Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The ice, the mail and a rug


We had a large amount of snow on the ground last week, I thought we were in for a white Christmas for sure. But over the past weekend we went from -15C to +15C (with rain) and then back to -15C (briefly) so most of the snow is gone and what remained froze. Most of the trails are now quite icy. But with sun and temperatures this side of zero in the daytime I expect we'll lose the remaining little bit of snow before Christmas.

I took the picture above at the reservoir; the pond that used to be full of ducks is now covered by ice so smooth and glassy you can see the reflection of surrounding trees in it.

In October I ordered a used book online that just arrived today. Very disappointing because it is not what it purported to be. I wanted the revised edition of A Handweaver's Pattern Book and got the first edition, which is a very different book. The revised edition is more extensive and errors in the first edition have been corrected. I ordered it form Abe Books but it came from Powell's Books in Portland Oregon. I called their 1-800 number and they apologized for it not being what it was supposed to be and told me they were unable to fulfill the order correctly, so they would refund my money and I could keep the book and perhaps pass it on to someone else who might like it, since I already have a copy. Very nice of them but still disappointing, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book.

I have now emailed a place in Ontario that says they have the book, both in new and possibly used copies. The used copies would be cheaper but at this point I am prepared to pay the extra for the newer version. From their online description they at least seem to understand the difference between the first and second editions so I await their response with optimism. Unfortunately they are closed over the holiday season so I doubt I will hear from them before January.

In my town we don't have door-to-door mail delivery, we pick up our mail at the Post Office. I read and hear about the controversy around discontinuing home mail delivery in favour of group postal boxes, and how it will be so hard on disabled and elderly citizens. But here, we have never had home delivery, going to the Post Office is the accepted way to get your mail. And it is such a social occasion: you meet people there, it's a great source of local gossip, and they give biscuits to dogs. My dog is hugely in favour of that. I would be far more concerned it they shut down the local Post Office. A Postal Outlet has opened in the neighbouring drugstore but it is not the same thing at all, all you get is mail and postal supplies, no socializing, no gossip, no dog biscuits.

I have devised a rug pattern in my head for my next weaving project. It is too difficult to draw it on paper (I wish I had software to do it for me) so I can only go by numbers (how many warp threads of each colour in what order, which heddles they must be threaded through) and hope for the best. It will be quite wonderful if it turns out more or less how I imagine it. I was just going to do a short warp—one rug—but then thought I might go for broke and make it a long warp. Once again I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I have a hard time keeping things simple.

I've been sick with a cold the past week and quite lacking in motivation so consequently I have not done the necessary sewing to complete the first project. I should really finish that before starting a new project I guess, but I am concerned that if I leave warping the loom for too long I will forget my hard-earned knowledge of how to do it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Nadir


This is the sun just after noon today, on a really snow-squally cold day. I'm not going anywhere today, Hapi is sleeping in her doghouse and I am nursing another cold. I am supposed to usher for two shows tonight and tomorrow night but I won't make it, too much coughing and snuffling. I hate being sick, it's right up there with hating Christmas, so I guess this is all very well-timed.

I have all these things I could be doing but being sick just saps the motivation right out of me. Look at that photo of the sun, look at how low in the sky it is! At noon! Everything is at its nadir: the sun, the weather, my health, my mood.

One of my neighbours dropped by yesterday to ask if I was thinking about going to the Community Christmas dinner, and it turns out we're both equivocal about it. I think it got left at, if one of us feels the urge to go we should call the other and we'd go together. If not, then we wouldn't go. Then later in the day a friend phoned to invite me for dinner just before Christmas. That would be nice but will hinge on whether I'm any healthier by then. Based on how long my last bout of illness lasted, I am not optimistic. However I had a fever last time and not this time, so perhaps I'm not as sick and will recover faster.

Last night I wanted something easy and tasty for dinner, I thought I'd have baba ganoush on pita bread with a ginger carrot soup. The soup took a little effort but I thought the pita bread would be easy (and tasty). Turned out the pitas were mouldy so that was a no-go, but I had been thinking about how good it was going to taste for so long that it was really hard to give it up. I tried to think of a substitute for pita bread that did not involve baking or shopping. So I ended up putting dollops of the baba ganoush on corn chips and topping them with cut up lettuce leaves. It sort of worked, but I wish the pitas hadn't gotten mouldy. The carrot soup on the other hand turned out really well.

