The Journey…

February 29, 2008

The directions are simple: Leave Calgary and drive south, head for the US border.  Get onto I-15, stop in Salt Lake.  I left at 4 am, long before any other traffic thought about getting on the road.  Bless Tim Hortons and their all night drive-thru, coffee, extra-large, and a blueberry fritter please!  The sun came up in Montana, Big Sky Country:

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On the right of the highway you can just see the Rockies, where Glacier National Park is.  Once south of Great Falls, you go into some lovely mountains, Helena, and Butte are two cute little cities nestled into valleys in the mountains.  I know where to get skinny lattes in both places now.

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My favorite road sign on the whole trip:

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The gateway to Idaho is a higher elevation, and still covered in a lot of snow.  I’ve had the pleasure of navigating quite bad blizzards in the section on previous trips.

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Eventually the mountains are left behind and a large lake basin is traversed, with Idaho Falls as the destination on the far side.  I always look for the giant Budweiser Silos on the east side of the highway, with their giant Clydesdales:

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I rolled into Salt Lake as a brilliant crimson and pink sunset took up the entire western sky.  My photos did not turn out, as they merely highlighted how dirty the windows of my car are!  But as there was a bit of an inversion, the sunset was more brilliant than normal.  I’m now getting to the end of the training, and it hasn’t been as bad as I was worried about.  Its been lovely visiting with old friends, and sleeping in my own bed!  Back to the grind now:

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Canadian Care Package

February 26, 2008

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I’m almost all packed and ready to head down south of the border to the land of temples, red rocks, and fry sauce.  For my Canadian friends still living in the land of the free, instead of the true north, I’m bringing goodies!  These are a bunch of our favorite items that you can’t seem to get in the States, and I used to stock up on every time I went back to Canada for a visit.  Most of these are for a good friend in Salt Lake, who despite my best efforts to feed her up with chocolate and pastries remains a size 0!  First off we have Sleemans Cream Ale, which is my favorite beer.  Then Reverse Decadent Cookies, which are so good it defies description.  The regular ones are pretty good as well, but I predict squeals of delight and munching when she sees the reverse ones.  Then of course buttertarts!  I love buttertarts so much, and like to make them, but these No Name brand ones are pretty fine as well.  They are a pastry shell filled with raisins, corn syrup, sugar, and caramelize into yummy gooey goodness.  Cadbury chocolate eggs for Easter, and of course Smarties, the real kind not those weird sugar ones.  Cadbury’s chocolate for Mr. R, a Mars bar for Mr. G, a Coffee Crisp, Mr. Big and Oh Henry bar to round out the chocolate selections.  I packed some clothes and knitting as well!  I can’t really bring healthy snacks with me as I hit the border in three hours (hopefully at 6 am) and can’t bring anything perishable with me.  A previous trip I bought carrots and celery in Helena Montana and got a nasty case of food  poisoning for my trouble in Idaho (ick!). 

If you need me for anything, I’ll be here:

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Posting shall be irregular for the next week and a half, see you when I can get some WIFI.  Probably at Mondo Cafe “Coffee:Still Legal in Utah”.  (2nd best slogan of all time, 1st is “Polygamy Porter: Why Have Just One”. 

Spring? Are You There?

February 25, 2008

It has been a lovely week and a bit here in Calgary, with temperatures above freezing almost every day.  Unfortunately now that the snow is almost gone, its left behind a very dirty, brown looking city.  Where Toronto turns grey in February, I’m thinking Calgary is brown.  One just cannot wait for that first flower, that first sprig of green grass to come pushing through, the first bud to pop.  The worst part is knowing the warm temperatures can’t last, that winter will come roaring back soon and there will be at least one more cold snap, one more snow storm.  Right now winter is just toying with us, lulling us into a false hope of spring.  This weekend I did my bit to hurry it along, and had a very green weekend.  Margene, I would recommend that you look away at this point, as you won’t like what I’ve got coming next:

