Saturday, October 17, 2015

What Happens at the Cabin

There are good ideas, and then there are great ideas.

It was a great idea to book a weekend out at our favourite cabin in Cowichan Bay this weekend. I've been reluctant to go back for a while... the last time we were here, it was with Rascal. Somehow, his memory is attached to this place. It was one of the last places we went with him before he died.

But, recently, I've needed some time by the woodstove. And, as soon as it was lit, I was mesmerized by it, and I felt warm and relaxed. It was a great idea, after all.

This morning, we went for a two-hour hike up Mount Tzouhalem. I never used to be one for uphill hikes: I am a prairie girl, after all. While it was my idea to go, I forgot about the windy, bendy, make-me-car-sick roads on the way. As soon as we got there, I just started walking to get some fresh air into me and to shake my light-headedness, and let the hubby catch up.

Soon, we were deep within the forest, and I felt better:

And and hour later, when we got to the top, we got a beautiful view:

Once we got down, we went to Genoa Bay for some lunch and a little stroll around the marina:

I found my new cooking spoon set:

And then, we went back to the cabin, where I promptly fell asleep. Two hours on a mountain and then a lamb burger for lunch does that to me.

When I awoke, I sprung out of bed, put this dress on and brushed my hair. You see, I'd been saving my latest finished project for the cabin, because I knew I wanted to take photos of it here on the deck. I planned the outfit and everything:

I think I looked pretty good for someone who just woke up from a nap (and, I'm realizing, needs a haircut):

The pattern is from Azure, and it makes use of a grapevine lace pattern. I cast on a bunch more stitches (I honestly can't remember how many now) and kept knitting until I reached the end of the skein. I'm pleased to say it turned out to be a nice length: not too short, but not so long to be floppy and unwieldy:

And wide enough to cover my back:

The yarn is hand-dyed alpaca from Twist Yarns in Manhattan Beach. I'm so glad that neither the lace pattern nor the subtle dyes over the natural colour of the alpaca were lost in the finished object:

Anyway, we're here at the cabin until tomorrow. I'm sitting here with my next knitting project next to me, thinking of my little Rascal and how much I miss him. I miss him every single day. I guess it's true: what happens at the cabin does stay at the cabin. And maybe that's not such a bad thing... because I suppose I know he'll always be here, somehow:

Sigh. I miss him. I think I always will.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

On Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. -- William Arthur Ward
It's Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada, which means a three-day weekend for me, which means I'm busy doing all the things I want to do when I only get a regular weekend. Still, it's been a good weekend, with plenty of rain. If there's anything I'm thankful for right now, it's this rain. After the drought we've been through this year, it makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief, even if the sudden change in humidity means that I am currently doing my best Lion King impression with my hair. Life is about trade-offs, after all.

Sunday morning, we went out for a hike on a trail we'd never been to before called Stocking Creek Park. I like exploring these new places. The ground is littered with the gigantic sycamore leaves that you find here on Vancouver Island, which makes these little rambles all the more pretty.

I was delighted to find this little waterfall on a trail so near to our house. I think we'll be back:

After that, we went out for lunch at one of my favourite bistros called The Dayliner, which is in an old train station. Afterwards, walked through the little vintage store next door with the most fantastic name: Redneck Collectibles. It makes me smile every time I see it, but this was the first time I'd ever been inside it. There, we met a man resembling the 1970's detective McCloud, which I've watched enough times with my dad to know for sure that this guy was legit. He even had the shiny belt buckle and all.

And he had a small collection of the usual stuff I expect to see in these places: old crates, bottles, tools... and when I came upon a set of three Pyrex bowls, I stopped and cocked my head like a fascinated terrier. I knew I wanted them, and when I asked him how much he wanted for them, he said, "Oh, bowls aren't my forté. Maybe 20 or 25 dollars?"

He didn't seem to be packing a pistol, so I asked tentatively, "So... will you take $20?"

And yes he did. And he was very nice about it indeed:

I got them home and put them straight to work and made a batch of lemon poppy seed muffins:

And a batch of Peasant Bread:

I've got a turkey in the oven right now (well, not exactly. I've got a turkey roll in the oven right now, which should save us from a month of turkey leftovers). All weekend, I've been thinking about this whole Thanksgiving thing, because of something I heard visiting a yarn store the other day. I'd been having kind of a low week: sort of low and unmotivated and generally uninspired. I had an appointment after work, so I left early and decided to stop in to see if I could cheer myself up. As I wandered around, a man and a woman entered to store and greeted the two people working in there. I have a bad habit of eavesdropping: when I was a kid, my brother constantly told me to mind my own business because he could tell I was doing it. But anyway...

