Sunday, December 8, 2013

Introducing Odin

Without any further ado, meet our newest family member:
Welcome little Odin!  All the way from Mississippi via Maine, Odin has traveled more in his 14 weeks than I have this whole year.

I've been watching Petfinder for Border Collie/Lab mixes for a few months now, and in early November, I fell in love with a little puppy called Tauras, a dead-ringer for our late, great Cooper.  Even Eric was impressed.  He took one look at his photo, looked at me, and said, "Where is he, and when can we get him?"

I filled out the adoption form, and the long, arduous wait began.  I cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion.  To say that I fell hard for Tauras would be an understatement.  It was like our new puppy was so near, yet so far.

I stared at Tauras' photo that I had by now saved to my desktop, and went to check out his Petfinder profile umpteen times a day.  He was part of a big litter relocated to Maine from Mississippi by a non-profit dog rescue organization called Helping Paws headquartered in South Portland, Maine.  Not only had Tauras piqued my attention, so did two of his litter mates, Teddy and Tristan.

Two weeks later, with no news regarding the status of our application, I dejectedly put Tauras' photo into my recycle bin.  At that exact moment, a new email popped up!  Our application had been approved!  We could have a puppy!  Yippee!

Alas, I was told that Tauras' foster family decided to keep him (who could blame them?) but that little Tristan, Tauras' littermate, remained available.

It took a week for Eric and I to coordinate our schedules so we could both make the trek to Maine together.  As we drove down, I had a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sort of dread, wondering what I had gotten us into...
I had been emailing Tristan's foster-mom.  We bantered a few emails across the ether, and I had a good vibe about her and the care she was giving Tristan.  When we walked through the door, Tristan greeted us like long-lost family.  All of our our doubts melted away in an instant.  We knew we had found our dog.

I can't begin to tell you just how well Tristan had been looked after.  His foster-mom cared for him like her very own.  He sits, he's learning how to stay and come, he's great on a leash, and he's crate-trained.  He asks for the door, and he's good in the car.  He's used to dogs, he's used to cats, and he's house-trained.  He sleeps curled up beside me, and let me sleep in until 9:30 this morning, something I've had the luxury of doing exactly twice this year!

Odin, as we obviously baptised Tristan, is the perfect puppy.  We're over-the-moon in love with him, and have spent the last few days getting accustomed to one another.  The cats are on the fence.  While Tessie used to block Cooper on the stair all the time, she's not sure about this newcomer and spends a lot of time upstairs, using her best stealth-cat techniques to move around the house.  BobCat is taking things in stride and lets Odin lick his face.  BobCat has reclaimed his spot on the couch, and has no problem putting the young 'un in his place while tolerating his canine affections.
Capucine for her part, has already re-assumed her regular schedule, and last night, came into the bedroom as is her habit, and said goodnight while Odin watched her from the bed.  She keeps a watchful eye on him.

Lookit those pink puppy paws!  Lookit that spotted baby belly!  At 14 weeks, Tristan is already 23 pounds.  Cooper weighed 14 pounds at 13 weeks.  It looks like we'll have a big boy on our hands.

My little Mississippi Mud Hound, as I affectionately call him.

To say we're beyond lucky is an understatement.  Odin is such a good boy.  I've been wearing him out with long walks up and down the hedgerow, to the back-end of our property.  We've been to the pet store to pick out new toys, and have visitors who play fetch until Odin tires out.  Every day is filled with excitement and newness.
It's wonderful, seeing the world through the eyes of a dog once again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


It's hard to believe that we've been renovating this old house since 2001.  Eric started off with gusto, got lots done in the first year, and then other things took over.

Real Life took over, that's what.

Eric decided that this October, he'd take a month off work - unpaid, I should add.  He wanted to tackle the upstairs, once and for all.  The last time I posted about our so-called progress, it was October 25, 2012.  I called the post Renovation Day 1388 to coincide with the day we officially started the knotty pine purge.  If I add 364 days to that count, we'd be at 1752 days, but that's bordering on terrifying.  Let's forget I even went there.

Oh, what a naive and innocent soul I was!  I've often said I'm time-challenged because I need to be, and I'm not kidding.  My sanity depends on looking the other way, and pretending that everyone lives with exposed 2x4's and plastic sheets in place of bedroom doors, don't they?  When people ask me how I deal with it, I put my hands over my ears, and sing LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA, very loudly to prove my point.  That's the defense mechanism I've built up over the last few years.  Maturity is not my middle name.
Remember I said we always complicate things?  That's why we're still here, 12 years later, wielding power tools and cursing, albeit lovingly, at each other under our breath.