The carrots for the soup were from my garden several years ago. I left them in the ground and in the spring I dug them up but they didn't look like they would keep very long so I cooked and froze them, some as chopped carrot and some as mashed carrot. The soup was from some of the mashed carrot. There is still more in the freezer so I will probably have some more ginger carrot soup this winter. I also added coconut milk, onion, garlic and thai curry mix, and put a dollop of yogurt on top. Could have put some parsley on top, but this was supposed to be an easy meal and I had run out of energy; the thought of cutting parsley was just too tiring. I cut the lettuce for the pita and baba ganoush substitute instead.

Monday, December 12, 2016

End of season fatigue

Weaving project uncut: this only shows half the length.

Weaving and Writing Fiction classes both ended last week. Managed to get the weaveing project in class done and off the loom. Not totally done, it still needs to be cut up and hemmed, which hasn't happened yet. The instructor insisted that I not try to hem by hand but rather sew it up by machine; I have a sewing machine but have never used it, never learned how to. When I bought it free sewing lessons were thrown in to the deal, but I never took advantage. And never learned in school Home Ec courses either because I was so scared of the machine that I always traded off any necessary machine sewing for hand sewing with classmates. I only bought the sewing machine because I thought I should really come to terms with my fear and learn how to sew, but beyond buying the machine I never took the next obvious step. Until this week.

I told a friend about not knowing how to machine sew and she immediately offered a sewing lesson, going so far as to actually book a time to do it. She came over to my house this week and proceeded to show me how to use the machine. She actually got me kind of excited about the idea of learning to sew, she was looking over my machine and its accompanying manual and expressed admiration for all that it could do. Apparently it is even capable of serging, as well as machine embroidery and regular straight and zigzag stitches. Who knew. So now it sits on my dining table awaiting my attentions, I even have an old bedsheet to practice on before I commit to actually cutting and hemming my weaving project. However it has been a busy week and I have not had the time. I hope I don't lose enthusiasm for the project before I finally have the time to engage with it.

The writing class is one I have been in for several years now. I'm working on a never-ending fantasy story. It is so long that it will have to be a 'trilogy' or some other mode of dividing up a very long story. I wish I could have started my writing 'career' with a short story, or at least a novel with a beginning, middle and end in some sort of real time. My interest in completing it waxes and wanes, but since I have nothing else to write about, it's kind of that or nothing. I am nearing an 'ending' (of the first book of the series), I wake in the middle of the night thinking about how that will happen. I'm planning to take a break from it over the holiday season, too many other things I want to do.

The writing class has now spawned several writing groups, one of which I belong to. We call it The Sobey Sessions, since we meet in the community room of a local grocery store of that name (Sobey's). Initially it was just to keep some of us going between classes (the course runs for a couple of months once a year), but it has taken on a life of its own.

I am not particularly well. I think I know what is wrong and I don't think it is anything a doctor can help me with so I haven't bothered to go. It involves extreme fatigue, which means that I really have limited energy and can accomplish only so much in a day. My dog relishes her long walks and that pretty much uses up the limited energy I have, making me a little resentful of her but also guilty that I can't do more for her. She spends many hours lying around looking bored. I hate that I can't just let her run loose, that I have to be her jailer.

I have been taking her regularly to the reservoir park which is an off-leash dog park with two large ponds. Used to be the town water reservoir but is now kept only as an emergency backup. A whole lot of mallards have been staying there this fall in two groups, one on each pond. The larger pond froze over a week ago, the ducks in that pond moved over to the smaller pond.

Before: the ducks on the small pond before the ducks on the larger pond joined them.

Then it turned quite cold and Hapi and I went elsewhere for her walk. Saturday morning we went back to the reservoir and most of the ducks were gone, maybe twenty or so still left on the small pond (there were hundreds before).

After: all that's left of both ponds of ducks.

There was ice forming around the edge of that pond, it may be frozen over by now. I will miss the ducks, their cheerful quacking brightened my mornings.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas calls


It's the Christmas season. I hate it.

