Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One more!

Wahoo!  I can add another candle to my reading challenge cake.

I managed to find a Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye at the library.  I enjoyed this very much.  It's hard to believe - since I'm such a mystery fan - but I've never read anything but a short story by this author. 

Reading this novel was definitely a bit of time travel .  It was like stepping into a black and white movie with great dialog.  In fact the wittiness almost took over the story.  I got so engrossed in how clever Chandler was with his words that I forgot - several times - that I was actually following a plot.  That plot was quite thin, really, and I had it figured out long before the end. 

But the characters - and the clothes.  A lot of description kept me thinking 'movie set' and then I'd think Smithsonian.  Of course, there's a museum-ish quality to the novel for me reading it today.  But I remember clearly when all men wore suits, shirts and ties unless they were mucking out the barn.  And some of the older men wore shirts and jackets then, too.  Men in this world  carried a functional handkerchief along with their gun.  And always wore a hat. 

Since the story is set in Hollywood of the '50's, the ladies had some pretty great outfits, too.  All the women were beautiful and wore jewels, furs and movie-star duds.  I think I could these characters as being played by several of the actresses of the day.   No one was fat; no one was less than pretty. 

Except the cops, of course.  And the Mexican servants.  I found the class divide a bit startling even though I wasn't shocked or surprised.  We're not very used to reading such blatant racism, either, these days.  Not that it's not present in society.  It's just not part of our PC vocabulary. 

Would I read another Chandler?  Yes.  But I have to digest this one first.  The richness of the writing is cloying in a way.  I admire his ability to paint such detailed scenes with words, but I know I prefer the leaner prose of today's writers.  It was fun to frolic in the warmth of a California - and a way of life - that has long been gone.  Even though I never lived there and most of it was as made up as the movies, there were lots of occasions when nostalgia took over. 

Not a bad read for my 4th candle...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ruby Tuesday

A visitor to the garden brought her (his?) dress shield in case there was a battle.

This is a red-backed jumping spider and, as far as I know, is quite harmless to humans.  In fact, this one is trying like mad to get away from me and the macro lens.  I was fascinated by the markings on the shield.  I also like the textures of the tiny hairs on the spider's legs and its dense black body. 

So, up and over the edge of the fence.  That's one Ruby Tuesday visitor greeted.  Find more here with Mary T.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mellow Yellow Monday

I don't remember planting these beautiful irises in the garden.  These are just a beautiful creamy pale yellow with subtle markings.  

It's the last of the irises for this year.  Our heavy rain showers on the weekend really beat a lot of the flowers down. 

For more yellow, bright or mellow, follow this link to Drowsy Monkey's place. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday wonders - H

H is for a Happy birthday.

My oldest - and only girl - is 39 tomorrow.

She's been sharing some celebrations with her family this weekend. 

We're all a few years older now and chocolate cake is off the menu.  The paper hats have long been gone...and the only gifts are ourselves.   I have no difficulty at all remembering the early morning when she entered our lives.  One of the odd memories from that time is that the nurses all called her 'Pumpkin".  It didn't stay but there were many other nicknames along the way.  Our family seems to like to improve on the parents' choice. The one that did stick is the one she gave herself: Kitty.  For no obvious reason, she announced, when she was two, that her name was Kitty and from then on that's who she was at home. 

Happy Birthday, Andrea.  Love never gets old.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Stash Sums

I figure I have to set up a way to report on my stash-busting challenge.  Posting once a week on my progress should keep me honest as well as motivated.  So, each Saturday you will see an update.  Right here.  With illustrations. 

First up is the skirt:  I have already started this project.  It's a good thing I have an interesting sock to pick up every now and then.  This is pretty monotonous knitting.  Mostly a four-row repeat that seems to go on forever.  But then, there are these cute little gussets to make.  That's the thing that keeps me going. That and my imaginings of how it will look.  Do other knitters daydream about wearing the finished product even while they knit?

This week I will begin getting the stash a bit better organized so I can see what I have.  I'm an 'out of sight, out of mind' kind of person.  The yarn is everywhere and I'm sure that not all of it is wonderful since I tend to hoard preserve everything.  Reducing all this variety will be part of the challenge.  So, soon you will get to see what I have.  And you can listen in on my mental meanderings as I try to make it all work.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wagon wheels

This is how I'm feeling today.  Like I should be jacked up and have one of my wheels changed.