Truth be told, our house was massacred at the above spot by previous owners.  A couple of square feet of actual, physical house structure was missing here.
Here's a photo taken last year that shows what I mean.  The master bedroom is behind the formidable plastic sheet, as I've affectionately named what we've considered a bedroom door since January 2009.
 While Eric insists he didn't over-engineer, I tend to agree with him so as not to pick a fight.
Here we can see the BC Fir timber-frame structure that Eric built to shore up this part of the house, and accommodate the rail-mounted glass door from Sadev we're putting here.  Perfection doesn't evade Eric, which is why he talks in terms of 64ths, and uses a micrometer to measure things.

While some people think it might be romantic to renovate an 1850's farm house, I'm here to say but one thing:  NOT.  Knowing what we know now, we'd much rather build from scratch than marry old with new, ever again.  It's, like, six times the work.
Trying to get things to fit flush - on the first try - takes a bit of knowledge, a lot of patience, and the right tools. Make that a lot of knowledge, and a bit of patience, on second thought.
When Eric asks me to hand him the 0.5mm pen instead of the 0.7mm pen for marking, I think he's over-doing things just a tad, but I do have to hand it to him, literally and figuratively.  His attention to detail pays off in the end.  When Eric marks and cuts, stuff fits.  And if it doesn't?  That's where the La La La La song comes in.
In order to finish up this corner, we actually had to remove part of the vapour barrier and the boards we had initially put up in 2009.  Once the timber-frame structure was complete, and the electrical wiring done, Eric insulated using Roxul Safe'n'Sound.  Again, words can't express just how highly we think of this product.  I have to be punny and say it rocks.  Enough said.

We've used a radiant barrier everywhere upstairs.  I cannot extoll the virtues of this misunderstood step enough.  We used rFoil NT radiant barrier upstairs and highly recommend it.  It makes a huge difference in the comfort of our home, and should be considered by everyone building or renovating.  It's an integral step in insulation.
rFoil installed!  Eric is chugging right along!  The barrier is joined to the studs using Mulco's Acoustic.  There's another pun in there, because this stuff sticks like a SOB.  Buy a big container of lighter fluid - that's the antidote.  Where 2 sections of barrier overlap, use the best aluminum foil tape you can find - we prefer Cantech brand.

The only thing missing is the drywall.  Thankfully, Eric has a new foreman:
Capucine is to construction as misery is to renovation.  Crack that whip, kitty!  Here she is on the platform Eric built to be able to work safely in the stairwell.  We've left it in place for now, and we only needed to knock our heads on it twice to remember to duck, both coming up and going down the stairs.  When we remove this platform, I can guarantee you it will take us a few days to walk straight again.

Hark, what have we here?

Why, the drywall has been applied, the joints are done and sanded, and the first coat of primer is down!  We're so excited by this step, we actually run our hands over the walls and burst into gales of laughter.  Clearly, we're not quite sane, but that's a prerequisite for undertaking a project of this magnitude in the first place.

Paradoxically, part of me is sad we don't see the old structure of the house anymore.  While I never really got used to the dangling electrical outlet (see the first photo), and always tentatively fumbled for it when the house was dark, I'm sad to see the old part of our house now covered.

I'll probably get over it by tomorrow.

And, for your viewing pleasure, things would not be complete without two sunsets and a message from Capucine:

Looks like you missed a spot, right there!  Just doing my job!  X O X O, Capucine.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Six Months.

It's hard to believe that Cooper has been gone for six months already.

I've cried gallons of tears over him since then, and I know I'm good to cry gallons more.  I wish I had a cure for heartbreak.

We still see Cooper everywhere.  My heart sinks when I make the curve in our driveway and I don't see his smiling face in the patio door, waiting deliriously for our arrival, his tail quivering with excitement.  I still check my watch at 4:30, and think it's food time.  Our friends still come in the house, and ask, "Where's...?", their voices trailing off.

We know just how they feel.

His bed is still upstairs, and his collar still hangs at the door.  I jiggle it from time to time, as if doing so might conjure him up.