The other day I was talking to a friend who said that her daughter was married to a Muslim man who refused to celebrate Christmas, even though she (the daughter) participated in various Muslim holy days. She (the friend, mother of aforesaid daughter) said it was kind of a damper on Christmas celebrations in her family.

Personally, I'm with the Muslim husband/son-in-law. I don't like it and would rather not celebrate it. I'm in survival mode now, just trying to get through it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A day in the city


I finished the weaving project on my loom at home a few days ago. Took it off the loom, knotted the fringe and cleaned up the loose ends. The loom is empty and ready for a new project. I'm thinking another rug, wider but maybe not as long, not sure yet. I can use at least two more rugs in the house, one for the bathroom and one for the hallway. This one I think will go on the floor of the loom room. And if there is still yarn left, then maybe another one for the bedside in the basement (true confessions: I sleep in the basement because it is dark and cool and it is my dog's preferred sleeping room).


Yesterday I went to the Big City to do some weaving. I realized that I was not going to complete my project by the end of the last class (next Wednesday) and was going to have to come in another day to do that, but parking is only free weekends and evenings and all my weekends in December are spoken for, so that meant I either had to come in the evening or this weekend. I hate driving home late at night, it is the one thing I loathe about going to the city for this class. And Sunday (today) the weather was supposed to be bad, so by process of elimination I had to go yesterday, on Saturday.

I took Hapi with me. She had to stay in the car while I did my weaving, which took about three hours, by the time that I got a snack at the Farmers' Market next door and waited for the centre's doors to open at 11.00 am (the website said 10.00 am so I arrived at 10.30). I got enough weaving done that I think I will be able to finish my project on Wednesday. If not, then I don't know whether I will find time to finish before 2017.

After I completed the weaving I took Hapi for a walk through the city downtown to the NSCAD art supply store to see if they had yarn I could use for weaving at a good price. Specifically, I was looking for 2/8 cotton thread. They did indeed have it but in a limited range of colours. I bought seven half-pound spools.


Hapi pranced regally the whole way, garnering lots of stares. She is a large proud dog, beautiful and she knows it. We returned to the car via the waterfront walkway. Then I drove to Point Pleasant Park, a very large park on a peninsula with views of the harbour and out to sea. The interior of the park is wooded with lots of off-leash trails. In fact, the only place dogs are required to be on leash is the trail along the shore of the park, the rest is pretty much an off leash area. It is wonderful, in my opinion as a dog owner. Dogs run around free and there are many of them of all shapes and sizes. Hapi had never been there and was I think quite amazed. So many dogs, so little time! They all have to check each other out and Hapi was zigzagging from one dog to the next. Lots of garbage bins for disposing of doggie-do, which makes the walk so civilized for owners. Dogs off leash are happy and the whole space has such a joyful air. I can appreciate that non-dog-lovers might not appreciate this but I do.

Finally, to complete the Big City trip, I stopped at the Lebanese Bakery to pick up some food items available only there. The aroma of spices that greets you when you first open the door is wonderful, I browse the shelves slowly to enjoy the scent as long as possible. Since it was late in the day some of the items I wanted were sold out but I expected that. Will have to go back another time, not a hardship. Across the street from the bakery is a Latin cafe that sells Mexican food in a tiny grocery attached to the restaurant. I picked up two packages of frozen corn tortillas, one for me and one for a friend (if she doesn't want the package then I will have to eat them myself, also not a hardship).

I got everything done that I wanted, and I think I made it up to Hapi for having to sit in the car for three hours with a prance through downtown and a social outing in the park. I went home and had pizza and beer to cap off a perfect day.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Oh my aching back, it must be Thursday.

Thursday morning, tired and sore. Got home late, went to bed late with back pain from three hours of driving and three hours of weaving, didn't sleep that well and woke up early hardly able to move. So I'm in no rush to get out the door and walk the dog, even though I have run out of milk and coffee (!!!). Good news is that this past summer I managed to wean myself off of milk in my coffee so running out of milk is not so bad, and there was just enough coffee grounds for this morning and maybe tomorrow. Which means I can postpone the milk (and dog) run until this afternoon :-).

I did remember to take a picture of the weaving project:


Now you can see the plaid. Already I can see "room for improvement", if I do this again I would arrange the colour blocks a little differently. And definitely change the sett to something a little looser. But I guess the day I stop seeing room-for-improvement I'll be dead.

