Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hoya flowers!

Last summer I got a couple hoya plants from Home Depot, just 'cause.  Just 'cause they're pretty and I like plants and they make pretty flowers and stop rolling your eyes Emma it's my house and I can have as many plants as I want.

Ahem, anyway.  So one of the hoya plants that I got was Hoya carnosa compacta, commonly called the Indian rope vine or wax plant.  I had it inside all winter and it didn't do much (conditions in my house in the winter are not exactly the tropical jungle conditions of its forbears' native southeast Asia and India), but when I put it outside this summer it really took off.

I was watering the deck plants when we got back from vacation on August 22, and what did I see?! Buds!

Hoya buds!

An itty bitty little group of buds on a peduncle (flower spur)!  I've never bloomed a hoya before, and I was so excited that I ran for the camera.  As I was taking the picture, I saw this!

Hoya buds!

Another peduncle!  With lots of buds!!

I was so excited.  By August 30, the bigger cluster looked like this.  Well defined now, and looking like they are ready to pop any moment.

Hoya buds getting bigger!

And then... and then... on September 5, they opened!

Hoya carnosa compacta

The bigger cluster, anyway.  The smaller bunch still hasn't opened.  You can see why it's called Indian rope vine- the leaves are so crinkled and close to the stem that it doesn't look very leafy.

Hoya carnosa compacta blooms!

The clusters can form a nearly complete sphere of flowers.

Hoya carnosa compacta blooms!

The flowers are so pretty.  They are waxy and substantial, but the surface is covered with little hairs that make them look like velvet.

Hoya carnosa compacta

They are also scented, though I don't find the fragrance of this species particularly pleasant.  It's somewhat reminiscent of chocolate, but just a bit off.  Sort of musky chocolate, and a bit cloying.

I'm so thrilled that one of my hoyas bloomed.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Smoke, smoke, and more smoke

In case you were wondering if the wildfire smoke in the Pacific and Inland Northwest is really as bad as the news outlets are reporting, let me assure you, it is.

I-84 eastbound overlook in about June

I-84 eastbound overlook on 9/6/17

These pictures were taken from the eastbound scenic overlook on I-84 between Pendleton and La Grande, looking back toward Pendleton.

The first picture was taken a couple months ago, the second was taken this afternoon from the same spot and looking in the same direction.

On a good clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier from here (about 150, 150, and 170 miles away as the crow flies).

Today I couldn't even see the valley floor.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Totality

Emma and I just got back from an amazing vacation on Washington's Olympic coast, capped off by an overnight stay in Unity, Oregon, two hours south of La Grande.

Why Unity, a microscopic sagebrush town in the middle of nowhere?

Solar eclipse totality, Unity, Oregon, 8/21/17

Eclipse.

Oregon has been an eclipse-eclipse-eclipse madhouse for over a year.  So much hype, so much advertising, so many people planning to descend on the state.  Hotels in the path have literally been sold out for a year.

I feel very lucky that this celestial phenomenon happened so close to where I live.  A partial but very nearly complete eclipse would have been visible from my front porch, but I really wanted to see the totality.  I've seen total lunar eclipses several times, but never any sort of solar eclipse.  There have only been four total solar eclipses crossing North America during my lifetime, and none were remotely close to where I was living.

So Emma and I gave up an extra day at the rainforest and beach and trekked home on Saturday, then yesterday went two more hours south to Unity to be in the path of totality.

It wasn't nearly as much of a madhouse as I feared it would be. The campground (which until a couple months ago had been some guy's cow pasture... yes there were booby traps...) wasn't wall-to-wall rowdy people, and we didn't have any traffic at all on the way there.  On the way back, traffic was a little slow for about 20 miles north of Baker City, but that was only because there was construction and the highway was down to one lane.  I was glad that we only had to go as far as La Grande, though.  After we got home, I saw reports of the main highways north into Washington being clogged with stop and go traffic for miles and miles and miles.

As for the eclipse itself, well, it was amazing.  To actually see something like that is just incredible.

I really don't have big enough words to describe that feeling when it started getting darker and darker, and the birds stopped singing.  We watched the moon take a bite out of the sun, and then it was dark and the hazy mist of the corona was flaring out around the darkness of the moon.  I saw Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Venus.  I saw a solar prominence, a great gout of plasma erupting into space. Something I wasn't expecting, but which makes total sense, was that the air temperature dropped about 10 degrees during the height of the eclipse.  It was enough of a drop that I put my fleece jacket back on.  The the sun started coming back, and I saw the diamond-ring effect.  Then the birds started chirping again, and it started to warm up, and the moon glided away.

I sat there for the whole thing, from when the first wee little bite went out of the sun at 9:09 until it was completely whole again at 11:46.  For 2 minutes and 6 seconds in the middle, there was totality.

I can't even imagine what an eclipse must have been like to ancient people who didn't know what was going on.  I feel incredibly lucky to have seen it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Fair 2017

Ribbons!  It won!  First place and Best of Show!

It won!

I love getting ribbons.

It won!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finished!!!

TA DAAA!!!

finished hardanger curtain!

I had a marathon stitching day yesterday, and finished the last three stacked diamond sections.  At three hours each, that was a lot of stitching. 

finished hardanger curtain!

Then, even though it was 11:00 pm, I decided to get a start on cutting around the outside edge.  The deadline for Fair entries was looming (5:00 pm today) and even though I had finished the stitching, the looooooong edges were making me nervous.  I figured I could do one or two sides last night as insurance, then finish it off this morning.

Well, once I got going I couldn't stop, and I finished cutting around the whole outside at 2:45 am. I staggered off to bed, and then all I had to do today was wash, press, and attach the clips.

finished hardanger curtain!

I love it.  I love everything about it.

Finished hardanger curtain!

After the fair, I may revisit the idea of putting in holes for the curtain rod instead of using the clips, and I may put in some more lines of cable stitch or other filler in the plain fabric area (or not).  But for now, I really love it just the way it is.

This curtain took most of half a yard of 32-count Belfast linen (finished size is 42" x 16"), 3.5 balls of #8 perle cotton, and 3.5 balls of #12 perle cotton.  Total stitching time was 348 hours.  The needleweaving in the cut areas took all of the past five weeks, and just that part alone took about 160 hours.  This was an intensive push to finish before the fair, and I have the callus on my finger to prove it; this is where I "bounce" the needle back up as I weave the bars.

hardanger needleweaving callus

This is the biggest hardanger piece I've ever made, and I'm so glad I stuck to it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cautiously optimistic...

Eight down, four to go.  Two and a half days left...

Cautiously optimistic...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another Gymnocalycium

I have a second Gymnocalycium blooming now.

Gymnocalycium baldianum

As I mentioned a few days ago, there is a big range in color in this species.  This one is pale, pale pink rather than the deep red of my first one.

Gymnocalycium baldianum