Sunday, July 24, 2016

Flying, Plying, Cooking, and Puppies

I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I'd see the summer garden in rainbow clouds. Robert Bridges
I'm going to say it out loud. Get ready. Brace yourselves.

Summer is not my favourite season.

I find summer kind of overwhelming: bright, long days, open windows letting all the noise in, and so many more things to do outside that you end each day washing the sweat off before trying to fall asleep in a bright, warm room.

But... it sure is a pretty time of year.

It's amazing how much colour comes into your life during the summer. I was looking through all my photos this week for this post, and I was struck by how much vibrant colour is in each. It makes me feel so fortunate to have the ability to see them all.

Yesterday, I decided to accompany the hubby down to Victoria for his pilot medical. I figured we'd go for a walk afterwards, have some lunch, and then pick up some groceries on the way home. I brought along one of my Golding spindles, and I divided my waiting time between spinning more of that merino silk blend and doing some of the exercises that my physio has prescribed for my foot. I can't tell which of those attracted more stares, but I'm guessing I'm not the usual type of person that hangs out at Victoria Flying Club:

We drove into Sidney afterwards to walk around a bit. I've never spent much time in Sidney, but it seems like a nice suburb with lots of boutiques and cafes, with lots of places to walk by the water. It was a sunny day, with a cool breeze to take the edge off the heat of the sun:

We stopped into a restaurant that served Swiss food... I had a salad... not very Swiss, but it was tasty. I loved this herd of cattle sitting next to us. It's not often that cattle make for good lunch neighbours:

On the way home, the hubby stopped at a shop to get something for his bike, and I wandered into a shop and found this air popcorn popper. It is in perfect condition, even though I kinda-sorta almost broke it when I kinda-sorta got water inside it when I was cleaning it. I opened it up and dried it thoroughly and it still works, thank goodness. That would have been a real waste of three dollars, and an awful blow to my popcorn plans:

Today, we decided to go down to the beach for a swim, but before we went out, I got a bunch of jobs done. I pulled this curly lettuce from my weekly veggie box. It was so pretty, and I was determined to do something with it, since lettuce tends to get forgotten inside the fridge here:

I made these two jar salads for lunch, layered with tofu marinated in sweet chili sauce, some cucumber, some of the curly lettuce, more salad greens from the veggie box, and a tablespoon each of sunflower seeds. I don't usually enjoy salads all that much, especially ones that I make myself, but I'm hoping these two will be alright. They look pretty good, anyway:

After that, I chopped up some yellow squash and zucchini and one yellow onion, added some grape tomatoes, and a humongous garlic clove, tossed them in olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put them on the barbecue to roast at a low heat. When they were done, I squeezed out the roasted garlic clove over top, then mixed them with some quinoa, textured soy protein, tomato paste, fresh basil, some dried oregano, some Worcestershire sauce, and some more salt and pepper, and then divided them up into containers and put them in the freezer for lunch later in the week:

While I was out there, I checked on Mr. Wok and Madam Noodle:

And I also looked in at the hubby's tomato plants. I think he's eaten one so far this summer. Tomatoes are funny plants: you wait around eagerly all summer for them to produce something, and then end up with bucketfuls of them come September:

And, of course, today is the last day for the Tour de Fleece. For me, the Tour was a "finishing" challenge. I finished up a few things that have been sitting on my spindles for literally YEARS. Here are three skeins from a 400g bag of merino wool that I finally made it through. They are my experiment with spinning "on the fold" with a long draw draft. The skein on the left was spun a couple of years ago, and the two on the right are from this month. I ended up with that mini skein because I just couldn't get any more onto the spindle I was plying with:

If you look closely, you can see the one of the right is a little fuzzier. The skein became tangled as I was soaking it, so I took it out and re-skeined while it was still wet. All that handling caused it to felt a little, but I think I'm ok with it. I think I might make a nice squishy scarf out of them... or maybe some mittens... something distinctly un-summery, anyway:

I also finished spinning an art batt that, again, was sitting on one of my spindles for a couple of years. The batt was made up of all sorts of stuff: some wool roving, a few locks, some sari silk, and even some stellina (shiny, nylon and polyester fibre) to make it glittery. I decided to ply it with some of the leftover merino singles from the skeins above. When I ran out of merino, I decided to experiment with chain-plying the rest of it. The merino-plied one is on the left, chain-ply on the right:

Here's the merino-plied yarn close up. Too bad you can't see the glitter in in:

And here's the chain-ply close up. I only got a little bit out of it, but it was an interesting thing to try. I've never done it before. I just found a video online and gave it a go... which, come to think of it, is how I got started with this yarn business all those years ago...

Here they are side-by-side. I was never much for that barber-pole style yarn, but these are really fun. I have been daydreaming about knitting up a panel with it and making it the front of a purse or something... really make a feature of it somehow:

One thing I haven't finished yet is spinning this merino-silk pencil roving, but I'm making good progress on it. I couldn't remember how much of it I had to start with, so I had to look back to see what weight my spindle was, then subtract it from the total fibre I had. I figure I must have started with about 50 grams. I stopped spinning at about 25g left, slid the cop onto a spare double-pointed needle, and then started spinning the second half. I got those two red needle stoppers at a dollar store a few years ago, back when my knitting obsession was only starting, and I was buying ALL THE KNITTING STUFF. They will be handy once I start plying again. I only wish I knew where the other two disappeared to...

