Monday, August 31, 2009

Mum and Grandma Come to the Big City

I got home from Ste. Anne's at 1600 Weds, went for two hours of dance lessons with hubby followed by dinner at the Keg and then straight to the airport to pick up my mum and grandma. From utter relaxation to pandemonium in one smooth step.

They're not usually high-maintenance people, but I got the distinct impression that I was staff in the house while they were here. They sat and reminisced about dead people they used to know while I cooked, cleaned, tidied and chauffeured them around to fun places in the area. It was exhausting but fun.

We cruised the 1000 Islands, lapping Boldt Castle since Mum and Grandma didn't have passports so couldn't we go land.





We went to Rideau Hall and toured the GG's residence and came out feeling very patriotic at the end, and a little giddy that we had walked in the footsteps of Presidents and Queens.



We toured show homes, a time-honoured family tradition when visiting out-of-towners. And finally, I treated mum and grandma to their first-ever spa pedicure, which they both pronounced divine.

It was a busy six days, and it went by in a flash. Now they're gone and I can begin my real holiday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anna Karenina

It is finished, signed, admired, and given away. The colours and size were dictated by it's recipient, my adoptive mother; all else was left to my whimsy. The name was dictated by the audio book I listened to it as I sewed it up.

Draped artistically over the shed... (don't ask.)


The "B" side:


On the bed:



Mum laid down to have a nap under the quilt the day I gave it to her, but she got too busy admiring the stitching to sleep. I'll take that as the best compliment I could receive.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It Is Finished!

Six courses, five finals, five days. Holy crap, it was a stressful week. However, it's all over now for a precious three weeks. I should know my marks next week... although I recognize it's completely arbitrary, I fought like hell to stay on the Dean's List. Time will tell. I should know that in mid to late Sept.

"Finished" not only refers to my mental state, but Mum's quilt. 3 hours in the sewing room saw the border put sewn on and down and the quilt signed and named. "Anna Karenina" will show up on the blog soon for your viewing pleasure.

And now, tomorrow comes my reward... four days, three nights at Ste. Anne's. No laptop, no coding, no stress... just good books, good music, good knitting, wine, food, pampering and relaxation. Bring it on.

See you next week!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Earthdancer Comes Home

After literally years of waiting to be framed, Earthdancer is done up right and on the wall. She is spectacular!

Close-ups of the piece and framing:



And on the wall.



She's perfect, and has been well worth the wait. I had her framed at the Framing and Art Center on Merivale, and I am well pleased with their services. Now that Cross-Stitch Cupboard is closed, it's nice to know there's a good option for needlework framing.

(I've since pulled off that ridiculous light-switch cover (who puts a switch in the freakin' middle of a feature wall, anyhow?) and painted it to match the wall so it won't be so obtrusive.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When The Stars Fall

I had heard on CBC radio that there was to be a meteor shower last night. Despite my good intentions to remember and perhaps drive out to the country to watch it, I didn't remember until it was late and I was performing my nightly ritual of checking that all the doors and windows were locked for the night before I went to bed. Not sure if it was even clear enough to see anything, I cupped my hands against the cool glass of the back yard's sliding door and peered out.

I was immediately rewarded with the blaze of a shooting star across the sky. Excited that it was still going on and conditions were clear, I raced around downstairs, finishing my "security" rounds, turning off lights and grabbing a blanket from the couch. I eased out of the screen door, careful not to let a very disappointed Ginger-cat squirt out into the night air with me.

The grass was cool and dew-wet. I wrapped myself in the blanket, more for protection from the whining mosquitoes than anything, and lay back on the grass, looking expectantly up. For long moments, there was a good deal of nothing in the sky, and annoyed by the mosquitoes pestering my face, I almost went inside immediately.

Then I laughed at myself. Here I am, positioned to watch one of the great natural wonders of the universe, and I want it delivered to me like a Fox news soundbite... condensed into 30 seconds or less, thank-you-very-much, so that I can return to my self-obsessed life as regularly scheduled. The guest on CBC said that the light from these meteors burning reaches us 43 minutes after they have already expired in the atmosphere... the least I can do is grant these celestial travellers more than a minute of my time. I laid back in the grass, now a little more stoic about the insects and dampness. I breathed in the cooling air, redolent of smells from my garden; there a touch of wet garlic; here a waft of cilantro.

I was soon rewarded with a magical streak of light that travelled directly above me. More time passed, and then another graced my vision. Time slowed, the mosquitoes seemed to disappear, and I existed simply to watch the night sky; the thrill of witnessing the meteors had me in a spell. I made deals with myself that I'll wait until I see one more, and then I'll go in... but that one more was always so incredible it kept me there for just one more again.

