Summer

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Ah, yes. It speeds up now. I remember.

Works in Progress

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I finished my own Alpine Frost shawl over the weekend. I had actually started mine a few months ago and I liked it so much I wanted to make one for Julie's birthday. When hers was finished I immediately went back to mine. And then finished it. It's quite a bit longer than Julie's — mine is about 90" long and about 25" wide. I blocked it like crazy, stretching it in every direction as far as I could. A pin holding every picot point. (I added the picot edging; it's not in the pattern as written, but the details are on my Ravelry page for it.) What I love about this yarn is that it really has no shine at all. It's completely matte. And downy soft. And light as that feather. And tumbles into a copious mound of frothy billows around my neck. Where it sits right now since it's 56 degrees out. Which I don't mind now that I have this thing.

Now on the needles (as it has been since May, also) is Quill, Quill the color of antler, its garter stitch center section complete and on round 12 of its Old Shale border. Fingering-weight yarn feels heavy after so many hours (and hours and hours) or crocheting lace-weight.

It's been a really busy few weeks. I've spent my time alternating between building my new web shop and working on the new ornament kits. Neither is finished. The web shop — it's shocking how many hours it requires. I'll be beyond thrilled when it's finished and functional. Occasionally I have my doubts that it will ever be either. Occasionally I feel that I've taken the DIY thing too far in trying to do this mostly myself. But that's what I can afford. And I want it to be a certain way that doesn't quite fit the standard template. I'm hoping it will be up and running sometime next month. I will be so happy!

I meant to say thank you for all of your sweet anniversary wishes last week. Thank you so much for those! I haven't had a chance to even scratch the surface of the iced tea recipes, partly because the weather has turned so cold again that it makes hot tea more appealing than cold. Not complaining, but . . . it's strange. I suppose it makes for good TV-watching weather, though, with the Olympics coming up. (Actually, there's nothing I like more than all of the programs leading up to the Olympics that explore different aspects of the host city [especially when it's London]. I love those!) The news of the world has been so sad lately (my heart goes out to Colorado this summer) I'm hoping that the Olympics can truly foster a spirit of brother- and sisterhood on an individual and international level.

My own little sister, Susie, comes to stay with us for a two-week visit a week from today. Andy has ordered the sour-cream-and-onion popcorn seasoning and I need to get stovetop espresso maker to cook up her quadruple-shot lattes. I can't wait. We're planning a movie marathon of our individual and family favorites. Obviously, Seems Like Old Times tops the list. Oh I adore that movie. Can't wait to see my sissy.

Birds Bees Butterflies Blooms

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A walk through the summerfields on Oak Island. If you were a landscape, what would you be? He said the mountain woods, with a river, and huge trees overhead. I said a meadow, with tall grasses and wildflowers. Soft blue hills and silver water in the distance. Exactly like this. Especially on a bright gray day, where the clouds stack up like ruffles coming in from the sea. Where the berries are not quite ripe. Where the bees buzz along the edges of the hedgerow. Where the little birds swoop and dart. Where the soft seeds parachute to down to soft landings. Where the lacy blossoms and the golden grasses line the path for miles and miles.

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Ah, one more gratuitous hottie shot, for good measure. It's Monday.

Like Alpine Glow

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For her birthday, I made my sister a lace-weight crocheted Alpine Frost shawl. It was more the color of alpenglow. I was extremely pleased with and ridiculously proud of it. One of the top five things I've ever made, I think. I gave it to her last night at dinner (the four of us went here, and it was spectacular). Last week, when I had finished it but hadn't given it to her yet, naturally I informed her that I was about to give her the most awesome and fantastic birthday present she had ever gotten from anyone anywhere in her entire life and if it wasn't then . . . well . . . well, I don't really know what, but something. So she was prepared to have her mind blown and I believe she was suitably impressed, which further pleased me. I do like to direct people on exactly how to feel about the handmade presents I give them. I am just so helpful like that. A helpful person. ;-)

When we got home last night — can you believe that sky? That photo is exactly what it looked like in real life. It only lasted a few minutes. I walked down the road in a long flowered dress with the camera. Click click click. The sky was changing second to second. Thunder ripped from several different parts of the sky, then lightning, then more thunder. We sat in the back yard and watched it as night came on. A faint rain fell and evaporated on landing. Eleven seconds, generally, between the jagged white strike and the thunder-roll. Andy lit all the candles. It was our fifteenth wedding anniversary. I looked up and made a wish on the first bright star in the ultraviolet sky. Oh I do love that man with my whole soul.

Summer Days

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Ah, summer days. Cloud cover and sunshine. Bicycles, books, and bridges. Beers on the front stairs and watching the garden grow. It's my sweet sissy's birthday today, and she has a gorgeous new blog!!! Xoxo love you girl.

