EZ Does It

img_2980_lowres“EZ.”  Elizabeth Zimmermann to non-knitters.  She is widely accepted as the mother of modern knitting.  Some call her the Jerry Garcia of knitting.  When she died in 1999, her NY Times obituary said  that she “brought a penetrating intellect and a sculptor’s sensitivity to revolutionizing the  ancient art of knitting.”  It quoted from the preface of one of Zimmermann’s early books, “Knitters Almanac:”  “In knitting there are ancient possibilities.  The earth is enriched with the dust of millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep.”

Knitters will know that the hat is Zimmermann’s spiral hat.  It is the warmest hat there is–knitted of superbulky weight wool from her company, Schoolhouse Press, now run by Zimmermann’s daughter Meg Swanson.  (The acorn did not fall far from the tree.  Swanson is a master knitter, knit designer and teacher.)  And the mittens?  They are Sideways Mystery Mittens, knit in bold colors to show off the construction of the mitten. At a first knit, a knitter will be half way through the mitten before she sees how its shape is forming.  Zimmermann rediscovered the use of the moebius in knitting.  And ribwarmers.  And socks, oh my–could Elizabeth design socks.  Near the end of her life, we are told Elizabeth could not knit.  I am happy for her that she did not remember what she was missing.  Knitters around the world continue to find inspiration in  her ground-breaking body of work.  She encouraged knitters  to free themselves from the tyranny of the pattern and gently prodded us  “blind followers” to enrich our craft by finding its new and old expressions.

You know those ubiquitous plastic chairs that have popped up everywhere?  I am about to start knitting two chair covers for my beige pair.  I want to use Yuvinia Yuhadi’s “Not So Ubiquitous Knitted Chair” pattern, but I want to do it my own way.  I have stashed the yarn.  I have studied books and charts for inspiration.  I have read Yuhadi’s pattern. Blind following is easy. EZ’s call for bushwhacking your own knitting trail is harder.

“Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” Elizabeth Zimmerman

Long Lake Slug


Just in case you thought I was going all sweetness and light, gushing in the last post about the beauty of the local sunflowers, whataya think of this beastie?  Hideous, isn’t she?  We weren’t trying to bribe her to find another patio stone to slime, we  just wanted to show how fat and long Ms. Sluggo was.  With all the rain the Hillman area had this summer, it’s been a great growing season for creatures of the slug variety.  Nice set of horns, don’t you think?  Complete with cute little do-dads on the ends.

Wikipedia recommends against eating a land slug.  They are poisonous.  If you do find yourself tempted anyway, be ready to follow the tasty treat with  mass quantities of “neutral matter” like “grass,” “leaves” or “a lot of milk” to  combat the poison.  Wiki says alcohol stimulates the mucus membrane of the slug and will enhance the effect of the poison.  It is very important to vomit immediately if you eat a slug.  I think I could manage that.  No problem.



So, this is our Long Lake garden. No, our Long Lake garden is mostly hostas and a few other low maintenance perennials.  This is the sunflower field of a farmer on M-33 between Fairview and Comins–about 30 miles from the cottage.  Helianthus Annus.  When their buds are flowering, sunflowers  face east at sunrise and then follow the sun from east to west while the day progresses.  They have motor cells in their stalk, just below the head, that allow them to be heliotrophic.  If you think about it too much, or pass by their fields at different times of the day while they are all moving in unison, it’s a bit “Day of the Triffids” creepy.   One cool talent? Sunflowers can extract bad stuff from the soil, like lead, arsenic and uranium. (Not that there’s much of  that, hopefully, in the soil around M-33).  Sunflowers were planted around Chernobyl after the nuclear power plant disaster as part of the restoration effort. Hopefully, nobody made sunflower oil out of those.


Ghost Bay Musings


This is Ghost Bay on a rainy, misty, chilly, early morning in mid-July.  That’s me in my yellow Pungo and Steve’s classic Grundens rain hat. Steve actually never wore the hat; I wrestled it away from him. Actually, it wasn’t much of a wrestle because he was going to give the hat to the Salvation Army. I used to have a Madame Alexander Wendykins doll that wore a hat just like this.  With earflaps, an adjustable chin strap and a welded water ditch on the front brim that leads water away.  Wendykins (I don’t know why they called her that either) had a matching raincoat instead of a matching kayak. Anyway, this is Ghost Bay.  This is where I want my cremains quietly spread when the time for that sort of thing comes, even though it’s a no wake zone.  The bottom is kind of mucky already, though the water is clear, so I don’t think I will do any damage.  And tossing a bit of me on the shore among the ferns and wildflowers would be OK too.

Pileated Woodpeckers


Last winter, when this photo was taken from our great room window, we were amazed to see this guy.  He’s supposedly shy.  Wary.  Needs lots of elbow room–something like 400 acres per bird.  Yipes. We felt  honored he trusted our suet. He soon became a regular visitor, late in the day, after the riff raff finch hordes departed.  He always preferred the suet feeder that allows woodpeckers to eat while getting some purchase by pressing their tail against the paddle just like they would against a tree.  You can tell he’s a him because of the red mustache.  Sometimes a female would visit the feeder (no red mustache, the same red hairdo), but they never came together.  Dryocopus Pileatus a/k/a Woody Woodpecker eats tons of bugs, primarily carpenter ants and woodboring beetle larvae.   He uses his powerful beak to excavate tree trunks and then uses his long barbed tongue and sticky spit to slurps up ants and larvae from their tunnels in the bark.  I don’t even want to think about what must be in that suet they like so much.

These birds are the largest woodpeckers in North America.  Except if you believe that the long-thought-to-be-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker has really been rediscovered in eastern Arkansas.  The Pileated is 15.7 to 19.3 inches long.  Think about that for a minute.  It’s as big as the biggest crows.  Its wingspan is 26 to 29 inches.   Pileateds have  a lovely call, something like chalk being pressed fast and too hard on a blackboard.  Their call does not resemble Woody’s famous “ha-ha-ha-HAA-ha.”  The sound of their pecking at trees is most impressive.  Maybe scientists should study how Pileated’s brains are insulated from such jackhammer shock forces.  They could probably save the brain functioning of more than a  few motorcyclists.

A few weeks ago, the Long Lake Suet Cafe was visited by mom, dad, and  “baby.”  We even watched the parents take a chunk of suet and feed it to “baby.”  Forgive the photo.  The light was dim.  The birds weren’t sitting still.  But triple wow what a sight!