Sunday, April 19, 2020

Finding beauty where it lives

Let's mark this reunion with some eye candy, shall we? Unfinished socks, meet mantelpiece.

I never get tired of the way plain knit stitches look up close, so neatly arranged. Orderly. Predictable.

Maybe even a little fluffy, like these ones, which are made from a mohair/wool blend.

You may recognize this as the farm yarn I love which is no longer in production (but thankfully and for reasons I can't imagine, ahem, I still have a substantial supply). It's a heavy, warm, hardwearing yarn that makes excellent wintertime socks. Unusually, I find they are the pairs I am turning to most often in these springtime weeks, even though some days the temperatures are warm enough to set trees to bud. The wool breathes well, so they're not too much, and the heft of the fabric is so comforting.

And boy, do we need comfort right now, don't we? Wherever we can find it.  I write this as a healthy person sitting in a comfortable home with people I enjoy enormously, very conscious that too many others are not nearly so fortunate. I hope you are doing okay, wherever you are right now, and that the people you love are doing okay too. I am going to cram as many hugs into this post as I can. I wish I could do more.

Socks, not quite crammed into a carry basket for easy Netflix knitting


It really is spring here now. I can tell because the leaves are starting to come out on the mystery tree in our back yard.

They are so incredibly green and perfect for the first two months or so, before they go patchy and brownish in July. You have to admire their resilience. This tree was old when we bought the house and that was a pretty long time ago, but it hangs on, as should we.

Those of us lucky enough to face the question of how to spend all our newfound indoor time are addressing it in different ways. Some are productive, and others are nurturing. In my case the answer is: run just fast enough to stand still.

I am on a crash course in keeping more than two or three days of food in the house at a time, cooking everything myself instead of relying on intermittent takeout, establishing multiple work areas that can shift from standing to sitting to video conference to workout coaching to writing or accounting, and sourcing technology to do these extra things.

Another urgent task: reorganizing and replenishing my tea drawer and cupboard, because in this house tea is an essential worker. Here is the cupboard, in case I haven't shown you before.  Two Unikitties, one at each corner, are ready to greet me every time I visit.

I highly recommend keeping a Unikitty on a cupboard shelf because it guarantees you a smile at least once a day when you open the door and see it again. (in case you can't read it, that mug in the middle reads, "All you need is tea & warm socks", which is almost true.)

There are usually more tea mugs on that bottom shelf.  I suspect they were all in use or in the wash when I took this. There is a lot of tea and coffee and hot chocolate happening here.


This weekend, the card house I built with these all my new skills looked steady enough to let me step back and take care of the clutter building up while my attention was somewhere else.

Isn't this a much prettier landscape than piles of art supplies and heaps of knitting and mending? It never occurred to me before to colour-coordinate my project bags, but I find this really soothing and will be doing it from now on.

I especially like that shallow bowl on the right hand side, holding socks I'd just finished running in ends on but haven't washed yet.  In March, right before things closed down, a friend came into the city to meet for lunch and gave it to me with waaay too many super-delicious brownies on it. She told me to keep it, that it was just a cheapie she'd found at a dollar store, but I love the way it looks and I think it's perfect for a small shelf like this one.

Check out the reward I got for cleaning up my tiny office:

Yep, more farm yarn socks. And they're all but finished!  That has to be the fifth or sixth pair I stumbled across this month knitted all the way to the toes and then left to wait for the future me.  I don't know what I was thinking. That knitting is more fun than finishing, maybe?

I must have started these while we were still back in the condo, before the house was ready for us to move back. They went into a basket which went into my office, where it had various things piled on top of it, some of which must have stayed for two years or so because it was only this weekend that I dug back down to the Unfinished Sock layer. 

Boy, was I glad to find them.  And also the needles they were packed with, because I can't buy this kind any more.  I was getting worried over their whereabouts.


I wanted to show you our mantel, which I switched over from 'winter' (the plaid blanket shown at the top of this post) to 'spring' (white cotton/linen fabric cut from an old French sheet)

yarn scrap parfait!!

... and then to 'Easter' (egg hunt)

You know, we pretty much never have either of our fireplaces on, but I couldn't function without the mantelpieces over them.  I have so much fun with them.


There is sourdough starter in my house now. I've been interested in baking sourdough for years, but we have an excellent bakery in the neighbourhood that specializes in sourdough and after all, there are only so many hours in the day. Even after they reduced the number of days each week that they're open, I didn't feel sure I would have enough unbleached flour to maintain a starter of my own. Thanks to Costco, I now do - hence the sourdough baby.

I don't have pretty mason jars for the baby's cradle... these are two vintage milk glass bowls nested together in case of overflow. I put an ill-fitting plate on top to keep the dust out, between glamour shots.

So far I've discovered that the baby prefers me to de-chlorinate the water I feed it by letting it sit uncovered on the counter for 24 hours, rather than boiling it and letting it cool.  Also its scent has shifted from 'dirty diaper' to 'fresh bread and apples'.  I'm kind of in love!

And very much looking forward to sourdough pizza. We'll still buy bread from the bakery because we want to do all we can to support them and also, I am guaranteed to burn myself at the high temperatures sourdough loaves require. But they don't sell pizza dough.


A couple of weeks ago we tried to go for a walk and realized our usual routes were too crowded to be viable. So Pete drove us over to an underappreciated section of our neighbourhood industrial park. That's where I got the idea for the title of this month's post. Beauty lives everywhere, and you'll find it even in the most unlikely places if you have a moment to look.

I mean: it's an industrial park. We drive through past it regularly and think of something else the whole time. But it's got trees - it runs alongside a ravine that stretches into a valley. It's got a lot of sky over it. It's not all bad. This tree is definitely not all bad.

And soon I was able to frame other images I found incredibly interesting.

Light and shadow...

Textural contrast...


A symbol of hope alongside a cracked wall...

It was a good walk.


One thing human beings are really good at is adapting, and I am confident we will adapt even to this strange and terrible time and come out the other side with new ideas and values and skills to get us through what comes after.

While you're adapting this month, I hope you're able to find small beautiful things, or something to make you smile.

(yeah, we're not eating so many fried eggs on toast since these two came to live with us.)

Thanks for coming to see me today - I really appreciate it. Take care and stay healthy and I'll see you here again in a few weeks!

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