And on Sunday my favorite month commences.  I already feel warmer and springier.  As soon as more snow melts, and the temperature stays warmer I can start riding my bike to work again as the daylight has come back.  I also cast on for a new sweater/tank, a lovely number from the Debbie Bliss Fall 2008 magazine, the Premiere Issue.  That always makes me happy, to start something new!

This weekend should be a lot of fun as well.  Saturday is going to be packed full of charging my car battery, lazing around the house until the car battery is charged, and then heading out to Canadian Tire to buy a trickle battery charger.  This time of year seems to be hard on my poor little car battery (only 1.5 years old!) but the warmer weather should help that out.  As much as I love spending thousands and thousands of dollars on car repairs, I do hope nothing else is wrong with the car for at least six months.  I am going to make a sacrifice to the car gods on Saturday, maybe some oil. 

On Saturday evening things take another turn towards happy as we are going to the Joni Mitchell Ballet “Pipe and Drum“.  It is a ballet to her songs, and I can’t wait to see it.  Ballet is one of my favorite art forms, and is sublimely beautiful in my opinion.  Take a look at the photo in the article I attached, at the male dancer at the front.  The perfect shape of his right hand, the position of his head, every muscle is engaged and active and ALIVE. 

And of course Monday.  Monday I get to drive back to Saskatchewan for some more fun.  Lots of fun.  So much fun I think I’ll do the Saskatchewan fun dance, just for fun.  I do get to use power tools, and cut a plastic tank open, and install bits and bobs in it, which I am looking forward to.  I also get to rebuild some pipe, that is fun also.  Expect a fascinating post about how to glue PVC pipe, now you are on the edge of your seat aren’t you?  Its a different  place over there, you drive along and you never just know what you are going to see:

sask-cars

Sometimes you just have to pull over and take a photo, as no one will believe you otherwise.  Have a good weekend everyone!

As a result of our balmy -22 oC (-7.6 oF) morning, plus wind.  I was worried about my cheeks and nose freezing as I hurried to the office after picking up my Timmy’s coffee, hood up, scarf pulled up over everything I could pull it over.  The furnace came on in my house at 4 am this morning, which I know for a fact as the cats take that as a sign that its time to get up.  And why wouldn’t they, normally the furnace turns on at 5:15 am as its programmed to warm the house up ten minutes before my alarm goes off.  Its dark, they can’t tell time, they are just kitties.  Therefore at 4 am they started their entire repertoire of tricks to get me up to pat them, play with them, turn the tap on, and go downstairs to fill their water bowl as THEY ARE STARVING!.  This was also how I knew that it was cold outside, if the furnace was turning on early to maintain its setpoint of 15 oC in the house.

But what a good day to test drive my new toque, the Floppy Toque that is from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008.  I made it from the Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit, but with 3.5 mm needles instead of 4.5 mm, and with one strand instead of two.  I upped the stitch count around 30% to accommodate this change.  I was able to have a decent sized ball leftover when I was finished (currently being transformed into pom-pom’s for the matching scarf).

floppy-toque-1

It is soft as a, well an angora rabbit which is pretty darn soft.  I can pull it down to cover my whole ear, and most of my forehead and eyebrow.  If I didn’t have to see where I was going it would have been down further let me tell you.  The double layer around the brim even kept out most of the wind, giving this toque a -22 oC rating.  I had to pull up the hood of big parka mostly for my cheeks and nose.  I even feel a bit fashionable with my new slouch look, as if I’m not fashionable enough in my giant parka! 

Warm-up is coming tomorrow, can’t wait to thaw out a bit!

