Thursday, May 24, 2012

I've been struggling with what to blog lately.  Everything has either felt far too personal to blog, or much too mundane.  I haven't finished any knitting, although I have several projects on the needles.  I haven't been anywhere special nor done anything very interesting.  I guess it's time for Random Thoughts.
The weather has been beautiful, sunny, warm.  
The marsh is in full green glory and things are growing so fast one must almost jump back to keep from getting knocked over. :)  
On Sunday, I picked fresh spearmint from plants we put in around the stream last summer, and dropped it into the pitcher of iced tea I was steeping. Yum!
We planted thirty-five red raspberry bushes that were given me by my cousin and his wife. Most are showing signs of growth, so we should have plenty of raspberries in the future, maybe even as early as this fall!
A flock of Canada geese visited the house this morning, coming almost to the back deck before they saw me and waddled away. There must have been at least twenty-five adults and goslings.  They spend a great deal of time in the millpond next door, but I don't often see them in the yard here.
So far this year, I've seen wild turkeys, chipmunks (we have one who can climb the four-foot-tall half-inch steel post and jump into the bird feeder, where he stuffs his cheeks full of seeds), deer, and geese in the yard.  I had to stop mowing two times Monday and wait for female snapping turtles to cross in front of me. They'd been laying their eggs.  Turtles move exceeding slowly.  I could have picked them up and moved them along, but they were snappers, after all, and I cherish my fingers.
Goldfinches, bright yellow in their summer plumage, grosbeaks, red-headed woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, robins, and hawks number among the birds who flit about the yard and visit the bird feeder.  I haven't seen any hummingbirds yet, but the feeder is ready to be filled and hung outside the back door for them.  I saw a mink on the little bridge across the stream!  
The Lonely Socks Club
I have this basket full of single socks.  These are samples that I knit for some of the various patterns that I designed for publication.  On Ravelry, they are celebrating the 'Ravelympics', with participants challenging themselves to complete knitting goals during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.  My goal, as a member of Sock Madness 6, is to knit as many of the matching socks as possible between the opening and closing ceremonies.  I put aside the yarns that I used for all of these when I designed them, so all I have to do now is put the yarn and the socks together, find copies of the patterns, and be ready for opening day!
I should be forbidden to ever trim my own bangs when they get long.  I look like the little Dutch boy on the paint cans.  Yikes.
My friend, Michelle, is now home for good and taking her terminal leave before officially retiring from the Navy. Thank you, Shelly, for your twenty-six years of service, and welcome home to the next segment of your life!
Off to work now.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Back to the Farm
I went this afternoon to visit my father at his home.  It was the first time I had been in the house since we moved the last load of our belongings out of it nearly four years ago. It was the first time I had been in the house since he and his wife moved into it, some time after we moved out.
Those of you who know me well and who know the story of the past few years will understand the meaning of that previous paragraph.  The visit went much as I thought it would.  
And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A motorcycle ride, a visit to a distillery, and a hat for a friend

The still room
We recently made a trip on the bike to the annual Tennessee Lunch Run at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  It was, as always, wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. Along the way, the group with which we were riding made a stop at Woodford Reserve Distillery to see how bourbon is made.  I am not a major consumer of bourbon, but I found the buildings and the processes involved in its production very interesting.  You can click on the name of the distillery above to visit their Web site.

The buildings are all limestone, every stone hand-laid by Scottish and Irish artisans who were brought to America by the distillery owners for just that purpose.  The walls of the buildings are two feet thick, allowing the bourbon to stay at a fairly constant temperature and, the tour guide informed us, to assure that its flavor is the very best.
Steve (a.k.a. "Polecat") admires the large copper stills

I had just a camera phone in my pocket for our tour, and wish I could go back with a really good camera and a UV filter to better capture the warm beauty of the stone buildings, the oak barrels, and the copper stills.  It was a lovely, calm, and quiet place and I enjoyed the visit immensely.

Bourbon ages in barrels for at least four years

Beautiful stone walls

A barrel hoist

The barrel run allows the barrels to be rolled on a track from building to building
The scent of aging bourbon filled the air in this building.  Our guide called the fragrance "the Angels' Share", as it is considered the refinery's gift to the angels for watching over the process.  A refinery fire is a dreadful thing, indeed, and the angels must be vigilant to prevent its occurrence. 
Another view of the barrel run, and the weighing station

New oaken barrels await their contents

By state regulation, barrels may only be used one time in the bourbon-aging process.  They must be toasted and charred on the inside before filling.  After the contents are emptied, the barrels are sold for other uses, but can never be used again to make bourbon.  Woodford Reserve owns and operates their own cooperage to produce the barrels used to age their products.
Emptying the aged bourbon from the barrels so that it can be filtered, mixed, and bottled

Mill stone as wall decoration

Such craftsmanship!

After touring the grounds, we returned to the refinery gift shop where we tasted the bourbon produced at Woodford Reserve.  Several of our traveling companions purchased bottles of bourbon, but I contented myself with some bourbon-flavored caramels and praline pecans.

The trip was wonderful, as all trips are where every participant arrives home again, safe and sound.  We had fair weather for the ride there, and good company along the way. The return ride was pretty miserable though, with cold temperatures and extremely high head winds all the way from Tennessee to home.

One of my chat-room friends from North Carolina teased me until I promised to knit him a hat in Harley-Davidson colors.  The yarn was a new one to me, Berroco Vintage in red-orange and black.  It was lovely and soft to knit up into this Jacques Cousteau Hat. I had hoped to have it finished in time to deliver it at the lunch run, but had to mail it to Ken after we returned home. He has pronounced it fit to wear. : )
Diesel-Dawg's new hat