the day, and it kept me dry and happy. I only hope I will find occasion to wear it again some time. That is the other thing about hats.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

how cool is this? my knitting pattern in Polish

As some of you know, in addition to being an avid knitter, I have designed a few knitting patterns of my own. I offer them at no cost through and also on my other blog, amancine hand-knits . Yesterday I was contacted by a woman in Poland who was seeking my permission to translate one of my patterns into Polish and post it on her knitting blog. Of course I said yes, and here it is. The world wide web. It's an amazing thing.