FO: Herringbone Mittens

February 24, 2009

These were made to replace the giantico hat made over Christmas for my friend GIGI.  I think the Canadian living in Salt Lake will like the colour combination:

herringbone-mittens1

The cuffs are too big for my taste, unless you get your parka sleeve right in there.  No way they will keep out our cold Calgarian winds.  I felted the mittens down a bit to bring them in, and improve the cold rating, which I would put at -10 oC, if there is a parka jammed in there however.  If I make these again, which seems likely I will include the eyelet round and make the cord to go through it (with pom-poms!).  Its a great way to use up leftover Briggs and Little or Custom Woolen Mills yarn from various colourwork sweaters which I have copious amounts of.  I found knitting these frustrating at first, until an incredibly smart and talented friend pointed out that the pattern consisted of two stitches of the same colour stacked on top of each other.  Duh!  Once that light went off they went much more quickly.  I hope she likes them, cause I burned my hands felting them!  I won’t tell her that, I will pretend they were effortless!

We’ve had another blast of winter today with snow, cold, and slippery roads.  I’m joining all those other bloggers sick of winter and hoping for spring already!!  On a good note, I may not be going to Saskatchewan tomorrow, but next week instead!  Woohoo!  If I think its cold here, its always colder in Saskatchewan!

I got Spirit, oh yes I do, I got Spirit, how about you?

annes-spirit-award

At the Ice Skating Gala last Saturday I was given the Spirit Award!  The program says its for “the skater who gets involved by volunteering, skating in the Gala, and showing team spirit”.  I was pretty darn shocked, that is for sure!  In honour of the Oscars last night, I now present my acceptance speech:

“I would like to thank my parents for driving me to the rink three or four times a week when I was growing up, and buying me skates and lessons.  I would also like to thank Mr. J for giving me an emergency ride to the arena when my car wouldn’t start on Saturday, you saved the day!”

Unfortunately there weren’t many audience members for the Gala, which was a bit disappointing at first.  Then I realized that there weren’t many people there, and it was really just like we were skating for fun and each other, not an audience.  I participated (badly) in the opening number, and the Skills Demonstration, doing some simple jumps and spins.  The big part of the day was when it was time to demonstrate the axle, which I was pretty sure I couldn’t do without a lot of practice first, and would most likely mess it up, so I had decided not to do it.  However when Pamela pointed at me and said “axle” I threw caution to the wind, and went out and threw it.  It was one of the best of the year!  It was clean, landed well, and even almost on my toe, not the flat of my foot.  What a great way to celebrate what is almost the end of the skating year. 

Also, I leave you with an excerpt from the program, another example of me thinking I”m hilarious, and most other people not really getting it, but me sitting there giggling away. 

Years of Skating:32

Skating Highlights: Learning axle at age 10, learning axle at age 35

What Motivates me to Skate Today: The joy of skating, and the tiny skirts I get to wear!

Home Again, Home Again

February 20, 2009

Its so nice to be home again!  I don’t believe I have ever been as homesick as I have been in the last two days.  Are my twelve years of wandering finally over?  Am I now rooted in place, and actually have a home to be sick over?  I’m still not committing fully, as my nomad soul is a bit rebellious, but all signs point to go.  Getting home early enough to have a lovely bath, put on pink reindeer fleece pj’s and then pat kitties for the rest of the night sure does a person good.  I do believe Piper was never more than 2 feet away from me (and usually attached in some way) almost the whole time I was home.  It sure is a nice change from a lonely hotel room!

There is a lot to learn in ruralSaskatchewan if you pay attention.  The biggest difference is the people.  In rural areas people slow down, stop and check if you are okay when you are pulled over at the side of the road (even if you are just talking onyour cell phone).  People help each other out, and ask if you need anything.  People talk to you in the morning (unfortunately before I’m ready to, I usually can’t do small chat before 10 am) and ask how you are and mean it.  They are neighbourly, and friendly, and nice.  There is community, and people waving at you from their trucks.  I wave back.  I’m reminded that there are people in the world you can trust, that aren’t trying to get things from you, that are just nice.  I’m reminded that I should open up, and be friendly, and nice, and smile, and chat about the weather more often with a stranger.  Maybe I can help them out, and maybe they can help me. 

saskatchewan-road

Turn Right by the Chair

February 18, 2009

I wish I was joking, but that is how you get to the water plant:

turn-right-by-the-chair

Rumour has it that is also how you know its a bingo night.  I didn’t stop to find out but headed back down south after my meeting.  And the owl I thought I almost hit the other night?  It was back again in the same spot on the highway, either it is eating the stones, roadkill, or wants to hitch to Florida.  Its over 2 feet tall, and scares the crap out of me very time. 