Little Flower

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Thank you so much for all of your kindness, and each and every one of your generous and tender words yesterday. I had a nice day and spent a lot of time outside in the front yard, fussing in my little ways over the garden and trying to make things nice out there. It felt really good. The plums (and leaves) on our big tree are starting to fall already. I set the little bunny sprinkler up in different areas and let it spray its gentle umbrella of droplets under the tree, in the vegetable beds, on the rock wall, along the fence. Clover and the Bee were quietly stuck to my side. Even the Bee, which surprised me. Last night she sat next to me on the sofa for the first time in all her twelve years. They miss their little flower, too. This morning we three went out again. Oh how I love that quiet hour before I start to hear traffic. On the rock wall, the watery circumference of the sprinkler was only a couple of feet. It frothed and tinkled just past the fence and then we heard the swooping in of a bird — a big, beautiful Northern flicker, coming to get a little bath, just feet from us. That's how quiet we were! Magical creature. She flew up into the plum tree and hopped around a bit, then worked on the telephone pole next to the tree, then left.

Last Friday night, Andy and I went up to the meadow at the arboretum. We sat on the hill among the daisies and the clover and the tall blond grass and watched evening come through. Behind us, between the enormous evergreen trees, birds swooped and darted in the mellow twilight. He picked me a bouquet and I carried it through the field and it's still in a pretty iced tea bottle on the table.

Little cats leaving make you think about your life, all the years that have passed and the way that you were. You think about all the conversations you had, just with her. There are ways I want to change myself and I thought about them last night, and told Andy about them.

The vegetables are growing like crazy! We shared the first tiny little red tomato on Sunday night, slicing it and sprinkling it with sea salt and olive oil, adding basil leaves and blobs of whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella. I can't stand fresh tomatoes from the grocery store, generally. But this one right off the vine was seriously the best tomato I have ever had. It really was like a little jewel, ruby red. I felt a little bit proud. We kept insisting the other one of us eat the last slice (which is how we fight over it). I see another one today that's on its way to being red. I hope he's home when I pick it (pulled like a magnet toward the tomato plant, hands out in front of me, leading), or I'm going to eat the whole thing (chomp).

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Violet

Our dear sweet Violet left this world on Sunday afternoon. She was eighteen years old this summer. We'd gotten her when she was a tiny kitten. She used to sit on my shoulder, like a little bird. She'd wake me up by sitting on my heart, and staring at me. Our sweet, sweet friend. The angel of our house, for all of these years.

This morning Clover Meadow and the Bee and I were sitting out on the stairs near where we buried Violet by the picket fence. It was quiet and beautiful, just the sound of birdsong and breeze. The light filtered softly through the green trees. We sat out there for a long time, just watching. When I stood up to go I looked down and saw the one little flower, all by itself. I looked around for others, though they are long out of season, but there was just this one little one.

Little prayers for her. Such a good girl. Dear lovely ever-sweet friend. xoxo

Indoor

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Summer seems to have truly arrived! I know this because I've had my air conditioner on for two days and am afraid to leave the house.

Thank you so much for all of your incredibly kind comments yesterday.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoooooo

I got four of the books you recommended! I am excited! I am very drawn to books that have very strong plots lately. I need the plot. My life feels overly busy lately, so I like that feeling of following a line (doesn't have to be straight) through a book. I want to be hooked and pulled through the water. By a tugboat. Towed in.

Do you make good iced tea? I'm trying to learn. I love iced tea, but half the time mine is really disgusting.

*To those who have asked, yes, the crewel embroidery is from Embroidery Companion, and the Tanglewood bag pattern is here :-). Thank you!