The first night after he died, I dreamed about him, and that he was still with us, but in a parallel, invisible universe.  I dreamed I could see a faint outline of him if I concentrated hard enough, sort of like a holograph, but he was there and always would be.  

I sleep with his favorite stuffed toy, the same toy he brought me mere hours before he died, leaning in towards me like he always did when he wanted attention.  There are nights where I admit that I clutch it more furtively than others.

We sometimes laugh as we recount and remember things he did.  Sometimes we wipe a discreet tear out of the corner of our eye.  Other times, particularly right now, the tears come fast and furious, and my breath comes in gulps.  The pain in my chest is more real than I care to admit.

I try and sit still with the pain, trying to make sense of the senseless.  It's a futile attempt, of this I know.  All I can do is give thanks for the still December morning he came into our lives.  I simply could have driven by him, and life would have been very, very different.

Cooper was the glue that bound everything together, and I'm trying hard to find a way to hold it together without him.

If people are the heart of a home, a dog is most definitely the soul.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Sunflower

For the past few weeks, I've been driving by a lonely sunflower in the middle of a grass field:

This sentinel flower has been standing at full attention, dutifully facing the sun, every time I drive by in the morning.  Every day, it puts a smile on my face.

Here's the sunflower in full context:
The maples in the background are starting to turn yellow and orange and red, and the ash trees have lost almost all of their leaves.  This coming weekend will probably be the best showing of fall colours, and we've got our fingers crossed that the weather will hold out.  Speaking from experience, we just need one wet and windy day to bring all the leaves down.  That would spell the end of summer 2013, and we don't want that to happen just yet.  It seems like summer just started!  We've got some rain in the forecast this weekend, and then more of what we've been having.  Our current spell of beautiful weather has been the best we've had all year, it seems.  Not a single night of frost, not a single rainy day, just bright sunny days, and cool foggy nights.  Just perfect!

The soy fields in our area were cut in the past week, and the field right across from my favorite sunflower is bare:
You can make out the adjoining field of corn on the left-hand side of the photo.  Corn still has a few weeks to go before harvest.

Our wheat was harvested a few weeks ago, and our fields have already been spread with manure and plowed under, ready for next spring.  Our direct neighbour has spread his field with liquid manure, so maybe a bit of rain to wash the smell into the soil might not be a bad idea.  Right now, it's nausea-inducing.

My favorite sunflower started to hang its head late this week, and today when I drove by, the field had been cut.   Bye-bye sunflower, hope to see you again next year.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Late September

Since there's no hope to make this a cohesive post, I'm going to jump in with both feet:
Isn't this the most beautiful sock wool you've ever seen?  It's Biscotte and Cie's Boréale.  If you look close enough, it has a thin thread of metallic fibre called Stellina spun together with the merino.  Yum.  I have no clue if this wool is going to be a pair of socks or a shawl.  Yes.  It screams "impulse purchase".  And yes.  I purchased two skeins.
Like a moth to a flame, it's more Stellina!  Juno Fibre Arts Sirius Lace in colour Oyster.  874 yards of extra fine Merino combined with silk and Stellina.  This one I have plans for - the Holey Square Shawl by Marianne Sigg.

Both of these yarns came from the Twist Fibre Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Québec.  We're marking the calendar for next year's festival.

Oh look!  A sunset!
And yet another sunset!
That's one of the things I love about this time of year.  The glorious, clear skies.  We can see upstate New York, right over there.  (Seriously, it's 30 miles to the south of us, really not that far!)

Getting back to wooly matters, the Viajante I spent nearly two weeks knitting, was frogged:
After bashing off two full skeins, I decided this wool could have a better vocation.  Joji Locatelli published her newest design, Boxy and Buttony, and the deal was sealed.  Here's my progress, after nearly 4 weeks' worth of re-knitting:
This sweater is knit in one piece from the top down.  I'm nearly done with the body and still need to knit the sleeves and finish the neckline.  The end is in sight for this project.

And speaking of end in sight, I finally finished my Scarfigan.  This wool has been to knitting hell and back, having been knit and now re-knit:
I finally put this scarf out of its misery at nearly 76" in length.  I washed and blocked it on the weekend, and finally added the fringe last night.  It's beautiful, it's warm, and it looks like a million dollars.  Joseph Galler's Peruvian Tweed in colour 113, if you need the salient details.  Pictures don't do justice to the three plies of wool.  This might be the softest yarn I have ever knit with, and re-knitting it wasn't even such a chore.  That of course can be said now that the project is finished.  There will be more Joseph Galler in my future.