For a week now, my knee has been behaving badly - but still liveable.  But yesterday, it wouldn't bend, lift or step down without feeling like there was a hot poker going right through it.

Packed off to the doctor and then summarily through the X-ray machine.  To no one's surprise, the poor knee showed 'significant' damage from arthritis.  I think my doctor was amazed that I'm only just realizing this.  Of course, I'm not but I've been nursing the old wheel along quite well.  Most of the time it hasn't bothered me at all.  So,  Celebrex and I are becoming good friends for a while.   Then, who knows?  Just like the car,  tinkering with the little things doesn't do it for ever.  Eventually, I'll be making the decision for knee replacement.  In the meantime, I can report that the pain level has receded dramatically and I'm almost human again.  Much to everyone's relief...apparently I can be quite grumpy.

The upside is:  more time for knitting. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


It took a couple more helpings of chocolate to get this pink tamed down.  Not sure if I'm ready for the rusty shade - I never wear browns or orange.  But since it's below my waist, I'll give something new a try.  I've taken one photo with the original so you can see how much it has changed.

And here's a pic with the potential partner of cream cotton.  The new rusty shade is more accurate in the first photo - its not so dark as in the one right above.  I'm hoping the finished skirt doesn't come out looking too candy-can striped.  The swatch looked OK though.  Casting on - now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Taking the pledge

With six months - more or less - of the year left to go, I have decided to challenge myself.  And I'm doing it right in front of you all so there can be no fudging.

The pledge?  Simple:   not to buy any new yarn for the next six months.  I have a huge stash and it seems to be growing, so I'm going to get down to using all that yarn that I'm saving for...what? If you noticed a bit of a loophole in my pledge, it wasn't intentional.  Not at first.  But then I started thinking about yarn from a thrift store or gifted yarn.    Does that equal 'new' yarn, do you think?  I will do my best to stay honest.  You'll be the judges...OK?

The first stop is to use some of this cotton yarn that I found at a thrift shop.  It's a lovely creamy color - sort of like really pale lemon pudding.  I've been trying to find a use for it.  It is, after all, summer when cotton comes to town,  but no pattern is calling to it.

I keep coming back to a pattern for a bias knit skirt (they seem to be everywhere right now).  The Swirl Skirt  uses cotton and wool which seems like a great way to use up some more of that yarn.  I have lots of wool.  Well, I have lots of everything, heh, heh.  Swatch, swatch, swatch and I'm ready to get going.

Unfortunately, the wool that works best is a not-so-yummy shade of salmon and I think it will look better if I dye it something a bit more compatible with the creamy cotton.  Here it is soaking while I think of a color that might work in an overdye.  Since the cotton is light, I don't want to go any darker in tone than the yarn already is.

I've mixed a bit of yellow with a even tinier bit of chocolate (goes well with everything *grin* ) and hope that I'll get something which works.  It's cooking right now.  I'll post the results tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good to go

Two projects were completed yesterday. 

The deck is safe once more.  With dry weather and some extra help - thanks, Theo! - the boards are all in place.  I caught someone having a coffee break from drilling in the many, many screws it takes to hold those boards down. 

And I finished my sweater.  Seams, buttons and all.   This was a far safer better place for me to be since no one needs me doing any carpentry work.  Unless it's carrying boards.  But someone does have to cook meals and fetch drinks.  And in between, I knit.

This is Marigold Sweater by Amy Polcyn. I really like the pattern.  Well, maybe I'm not nuts about the puffy sleeve caps.  I'm not taking them out, though.  Nothing will make me do that.  I love the lace pattern which was incredibly easy  to do.  And I managed to find some buttons that echo the swirl of the lace stitch.  These were in my huge button stash and I've loved them for a long time with nothing to put them on.  I can't bring myself to buy buttons but eight of a kind  is kind of a lot to find in those jars.  The light color worried me -  that deep bright turquoise is mad to match - but I think this was a definite winner. 

So, now we're all good to go for those dinner parties on the deck. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday wonders - G

G is for Gap. 