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My lovely green road bike, my new green purse (my “something pretty” Mrs Chuky) and my new green Gathered Pullover.  The purse was tested, and a sock project fits into it very well, with room left over for wallet, phone, and other sundries.  As my EPS is almost finished, I spent a good deal of Sunday doing swatches for two new projects to take with me to Utah.  Cause you don’t want to run out you know!  Recovering from food poisoning last Thursday left me with minimal energy which I used on Saturday to get out on my cross country skis for about an hour and a half, so Sunday was pretty subdued.  I watched the Oscars, and loved some of the dresses, Jessica Alba’s stood out for me, as well as the colour of Helen Mirren’s dress.  I almost think it was the Oscars for women over 50 as they had some of the most lovely dresses.  I still do not understand “No Country for Old Men”, nor why it won.  I must have missed something.  The good thing about this time zone however is that it was over at 10 pm, and I could get to bed.  Piper was all worn out by then as well:

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“I purr for Daniel Day-Lewis!”

There are so many reasons, it is hard to pin it down to something that fits into this nice little pat format.  Perhaps it is because its a great way to get yourself outside, and four hours later you’ve got a huge grin on your face, you are worn out, and it felt like twenty minutes.

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Perhaps because it is a great excuse to get out and camp, hang out with your friends, and get to cool places that would be pretty hard to unless you hiked out there, which is way less fun of course.   Your  biking buddies are friends for life, cause you’ve picked them up off the trail, and they’ve picked you up as well. 

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Perhaps it is because it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to make it to the top of a hill, to clear a crazy rocky section, and to enter races and win pretty ribbons.  Plus at my advanced age I still get to put on cute little spandex numbers and go out in public, and kind of look like I fit in.

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But all that eye candy that goes along with it ain’t bad either!!  Tee hee, can’t wait for my biking holiday, starting a week from today!!  Moab here I come!

Water or Vino?

February 20, 2008

First an update on EPS, as this is Wednesday after all.  I finished the second sleeve on the weekend, and put it together to begin the yoke.  I discovered I can’t count, took it back, then I discovered that I hadn’t centered my little maple leaf motif, so I ripped out a bit to fix that up.  However in the process of redoing I was able to try it on:

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I was really happy that it is fitting like I pictured it.  The  band sits exactly at my waist, and its nice and snug fitting.  Once I get cut it open to become a cardigan, and knit on the button bands, and block it nicely, it will be a smidgen less tight.  But it is warm and I don’t envision myself ever wearing more than a thin shirt underneath.  I’m excited to get the yoke knit so that I can try it on again.  Piper likes it, or perhaps she just likes the dangling thread. 

I started my new traveling project, the Socks for Veronik from the Holiday Knits Interweave 2007.  This is a great pattern, very easy lace stitch.  My yarn is Dream in Color, Smoochy, in the color InVino Veritas.  It is a lovely dark red with a few shades in between that and burgundy.  Which of course you can’t see in this photo:

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I think its pretty, I like the pattern, but I have a problem.  Every time I knit on it I lose the water in my apartment.  Remember I was working on a blue sock, and ripped it out to work on a more fiery coloured project?  I realized last night that that was the exact night we lost our water!!!  It came back on Monday evening after I worked all day on my blue/green/cream EPS, then went off again last night after I worked on Invino at SNB last night.  There is definitely a pattern, and I’ve definitely pissed off the water gods in my apartment complex.  Now I don’t think I need to go so far as to sacrifice my red sock to the water gods, but I think I need to put it down for a little while so that I can have a shower tonight.  Perhaps I need to open a bottle of red wine and sprinkle a bit of it on the water pipes. 

Saturday Sky and Family

February 19, 2008

Saturday Sky:

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 Saturday Feet:

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Family (Brother and Sister!):

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And like all siblings, after five minutes of a lick-fest Jack chomped Piper and a fight ensued.  These guys regularly chase and fight with each other, screech a bit, then get back to licking.  I’ve only seen them hurt each other once when Piper got a scratched leg (she ran up to me, sat on my lap, and stretched out the leg so that I could see it) and I’m pretty sure the nick on Jack’s ear is from Miss Pipes. 

I spent the entire weekend without water in my apartment!  It finally came back on last night around 6 pm, after I’d already cancelled the fancy dinner I was going to make.  I did have a lovely bath however, and a heavenly shower this morning.  And I did go to the knitting pub on Saturday probably a bit stinky, and with a cap on my head to cover the hideous greasy hair.  Think about all the ways you use water in your everyday life, and now picture it gone.  (Hint, think toilet area).  Good thing I know how to flush the toilet using my big soup pot. 