Because I'm a spineless, guileless wool-hoarder, I came home with more yarn last week:
Mirasol's Miski, 100% baby llama, a first for this knitter.  (Did I just say Peruvian Tweed was the softest yarn I've ever knit with?  It might be a tie for first place).  In my defense, this project is nearly completed.  I've already knit 2 skeins and will probably cast-off this project tomorrow.  It's Evelyn by Wei S. Leong, another free Ravelry pattern.  There was a sample cowl knit up in my local yarn store, and it was totally wearable.  Perfect for taking the chill off a cold morning.  I hate nothing more than a cold neck and cold feet, which is why I had to buy more sock yarn, too:
My new purple driving mocs needed matching socks.  At least that's my reasoning and I'm sticking to it.  Buying Rowan will never, ever be a chore.  I've heard amazing things about Fine Art, and can't wait to get this pair of socks in the works.

As the days get markedly shorter, and the nights get colder, my needles are suddenly in over-drive.  Like a squirrel stashing away acorns, I'm busy warding off the cold with more wool...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This was in my in-box this morning.

Photo courtesy of Eric, taken somewhere over the north Atlantic.

If the dawning of a new day doesn't move you, well, I don't know what will.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Moon Rise

Clear, clear, clear skies.  A glorious sunset, a wonderful moon rise.  Venus is at 2 o'clock.

The camera doesn't do justice to the colour of the sky.

The air is crisp.  Our low tonight is 4C or 39F.   I don't need to tell you the woodstove has been lit.

Ah, September.  I love thee so.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Stormy Weather

It's hard to believe but summer is winding down.  You'd think that with 45 years behind me, this annual recurrent feature called "fall" shouldn't come as a surprise.
September is a slap in the face, always has been, always will be.  Unless I move to the southern hemisphere, I think I'm screwed.

Maybe I shouldn't be worried, but considering summer started some time in July, I feel like I just didn't get enough down-time in.  Maybe that was bad planning on my part, or maybe it was weather-related, we'll see how I feel mid-February when the battery in my brain needs a boost.

We've had some remarkable storms blow through our area recently.  Here's the front moving in:
Within minutes it was pouring.
I always marvel at how dark it gets when clouds roll in.
Thankfully, the skies cleared up and the sun came out again, basking everything in a golden glow.
Facing east, we even had a beautiful rainbow.  I've opened the Velux window in the bedroom to take this shot, hence the corner of the roof in the picture.

Considering we have temps going up to 32C or 90F coming up, it's not over until it's over.  We should be able to squeeze a bit more summer out of September yet.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Strawberry Freezer Jam

You might think that it's a little bit late in the season for strawberries.  Well, think again:
These gorgeous little gems come from Quebec's renowned Ile d'Orléans, an island located in the Saint Lawrence river, mere miles from Quebec City.  I spied these beauties at my local grocery store and could not resist.  The flavour is very concentrated, and they're not watered-down like some of the spring fruit we traditionally get.  It was also high-time I used that package of freezer jam pectin I've had wedged in the back of the pantry for years now.

Meh.  Use before November 09.  Well, that's still within my comfort zone.  Remember I'm time-challenged?  I checked on Bernardin's website, and the packaging has been revamped (probably twice since then), so if you're looking for this pouch, be forewarned it now looks different:
Why make freezer jam?  Well, several reasons.  It's no fuss, no muss.  Just mash strawberries until you have 4 cups, add 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar to the pectin, mix together until well-combined, then add crushed strawberries and stir for 3 minutes.  No need to sterilize jars and no need to cook the mixture.  Why lose all that colour, flavour and those wonderful antioxidants? I really hate to see people spend more time and energy on something that should be this simple.  It also produces a superior tasting jam, and that should be reason enough to keep the stove turned off.

Part of the reason I generally avoid jam is the high sugar-to-fruit ratio.  Using 1-1/2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of fruit doesn't seem that evil to me.  I wouldn't eat this stuff for breakfast every day, but spread on waffles or thin pancakes, it's a thing of beauty.

Cracking open a jar of this strawberry jam in the middle of winter can keep a person from going insane.  It's like a little ray of sunshine during a long, cold season.