Finally, after witnessing 8 or 9 meteors, I saw one so bright and glorious that I involuntarily sucked in my breath in awe as it raced across the sky. A shiver went down my spine, tears came to my eyes, and I knew that it was the one I had been waiting to see. Slowly, reluctantly, but concious of the lateness of the hour and my upcoming exam in the morning, I got to my feet and went inside. As I closed the patio door, I saw one last shooting star streak the sky, as if a wave goodbye. Though I peered out windows intently as I readied myself for bed, I saw no more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Flame

I've long meant to make a scarf for Wayne's mother, and it made it's way to the top of my knitting queue last week. The scarf would teach me a new technique, entrelac, which has a reputation in knitting circles as fiddly, complicated, and tedious. Be that as it may, entrelac done with a scrumptious variegated yarn has the potential to be outstanding, and I decided to make my first foray into this technique with some luscious Noro Silk Garden, a silk-mohair-wool blend from Japan that comes in simply amazing colours. I chose a colourway that I thought Wayne's mum would like, and began.

...And haven't stopped since. I'm almost 3/4 of the way through the scarf, despite exams, despite studying, despite everything. Prying the needles out of my hands just isn't going to happen any time soon. Not only does the technique entrance me, but the colours (oh the colours!) and the overall finished product amaze me.



Isn't that just about the cleverest thing ever??! I'd be totally in love with this project, but the colours aren't *me*... I am making it for my mother-in-law, after all. However, I think I shall achieve scarf perfection with this...


...don't you? (Yes, I fell into Wool-Tyme on my way home... I needed holiday knitting!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hello, Stinking Rose

Last time we checked in on momma's little garlic patch, we saw this:


That was in mid-June. This is what the same patch looks like today:


However, this is my basement:




I harvested just over 100 bulbs of beautiful garlic last week; half-and-half Siberian and Fireball. I lost a few to sheer wetness; the stems rotted through in some plants; but I harvested well over 90% of what I planted. I think those are pretty good numbers.

Not that I wasn't worried. A strange pest killed off my chives last year, and I thought nothing of it until it returned again this year, and started abusing my garlic, too. I identified it as onion maggot, and mentally kissed my garlic patch goodbye- the maggots are unstoppable through any means of control and will overwinter in the soil for two years. I was just hoping to save some out of this harvest.

It turns out I was alarming myself more than necessary. I headed out to the Carp Garlic Festival last weekend to chat with the experts, and the very-helpful Dave from Ashton Station Garlic showed me that my problem was leek moths and not that serious in the grand scheme of things... yes, they'll come back next year, but they can be controlled through various means and rarely harm the bulb itself, just the leaves. Relieved and overjoyed that I could plant another crop next year, I bought some organic garlic from him in a variety of... varieties, so that I may plant my favourites in the fall. I will also probably use some of the crop I just harvested as seed.


For those who are wondering what on earth I'll do with that much garlic. Well, at last year's festival, I bought about 50 bulbs, and as of today, this is what I have left:


We plow through the stuff like there's no tomorrow... roasted, baked, fried, raw, minced, grated, sliced... if we're serving something savoury in the house, odds are pretty good it's got (loads of) garlic in it. However, I might still have lots left over, providing it all stores well... the damp harvest conditions had me worried and a few of the bulbs showed early mould. I think we'll be fine now, though.

If you've never been out to the Carp Garlic Festival, or tried garlic that isn't from the supermarket, I strongly urge you to roam out there. It's open for a final day this Saturday, and is a beautiful drive and a fun outing. You may never look at garlic the same again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gloves and Gardens (and socks, too)

DH and I have been watching Tin Man over the last couple of days, so I've snuck in some quality knitting time and actually finished two projects.



These wretchedly colourful socks are made from the Harlot's basic sock recipe, out of some funky Opal yarn that a girlfriend brought back as a souvenir from Europe for me.


These are Nereid fingerless gloves, round two, for Momma Linda. They're made from Estelle Arequipa that was left over from my Whisper Cardi. If you think the colour balance in this photo is a little wonky because my skin looks orange, you're not wrong... I henna'd my hair again a couple of days ago without gloves, and my hands look like I lost a fight in a carrot factory.

Some glorious shots of my garden, sans knitwear. Hope your long weekend is going swimmingly!





Sunday, August 2, 2009

Holy Mole-y!

I keep a couple of bird feeders in the back yard. Not only am I trying to court some bird wildlife into strip-mined suburbia, but it's good entertainment both for myself and the cats. They love watching "TV" out the window; the fat mourning doves drive them insane.

A side-effect of the hand-out of free grain is, of course, rodent life; which the cats find equally amusing. There's something small and furry which lives somewhere in the yard; it scampers along the fence-line and drives Ginger-cat insane and keeps her staring intently at the tall grass for hours. Earlier this week she managed to get her paw in the rodent under the fence; she couldn't get the beastie out but neither could it get away. The shrill squeaks from the back yard brought hubby and I running to see what was happening. Ginger eventually backed away and everyone went their own way.

Yesterday we heard the squeaking again, and ran out to see what was happening. This is what we saw.




Can you see it? In all three shots you might be able to see the dark grey furry form of her rodent "friend". Here. Here's some better shots, courtesy of hubby.




We've positively ID'd this handsome fellow as a mole. They're handy to have in the yard, as they'll eat up to 30 lbs of grubs a year. Hubby caught him to rescue him from Ginger (who was puzzled and annoyed that we took her (uninjured but terrified) toy away. We released the mole back into a protected place, where it will live another day to eat grubs and tantalize the cat.