Here are some duck pictures from yesterday's walk:


There were a whole bunch of ducks perched in this tree, but by the time I got the picture set up there were only these there left, The Fearless Three.



My dog is out of the picture frame but that is what these ducks are interested in. They could care less about me, it's all about the dog.

I was watching some of them playing, they like to skip along the surface, as if about to take off flying but they don't. One duck had a variation on the theme, she swam under the surface like a loon between skips. Looked like she was doing the Australian crawl, impressive.

I used to watch duck families in a lagoon on the waterfront of New Westminster, the baby ducks could swim under water but the adults couldn't, all they could do was bob around with their tails in the air. I think as ducklings grow up they become more buoyant and can't swim underwater anymore, so instead they do that bobbing thing, trying to reach down with their bills. So that duck swimming underwater yesterday was very talented, very unusual. Or just not that buoyant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Weaving at home and away

I am trying to get back into blogging. Have spent way too much time on Facebook and getting a little frustrated at how much of my time I'm pouring into a black hole there. An FB friend recently deactivated his account due to obnoxious comments on his posts, which got me thinking about deactivating too. Not that I get obnoxious comments, but too much time spent following links.

Anyway, the blog. Still here after all these years. I tried to fill in some of the gap with pictures, so if you want you can scroll back to see them. I got out of blogging because basically I didn't think I had anything to say anymore. But apparently I do.

I am taking a weaving course in the big city. There's nothing available locally so I am going once a week into Halifax for this course. It's in the evening and the class itself is three hours plus three hours driving time. At this time of year that driving is mostly in the dark and I am sufficiently old now that driving after dark is not my favourite pastime. Didn't use to bother me but now it does.

So here are some pictures:




This is the warp, on a 45" counterbalance loom. It is just shy of 500 warp ends of 2/8 cotton (tiny) and it was a huge amount of work getting it all threaded on the loom. The warp is long enough to do 3 tea towels. The plan is a plaid pattern in 2/2 twill. Because I went with 28 ends per inch (epi), it may be a bit stiff to function as tea towels, I probably should have gone with 24 epi which would have meant significantly less threading to do. Oh well.

The main reason I am taking this course is to (re)learn warping the loom. The hardest part of weaving is getting the warp onto the loom, and there are multiple methods practiced by different weavers in different places. I have a loom at home and I've taken courses before but I'm a slow learner (plus I think I've learned a different warping method each time, which doesn't help).

While I am taking the course in the city I am also setting up my loom at home, so here are some pictures of that effort. It's a much simpler project so it takes less time and effort but hopefully it reinforces what I am learning in class.





The project at home is going to be a rug, about 2' x 6'. It's also a 2/2 twill, but in wool at 8 epi. Much more manageable. The loom is a 30" counterbalance, I don't have room for anything bigger.

I forgot to take pictures of my weaving in last week's class, hopefully I'll remember this week. I think I bit off way more than I can chew in 10 weeks, I will probably have to go to the city in December or January to finish it. In any case I have woven as much in class as I have at home but that's not nearly enough. As I said, bit off more than I could chew.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November walk with Hapi

It started out a foggy day, but the fog cleared and it became sunny and warm.










Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mulgrave Days

I went to Mulgrave, near the Canso Causeway, with friends who used to live there. By chance, it was Mulgrave Days then, complete with a small parade, rides and a barbecue.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Visiting friends in the big city of Halifax

Spent time in Halifax, visited the Mary Black gallery to see rug hooking by Laura Kenney and the Halifax Farmers Market next door. After lunch we strolled the Public Gardens.


Georges Island, seen from the rooftop of the Halifax Farmers Market. That's a colourful moss rooftop garden in the foreground.



The Halifax Farmers Market rooftop garden, on the harbourfront. My camera doesn't do justice to the bright colours of the mosses and small flowering plants.



We sat on a park bench facing the pond at the Public Gardens, while a lovely group of musicians played big band music at the Bandstand behind us. Fine thing to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the city.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Keeping cool in local ponds

Hapi keeps herself cool by getting wet...

Pond on the walking trail toward Greenwich


Duck pond at Willow Park

Monday, June 20, 2016

Solstice sunset

North Mountain in the background, Evangeline Beach at lowtide in the foreground.