Monday, November 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Kitties, Part Two

Tessie's turned into quite the chunky little monkey.  She's not even very food-oriented, but she is prey-oriented, always watching, always stalking.  Because of her heft, I can always identify her walking down the stairs, or jumping down from a ledge.

The other day, she jumped down from her perch in the stereo room window, and quickly made her way to the neighbouring window.  I could tell by her willful walk that something was up.  When I looked out of the window, I saw this squirrel:
To say Tessie was enraptured was an understatement.  She even brought Capucine in on the action.  Little Capucine, who hasn't even ventured outdoors since her arrival in August, is being taught the ways of the wild from behind a pane of glass.

The squirrel knew we were watching, and he wasn't even remotely disturbed.  He gave us the ole' stink eye from time to time, and busied himself by burying kernel after kernel of corn, much to Tessie and Cappie's collective rapture.  Forget industrious beavers, they've got nothing on this squirrel.  He brought over a half a cob of corn from across the street, and breaking off one kernel at a time, proceeded to bury them all over the back yard.

I didn't have the heart to tell the little dude he's burying his stash right over the septic tank.

In unrelated news, the weather "turned" today, with flurries in the forecast but no appreciable accumulation.  It's officially hard to ignore that winter is on the way.  As it was, our month of November has been glorious, and we've been truly spoiled by the beautiful weather the past few months.  If only it would last.  The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a snowy winter.  I'm not sure just how much credence I place on their predictions, but it's good for making tongues wag.  Personally, I'd be happy with a reprise of last winter, with our first snowfall occurring just before Christmas, and by the time we celebrated Eric's birthday in mid-March, we were outside in T-shirts drinking beer on the patio.  Truly atypical, considering many a times, we celebrate Eric's birthday while the snow swirls outside, or freezing rain falls.  I've got fingers crossed that Mother Nature will be easy on us again this season.

Likewise, every year is a gamble as we renew our snow-removal contract.  One of our neighbours has a snow-removal business, and we've always received the best service from them.  They're close by, they're reactive, and there's something satisfying about hearing the tractor in the middle of the night, and pulling the covers over one's head, knowing full-well the driveway is one less thing we'll have to deal with in the morning.  Eric sometimes has to go to work at horrifying hours.  While I'm an early bird, Eric sometimes has to wake up at 3:30 AM.  The thought alone makes me nauseous.  At those hours, every minute of sleep counts.  Having to take our tractor out to clear the driveway on top of going to work would be a slap in the face in the middle of the night.  Let's just say that snow removal is one of those little luxuries we afford ourselves, even if some years we have a handful of snowstorms and it hardly seems worth it.  Other years, the snow removal contract pays off in spades.

As we hover at -8C right now,  I'm not one to place bets, but it's nice to know we've got our bases covered for the season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thoughts on UFO's

Now that I have your attention, I've got one thing to say:
No.  It's not a UFO.  It's's just...(waaaaahhhhh!)...the new lights from Highway 30, slated to open some time in December, after more than three years in the making, and over thirty in the planning.  I actually meant to walk the length of the highway this past weekend before it opens to traffic, just for the heck of it.  Now that the lights are on, I'd better put it on my to-do list for this coming weekend or forfeit my chance forever.

I was worried about those high light standards, and well, all I can say is they're there, and they're lit.  Impressed I ain't.  Cue more crying...waaahhhhhhhhh!

Because my photography skillz are virtually nonexistent, (exposure? aperture? huh?), I wasn't able to capture the shot as it views to the naked eye, but the peak of our barn falls square in the middle of the above photo.  I liked looking out of the window into darkness, but that's a thing of the past now.

While I embrace the progress that is NA30, I have mixed feelings about the encroaching urban environment.  I don't want to end up the crazy old bitch who ends up padlocking herself to a barn while bulldozers move in to build yet another Walmart, but que sera, sera. Hopefully, I've got a few decades to plan my exit.  Who knows how things will end up?  Maybe the new infrastructure will direct new development away from us?  Given our crumbling infrastructure, the "30 in 30 (years)" is a welcome change on the horizon.  It's just too bad it had to change our view.

Not to let you down, I've got a UFO of a different kind to show you:
Yes, a knitterly UFO, hopefully soon to be a FO, or finished object.  UFO of course stands for unfinished object, every knitter's nemesis.  This blanket fell from grace months ago, yet with colder temperatures heading our way, I thought it would be nice to get it back on the front burner, pun wholly intended.  As with every project, there's always something to procrastinate about, and the crochet steek was my hurdle.  I downloaded Kate Davies' overly-explicit instructions, printed everything up, and pored over the material as though studying for an exam.  I crocheted.  I cut.  Simple as pie.  Why in dog's name did I procrastinate about this?  I'll never know.  The question that now begs to be asked is why am I procrastinating about picking up the 780 edge stitches?   I suppose because it's 780 edge stitches.  Why oh why do I do this to myself?  Why? Anyone?

