Three things which have brought much pleasure.
Leek scapes. Our retired farmer usually brings me a bunch of leek plants late in the summer, which he has grown from seed and has spare of. I've usually got a bed free for them by that time, the broad bean patch is good having been well tilled and nitrogen-fixed, so they're a useful and appreciated resource through the winter. This last lot I must have planted at the right phase of the moon or something, as they grew well, stayed rust-free and went on well into spring without bolting. However, they did start throwing out these rather elegant flower buds eventually. At the back of my mind was the idea that perhaps these were usable, so I looked them up, found various suggestions, and that they are known as scapes, so I threw one into the soup one evening as a test, and found that it was good, so gathered a whole bunch and steamed them on their own.
I'd long heard about leeks being known as poor man's asparagus, but not fully understood why. I've had good results steaming the small ones and dressing them with vinaigrette (one made with hazelnut oil with a few toasted chopped hazels on top is pretty sublime), but these flower heads really do have a texture and flavour which easily rivals asparagus. It would be well worthwhile to let the plants bolt every year; in fact it would almost be worthwhile just to be able to use the word 'scapes'.
Just finished the second of Patrick O-Brian's Aubrey Maturin series, Post-Captain, now fully hooked, and glad to know that, if I'm spared (as my granny used to say) I have the rest of my life for the remaining eighteen and a half. I enjoyed the first very much but found I couldn't always quite see the ships for the rigging. The third is on order, which posed a small dilemma as I actually find I especially enjoy reading them on Kindle, where somehow I obtained the first two for some kind of promo-price, because the on-board dictionary, though frequently confounded by some of the more technical sea-going vocabulary, is useful - I rarely, I can say
without bragging, need a dictionary when reading novels, but P O'B is an exception, - as is the facility to search for previous references. However, the Kindle prices from now on are more than I'm prepared to pay for an e-books when I can buy second hand more cheaply, so print on paper it is.
Anyway, one small thing that made me almost squeal with self-satisfied joy was when, late in the novel, seeking a target on the French coast on which to exercise the Lively's guns, Aubrey decides to lay waste to the small battery just off 'the little port of Balbec'. Unlike most of the French locations mentioned, Balbec does not in fact exist, save in the pages of Proust, where it is the chic seaside town where Marcel goes with his grandmother, and falls in love with Albertine, among other things. Not only is it gratifying to one's vanity to spot such an arch kind of literary joke, but I also rather enjoy the conundrum of Balbec's existing in Napoleonic times as a little fishing port, then a hundred years later in Proust's time having grown into a famous resort, while O'Brian re-conjures it eighty years on from that as it was a hundred years before... etc etc. You don't really need science fiction to play about with the space-time continuum, any fiction can do it.
(This observation has also enabled me to help rekindle momentarily, and gain some small kudos among, a small Ravelry discussion group of formidable women amongst whom I am a mere tyro, who have put down their knitting mostly to read the entire canon of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, sometimes more than once. The group calls itself 'The Lesser of Two Needles')
Knitting: Sumer is icumen in, and this tends to mean either cotton knitting, which I have some of on the go but which you can quickly tire of, as can the tendons, or socks, which are light and portable. A belated present for my old friend Glenn, who when he visited with partner and dogs earlier this year, was bearing a very delicate and interesting small tattoo of an octopus, which he had copied from an ancient Greek vase painting, on his upper arm. This put me in mind of the time, some twenty-five years ago, when he and I were traipsing round the Peloponnese in the tracks of Patrick Leigh-Fermor, and we lodged for some days (the next bus out was the other side of the weekend) in a small coastal hotel, and every evening we asked the middle-aged spinster daughter of the house what was for dinner, and she showed us the pots in the kitchen, and every night she showed us the same pot of stewed 'octopoooos', so that by the third night octopus tentacles and the suckers on them had parted company and the latter were floating about on the top.
So, octopods being something of a theme, I made him these socks, for a biggish birthday, a bit late.
They are based on this pattern, but only really the chart and the general style, the helix knitting being somewhat beyond me. In spite of being quite fine wool, and the fairly tight stranded knitting, they came out rather large (they're on my feet in the second photo), but he says he has been wearing them as slipper socks, and will try them inside wellingtons too.