Wood just picks it own time to say: "Enough, already! I need to be replaced."  It's a good thing that summer hasn't really come yet.  How do we get to the table and chairs? 

There are a lot of boards that need replacing.  Decking as well as joists.  There are a few new skills for Anne to learn as the process unfolds.  One by one, the boards come off and the nails are pulled out.  It's amazing how tenacious some nails can be.  Then all the old wood will be shifted out and the new boards carried in from the front yard where they wait in the dry carport.  

Owning a home is never dull - an older house is always a learning process.  Over the years, we thought we'd seen it all.  Apparently not.  There are some new challenges in this little job.  It's also nice to have help with the heavy bits.  Sons are very handy for muscle.  Tonight I'll be cooking for the chef while he makes the  hard work lighter. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stand back!

If you squinch your eyes up and look really hard, you'll see a Momma Skunk and her three little kittens.

We were just getting in the car yesterday when this little parade wound it's way through the garden.  Mom is in the front  (just at center left) with one little one at her heels and the other two lagging behind a bit.   With only the iPhone on hand this is the best shot we could get.  The photographer wasn't  too willing to get in close and startle the mother skunk into protecting her babies. Of course, if those darn buttercups hadn't been in the way...

They were the cutest little miniature skunks.  They waddled just like the big ones do but with a little more skip in their step.  And their tails were like waving flags.  This photo I 'borrowed' so that you can see what they really looked like. 

I'm sure we'll see them again as the perimeter of our yard is on the foraging route for the neighborhood skunks.  They have worn a path all along the fence.  As long as the nest isn't at our house, I'm happy to see them.  Even if they do occasionally have a dig in a garden bed.  Such pretty animals.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just a game

Isn't it?
One team had to lose...aren't all Vancouver fans big enough to say: "Congratulations!" to Tim Thomas - who was outstanding! - and the Boston Bruins?  They outplayed the Canucks.  Simple as that. 

The thugs and louts who wore scarves over their faces and just happened to have fire-starting materials were there to make trouble in the matter who won.

I suspect if the game had been in Boston, there might have been a similar matter who won.

Let's move on.  The next season starts in 11 weeks, I'm told.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Wonders - F

F is for Funnies.  Or what I have always called the funny papers.  Nowadays, the funnies have gone up-market and everyone says "comics page".  If you google 'funnies'  you don't get any definition that agrees with mine.  So, I'm out of step.

That shouldn't be surprising.  I realized, when I began this post, that I'd been reading funnies for more than 60 years.  I can still remember the first cartoon strip I ever read.  Well, maybe not the exact one but the characters.  It was the Katzenjammer Kids and I had no idea what it was about.  Of course, I was too young to even understand what I was reading.  But even when I did get it, I didn't.  It has always been one of those mysterious strips on the funnies page that just isn't funny.  That's a pretty important part of the genre, I would have said.  And many are hilarious.  The best, of course, can be related to our lives here and now.  They remind us that humans are  And there is something inherently funny in our humanity.

I read the funnies every day.  It is probably the most important part of the morning paper for me.  I leave it 'til last - that's how much of a daily treat it truly is.  Looking back and analyzing (because that's what I'm famous for) I see that my tastes have changed over those many years.  One of my first favorites was Prince Valiant.  I know...not funny - at all.

When my kids were little, I can remember enjoying Andy Capp. This was a time when we were getting to know the British brand of humor.  While, I didn't think we had much in common,  the Capp family provided a lot of snickers and giggles.  Must have been something to identify with, don't you think?

I vaguely remember when the Peanuts cartoons arrived on our funny pages.  I didn't get them at all!  For years, I mostly ignored them but after Schulz died, our pages began with reruns from earlier years.  I started reading them and found that, while still not very funny, they had something to say.  I was sorry when the reruns stopped.

For sheer longevity, though, the prize goes to Rex Morgan, MD.  I have been reading this strip every day since I was able to read the funnies.  A long, long time.  I appreciate the social commentary.  But mostly, I am impressed with how such a glacial pace of story-line can hold my interest.  In my heart, I am a soap opera junkie.

