Enjoy the Summer Sunshine

I will, I will, I will … enjoy these long days of summer in peace and tranquillity.

I will, I will, I will … sit back, relax and watch the breeze flutter through all these gloriously lush green leaves.

I will, I will, I will … be gratefully present for each and every new day.

As another bright blue summer day gently eases towards end of day, I watch clouds gather on the horizon. I can find joy in clouds.

At 10:00 pm, the sun continues to stream through the trees here in south-central Alaska, not yet prepared to admit defeat to the short night ahead. The blooms in my annual RV mosquito-repelling pot sitting strategically next to the steps are basking contentedly in the late evening sun. Even my citronella plant is blooming!

Those delicate pink petals don’t usually make an appearance until the end of July, if at all … but then, I have been watering regularly, and with a happy blend of shade and sunshine, the whole pot seems to be thriving.

I wish I could remember the name of these pretty orange flowers – the nursery said it was compatible with the needs of the citronella plant, and that it was low-growing with a tendency to drape, which was just what I wanted. Anyone recognize it?

We need rain badly in Alaska right now – the whole state is one big tinderbox – so for tomorrow, I will consider giving up my desire for sunshine by adding rain to my mantra.

Unless the coming barometer drop causes a truly miserable fibro flare-up, I will, I will, I will enjoy and be grateful for rainy days. Oh, alright – even if my fibro gets the better of me, I WILL be grateful for any and all rain over the next couple of weeks.

Besides, there is almost nothing that relaxes me more than the sound of rain on an RV roof. I will enjoy rain on the roof.

I will, I will, I will … appreciate every time Rhonda tells me she needs to go outside to potty or just to play and sniff. I don’t know what I’d do without this cheerful little bundle of attitude, especially after Baxter decided RVing was no longer fun for him.

So, even if it’s 6 am (which admittedly rarely happens), or while I’m taking a nice afternoon nap, or just after I’ve taken my shoes off for the evening, or when I’ve already gone to bed for the night – I will be grateful for Rhonda being so well house trained. 💗

Anyway, I DO already appreciate every time Ronni insists I take her for a long walk (which we both need and I really do enjoy), or lays defiantly across my ankles when I’m trying to do leg raises (she’s cheaper and lots more fun than ankle-weights), or demands we play tug-a-war or fetch when I’d rather stare at my cell phone. Ronni is good for me as well as being a stellar buddy and navigator.

I will, I will, I will … set aside more time to spend with friends. I haven’t prioritized that as much as I should. I like my quiet alone time, but there is such a thing as too much of even a good thing. Thank goodness for nose work and barn hunt practices and trials!

I will, I will, I will … encourage myself to walk at least an hour a day. Heading to the walking track or a nearby trial would be ideal, but I don’t want to pressure myself. I know that finding time to drive somewhere for a long walk won’t happen every day. Maybe two half-hour walks with Rhonda along the utility-easement trail by the house on days I don’t want to venture further. I can do that.

I will, I will, I will … be grateful for my ability to ride my stationary bike daily (when I’m home), and that I’m able to ride for a longer time/distance than I could last month. I have the resistance set at 5 now, and the seat at its lowest height setting for maximum knee bend while I peddle. Go me!

And finally, I will, I will, I will … enjoy the occasional Alaskan July sunset that Mother Nature offers up way too late at night for me to witness, much less appreciate most of the time. On summer nights when I am awake for sunset this time of year, it’s because for one reason or another, I’m unable to sleep.

So, as another beautiful, balmy summer day ends, I will, I will, I will … sip my [decaf] Chai tea, sit in a comfortable chair and with all the gratitude I can muster, watch a spectacular sunset over the trees framing the western horizon.

Sleep will come, and tomorrow I will wake up and enjoy another long summer day. Perhaps it’s time to plan another travel adventure. I am sure I’ll enjoy that.

Summer … and the road beckons.

Oops!

OK, this morning was a perfect example of why I should not actually schedule upcoming blog posts to publish on a specific day until said blog post is WRITTEN and proofed.

I’m trying to get myself on a schedule of sending a blog post out every Sunday, whether or not others go out during the week.

I set this schedule up on Wednesday, began the hopefully entertaining “Birds and Bugs and Stuff” blog post … and then promptly forgot about it.

Sooo … for those of you who actually started to read the barely started, totally unfinished and certainly un-proofed blog my program so helpfully published without so much as checking in with me – my apologies!

Pretty please go back and give it another read, now that it’s actually finished. Thank you!

Birds and Bugs and Stuff

The agitated twittering of a family of robins in the cluster of birch trees near my bedroom window woke me from a fitful dose at 10:00 pm last night. Something was obviously amiss. Daylight in Alaska not withstanding, most non-predatory birds are tucked in and very quiet by this time of night.

Leaves were rustling, both in the tree and in the undergrowth, mostly low bush cranberry, as the squawking and cheeping continued for nearly 20 minutes.

My sleep-addled brain decided that one of two things had happened. Either the two chatterbox nestlings had [unwisely, IMO, but who asks me] chosen that time of night to fledge, or more chilling; one of the nestlings may have fallen from the nest. I was pretty sure this duo were close to fledging, as mealtimes had become more and more raucous this week.

I’m certain the bug and insect population in my yard has dramatically decreased, if those baby robins had any say. But without eyes on the actual nest, I could only listen and wonder what was happening. There was no way I was venturing out into the undergrowth on what would surely prove to be a vain effort. Besides, at that time of not-quite-night, there would be mosquitoes. ‘Nuff said. They were on their own.

As silence finally resumed, I rolled over and once again attempted slumber. I remember hoping sleepily that none of Alaska’s predatory critters were nearby.

With the new day barely underway (7:00 am); bird-song, including cajoling and impatient cheeping, resumed. Only now it was even closer at hand.