I think it seems like its been a long week as this is a long weekend here in Alberta!  Yes, Monday is Family Day, or to translate, “We Need Another Holiday Before May” Day.  Myself and the furry rotters have a few family things planned on Monday, I have two goals, and the rest is knitting!  My two things to do aren’t too taxing, so I’m hoping for a relaxing day. 

For a Friday finished object, may I present the lovely Montego Bay:

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So mysterious!

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Posing with my trusty calculator!  I have a bit too much fun making “Still Life With Knitting”.  The pattern is from Summer 2007 issue of Interweave, and can be found on Ravelry here.  I used a lovely CamelSpin from Handmaiden.  I did like the fact that the pattern instructs you to cut all your fringe pieces first, and then you just knit away until the seemingly never-ending ball of yarn ends.  Which I did, and I ended up with a scarf that hits the floor on both sides!  So I’ve been wrapping it twice around my neck for a nice cosy warm feel.  There is a mistake right in the middle that I made during the Superbowl.  I was cheering for the NY Giants, as I figured it was time for someone else to win.  Mr. T. was cheering for the Patriots, so things got a bit heated at times.  At the end of the game, I won a foot rub!  I’m so glad they won.  Yeah for the Underdog. 

For the fringe I followed the directions for braiding it, but added in some little beads for bling:

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If I had it to do over I think I would have tried some different braiding things, but it is still very nice I think.  I know everyone at the play last night was checking it out and were very envious! 

So what to do next?  What is my new little traveling project.  I had started a little blue sock, but not in the pattern I had originally meant it to become.  I had started it in the car in Saskatchewan, but when the first words of the pattern were “Provisional cast on with crochet hook” I had to switch to another pattern.  I’m not handy enough to fashion a crochet hook in the middle of nowhere.  However, I’m feeling really envious of everyone making things in “Fire” colours.  A quick stash crash reveals:

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I’m such a water element!  But right in the middle, two balls of sock yarn with red in them.  I’m starting a sock with the dark red one on the right middle.  But boy, oh boy, when the water and earth elements roll around, I’m all over it.  I also found pulling everything out of their separate bags and looking at them instructive.  I’ll remember to just not buy the blue and green ones in the future!

Have a good weekend everyone, see you Tuesday!  Or Saturday if you are planning on attending the knitting pub here in Calgary.  Things could get out of hand….

I. Hate. Valentine’s. Day.

February 14, 2008

 I have a long standing relationship of hate with Valentine’s Day.  My dog died on Valentine’s Day.  In school, they would organize flower or chocolate drives where you could buy your sweetheart something, and they would deliver it to the classroom on Valentine’s Day.  I. Never. Got. Anything.  And the worse part is that I would be sitting there trying to disappear, and hope that someone, somebody would have sent me flowers.  Maybe I had a secret admirer I didn’t know about?  No.  I’m not sure if you are aware but geeky smart girls aren’t very popular in rural communities.  Especially weird ones like me with no fashion sense and I still can’t do make-up properly.  But here is a pretty picture to cheer me up:

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Black rose!  Very anti-Valentine’s Day! Thanks D.O.D. (Dear Old Dad).

Here is something else to cheer me up.  It’s time for “Pay it Forward!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Here is how it works:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise and pay it forward to 3 other people.  Make something nice for someone you know, or for charity!

I changed the terms there to take out the blog requirement, since a lot of people reading don’t have them, they remain blog-free as they say.  Just remember, I’m a bit of an overachiever! 

And I do actually have a date tonight, I’m going to see a play.  I will wear make-up, a dress, and my new Montego Bay scarf!  Maybe there will be photos?  Stay tuned!

First of all the owner knits a pretty Montego Bay Scarf.(Ravelry Link).  We (the cats) supervise closely, looking for opportunities to snag it with our claws at all times.  Of course we pretend it was just an accident, but this is actually a quality control procedure to ensure a high standard of knitting.  Structural integrity you know.  We then help to wash the  scarf in the bathroom sink, and monitor its progress carefully.  At certain times in the process Piper pulls it out of the sink to check for “doneness”.