And, now for the blue ribbon.  Cul de Sac is now my favorite feature on the funny page.  I enjoy Alice so much.  She is what everyone wishes they could be: a independent, free-thinking, let-it-all-hang-out kind of person.  Her freedom is legendary even as she is captive to the world of grown-ups. And she's just a pre-schooler.  Or is that the point?

Let the funnies continue forever.   I'll be here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A belated thank you

This is a thank you note to my dear son.  What would us old(er) folks do if we didn't get some help from the kids?  I love music - all kinds.  But when I turn on the tunes, it's more likely to be the tried and true.  A couple of weeks ago, my son gave me a Reid Jamieson CD.  I had never heard this young man perform.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his "Presley Sessions" CD.   And then I went looking for more.   Hooray for Youtube!

I've been playing and listening to a bunch this morning.  I'm sharing this one because I love the ukelele he plays.  The simple accompaniment makes the song shine.  Have you noticed that the uke does this for many covers of songs which usually have a bigger sound behind them?  I think I'm a fan.

Thanks, Alex

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just a drive

We took a day off to play yesterday.  It turned into a drive up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish

We were a little disappointed in the weather which was gray and showery along the way.  So we stopped at a pub for lunch to wait for the sun to come back.  Some of us were only drinking water.  This reflection  of the stone fireplace appealed to the photographer in our group. The stones are all local - you see a lot of rock here. 

The sun did return and we continued up to this mountaintop school, Quest University.  This is a view of their playing field - and beyond.  Quest is a new university which just presented its first graduating students this May. 

One of the academic buildings...would anyone ever study if the clouds didn't cover up those mountains?

More exploring around the residential areas showed us how close to the rocks some people are.  There were many creative ways that folks built their homes on, around and into the huge rocks that are so much a part of this town. 

A parting shot of a view down the main street of the town center.  I don't know if this was ever a working bike or just an artistic version for the streetscape.  Time to say goodbye and head home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ruby Tuesday

Hey, Dad!  Can I try this one?

Want more Ruby Tuesday with Mary T? Just click here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mellow Yellow Monday

Another raised bed for our veggies!  This is number six.  And if you look closely, there are a few bits of yellow sparking the scene.

These boards were looking for a new home.  They've been around for a whole lot of years.  They were shipping pallets before they became portable shelving for pottery sales at various markets more than 30 years ago.  Then they became shelving in our garage until a few weeks ago when the shiny steel fixtures came to stay.  The wood was too good to throw away...and we needed another bed for our growing garden.  A perfect fit and  beautiful recycling, too.  I was trying to figure how many lives these boards may have had...does anyone know if shipping pallets are made with new wood?

For more yellow, drop in on Drowsey Monkey at Mellow Yellow Monday.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Wonders - E

E is for Effort. 

Yesterday with a little nudge from a newspaper article and a need for soaker hoses, we loaded those cute little bikes into the car and headed off to Steveston.  We'd read that there was a tall ship visit there and while taking the car to the site would be impossible, riding our bikes along the dike would be much easier.

With a little more effort, my son managed to put aside his wish to have a peaceful Saturday at home so we could all ride out to the fair.  That would be six bikes and seven people.  Littlest grand still gets to ride like a princess - or copilot, as it says on the back of her carrier.

We came upon a couple of pirates fighting over - what? - in  very friendly fashion.  When the fight was finished, they showed us their swords and told us all about swordplay in the movies.  They were actors with specific sword training.  As you can see, the best-dressed sword-fighter is a woman.  She won, too.

We could see the ships from the shore quite well.  This allowed for some beach play while the tide was out.  Can you see that they flew the Vancouver Canucks flag, too?

As we were getting some lunch, we heard some big booms and the kids and I left the others standing in line and hurried off to see the sea battle.  A lot of smoke and noise but I don't think there were any real cannonballs.

Naturally, when you're at the beach - and it's a fair - you have to have a fish and chip lunch.  It was quite delicious.

Of course, there were other attractions.  This  park has  a popular kite-flying field and there was a nice breeze blowing.  I loved watching this beautiful big butterfly as it danced across the sky.

Best of all were the wild lupine fields.  It seemed that they stretched on forever.  The kids went for a close-up and were, occasionally, hidden by the tall blooms.  Sitting in the sunshine - which was a first for us this year - and watching the kids play was almost the best part of the outing.