As Gravelbourg is a French town, I discovered they also have a lovely french bookstore, mostly filled with books for children.  As my incredibly smart 6 year old niece is already reading French, I picked her up a cute book entitled “Plaisirs D’Hiver (Pleasures of Winter) by Roger Pare.  However now I’m thinking about saving this picture for myself and hanging it on a wall:

plaisirs-dhiver

 

The caption reads: Bonhomme-Carotte a de belles mitaines, Noisette lui tricote un foulard de laine.  Translation: Carrot Snowman has has some pretty mittens, Hazelnut knits him a wool scarf. 

Another favorite picture has an elephant wearing 4 socks with pom-pom’s at the top.  That is an elephant after my heart!

A Whiny Wednesday WIP

February 18, 2009

Since I have been away from home a week now, I’m feeling rather whiny and homesick.  However, one must look on the bright side and make the best of things as I am doing another road trip tomorrow to north of Regina to a reserve in order to visit their water plant.  I will try not to obsess about my little kitties at home being so lonely with no one to pat them and rub their tummies.  I miss them!!! Whine, whine, whine.  (I am now conveniently forgetting the cat sitter that visits them every day).

As always I have been knitting away on some of the 5 projects I brought with me.  There was of course a possibility I would have finished them all and run out, but so far I am well stocked.  Most of the work has been on the Yellowberry scarf, which is now around 40 inches long.  As I’m still on my first skein, I am slowing down on this as I plan to make the slouchy toque, then use the rest of that 2nd skein to see how long I can make the scarf.  And to make the pom-pom’s for the end.  I like the right side of the scarf:

yellowberry-scarf-rs

 But I like the wrong side even better, the raised texture can be seen of the blueberry stitch:

yellowberry-scarf-ws

I am also concentrating on my evening stockings which are coming along well:

wip-evening-stockings

The lovely hotel people are doing my laundry for me, can’t wait to get my clean pj’s back!  I’m trying a motel with kitchenette this week instead of the monastery.  So far microwave popcorn wins, as much as I liked my little room there.  I miss my bed, whine!!!  Sorry, that one slipped out.  I’ll do better now.

I know, its hard to believe that all those things are in Saskatchewan, home of the incredibly flat, straight highways.  But waaay up north, past Prince Albert, the land changes to forests, lakes, hills, and a winter wonderland.  Prince Albert National Park has some great cross country ski trails, and enough to keep my friends family busy all week long.  They even did some snowshoeing and saw a fresh wolf kill.  This impressed the kids to no end (7 and 10 year old city kids).  They saw rib cage, blood, and on the way back the kill was smaller which mean the wolves were around eating still.  In fact the two trails I went on had wolf tracks all over them, cool huh?  Trees:

woods

Here the forest is a blend of poplar and jackpine.  Outside the park, where the forest had been logged only poplar/aspen are left.  There are very distinct lines to show where the logging left off, and the park starts.  Always a good idea to go to the woods with a forester, as we did!  The kids had a great time looking at tracks, wolf scat, and other interesting things as we skied along.  Lakes:

anglers-lake

Skidooing is a popular past time up here as well.  I like skiing better however, quieter and you can eat a lot of junk food after and be okay with it.  Its was a bit nippy however, close to -20 oC when we started off.  Monday was Family Day here in Canada, and a holiday.  A beautiful sunny day, and perfect to spend with friends, their family, and yours.  A great weekend, and I miss them already.  Getting back to real life after a nice weekend is always such a bump isn’t it?