If that's all it takes, well then, sign me up:
The recipe makes 5 - 250mL jars.  You can use any type of container to freeze this jam - you don't have to use traditional canning jars like I did.  I used them because they were in the kitchen from my mango chutney episode, but little Rubbermaid or Tupperware-style plastic containers will do the trick.
I use it straight from the freezer.  I just slice out what I need, and it melts in seconds when put on hot crepes or toast or waffles.  Because I'm an infrequent jam-user, my strawberry jam stays much fresher this way.

So if you've never tried this method of jam-making, I hope I've convinced you to try it.

Just don't keep your pouch of freezer pectin on the shelf for 5 years like I did.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


August just flew by, didn't it?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A View from Above

The following is courtesy of Eric:

When you'd rather be in bed, instead of 35,000 feet in the air at 3AM.

When the sun is rising in your face, yet your body tells you it's the middle of the night.

It's not as glorious as you'd think.

Still, each sunrise has it's own charm.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

It's August 10 Already?

I obviously don't roll on the same calendar as everyone else.  On top of being a lazy blogger, I'm also guilty of being a lazy photo down-loader.  I'm going to keep this post as picture-heavy and word-free as I can, or forgo sleep altogether.

So, hang on, boys and girls:
Our neighbour's wheat field was not lodged during the storm that hit on June 28th, where we had 20 mm of rain in minutes, if I trust Environment Canada's statistics.
The wheat in our field tried to right itself over the following weeks, and it did, partly.  Still the quality will be terrible, if not a total write-off.  You might want to stock up on flour.
A swirly cloud sunset, for your pleasure.  Our sunsets this season? Few and far between, sadly.
A twelve-spotted dragon-fly.  The first I can recall seeing.  Global warming, here we come!  We'll be feeding polar bears soon.
From dragon-fly to Firefly - the yarn, that is.  This wonderful Firefly from Classic Elite became the aptly named Firefly tunic.  I actually finished something.  In keeping with my latest (laziest?) tradition, I pushed this into my knitting BFF's hands.  Credit goes to Elaine who seamed it for me.  (I think I'm on to something here...putting the onus of finishing projects in someone else's hands?  Brilliant!)  The wonderfully sheepy project bag came from zigzagstitches on Etsy.  Now I don't look like a bag-lady anymore, toting my projects around in tattered grocery bags.  I also love this tunic so much, people around me are starting to wonder if I have anything clean in my closet these days, other than this sweater.  Actually, yes there is, and no, I don't want to wear anything else.  End of discussion.
How's this for a sunset?  July 19th.  (I procrastinate about posting, don't I?)  Better late than never.
Yet another storm rolling in.  We've been deluged this year.  This photo dates July 28th.   Another 20 mm of rain.  I think the weather's on to something of a roll, too.
When the streetlights go on at 4PM, it's because it's raining hard.  Actually, it even hailed.
It rains so much, that it's even raining when it's sunny.  We've had bizarre weather this summer.  Environment Canada posted 0 mm on August 4.  I'm here to tell you we got nailed by a rogue thunder cell.
I finished a scarf made with Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico.  All natural baby alpaca colours, blended with mulberry silk.  Oh wow.  I can't wait for it to snow just so I can wear this!  Just kidding.  I'm saying that in the hopes that we'll only see snow in December.  Like on Christmas Eve December.
I love how Tessie does her Superman flying imitation.  I call this the Supercat pose.  Both Tessie and Bobber are hefty little munchkins.  Where was Cappie?  Enjoying the great out-of-doors.  I don't need to tell you she weighs half of what the chunky-monkeys weigh.
I've knit 12 of these scarves and blogged about it not-a-once.  Katia Jordan's One Skein, A Stole.  I wear this thing All. The. Time.  It matches the Firefly tunic.  See what I did there?  I camouflage the Firefly with my Noro scarf!
Today I made mango chutney.  We have so much local produce these days, but I had to make mango chutney with mangoes from Mexico.  They were 3 for 99c at the grocery store.  I needed 4 to make 6-250 mL jars.  That's a deal too good to pass up.  Don't let the exhaustive list of ingredients dissuade you from making this.  It's quite the condiment.
...and because they're not all stinkers, here is tonight's sunset.  We've got warm, dry, sunny days in the forecast for the coming week, which is a nice departure from recent weeks.

On that note, dear readers, I bid you adieu.  Until next time!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...