Monday, November 14, 2011

How Many Work Gloves Does it Take?

Curious minds want to know...

Exactly how many gloves does it take to fix an old house, operate a tractor, and otherwise protect hands from potential harm?

I did a little clean-up in the glove basket the other day, and found the following.

The answer is fourteen.  I have it on good authority:

I know exactly what Eric would say about the matter:

The first pair is my favorite pair.  They're like slippers, but for my hands.  I promise to love, honour and protect these...wait, those were my wedding vows.   (These have duct-tape repairs.  They might be on their way out.  Eric might mourn their loss - for about a day).

The second pair is just as important, but they're lined with Thinsulate.  The real stuff.  The label proves it.  These are used for tractor driving.

The third pair - OK, impulse purchase from the feed store.  Where else can you find suede mitts with removable liners?  These visit the wood shed a lot during winter months.

The fourth pair - spanking new.  Don't touch.  If gloves were like cars, these are Ferraris.  These are Special Occasion gloves.  Could be worn with a tuxedo to the next Classic Tractor Pull at Pebble Beach.

The fifth and sixth pair - identical but with varying degrees of wear.  Lined for winter.  Thoughtful wife found these at Costco.  (Thoughtful wife even bought a new package recently, and then took above inventory.  Don't need to tell you those gloves have now been hidden from view).

The seventh pair - they have urethane foam all over them.  These are for outside insulating projects.

The eighth, ninth and tenth pairs - plain old ordinary working gloves with varying degrees of wear.  Some lined, some unlined.  Depends on the temp outside and the messiness of the job.

The eleventh pair has little rubber nubs on them.  They were cheap (so they obviously don't count) and someone needed them to change out the windows.  (Note:  Wife also got a pair.  Husband also thoughtful).

The twelfth pair - lump with 8, 9 and 10.  These normally live in the car and take trips to the lumber yard.  And then they end up in the house...and then someone forgets to put them back in the car...and then someone buys an extra pair at the lumberyard during the next trip....and thus the cycle perpetuates and gloves procreate as if by magic.

The thirteenth pair - don't mess with these.  These are special chainsaw gloves.  Not to be mistaken for wood-splitting gloves.  They're probably some sort of Kevlar/Nomex hybrid.

Last but not least, the fourteenth pair -  the last remaining pair from a five-pack.  One finger worn.  RIP - they're on their way out.

So we have gloves for chopping wood, gloves for changing oil, gloves for filling the tractor...gloves for fall and winter and spring and summer.

Now that things have degraded to a Dr. Seuss level, I'm outta here.

I've got some boots to inventory.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Pine Floor - The Finale

When I mention there's always an obstacle, I'm not kidding.

We had problems with the Benjamin Moore Porch and Floor paint we used in Eric's office.

First, it smells like h-e-double hockey sticks.  (That's a Canadian-ism, work it out!) We're well aware it's oil-based, but really, this stuff stinks.  For a long, long time.  It still reeks, and it's been something like 4 weeks since we've put down both coats.  It was so bad we duct-taped the door shut.

Needless to say we will NOT be painting the rest of the upstairs floor until next summer, at the earliest.  Or maybe we'll go on a protracted vacation, and pay someone to paint it for that would be a fine idea.

Second, the Benjamin Moore paint is supposed to be high gloss.  It ain't.  It's high-freakin'-gloss where it dried on the side of the can, but on the floor - no! -  it's dried to a satin finish.   We followed the instructions to a T - the first coat looked great, the second coat looked great - and the following day, it had dried to a satin finish.  Huh.  Go figure.  The challenge will now be to replicate this effect when we paint the rest of the floor upstairs.

That's not what we wanted, but we'll have to live with it...probably the third coat would be a charm, which, as discussed above, is not an option right now.

The satin finish will probably end up being infinitely more practical, since we won't be wearing down a high-gloss finish, but it's troubling when things don't turn out as expected.  We're waiting for the Benjamin Moore rep to call us back, but they're not as customer-service oriented as Sico was, unfortunately.

The overall look of the floor (and room!) is amazing, though.  Friends come in and say it looks like a Swedish country house, which is nice considering that's exactly the look we were aiming for.
Here's a look at this room during the renovation:
Nice.  I say that with only a touch of sarcasm.  We've worked hard and come a long way.  I'm patting us on the back for our unwavering dedication.

And my favorite photo:
One of those boards had manure caked on it.  Precious.  I cannot fathom what possessed anyone to built like this.