The day ended, as all good days must with us riding back along the dike and home.  Worth the effort, definitely.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Last year was our first big foray into serious vegetable gardening.  I think we were successful given the limitations of our weather.  But, we did lose a LOT of tomatoes to blight once the rain began to plague us in the fall.  Rain doesn't usually bother me...I am truly acclimatized.  But I did mourn all those beautiful tomatoes that just turned from green to black.  It's fortunate that our winter survival didn't depend on them.  It would have been a complete disaster.  It's easy to see how unusual weather can cause starvation for families dependent on their kitchen gardens. 

Rebar stakes go in first -  thanks to Steve for cutting and supply.

So, the discussions started taking place about how we would protect them this year.  My daughter built her tomato tunnel first - once the seedlings are ready for the outdoors, those coverings have to be ready.  When we arrived home from the road trip, we discovered that our tomato seedlings would be delivered by the weekend.  Time to swing into action.

One hoop done - gettin' the hang of it now.

Anne had already researched ways to build what everyone seems to be calling "hoop houses".  Of course, everyone wants to build theirs in the least expensive way as well as the easiest.  Some hoops are easier to make than others.  She had also discussed ways and means with Steve who knows this stuff - and who has nifty tools to share.

This tool cuts the PVC tubing - cool, huh?

These photos are of the stages of building our mini-greenhouse which should protect the wee plants from the crappy cool weather as well as keep them dry and, we hope, blight-free.  It does mean that we can't count on the copious amounts of water sent by Mother Nature for irrigation.  Kind of stupid, really, but even more stupid to plant the veg and lose it to the rain. We had a tiny soaker hoses last year - they'll be a necessity this summer. 

Add wheels for a covered wagon.
Attach a plastic cover and voila! Happy tomato plants!

I am not a DIY-er in quite the same way.  Rather than buy materials (except yarn, of course) I'm more a what-can-I-find-in-the-recycling kind of person.  It gives me huge satisfaction to re-purpose things.  It was sunny when I planted my little basil seedlings.  But summer disappears quick here and they absolutely need the warmth of lovely sunny days.  From experience I've learned how terribly unhappy they are in the rain.  This year, I am determined to have huge, bushy basil plants - nay, trees! - with healthy green leaves for cooking.  After everything was planted out, the gray clouds began to gather.  Oh, dear!  I'd better get that basil under cover.  Rummaging in the recycling box produced a large plastic clamshell.  Perfect!

And after a week of sunny periods mixed with hours of rain, my basil is dry and warm but still gets air and water.  Winner!  The sun is supposed to come out for real this weekend.  Maybe we can roll up the sides of the wagons and take off the clamshell?  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Paying it Forward

What a surprise this morning when I opened up blogger!  Pam over at Empty Nest  has shared her Pay it Forward award with me.  Even more surprising, this is the fastest I've ever responded to such a bestowal.  This must be a good omen of efficiency for the day, so, thank you!

As always there are some rules: 
1.  Mention the blogger who gave you the award  - check
2.  Link to their blog  - check
3.  Pay It Forward to 5 bloggers.

Passing it on is the hard part - there are so many good bloggers that I meet and greet each day.   Getting down to five is tough.  So, since every one deserves mention, I'm picking five at random. Here we go:

Nature Tales and Camera Trails
A Knitting Nurse
Angie in Yanchep
Anjoe Playhouse

There!  Now, you can go visiting with these folks.  I know you'll have a good time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black Bears

There were no warning signs for these critters who were spotted on the highway through Manning Park.

Mama black bear and two year-old cubs were just trying to get up the hill.  Of course, they were a major photo op for us motorists. The park was kind of bleak-looking due to our late (very!)spring.  

We later saw two isolated males - both quite black - taking their chances on crossing the busy highway.

I wondered what they could be finding to eat?  There was still snow on the ground as we drove through and none of the berries were even blossoming.  Even the salmonberries which are the earliest fruit in the forest had hardly any green on them.  There wasn't much new greenery at all on any of the trees and shrubs.   It would have been a very long trek for them to forage lower where it spring had come a bit earlier.

Since the bears appeared to be fairly healthy, I decided that they must be able to find enough.  The berries are coming.


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