skiing-gang

Sometimes I can’t believe I did this for years and years on end.  Working in various water plants around the world, living in hotels, eating in restaurants, dealing with all the numerous problems encountered.  When I’m in the office too long I miss it, when I’m back out in the field I tend to miss my cushy office.  I learned a long time ago that a big part of my job is to keep myself calm, and radiate that calm to all those around me.  If I can settle everyone down, I can get us working together and get stuff done.  On this trip I even found myself presented with a list of problems, and reasons why they were so bad, and found myself saying “its okay, we’ll figure it out, don’t worry”.  He believed me, and we set to work.  Here I am trying to figure out why the new pressure and flow transmitters I had just finished wiring up weren’t working:

gravelbourg-anne-working

Got half of it figured out, will conquer the flowmeters tomorrow.  Rumour has it I need to find some software to program the #$#&(*& things with.  There I am, work boots, work jeans, work toque.  I tend to crawl around on the floor a lot looking at leaking parts, finding things I’ve dropped, or whatever else comes up.  I get dirty, which is good since I found myself internally referring to a young engineer as  clean-handed engineer.  Nothing wrong with digging in and working on things! 

I also enjoy hanging out with the operators and getting to know them as I train them on the equipment.  This particular operator has a message for all you ladies out there:  Gravelbourg needs women.  Apparantly there is a serious lack of datable ladies, and if possible would you please locate your nursing college here, or cheerleader training camp.  He would appreciate that!  Saturday night is poker night at the (not a, the) bar, so come on down and be sociable. 

Tomorrow I’m heading north, around a 5 hour drive up to Saskatoon.  Saturday I’m heading up to Prince Albert National Park to visit with a really good friend from Toronto and her family.  There will be cross-country skiing, skating, and general messing around in winter.  I have heard a rumour that there are trees that far north, and maybe hills as well, but we’ll just have to see!  Northward Ho!!

Somehow I’ve found myself on a Tour de Saskatchewan for the next week, hopefully not longer.  Most of the trip is work, some is visiting friends, but it is definitely all over Saskatchewan.  Yesterday I rented a car, and headed east to Gravelbourg, Sk.  And so begins my travels through unlikely places in small town, rural Saskatchewan.

Now I’ve done this type of trip before through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado etc. etc. etc. all in pre-blogging days.  Each small town you land in, normally because they need a new water system, has an interesting side, that is if you look for it.  Its easy to dismiss these places as small town, hick places, with nothing to do.  Normally the food is bad (especially for my fussy stomach) and the motels worse.  So here I am in Gravelbourg, a bastion of french speaking culture in Saskatchewan.  Founded by Father Gravel way back when as an outpost of French Roman Catholicness.  Filled with huge churches (eglises):

gravelbourg-church

It reminds me of Roman Catholic churches in Mexico with the double spire.  But there is also something you can see in every town in Saskatchewan, the ever present grain silo:

gravelbourg-grain-silo

I am currently staying in a bed and breakfast, which I chose over the two motels in town.  One of the motels didn’t seem that bad, but the other’s one featured photo on their webpage consisted of an old office chair up against a poorly painted wall on a run down rug, and if that is the best they can do, well then.  But here is the good part: the B&B is an old monastery.  Of the order of the Precious Blood.  How cool is that huh?

monastery-sign

I haven’t seen any blood yet, but I”ll keep looking, I just hope I don’t get it on my knitting.  The monastery is very quiet, and I believe I’m one of three guests.  I was just scolded as I only ate one egg for breakfast this morning, and she had made me two.  I thought I was leaving some for others.  I believe what I’m staying in is a cell, as its about five feet wide:

gravelbourg-cell

Now I’m waiting to see what type of dreams I’ll have here.  I’m a big believer that your dreams can be influenced by where you are, and what happened there.  There is a hotel in Kansas that I kept having to go back to that I swear to this day someone was murdered in that room.  They always gave me the same room as it was the only non-smoking one, and every night I would have horrible nightmares.  Believe me you, this is one of many reasons why I don’t like Kansas.  Last night I had a very vivid dream that I was teaching young engineers how to commission and run water plants.  Who knows?