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Jack keeps an eye on the whole process from the bathtub, you know washing is the girl work part!

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The bathtub is fun!  Jack especially likes rolling down the sides of the tub.  The owner then goes into the bedroom (the only room with a door) and does something.  She says it looks like this:

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We aren’t allowed to help because we like to pull the pins out and eat them.  What is wrong with that we ask you?  Some people are so uptight!  The owner realizes that the scarf isn’t pinned very evenly, but she’s already ordered the wire blocking kit, she’ll get it soon!  We wait outside the door for this step to be done:

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It is an unwritten rule that whenever a door is closed, something really interesting is going on on the other side, and we must therefore get in as soon as possible. 

Then the owner covers all the scarf and pins with a few layers of blankets.  It looked like all the blankets she had to tell you the truth, but we weren’t going to say anything.  Again, something about needing to keep the rotters from eating the pins.  We don’t know who she is referring to.  We were also going to mention that she shouldn’t talk to her cats so much, as she is starting to be a crazy cat lady. We inspected the blankets to make sure the scarf will dry okay under there.  We approve:

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Blocking a lovely lace scarf is hard work!

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The owner needs to get out more…

Cold Weekend Blues!

February 11, 2008

It was cold last week, and cold on the weekend, therefore not a lot got done.  We’ve now sent that coldness over to Ontario and Toronto way, and it is supposed to be above zero out there.  (Pointing towards window).  The good news is that I got my car going with a bit of help from a friend and my new battery charger, which took almost 6 hours of Saturday.  But with my car thawed out I could finally get going on my “todo” list, which made me feel better.  So, what did I do last week in my big Saskatchewan adventure?  I visited some water treatment plants:

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Pretty cool huh?  The other one looked similar, but with white tanks.  These babies take iron, arsenic, and other nasties out of the well water, and then a membrane makes it more fit to drink.  My job was to evaluate the technology, and make some recommendations.  We visited two native reserves, which were interesting.  I believe I’m going to get to work on more of them, which I’m looking forward to.  A reserve in Canada has a look about it, whether you are in Ontario or Saskatchewan.  Its something about the uniformity of the houses (they are all the same design across Canada it seems), how close them are together for the middle of nowhere.  Obviously the issues here are huge, the history is deep, and problems are numerous. 

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I think because I like meeting and talking to people from all walks of life, and try to treat them all with respect, that I kind of enjoy going to places like this.  You meet interesting people, whose life stories are so different who can teach you so much.  Plus it was a long drive, and I started making a sock in the back seat. 

On Friday it was time to drive myself back to Saskatoon.  The temperature was -20 oC, and dropping fast, and that didn’t count the windchill.  Most of the highway was a whiteout:

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In Saskatoon later that evening I got to experience the feeling of the edge of my eyelids freezing where they are moist from your eyeballs.  In the interest of not freezing my eye balls I pulled my parka hood down so that I could barely see (I was walking, not to worry, didn’t even hit a post).  I ended up just going to the airport for the three hours until my flight. 

Sunday was all about figure skating, I pulled up my little skirt and hit the ice.  I was a bit tired, which is bad as jumping takes huge explosions of energy.  I started to get a bit stressed out over all the things I should be doing.  Then I thought to myself “All I need to do right now is jump and spin”.  Which is very simple.  So I stopped thinking about responsibilities and obligations, and jumped, and spun, skated, did stupid little edges, turns, etc.  It turns out my jumps were the best ever, and I’m doing an axle again.  The axle jump is one that you go into facing forwards, do 1.5 rotations, and come out backwards, on the other foot.  Yeah, it was always the hardest jump to learn.  So far its felt like my body knew how to do it, but was being blocked, like I couldn’t remember the word for an object in front of me which I know I should know.  Yesterday the jump started to flow out more, and feel natural again.  Plus Mumsie is going to start making me a ballet wrap-around sweater to wear, so life is good!

In bad news, the oval was the site of the Masters speed skating tournament on Sunday.  Not many men over 60 can pull off a skin suit.  Please don’t try and visualize it, I’m still trying to get over it.