That's the problem with obsessions. They're exciting and fun, but they're also messy, and your stuff goes missing. It's stuff like that that causes you to lose a pair of pants during a parade....

... but that's another story for another time.

What has been most gratifying during this Tour de Fleece, is to see how many different spindles I used during it. I saw them all sitting on the table today, and it made me smile. I'm glad they're getting used again. And I still have three others not shown here, two of which I haven't even used yet.

Ahem... yes... obsessions...

I'm not sure what I'm going to work on now that the Tour de Fleece is over. I put an order in to get a couple of needle stoppers so that I can have a few more options for plying, and hopefully they will arrive by the time I finish spinning that merino-silk blend. I'm also missing my knitting needles... it would be nice to work on them again. We'll have to see what distractions this week brings.

Oh, and last week brought this little visitor to my office at work. Talk about distractions! It was so nice to have a warm, wriggly little puppy in my lap for a change. If every week brought a surprise like that, I would not complain.

So, it's been another busy week, full of lots of things to fill these long, bright days. I suppose it isn't so bad... and besides, there's be a dark winter coming to help me rest up from it all. Until then... I'm off to wash the sweat off and hope that the bedroom has cooled off enough to sleep. Happy weekend, all.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Labouring and Spinning

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.… -- Matthew 6:27-28
Hallo, world. I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks: life sometimes just gets in the way, doesn't it? It's strange, though: I've been writing here long enough that I feel all out of sorts when I don't post for a while. Maybe it's just a habit that I've developed. Or maybe I just like to talk. A lot.

It's been a busy couple of weeks, sometimes frustrating, sometimes tiring, but it's been interesting. I've been spending time observing myself and watching how I react during these stressful times. I'm proud to say I'm learning not to collapse with a bag of chips and a couple of chocolate bars like I normally do. I'd still like to learn how to switch off the ol' brain when I wake up before my alarm clock. 

I guess small steps are still forward steps.

I had a last-minute trip to Vancouver this week to deliver some packages to a client. As I placed them into my suitcase, I could see they were going to shift around in there. I looked around my house and decided to use the most effective package padding in the world:

Yarn: the great package protector. And it's lighter than a pair of trousers.. in case you didn't know.

It's always tiring to rush off on a day trip, but I lucked out on the way back and snagged a nice comfy chaise longue to relax on in the departure lounge at the float plane terminal while I waited for my return flight. I sat down and pulled out a notepad and made some lists. I thought about pulling out my laptop and working, but I decided that it's not often that I get to sit back and enjoy the view:

I was glad to get to the weekend. I look forward to Fridays, not only because it's the end of the week, but because it's also the day I get my weekly CSA veggie box from a local farm. I'm always delighted by the bounty, but I've learned that getting a box of veggies you did not choose yourself requires a certain willingness to experiment:

Those patty pan squashes on the bottom right were new to me, but when I cut them open, they looked a lot like zucchini inside. I scooped out the seeds, chopped them up along with some onions and fresh garlic (also from the box), and tossed them with some olive oil , a little salt and pepper, and some fresh basil (also from the box). I put them into the oven and roasted them until they were nicely browned:

I also roasted some of the beets, and tossed them in with some more fresh basil (it's a big bag), some tomato paste, some cooked quinoa, and some cooked textured soy protein (which is basically shredded dehydrated tofu). I quick toss together:

... a little more seasoning, and them I had lunch for the week:

We went out for a walk this afternoon. Every time I go to the city, I am always so grateful to come back and enjoy the outdoors. I think I am also extra sensitive to my surroundings when I return. It's not every day you notice a slug in his mushroom condo:

In fact, I seemed to be especially attracted to mushrooms today. Take that however you want:

We stopped at the local plant nursery to pick up some soil, and to greet the nursery cat:

And then came home to enjoy some of the blackberries we have been picking. I like them frozen on a warm day like this:

I'm still working my way through the Tour de Fleece. A friend of mine and I met up with another Islander on Saturday at a local yarn shop. We sat outside and spun away, the two of them on their wheels and me with my spindles. We attracted quite a bit of attention, both from passers-by and mosquitoes, but luckily none were too annoying. It's always lovely to around fibre people:

I brought along my Golding spindles. It was so nice to spin on them again: like driving a luxury car after chugging along in a jalopy. This is some merino/silk pencil roving that's been sitting in my stash for a while. It was such a nice, satisfying thing to spin:

I also spun the rest of a fun batt that I got ages ago from my friend, Tara. It's got all sorts of stuff in it: wool, sari silk, some mohair locks... just a jumble of things. I think I might ply it with some nylon or silk or something, just to hold it together.

Listen to me talking all spinner-like.

I didn't bring along my merino that I'd been working on since the start of the Tour because it was at the plying stage and I always need a lot of space for that. I found a box at work that I thought might work well as a makeshift lazy kate. It's working pretty ok, but I think one of these days I'll have to figure out something more permanent, especially if I continue to spin.