The man greeted the owner of the shop, who promptly gave him a hug. As I stood there, carefully studying a couple of skeins of wool with my ears pricked, I learned that his aunt had passed away recently. She was a knitter, and they knew her well in the shop. She must have been quite independent, because, even when her health failed, she insisted on carrying on living in her trailer and her car. The knitting group there took turns going out to check on her and visit with her while she sat in her trailer, surrounded by her yarn and her finished objects, as she knitted and coughed and carried on living.

And then, she was found dead in her car, with her knitting by her side. I don't know who found her, but I am guessing it was one of the knitting group, because I gathered that it was because of them that this man, her nephew, and possibly her only living kin, found out about it. And he was grateful to them for it.

Since then, I've been wondering myself about this kinship I have with other fibre artists. I have no children, and as I get older, I wonder who will look out for me when I get older. And after hearing this story, I wonder if it's my yarn people who might look out for me as well. I am grateful for the people who come here and read my words and leave me kind notes after reading them. And while it's unlikely that you'll all pop out of the woodwork and appear in the flesh, it is comforting to know that there are folks out there that care about what happens to me.

Time to check on the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Bucolic Life, Complete With Crimefighting

I love to talk about nothing. It's the only thing I know anything about. --Oscar Wilde
One of the greatest fallacies about keeping a blog, and especially a blog about my creative pursuits, is the idea that I have to have a finished project to show for every single post. It's a good thing and a bad thing. It's enough to motivate me to knit like mad to try to have something to write about here. In reality, I don't finish things as quickly as I used to, and really, there a plenty of interesting things that happen during my days to share.

For example: yesterday, we brought the car in for a scheduled service at the dealership. Each time we go, I'm hopeful I'll meet the corporate dog: Missy the Shih Tzu. I was lucky this time. She was there, lazing about in her bed when we got there. She loves meeting people:

And she loves belly rubs:

She really, really loves belly rubs:

It made me miss my Rascal... but I enjoyed the visit while it lasted.

What else... well, each evening, I unroll my yoga mat and sit cross-legged for a while to stretch my hips and breathe a bit before I do my yoga practice. I usually sit there with a tablet or magazine for a bit to relax, but recently, I've been thumbing through this book:

I picked it up at a used bookshop during the summer. As soon as I saw it, I had a strange deja vu experience... I've seen this book before, but I have no idea where or when I saw it, but I knew it well enough to recognize the drawing on the front... and I have a vivid memory of sitting down with a pencil and sketchbook and trying to copy the drawing. I have no idea why. I have no idea when. But I remember it. And it was enough for me to pull it off the shelf and sit down in a nearby easy chair and read through it.

It's full of anecdotes from an English travel writer about her home in England, complete with her husband, housekeeper and gardner. And it's arranged month-by-month, where she describes her  her house chores and what she's up to in her garden, and, most mouth-wateringly, what she's up to in her kitchen with the spoils from her garden. It's where I found out that you can cook cucumbers (though, I haven't tried it yet). And it's written in a syntax that delights me in a way I can't explain. I will never be such a gardener (I think I'm too lazy for it, honestly), but I can't help but be inspired by it. In October, she writes:
It is storing month -- for everyone. Reg once moved a cupboard in the garage  and found concealed behind it a pyramid of apples so well-built you couldn't knock it down. A rat had built it. What extraordinary skill! And what a labour, to bring each one quite a distance, and place it so carefully. It seemed a shame to demolish it.
I never really liked rats until I saw a white a brown Norwegian one... it was somebody's pet... and it was actually quite sweet. And knowing that they can be such architects was made me smile in quiet delight.

And of course, there's the knitting... always the knitting. My alpaca stole has grown large enough to cover my lap while I knit. With the cool evenings, it's quite comforting. I'm still enjoying the yarn, but it's getting to the point where I'm impatient to see it finished, both because I want to see it finished, and also because I've got a sudden urge to do a crochet project. No, I don't know which yet, but I just feel like I need for a switch.

A hankering for hooking. What a sentence.

So, yeah... that's all I've got. I'm just waiting for the chicken and dumplings to finish on the stove before we devour that, and then I'm going to sit down on the couch and knit a while longer while we catch up on an episode of Blue Bloods, and then maybe some Criminal Minds. It seems strange to mix all the blood and gore of crime shows with such a bucolic post, but I can't help it if I was brought up on Law and Order and Columbo and Matlock. Maybe it's the problem-solver in me, I dunno.

Or maybe I'm secretly made for the life of a crimefighter. I handle needles and steel hooks on a regular basis, so why not?

Ehm... maybe I better work on that idea. Maybe after dinner.