Monday? Tomorrow? WHAT.

So… it’s Sunday night already? How did that happen?

The weekend was a bit of a wash because I had a big work thing on Friday that simply wore. me. out., and I mostly spent the weekend recovering. It’s depressing that something super mentally taxing, where you’re constantly “on,” focusing intently, ends up making you feel like you’ve been run over by a semi truck, when you don’t actually burn any more calories than normal or gain any fitness, because you haven’t actually been doing anything physical.

(Though, embarrassingly, when I woke up Saturday my legs were a wee bit sore from standing much of Friday – embarrassing because it brought home exactly how much I normally sit each day. I would really love to get a standing desk contraption, but I’m fairly picky about how my computer is set up, and I can’t find one that would meet my requirements without spending ~$600. I’m sick of sitting all day, but not yet that sick of sitting all day.)

In any case, we went out to dinner on Friday night, where this lovely beacon of G&T finally awaited me (sorry for the repeat from Instagram):

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And then I slept and slept and slept.

Saturday I exercised, and got a manicure/pedicure, and listened to the thunder and torrential rains that descended while I was in the salon. Then I picked up tamales for our dinner, and took a quick picture of the monsoon running through our arroyo before heading in to devour tamale deliciousness:

IMG_0851When I was approaching our parking lot, Don Julio, one of the three local feral cats we feed, saw me from the side of the road, and followed me home. He and Daisy, another of the ferals, practically chased me to the front of our apartment, where their food sat in its dish, soaked and turned to mush. Don Julio’s head and chest were wet, but the rest of him was dry; Daisy looked pretty much completely dry, so they weathered the monsoon. (It is entirely characteristic that Daisy seems to have done so more effectively than Don Julio.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen them come so close to me before, but the rain must have driven all the lizards and mice into their hidey-holes, and they clearly really wanted dinner.

(The third feral, Stripey, is friendly, and was sitting in our apartment in absolute comfort throughout the whole storm.)

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Different day, but pretty much what Stripey usually looks like when he’s inside.

I did experience one crafting triumph this weekend, though, because after ripping back yet more rows of my Talavera sweater, I finally figured out how to read the lace! So while I still make mistakes – usually skipping a yarnover, or failing to knit into it on the next row – I can now go back and put in the yarnover after the fact, and get back on track, rather than having to tink back for yonks. (I can’t remember if I’ve said that I’m holding laceweight double for this sweater, but I am, and so tinking is just that little bit more annoying.)

And excitingly, I have just about reached the point in the pattern where I divide for the underarms, which will feel like real progress. I think, though, that I’m going to add a couple more repeats to make it a little bit longer (it’s going to stretch with blocking, I realize, but inevitably when knitting gets longer, it also gets narrower, which for me will be Entirely Unnecessary and Counterproductive, so I hope to avoid that. And while the styling in the magazine is lovely, I don’t wear fit-and-flare dresses like the model in the photo shoot, so will be looking for it to hit a bit lower on the torso).

We won’t talk about the baby blanket… (I need to wind another skein and just haven’t felt like it!).

It was a relaxing weekend. I could really use another one.

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I cannot get enough of the red-orange-yellow gradients you get in the flowers here.

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What I’ve been doing lately

Did you ever have pets who did that thing where you’d open the door to let them out, and it was bad weather, and they’d look at you in dismay, then go to another door of the house, hoping that the weather outside that door would magically be better? I feel kind of like that these days. I keep looking out the window thinking, “I’m sure it’s cooled down by now,” and then I walk outside and go, “Nope, still hot.”

So the focus is still on indoor activities over here. Work has been busy, so I have been spending the free time I have on making things, rather than blogging about making things.

My knitting has been fairly monotonous lately, because I am still working on a baby blanket for a friend. Unfortunately I thought I had until September, but the baby decided almost 32 weeks was plenty, and he was coming out NOW. So far he seems to be doing extremely well, and it’s too hot for blankets here anyway, but I need to get it done. One night when I needed to wind a new ball, I cheated with my Talavera, on which I managed to knit 3 rows and then rip back two, so that’s proceeding pretty much as usual.

I tend to be a very selfish knitter and knit only for myself, when it never matters how long the project takes, so sticking to one project till it’s done with a vague deadline in mind is…less fun than my normal knitting. I’m also wondering why I decided I would be all ambitious and knit the “throw” size, when “crib” or “stroller” would have been totally fine. It feels never-ending, and I’m afraid I won’t have enough yarn, but I’m almost halfway done and the only way out is through.

However, while I feel guilty knitting something besides this blanket, somehow other crafts don’t seem to count, because I’ve been spending chunks of the last few weekends sewing. I made a pair of pajama pants in a print I absolutely love:

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Amusingly, if you look at it from far enough away, it looks like the print is actually dark purple alien heads with golden eyes – which I like just as well.

I’ve also cut out the pieces for a skirt in the white fabric below (the bicycles are the right way up on the skirt, I promise):

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It’s really intended as more of a wearable muslin/practice at making a skirt, than as something I would wear regularly; I bought the fabric because I thought it was adorable, and thought I would make another pair of pajama pants (I love pajama pants), but then decided I might as well play around with it.