We went to Ikea to buy the furniture to turn this into Eric's office/atelier.  It took us FOUR, yes FOUR visits to get what we wanted, and we'll take a fifth to return what we ended up not needing.  We also nearly ended up in divorce court during first visit, but really, that was entirely our fault for trying to go to Ikea near a full moon.  What were we thinking? I swore I'd never go back to Ikea with Eric ever again, but the next evening, there I was, back for more punishment.   The good news is all candles were 50% off, so we stocked up.  We now have enough candles to last us the next 5 years.

And more oscilloscope in the living room?  No more soldering station on the dining table?  No more capacitors and resistors and varistors and MOSFETS and JFETS on the living room table?  And then - the pièce de résistance  -  Eric has promised me that the drill press will be moved upstairs.  (I was aiming more toward the direction of the front door, but again, I digress).

So stay tuned to see what we come up with next.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Fall Walk with Cooper and Bob

The corn got cut on Saturday night.  The corn train, as I like to call the tractor with its 2 trailers, came and went and came and went as I put a pillow on my head and tried to sleep.  These days, the drone of the combine can be heard nearly 24 hours a day, as field by field in our area gets cut.  Happily, it ended up being a good year considering the late start we had.

Sunday dawned bright and early according to the clock, since we put our clocks back during the night.  Time to wash and wax the car before winter comes.  When that job was done, I took a walk in the freshly-cut fields and inspected our windbreak.

As always, Cooper's in charge.  He's our foreman:
Cooper's so in his element here, just happy to have his fields back again.  I don't know who's happier, the dog or me.

We've been adding trees to our windbreak since 2007.  So far we've planted about 200 trees - spruce, ash and oak.  All trees are well-established and growing, however weeds still present a concern to the spruce trees.  We didn't have access to the fields until now, and one of the tasks on the long chore list is to take the Bush Hog out and clean around the trees.  When you have half a kilometre to do, you want to break out the big equipment.  There's a time and a place for a whipper-snipper, but it's not here.  We've got lots of phragmite (Phragmites australis) growing, a highly invasive plant introduced at the turn of the century.  It's propagated by seeds and rhizomes and is almost impossible to eradicate.  Apparently, burning works just fine, but we'll hold off on that thought.  For now, it's the Bush Hog or bust.

Bob decided he wanted to tag along during our walk.  At some point, he sits down and waits patiently for our return.  He's no fool, this boy.  We were about a 1/2 kilometre from the house when he decided he'd had enough.  Buh-bye Bob, see you on the way back:

Under one of the older pines in the hedgerow, we found four LARGE piles of pine cones.

Each one of them purposefully broken off:

Pardon my fingers.  I took advantage of walking to the field to empty the ash bucket, ergo my hands look a bit...gnarly.  I guess a squirrel must be stock-piling the pine cones for winter.  I'll have to check back and see if the piles grow or diminish.  It seems weird that they'd just leave them here.  Some research attributes this to the hard-working American red squirrel who I have seen in the hedgerow.  Our common gray squirrel is not so common here - generally, when I see a squirrel, it's a red squirrel, at least on our property.

I had hoped to make it all the way to the construction of highway 30.  I wanted to see if there were any trees cut down or other damage at the end of our property, (because there shouldn't be), but I wanted to make sure.
That's part of the huge infrastructure project off in the distance...

...and another one zoomed in.  This is going to be part of an overpass of highway 30.  We walked to the back of our field, hoping to make it all the way to the end of the property, but I gave up at the tree line - I had just 300 feet left to go through the forest, but my body was not going to cooperate.  Between washing and waxing my car and walking a few kilometers, my rubber-booted feet had had it.  So had my arms, knees, elbows and back.

I know, I know, the look of elegance.  Rubber boots and polar fleece fighting for top billing. 

The walk back to the house was like seeing a mirage in the desert - when oh when would I make it back?  Damn the long-lot property division system.  Everything's so near - yet so far.
The only reason I took this photo was that it afforded me the opportunity to kneel down.  Fact was, at this point, I wanted to throw myself on the corn husks and have a nap, but that just scares the dog...and looking at our neglected barn, well, that scares me.  We're still holding out on finding workers, but that's another tome for another day.

Just remind me not to make this trek in rubber boots again, will you?

Sunday, November 6, 2011


This is a quick 'n dirty knitting pattern: the Duffers AKA the 19-Row Felted Slippers, designed by Mindie Tallack:

Well, considering my obsession with Lopi, it was just natural that I should churn out a pair in my beloved Lopi.  These are knit with the "regular" Lopi - not the light version.  One skein made one pair of slippers.  They are infinitely squishable, so I tote them around in my various knitting bags when I take my knitting on the road.  What's a knitter worth without warm feet?

