Springtime in Chicago

I don’t think there is a finer place to be in the world than sitting on my back porch on a sunny, pleasantly warm spring day. I’m not the only one with this opinion, either. My mother-in-law stopped by yesterday morning for a visit. We sat on the porch sipping tea, nibbling on fresh fruit, and just enjoying the experience. About every 20 minutes she would comment how she needed to get moving along, but that she was having trouble moving off our porch on such a lovely day.

Here’s a photo of my completed Inside-Out Socks taken on the porch this weekend.

STR Inside-Out SocksWe had the most fabulous weather this weekend and I took full advantage of it. There was actually little gardening for me to do beyond some minor weeding and pruning the roses. I’ll be executing Phase 2 of the landscaping plan this spring (hopefully within the next 2 weeks) so I will not be planting my annual veggies for some time. They’ll be going in an entirely new location, which means no soil prep right now, either.

This is the year I make a major change in my gardening. I hope. For the past 3 years, I’ve been using a small area in the yard directly behind the house for annual veggies. Now that I *seem* to have the side yard bindweed issues in hand (I won’t even pretend that they are solved, just “in hand”), I can move on with my master plan to devote that yard to edible gardening. I will get another load of mulch put down first, then have raised beds constructed on top of it all and filled with fresh soil. This way, I will not be disturbing the soil underneath all the weed liner and mulch that likely has bindweed seeds in it.

There’s lots of space in that side yard and lots of sun. I’m hoping to have permanent beds for asparagus and blueberries built, and to add a total of 5 more beds for annual veggie rotations. For this spring, if I get just 2 annual beds built I’m sure that will be enough.

I’m glad that there wasn’t a lot of yard work to do because I have been incredibly tired this weekend, too. I’m guessing and hoping that it is just allergies. Otherwise, I am clueless as to why I am getting stupidly tired (e.g. tired to the point of not being able to talk coherently) so easily every day. I crashed on Saturday at about 5:00 and napped until 7:30. On Sunday, I made it to 4:30 before laying down for 90 minutes. I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow for my annual check up, and this is one of my discussion points with her.

As for the short Sedona, Arizona vacation, it was…well…OK. We ran into some problems managing our time last Sunday. We were effectively kidnapped by Mark’s half-brother for a good chunk of the day and didn’t make it up to Sedona until early in the evening.

About this kidnapping comment: that’s what it felt like. When you tell someone — more than once — that you’ll be visiting for brunch, does that mean you’re spending the whole day with them? I don’t think so. Mark’s half-brother did. He asked us to park our rental car so he could take us for “a little tour”– what we thought meant a tour of his gated community — then zipped us away for a tour of Surprise, AZ’s strip malls and housing developments for retirees and non-retirees. Mark seemed paralyzed at speaking up, so after 90 minutes of “This is the Walgreen’s where we get our prescriptions, and that’s where they’re building an Appleby’s” it was up to me to set him straight. I explained that as much as we’d like to spend the day with him, we had thought that we were just meeting for brunch and had reservations in Sedona. We still didn’t escape until 3 PM and the traffic on I-17 delayed us further.

All I can say about these gated communities in the Phoenix area is this, “not for me!!!!” I guess this is typical for new communities: to be insulated by gates, golf courses, and strip malls from anything going on in the world. Every house looks nearly the same and every strip mall has the same chains of stores. It would drive me insane. If this is the typical experience of Americans these days, then I can see why we’ve become so ignorant of what’s going on globally.

I guess I should consider myself lucky, too, that Chicago retains some character from bygone days. We can visit a local restaurant that is not like any other restaurant. We can visit local shops that are not like any other shop. And so on. Individuality, what a concept!

So, we only had one day in Sedona. That one day was one of unseasonable weather: cold and wet. Not just rain wet, but icy rain wet. And when we went out for a hike, we got caught in it. By the time we walked back to our B&B (about 2 miles) we were soaked and freezing. That was the end of our hikining in Sedona.

I got several photos during that time, though.

Stormy weather in red rock country This is typical of the views. Red rocks, green trees, and stormy sky. There are more photos here on my Flickr account.

The next day was sunny and fairly warm, but we had to head out of town right after breakfast so we could make our return flight home. To sum it all up: Phoenix was blech and Sedona was pretty, but not fabulous. It still doesn’t beat northern New Mexico as the place that stirs my soul the most.

In the desert

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona. Mark and I flew in yesterday afternoon and will be spending a few days away from home and the girls (our dogs). For Mark, today is a working day. This trip was precipitated by business for him. Me, I’m just along for the ride right now. Tomorrow we start our mini-vacation as we head north to Sedona.

Phoenix is very flat and very brown. There are mountains ringing the valley where the city is located, but the actual valley itself is topographically bland. The gardener in me is fascinated with the desert vegetation, though. Palo verde trees are just trippy! They have such tiny, needle-like leaves and are green throughout their entire being.

And what is that tree that has such beautiful, purple flowers on it now? For some reason I want to say jacaranda, but I’ll have to look it up. At least I’m not seeing streets full of green lawns like we did in Albequerque. Of course, for now we are in the city of Phoenix business district. We’ll see if the clever and sustainable desert xeriscaping continues or whether it is replaced by wasteful lawns when we move on through the communities ringing Phoenix tomorrow.

Since the past few days have been full of work, work, work and then last minute packing, I felt the need to catch up on blogging today. Technical difficulties have prevented me from using the Blogger interface so I’m using the email functionality. That means no photos in this post. But of course I don’t really have any photos to show at this time. I’d rather not post photos of knitting WIPs, and that’s all I have right now.

I am almost done with my Inside-Out socks from the Rockin’ Sock Club. I’m about 5 rows away from binding off. It’s taken me quite a while to do them since the first sock involved lots of ripping and re-knitting, but the second one is going much faster now.

Socks are usually commuting projects, though. At home and during weekly Stitch ‘n Bitch, I’ve been working on the Lift and Separate wrap cardigan from Big Girl Knits. The back is done, the left front is done, and now I’m working on the right front. I was whipping right through it until last weekend when a combination of allergies, general sleep-deprivation, and work deadlines affected the weekend.

Last Saturday was spent just sleeping or trying to sleep. Every time I got up to attend to some work, I found myself nearly paralyzed with exhaustion. Then I would shuffle back to bed and sleep for another hour. On Sunday, I finally felt refreshed, but I had that deadline for work so I sat down and worked for about 7 hours. Once weekend errands were done, I had maybe one hour of knitting time left before I needed to head off to bed.

It was a busy week at work so there was little time for knitting in the evenings. I’ve brought the right front of the cardigan with me this weekend, just in case. Even though I will be doing all the driving this weekend, I’m looking forward to getting some prime knitting time in. Between the time at the gate yesterday and the nearly 3 hour flight from Chicago to Phoenix, I completed the short row heel and half the cuff on the Inside Out sock. Ahh, I’m feeling better already!

If there’s convenient Internet access over the next couple days I may just post an entry and some photos. Sedona is supposed to be beautiful and I’m hoping to get some really nice shots with my little Canon digital camera.

I must be missing the girls and home already. Although I slept well last night, my dreams all involved our house or the dogs. Maybe they were dreaming about me…