In Early Evening

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Sometimes I miss Montana, miss living deep in the mountains, miss the rolling Clark-Fork River being right there at the end of our street. You could ride your bike in the evening along path at the edge of the river, with the cottonwood puffs floating and the mountains rising and the sound of the water rushing by. Fairy-tale thoroughfare. We once saw an otter on his back, floating under the bridge, right through downtown. We lived there for three years. Everything smelled like pine and smoke, sharp and dry. I miss how small the town was, how bored I could get with it, how much I wished it would rain, how I would wander, lonely, around Butterfly Herbs half the afternoon, drinking smoothies and hoping to run into someone I knew. I was haughty and fragile. Intimidated. I tried to learn to knit and practically had a nervous breakdown. The leaves crunched dry in the Rattlesnake. I liked the path along the creek in Greenough Park, the little bridge there, the weeds and wildflowers that grew in the front yards of houses near the railroad tracks on the north side of town. Everything was glinting and strange, the light different, clearer and more harsh than it had been in Illinois. I didn't own a car. I taught tried to teach college freshmen how to write argumentative essays. After the first semester I prohibited all argumentative essays about legalizing pot (this was a favorite freshman topic; there are only so many why-marijuana-should-be-legal thesis statements you can read without wanting to clonk stoner freshmen heads together, which I assume is also illegal). We had no money. On the last morning of the month I scoured every pocket and looked through every book bag in the house, trying to find enough change to get a cup of coffee on my way to school; no luck. Found a dollar in the snow, right in the middle of the street in front of Food for Thought, and could hardly believe it. We babysat for a lady with two little boys, one of whom couldn't speak. I still remember his name, and how sweet he was, how she cuddled him, how he liked to watch the movie Fantasia over and over again. I worked at Penney's in the home dec department, and folded fluffy new towels into thirds (strangely satisfying). Andy worked in a rock quarry. He would drive out and pick me up in the truck after work. We went everywhere, so happy to finally be living together, giddy with this. It would stay light so late in the summertime. I remember one night when we were walking home late from the bar and this guy on a bicycle suddenly flew past us and nailed the curb head-on, knocking the chain off his bike and himself flat. He jumped right up and, totally hammered, tried for several minutes to nonchalantly ride the bike with the chain clanging and hanging like a necklace around the pedals (pedaling furiously, going nowhere). Then he crashed straight on through the underbrush of the embankment and disappeared. Andy and I stared at each other in amazement — what in the heck? — and fell over laughing. I remember the hollyhocks that bloomed all down the alley between our apartment and the Orange Street Food Farm, the teetering platform of wooden boards Andy built for Violet so she could jump into our window from the dark green tangle of our side yard, the way that the sun set pink behind the purple mountains, so pretty it could make you cry.

Summer Eats and Heats

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Oh, they were good. Thank you again, so much, for all of the wonderful recommendations. It was hard to know where to start because they all looked so good! But I wound up tossing some cabbage and carrots with a lot of fresh lime juice, some chopped cilantro, and a glug of olive oil (and sea salt and pepper); adding three minced (seeds removed) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to mayonnaise (along with some minced raw garlic, more lime juice, and more salt and papper); making this grilled corn salad; and then these homemade tortillas. Andy grilled some tilapia (in a fish grilling basket) rubbed with a bit of olive oil and a little Mexican spice blend (it was already in a bottle in my spice rack, from Penzey's).

Man, it was good. I think the homemade tortillas were the best part. I highly recommend the whole menu!!!

On Sunday morning, Andy went back to work after being off sick for about a week. I had finished several projects I'd been working on and was amazed to find myself with a whole day alone and nothing to do. I was both excited and confused. I was so excited that I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do (confused). Unfortunately, I hadn't slept at all the night before because it was so hot in our room, so everytime I sat down to think about what I wanted to do, I fell asleep (including during the fourth set of Murray-Federer — I know! — I slept through the entire set! I woke up to Andy Murray crying, which got me really choked up. I had been rooting for him [even though my new favorite player is Tsonga]). Then I made pancakes for myself to cheer myself up.

Swedish Pancakes

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil

Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.

That worked. Then I fell back asleep while crocheting on the couch. It got warmer and warmer outside. Unfamiliar with this unusual meterological phenomenon, I failed to register its effect on my already floppy hold on the day. I rode my bike to the grocery store and almost passed out. I think it was 83 degrees (but 83 and hilly?). No, feel free to laugh, seriously. I was in first gear, going about 1 mph. Wearing a dress. People were passing me and I'm pretty sure they were laughing. I would've laughed if I could've breathed. When I got home I stumbled into the kitchen and made an enormous pitcher of raspberry iced tea and drank almost all of it, along with another gallon of water (and limes — I really love limes). Then (somehow) I made a version of this superfood salad (but I made the quinoa with vegetable stock, used the leftover corn salad, and skipped the vinaigrette [didn't need it]). Then I went upstairs and laid directly under the ceiling fan. Outside I could hear neighbors in every direction having barbecues and speaking in normal tones, and not about the weather. I assumed they were also wearing actual clothes out there. HOW??? In bewildered awe of them, I fell asleep during Inspector Lewis. When Andy got home he said I looked flattened, like the cats, trying to expose as much surface area of my body as possible to the overhead fan breeze. My contacts had turned into dried up little shards of plastic. I think my hair had dreadlocked itself. I was a hot mess.

I'm not sure if it's because I slept nine or ten hours last night or if it's because it's currently only 59 degrees, but I seem to have recovered all my faculties today (so far). It was really only one of our first hot days here all summer (it did get up to 88), and that was enough for me. I honestly don't know how anyone survives temperatures in the 90s and 100s.

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About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.