This weekend I wasn’t feeling focused enough to work more on the skirt, though, so I made what has got to be the jankiest project bag ever:

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It’s a cheap remnant from Jo-Ann Fabrics, I didn’t measure very carefully so I don’t think there are any straight lines/angles, and my seams are terrible, but it’s actually very functional. The baby blanket has got too big for all my other project bags; I also get weird about textures, and the feeling of the soft-but-woolly wool scraping against the cheap cotton I’d used for my other project bags has been sending shivers down my spine. (I can’t bear the feeling of toilet paper or paper towel rolls rubbing against each other, either – it’s like nails on a chalkboard; does anyone else get this feeling?) So I lined this with a polyester lining fabric, and it’s SO much nicer to put the project away/take it out again. The slipperiness of the polyester is a big factor in all the wonkiness, since it slides around so badly, and the edges frayed so quickly, that keeping a consistent seam allowance was beyond my current skills. But again, good practice, since now I want to put a smooth lining in all my project bags.

I have some other, more focused posts I’d like to write, but when I have the free time knitting or sewing always seem to win out. So I guess I’ll get to those later, and end here for now, with a couple of pictures from early morning and twilight in the desert.

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Cabin fever 

Is that what you call it when it’s too hot to go outside?

I associate it with stories of frontier families snowed in for winter, where, when spring comes, neighbors wander by the cabin to find the family went mad from forced proximity and bludgeoned each other to death. (Or ate each other. I’m not so good on frontier history. I grew up in the land of the pilgrims and the Revolutionary War, after which, we were informed, some other things apparently happened in other, less important parts of the country).

But it seems a pretty good term for what happens when stepping outside feels like walking into an oven, where the heat feels like something alive but not sentient, simply a force to be endured. It’s the time of year when you walk out of the house at night and think, well, that feels better, then realize that it’s still 96 degrees.

It’s also the time of year when the creepy crawlies outside start to get fed up with the heat, too. We apparently have some kind of haven for spiders above our bathroom ceiling; last year around this time, we’d walk in and turn on the light and find a dozen baby spiders on the bathroom ceiling; this year, we discovered that was very much seasonal. Baby spiders here aren’t all that small, so all I can say is thank god the husband is willing to do spider duty.

But the spiders aren’t so bad. Mostly I miss being out in the sunshine and fresh air, going for walks and looking at the plants and animals in the arroyo. (It might be cool enough to walk at 5:30-6:00 in the morning, but let’s not get crazy here.)

In the meantime, have a picture of some oleanders, taken between my door and mailbox as the sun went down.

I will endeavor not to whine. But it will take some effort.

The summer here has been pretty mild so far, with one of the latest “first day over 100 degree” dates in years. But we’re paying for it this coming week, which is forecast to be full of triple-digit temperatures, reaching perilously close to the hundred-and-teens (Wednesday’s high is supposed to be 109°.) We will be facing an awful lot of this:

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This doesn’t even look so bad, because of all the green and because the tree casts welcome shade. Shade is key in the desert; when the heat is dry, stepping into the shade knocks the temperature down some noticeable amount. Shade in a humid climate doesn’t really do anything – the moisture in the air conducts heat wherever you try to hide. In a dry climate, though, shade protects you from your enemy, the sun.

Cool becomes relative. Right now, it’s 11:00 at night, and it’s 88 degrees. Stepping out the front door still feels like draping yourself in a warm blanket, even after dark. (But a dry blanket.)

The locals are used to this, of course. Their summer is like winter where I grew up: you hole up indoors and spend as little time as possible outside. But I still suffer from cognitive dissonance, because I think of summer as the season of free time and outdoor activities and picnics and relaxation and all those things that don’t really work with the weather here.

At least the sunsets are awfully pretty.

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It just feels wrong to wish the days away, but: is it September yet?

Hitting the century mark

I know it’s not June yet, but it looks like summer here: we hit 100° yesterday, for the first time this year. We’re predicted to hit at least 100° for the next five days, and the next five after that only drop to the upper 90s. It’s about the time of year when everyone hunkers inside during the day, and goes out at night, when it’s still hot, but not blistering. This afternoon I opened our west-facing screen door to let in the local friendly semi-feral, and the metal burned; the cat trotted in and immediately flopped full length on the poured-concrete floor in a puddle of floof.

I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to show the heat in photographs, because 100+° here looks much like 75-100° here: blue skies, clear air, golden light. Maybe the glare is a little brighter, the colors around you a little more bleached, and the world  a little emptier. We’ll see. You may just get a lot more indoor pictures, of cats and crafty projects. But for the moment, have a few pictures of what it looks like here before walking to the mailbox makes the sweat trickle down your neck.

fluffy pink-tipped flower

purple cactus flower

tall pink flowers with dry stalks

cactus bud and agave

poppy and pavement

purple cactus fruit

citrus bush

red-orange flower on green bush