Actually, the above photo does serve a purpose, besides showing my wonderfully manicured digits.  What it shows is the crochet steek with the central knit stitch exposed.  This is my cut line.  On the left hand side, you can clearly see the dark brown edge (half covered by crochet), where I piled my darks one atop the next, in a precise vertical line.  This is not my first steeked project, but it is my first with 5 steek stitches.  I started out with clear vertical light/dark/light/dark/light lines.  Then neurosis struck, and I checked other Rams and Yowes projects on line.  Seems many people chose to do a checker-board pattern in their steek, and being the proper sheep (punny me), I changed my modus operandi to the checkerboard pattern.  WRONG.  Wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.  Those clear light/dark lines are perfect for crocheting into, and the checkerboard pattern...well...not so much.

While a nice checkerboard pattern might give the uninitiated the impression you know what the hell you're doing, you need a freaking magnifying glass and those mega-watt light-standards from highway 30 to do a nice job.

In doing clear vertical lines where you haven't staggered the colors, observe the nice proper easy-to-follow lines:
When you crochet steek, you're crocheting into one half of EACH light and dark stitch.  The central light stitch will get cut open.  Crochet into half of light stitch, and half of dark stitch.  Do same thing on OTHER side of cut stitch.  You will have 2 rows of crochet, and you will then cut between these 2 rows.  Just trust me, the light/dark/light/dark/light striping method will be much easier to crochet steek and cut.

There you have it.  The truth about UFO's.  I'm so glad we had this little talk.

Now excuse me while I find another distraction to keep me from picking up those 780 edge stitches.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Earthquakes and Blue Holes

Here's another, "I pulled up the blind on the skylight and this is what I saw" photo, taken this morning.

Last night we had another earthquake, our second in less than an month.  While not that uncommon considering fault lines run along both the Ottawa and Saint Lawrence river valleys and we're located right at the confluence, having two in such a short period of time does seem note-worthy.  Personally, I like years between earth tremors, not weeks.  One on October 10 measured 4.5 and was located near Saint-Hyacinthe, and the one last night measured 4.2 and was located near Buckingham.   The first one was a surprise at 19 minutes past midnight, but last night at 4:06 AM, it was pretty obvious considering the earlier one was still fresh in my memory.  Cooper didn't budge from his dog bed, so to compensate, I hurled myself out of bed in a panic and did what most reasonable people do - namely stare out of the window.

The rolling and rumbling seemed to last much longer than during the first.  By the time my heart beat regained a normal tempo, the rest of my night was fitful.  Every time a freight train passed by, I kept one eye and one ear open, which obviously doesn't make for the best quality sleep.  Also, the cats didn't get the memo regarding the time-change, so my wake-up call has been a bit early the past few days.

I've been knitting what I've nicknamed the Blue Hole Shawl.  That's like a black hole, but involves yarn, prohibitive amounts of it.  I'm in a love/hate relationship with this project, and while part of me would just like to keep knitting, the other part of me whimpers every time I pick up the needles to knit a few rows on the most interminable project I've done in a while.  I think it's time to cast off, considering about 450g of sock wool has passed through my fingers in the past month.  If we consider that 100g of sock yarn is 420 metres - then I've knit about 1890 metres, or over a mile!

The whole premise of this project was to be "random" and to "let go". Considering I have issues with those concepts - especially when knitting - of course I cheated.  I was pretty sure the Knitting Police weren't about to show up at the front door and arrest me, so I did exactly what I wanted. You're "supposed" to stick your hand in your yarn bag and knit whatever you pull out, regardless of whether you think it matches or not.  As to how many rows, you're "supposed" to pull a number between 1 and 8.  I mean, who even made up these so-called rules?  Why not just, say, roll a die and make 6 your maximum row count?  I don't think I would have made it beyond 20 rows without deciding what colours I wanted to knit with, how much of each, and in which order.  It was strangely satisfying to see little balls of wool on the table in front of me, and get excited about seeing green next to pink, and blue next to orange.  To assuage my guilt that I wasn't "letting go", I'd let Capucine choose the colour from time to time.  Problem solved.  She got excited each time I plunked my orange grocery bag down and pulled out the shawl.

The best part of this shawl?  It cost nothing, just time.  All of the skeins of sock yarn were left over from other sock projects, and hailed either from my stash, or were donated by a few of my knitting friends who made similar shawls.  I decided the colour scheme would be primarily blue, but with orange, green, fuschia and purple accents thrown into the fray for added punch.  After my lame summer knitting only neutrals, it was so nice to get back to something colourful.  It's unbelievable just how inspiring knitting with colour is, and how it gets the creative juices flowing.

So I think I'll cast this baby off, and get busy blocking the heck out of it.  I know I'll get a lot of use out of it this season, as colder temperatures descend upon us.  It's presently -4C, which feels like a slap in the face since our spring, summer and fall have been magnificent.  Winter, here we come!

Even the cats are feeling it.  I found Tessie and BobCat snuggled up the other day:

BobCat's not in the most relaxed position, and with Tessie's heft sliding down onto him, I'm sure it's not.  But BobCat is a gentlemen as far as cats go, and tolerates Tessie's, and Cappie's and Schatzie's various moods with good nature.  He wasn't in a hurry to move.

So with one more project off the needles, I can go to the yarn store tomorrow and pick up my order of Rowan which just came in.

The timing couldn't be any better.
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