Hot

It has been wildly hot here. When we first started telling people that I was pregnant and the baby was due in August, many people were quite theatrical (I thought) about the prospect of heat during late pregnancy. My line of reasoning was that Seattle was a 70’s-in-the-summer kind of place and how bad could it be? Well, yesterday we set a heat record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Seattle (since they started keeping track 115 years ago) at 103° (and it was higher in some of the outlying towns). Oops — I understand now, and I’ve been moving impossibly slowly, mentally and physically.

Everyone and everything else appears to be struggling with the weather, too. Apparently wildfires are a huge risk right now so they’re very worried about thunderstorms. Our lawn is scorched and our bushes all look pathetic with drooping leaves. I was amazed this afternoon to see that the greenery that we’re generally surrounded by has turned brown and gold – not Seattle colors, and it’s incredibly startling. So far we’ve managed to avoid the brown-outs, which is very fortunate, and while the humidity has been high at night, it’s stayed below 40% during the day, so that’s helping too.

We’ve been on a mission to keep the house as cool as possible, partly for ourselves and partly for the fishtank. Step one was tarping over the kitchen window – not terribly classy, but it keeps that room at least ten degrees cooler in the afternoon and evening. I meant to follow that up by finally making the curtains for the picture window, but I lost steam after buying the heat-blocking lining. (My major block was that it’s just too hot and I’m too ungainly to measure, cut and sew large pieces of fabric.) So, we used blue painters tape to at least hang the lining over the window – again, not the most stylish thing but very effective.

I bought extra lining, thinking I might try to figure out some sort of roll-shade option for the kitchen garden window, which is now taped over our living room windows.

Right after taking this photo, I found a bedsheet to tape over the remaining windows to the left.

The fish are doing pretty well. We started with our fans and making fresh water ice cubes, but that wasn’t keeping up. I mentioned the problem to my new boss (knowing that he also keeps tanks and could probably relate), and he suggested filling a cooler with ice and running coils of airline tubing through it, then pumping tank water through the tubing to cool it down. A *really* smart idea. So now the tank looks like this:

With the two fans, lots of fresh water, and the cooler system, we’ve been managing to keep it under or at 82° — not too bad when the house is over 90 and the outdoor temps are over 100! Ideally, we try to keep it at or under 80, so it’s been a little warm for the dudes but they seem relatively unphased.

Art!

On Sunday we had a nonstress test (which the baby passed and then some – he was moving so much that they were having a hard time establishing a baseline for his heart rate), and then we braved the heat to go over to the Bellevue Art Fair. The second booth we stopped at had a painting that we both just loved, so we bought it.

It’s a print on canvas of the Bellevue skyline with the Lake Washington in the foreground and the Cascades in the back. It actually fits well in several spots so I’m not sure the fish room will be its permanent home, but we’re both enjoying it there for the moment. When we first put it up, we just sat on the couch and admired it and said all of the things we liked about it. It took us several minutes. :-)

It’s obviously not photorealistic, but it captures so much of the way it feels to live here in the summer, complete with mountains towering over the view, the greenery, all of that blue sky and water, the outdoor activity, and even a crane on the skyline. It’s unusual to find art or photos of the eastside – usually you see either Seattle or nearby mountains and national parks. It’s such a pretty place to live and such a nice thing to have a permanent rendering of it.

Baby knitting: Check.

The Yarn Harlot has a theory that babies don’t come until their knitting is done, and so with that in mind I made a concerted effort to finish the hydrangea sweater this weekend. I finished binding off the last few stitches during the 9th inning of the Red Sox game, and immediately took a few more minutes to sew on the buttons. So just in time for 38 weeks, the knitting is all wrapped up. :-)

I was starting to deeply resent this sweater while working on it because it was moving so very slowly (the hazard of knitting at 7 st/in.) and I wasn’t loving the colors. But now that it’s all bound off and the lime buttons are on it, I love the colors again and the pattern strikes me as cute.

The pattern calls for garter stitch all around, but I was feeling iffy about knitting at such a tiny gauge without being able to see the stitches, so I changed the yellow on the fronts and sleeves to stockinette. I left the blue in garter throughout, so it provides some textural contrast. You can see the stockinette on the backs of the sleeves and the garter on the back of the body here:

Next project will be something for me – I’m thinking a lace cardigan. Something big/fussy enough to be impossible to work on with a newborn. Perhaps we can use the jinx of a big project attempt to lure him out?

Indecisive Hydrangea

The hydrangea by the driveway is flowering, and we’ve been impressed to see that each bloom is a different color.

The range includes dark blue, light blue, purple, lavender, and pink (sometimes in a gradient across one flower), and while the effect is slightly Technicolor, it’s also exceptionally pretty.

I’ve heard occasionally that the color has to do with the acidity of the soil, but I thought that applied on a bush-by-bush basis, not a branch-by-branch one. If anyone has insights into the mysteries of hydrangea flower color, we’re fascinated.

Decorating

We ended up with quite the stash of plain white onesies. A few years ago, I’d needed some sort of baby clothes as a size reference for a sweater I was knitting for a gift, and the packs of white onesies were the cheapest option by far, so I bought five short sleeve and five long sleeve. Then Kevin’s mom sent us two more packs of four in newborn and three month sizes, and it started to feel a little bit too institutional. My original plan was to applique cute things by hand.

But it took way too long and looked sort of wonky, so v2 was geometric shapes and the sewing machine.

Here’s the first batch:

And the second:

Not professional grade sewing, but colorful and happy. I realized after the fact that I probably should have used a walking foot (or something along those lines?) because it was very hard to keep the stretchy onesie fabric lined up properly with the non-stretchy cotton. Oops.

Vibrant little things

A month into our CSA program, we’re doing a much better job than last year of keeping up with things as they come in. I’m particularly loving the fruit right now – peaches, nectarines and plums – but the vegetables have also been great for the most part. We’re starting to fall behind a bit on the cucumbers, and I’m still not entirely sure what to do with all those radishes, but we’re doing well on the whole.

The exception so far has been beets – they keep sending a handful of different varieties, and I’ve been completely at a loss. Last year I tried to make soup but it wasn’t really a success – the beets stained everything else bright pink and I didn’t like their flavour. On their own, they aren’t appealing to me – they smell like dirt. And they keep piling up.

I mentioned the difficulty to our friends Shawn and Sanna (veritable foodies), and they were raving about how great beets were for you and how they boil them down with honey and a bit of butter, a la mashed potatoes except using the water you cooked them in instead of milk. So I gave it a shot. They’re such bright and lovely colors when you prep them (I was so careful about not getting the juice everywhere, since it really does stain impressively).

They’re wiry enough that they don’t really boil down to anything smooth (or, at least, I got bored of adding more water before they got that far), but the end result was surprisingly good. So, success, and I know how to cook a new food!

Earning a spot

More awesome flower photography from Kevin!

We have rose bushes on the back side of the house. They’re in a slightly odd position because you can’t really see them from indoors – it’s only when you’re doing yard work at the back corner that you notice they’re there. Last year, I’d debated pulling them out and replacing them with something a little bit more productive. But several people pled for sparing them after seeing photos, so I left them in. With all the hot weather this year, they seem so much happier and they just exploded in flowers last week.

It seems that near-total neglect suits them. This bush had grown to about 10 feet tall last year in two spindly branches, so I cut it back to about 5’ at the beginning of the fall, and cut back again to the highest buds of new growth in the early spring. Otherwise, I haven’t touch them (including watering).

The flowers are the prettiest salmon color, with accents of yellow and pale pink when the sun shines through them. They’re completely spectacular, and I’m so glad I didn’t tear them out.