These were finished in one evening of easy knitting.  I chucked them in the laundry hamper with the intention of felting them with a load of jeans.  That took a while, since they were in the bottom of the hamper with Eric's wool work socks, which I let accumulate until there's a decent (albeit small) load's worth.  Finally, I zipped them in a laundry bag (to mitigate the loose fluff they create in the washer), threw them in the wash and forgot to check them during the wash cycle.  Thankfully, they felted perfectly, and fit me to a T.

I'll be making more, that's for sure.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Plethora of Lopi

After my success with the Saga, I contacted Istex in Iceland to see if I could order Lopi directly from their factory store.

They sent me a price list by email.  The prices were so reasonable, I ran to my purse, grabbed my MasterCard, and sent them a whopping order.

Holy Schmoly.
That's a big, whopping box.  We're going to have to build an extension onto the house for my wool stash.  Eric's gonna love that thought!  Either that, or I had better get out the needles and start bashing away on a few sweaters.

Tessie's looking at Bob with admiration in her eyes.  Yes - her eyes.  Turns out I'm not so good with gender identification in cats.  With the kittens, it was easy, I knew Popina was a girl since she was a calico, and from there it was easy to tell the rest were males.  I just assumed Tesla was a boy.  But BobCat, even though he's a fixed male, is incredibly attentive to her.  They sleep together, and BobCat licks her head all the time, and I started having this nasty suspicion- she's got to be female - and it would be awful if we'd end up with another litter of kittens, so she was dispatched to the vets to be sterilized.  She's no longer my Little Dude, she's now my Little Dudette.  And Tesla became Tessie, and all's OK in my world knowing one more stray cat has found a home and is sterilized.  So Bob's taken her under his wing:

But getting back to my beloved Lopi.  It knits up so quickly, I went from this:

To this in just 10 days:

Rather than make a mental note, I'll throw this nugget out for future posterity.  I knit size 38 (which is a Lopi medium) of this sweater, designed by my hero Védis Jónsdóttir and named "Aftur" from Lopi's book 25, and it's big on me.  Good thing I had the fortitude of mind to add some waist shaping:

For the knitters who are Ravelry members, shaping instructions can be found on my project details.  My profile is MoutonNoir, and the project name is Aftur.

Next time, I'm making a size smaller.  Lopi grows with wearing, and stretches out quite a bit, so what appears to be too tight at first wearing will probably grow a size or so after a season.

This is a lovely sweater.  Perfect for this time of year, and further reinforces my belief that Lopi is a miracle product.

So, I've got a bit of knitting to do this fall and winter.  Pardon me while I get the needles out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Photos in No Sensible Order

We've been having the most beautiful weather.  The US North East and our Canadian Atlantic provinces took a beating Halloween weekend with a mega-storm, but we were spared and had unbelievably beautiful - and unseasonable - weather.

The corn is drying in the fields, and will be harvested in the next week or so.  The next few days' forecast has highs of 14C, somewhat uncommon for November.  Let's hope winter is as gentle with us.

The fields are beautiful.  When the sun hits the corn at the right angle, and the wind is blowing just right, it glistens like waves on a lake.  I love this time of year, if only it didn't go by so fast.

Practically every night presents us with a spectacular sunset.  It's a shame sundown starts earlier and earlier.  I do find this time of the year a bit perturbing for its short days.  There's still so much to do outside.
We had a spectacular sunrise the other morning.  It's unfortunate the camera can't capture its true beauty, so you'll have to pretend a little.  I took a few photos out of the Velux skylight in the bedroom.  Tessie thought that this would be a great way to access the great out-of-doors and promptly jumped up on the window frame and started to slide down the roof, much to her surprise.  It's a good thing cats have tails to reel them in with...and it's a good thing my reaction time is sharp.  (That said, Howard once fell out of the second story window, and he did it so masterfully, using the side wall of the house like Spiderman to break his fall, that when he landed in the grass, he walked away like nothing even happened.  All in a cat's day.)

Speaking of the Velux skylight in the bedroom, this is what greeted me when I drew up the blinds this morning:
WOW, just WOW.  The most spectacular frost I have ever seen!  It was breath-taking!  I stood and stared for a long, long time.  I don't recall seeing anything like this before.  It was perfect in every way.
Spectacular, indeed.  I wish there was a way I could have saved the window for posterity.  A few pictures will have to do as a reminder of another beautiful morning.  I also probably don't need to tell you it was a pretty heavy frost last night.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
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