The resulting plied yarn is so lovely that I think I HAVE to continue. It's so lofty and springy. I have a skein from this same batch of wool that I spun and plied a couple of years ago, and I daresay that I have successfully duplicated it. It's like riding a bike, this spinning thing. It's not perfectly balanced like a commercially spun yarn, and it has a knot or two in in, but it's MINE:

And, if there's one thing I keep learning, I'm not perfect. But perfect isn't all that interesting, is it?

And here we are, at the end of another weekend and at the start of a new week, with all of the new things to think about and work on and worry about yet to arrive. And well, I think I will sit back and just wait for them to come. I heard Oprah Winfrey say something once that went something like, "When you are overwhelmed and you don't know what to do, just do the next right thing. And then the next one, and the next one, and soon you'll have worked your way through it." And you know, it works.

I think the next right thing is to go get a snack and a glass of milk. Happy Sunday, all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Inspiration Mondays on a Wednesday: Firefly Forest

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. - Rachel Carson
I keep finding things for Inspiration Mondays, but I keep forgetting about them when it comes time to post. This time, I couldn't leave this until Monday. This is for the little girl in me, who just wants to be allowed to stay in the charming world of imagination.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Spindles, Goats, and The Cat Who Came Back

A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere. -- Groucho Marx
It's been a pretty good week... and today, I had a visitor to top it off. Looks who's back:

I found him peering into the house before we left to go kayaking this morning. Persistence seems to be one of his virtues. He didn't stick around long... just long enough to look up at me to tell me to let him in. I don't know what he finds so fascinating about our house. Maybe he's done this enough times to other people that it's worked. Perhaps he has several "homes" in the neighbourhood, and he wants a bed in our house as well. I'm guessing he'll be back.. not sure when, but I'm pretty sure it's not the last we'll see of him.

I knitted a total of zero stitches last week. I had a bunch of stuff to get done this week, and by the time I got home in the evenings, I was too weary to risk dropping a bunch of stitches. On my to-do list was a trip to Vancouver for a meeting downtown. I wasn't so sure about how useful the meeting was going to be (I think meetings are usually redundant wastes of time), but I always enjoy a trip on a float plane. I got to ride in the right-hand seat for both departing and return trips, and it turned out to be a very useful meeting after all. I even resisted buying a dress I didn't need from the shopping mall next door. In all, it was a good day.

As much as I enjoyed the trip, I was happy to return to the Island. Friday was Canada Day, and therefore I had the day off. We went out to enjoy a walk  in Englishman River Regional Park. This is place is much more my style:

I like going there, but the only problem is that it's a long enough walk that I'm usually starving by the end of it. Luckily, we weren't too far from Coombs, where we could enjoy some lunch at Old Country Market, famous for their goats grazing on the roof. I was so hungry by the time we got there that I kinda wanted to climb up and munch along with them. Good thing (for them) I'm a terrible climber:

I planned on going to the gym on Saturday morning, but I woke up feeling like the bed was not going to let me go. My foot was aching a bit, as well. I'm trying to learn the mantra, "You don't get better when you're in the gym. You get better when you RECOVER from what you do in the gym." So, I got up, did some foam rolling, and then made myself a batch of toasted coconut butter:

I made enough to fill that jar, with a tiny bit extra to fill a wee bowl, just perfect for a little snack:

I figured I'd need it, because I was heading to the annual Mikone Vintage Market with a friend. It was exciting: neither of us had been before, and it sure lived up to my expectations. For a mere $2.00 entrance fee, we got plenty of joy of wandering around looking at all the cool old stuff. It was a perfect day for it: sunny, with a beautiful cool breeze:

There were a couple of vendors I was watching for, including Ruth and Nelly, owned by a lady who makes beautiful things out of used fabrics. I was lucky enough to bring home this pretty clutch bag, made from a leather skirt and a vintage needle point, and lined on the inside as well. I am always amazed by people who can sew with precision - it's extremely well-made, perfect to carry a tablet, your phone, and your wallet... and maybe some snacks. Snacks are important:

And, of course, I started the Tour de Fleece on Saturday as well. I'm usually so crap at getting organized for these kinds of commitments. I had planned to finally finish off a bag of combed top that I'd started a couple of years ago, but I 'm ashamed to say that it had been so long that I didn't recognize it when I pulled it out of the cupboard. I guess that means I should be spinning more. I thought I'd just do ten minutes and put it away, but I ended up spinning for a good chunk of the evening, as well as for part of this afternoon. That spindle at the top of the photo is full, but don't be too impressed: it was about three-quarters full when I found it. Speedy spindler, I am not:

It felt good to be spinning again. I'm enjoying the sheepy smell on my fingers, and it's like riding a bike: I thought I'd forgotten how to do it, but after a few inch-worm attempts, I'm slowly getting back into it. I'm spinning this "on the fold" and trying to get back into a long draw technique. I hope I can at least finish this bag. That would be a major accomplishment...

... as would figuring out what to do with this guy. This could be a very interesting summer...