Rhonda sleeps the deep sleep of the innocent, and hadn’t yet twitched a whisker.

As I looked out the partially open bedroom window in the RV, there was Mama Robin, strutting purposely across the grass alongside the RV. About three hops behind her came an adorable, if noisy, adolescent robin.

I’m guessing this was the newly ousted (whether intentional or not) fledgling from the night before. They have the cutest stripes – better camouflage, I imagine, but this one was cheeping so loudly, I’m pretty sure camo would not have helped if a predator was nearby.

Mom robin continued to march onward without so much as a glance back. The youngster continued demanding, well, whatever it was he wanted. Maybe breakfast, maybe a lift back to the nest?

A tad worried about what seemed to be an earth-bound baby robin, I started out the door in PJs and slippers – and BARELY reacted quickly enough to forestall Rhonda from beating me outside! Yikes! I thought she was still sound asleep. Yeah, right.

Ronni is actually really well-trained not to go out the door, or even to the inside step to the door, without permission … but she had spied (and obviously heard) the baby robin. Prey drive sometimes (alright, often 🙄) trumps training.

I dropped my cellphone (sorry, no baby robin pics), bundled Ronni up in my arms while grabbing for a leash, and together, we quietly followed Mom and chick (hmm … is a baby robin a chick?).

It was interesting and entertaining, and I’m happy to say, Ronni seemed content enough for the time being to just watch from my arms. The Mom obviously had a plan, and it did not immediately include breakfast.

She stayed several feet ahead of her squawking offspring as we hung well back and followed her up the driveway towards the barn. When she got close enough to the metal fencing of the goat pen, she flew to the top (52” high) and chirped in encouragement.

You could literally hear it in her voice; “Here’s a nice low, very stable bar to land on. It’s not very high. Come on, spread those wings.”

The not-quite-fledgling squawked and hopped in circles.

Mom flew back down. When the youngster rushed towards her on quick little legs, Mom flew back to the fence. “Chirp!”

The little one danced in circles again, which had Ronni wiggling in my arms. Maybe it was a good thing … as Ronni gave out a low “woo woo woo” of frustration, the young robin, startled, leapt into the air, wings beating hard.

Prey animals have just as good instincts as the predators that hunt them. Mom robin, seeing her offspring leave the ground, took off again, landing on an adjoining fence about 20’ away.

The baby, having discovered his wings would actually carry him aloft, took off instantly after her, still chirping for all he was worth.

As the duo chirped and scolded their way from the fence to the low branch of a nearby birch tree, and then finally swooped together across the pasture and out of sight, I set Ronni on the ground.

As I smiled and pondered nature’s complexities, glad the Mama robin had managed to get this early-bird into the air, Ronni was darting in circles, happily following the obvious (to her nose) track of a previously vulnerable baby bird.

Fair skies, little robin. It’s time for coffee.

Remembering Libby

I promised myself, a long time ago, that I was going to knit Jerry a sock-hat made from “Libby fur”. More precisely, made from the washed, spun, downy undercoat of the much-loved Great Pyrenees dog that saved Jer’s life back in 2009.

Libby and one of her tiny charges.

I have several bags of “Libby fur” patiently waiting for the right project – already washed, dried and gently stored away. I came across this beautiful fiber (and an equally big bag of Abby’s soft sable undercoat, which I absolutely cannot bring myself to even open just yet), this week while looking for my next spinning project.

I haven’t forgotten Libby, but I had forgotten my plans for this hat. I think it will be the perfect Christmas 2022 gift for Jerry.

The problem is; although Jer wants a “Libby” hat, he doesn’t want a white sock-hat. He likes dark colors like black, brown or gray.

Sure, I could dye the white dog fur, but that sort of takes the fun out of it (for me, anyway), and would be less likely to evoke wonderful memories of this special dog every time Jer wears the hat.

Besides, from a purely practical viewpoint, dog fur has absolutely zero “memory” or elasticity. Whether I went with white or not, I’d still have to blend the dog fur with wool. Otherwise, his new hat would hang down the sides of his face like … well, like wet dog fur.

So, I’ve pretty much decided to create a darker wool hat with white Libby stripes. I have some expresso brown/black Shetland sheep roving, some brownish-tan Targee sheep roving, white Cormo wool, and a ton of Libby’s soft, luxurious white undercoat.

So, I started blending …

After blending on the drum carder, my “white” batt is now about 50/50 Libby undercoat and fine, white Cormo wool. The white stripes will definitely be the softest, most luxurious yarn in this [mostly] wool hat.

The first thing I did was to measure out my available fiber by weight – white (dog fur and Cormo wool), tan (Targee wool) and dark (Shetland wool) – and then divide each in half.

I left half of the black/brown Shetland roving and half of the Targee as is, to spin into yarn for solid stripes.

The other half of each of my colored fiber was then divided again. One section of Shetland was combined lightly on my drum-carder with an equal amount of Targee for a variegated dark brown/tan batt.

The other section of tan Targee was blended with white Cormo, just a bit of Libby and random streaks of dark Shetland for a (mostly) lighter variegated tan batt.

I currently have five batts ready to spin, varying in color from white to blended tan and white, to blended tan and brown, to dark expresso.

I’m not sure yet what order the colors will end up being knit, but I think Jer will like it. I have plenty of time to figure the pattern out. My first priority is to spin it all up, and since my summertime spinning is sporadic at best, that may take a while.

A couple of the drum-carded batts have now joined my wheel in the RV, so that’s a start. Hopefully, by the time I have to bring the wheel back into the house in the fall, I’ll have a bunch of yarn ready to knit with. If not, I’ll just keep spinning my wheel.

Don’t worry. Libby won’t mind waiting a little longer. 💗

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