Monday, August 29, 2016

Places to go and not knit

Last week got a little crazy with vacation-ish days thrown in between work ones, and I didn't have time to write any Hugs after Monday.  Sadly, I also didn't knit much! And yet: I was in the car, not driving, A LOT.

The Skywheel, at Niagara Falls

My poor neglected partially-knit socks... I will regret my laziness when the weather turns cold and my feet do, too, all because I didn't knit fast enough.  This week, we are at the cottage to close up, and there is so much to do (plus swimming) that I have a terrible feeling this will be the only new Hug till next Monday.  Just in case, I'm going to show you the best pictures of all the places I've been.  All except the pictures I took yesterday of some amazing forest mushrooms, tree bark and rocks - very pretty, but maybe a bit boring for you?  Let me know.

For now, let's start with this fun fact: the Warplane Museum in Hamilton has a plane in it called the Mary K!  I didn't ask anybody what the K. stood for.  I'm pretty sure it is Katherine and I didn't want to be disappointed.

When I stepped out of the hangar I saw the most beautiful cloud formations and of course, I had to take a picture of them.  But also, it was cool to have a truck in the picture with 'Rise Above' printed on the side.

That's always good advice, don't you think?

Later the same day, Pete wanted to walk down to Sugar Beach in Toronto with the gelato we'd just bought at the pizza place we recently discovered.  It's called G is For Gelato and it's at the corner of Jarvis and Adelaide, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood - the pizza is fantastic and I am pretty smitten with the gelato too.

I've always wanted to walk to Sugar Beach, which is basically a ton of sand dumped at a dock area and dotted with very expensive pink umbrellas, and I'm only disappointed that my first trip was at night so that I couldn't take a picture of the giant crane-bucket-grabby-thingy that was unloading sugar from a barge into the Redpath Sugar plant.  I would show you how my attempts came out but truly: they are bad.  The best I did was with this tree along the dock which has started to turn colour.  Red is traditional, but some of these leaves looked pink to me.

So appropriate.

Another day, we made our annual trip to the Niagara region.  This entails getting up insanely early on a weekday, ideally a slightly rainy and undesirable one, so that we get to Clifton Hill just before anything opens - thereby securing The Best Parking Space In Niagara Falls.  (it's a 2-hour, single-car spot, and we've never missed.)

From there, we head straight to the Skywheel to look at the view, Pete from a gondola, me from the ground.

I think the wheel is beautiful, don't you?

And it's right next door to a dinosaur mini-putt we skipped this time, but usually take the time to enjoy.

As you can see, there was some blue sky behind those clouds, and the day had cleared up by the time we got to Port Colborne, where we like to have a picnic and watch the boats coming through the locks.

This monster was huge.

Bulldozer, for scale

It was so long, it took several attempts for me to get all of it into one frame.  I think if you worked on this boat, you'd be exhausted walking just one lap of it, don't you?

The other thing I love to do in Port Colborne is shop in the thrift stores, because they usually have the best stuff ever.  Sadly there were no wool blankets to be had this year, but I did see a three-piece set of 1960s luggage in black cloth with red trim that looked as though it had never, ever been used.  So often when you visit a museum, it's impossible to imagine that the artifacts there were ever new, let alone what it might have looked like in a shop to its first buyer.  Cars can be restored, but luggage?  Not likely.  I could almost picture myself being right back in 1962, looking at that set.  (which I did not buy, because Restraint.)

After Port Colborne we usually wind back through Niagara on the Lake if we can, and this time Pete especially wanted to visit Queenston Heights too.  As a kid I lived in this general area and we used to go to Queenston Heights on Sundays for a picnic near the bandshell where a concert was playing, so I see it as a big, familiar, comforting park... but actually, it was a battlefield during the war of 1812, in which the local population plus English soldiers fought the Americans who'd come over from the other side of the Niagara River.  General Brock, on the English side, died there and a huge monument was erected in his memory.

You can climb up inside the monument to the base of Brock's feet, and Pete has, but I am a coward for heights (see Skywheel references above) so I just stand down on the ground and look at the poor guy holding up lightning rods for eternity.  I feel very attached to Brock, partly because he watched over my playground when I was small, but also because once, the parents of some friends of mine took me camping to Niagara Falls and into the wax museum I had always been forbidden to enter, where I saw the most horrific wax representation of Brock's actual death.

Queenston Heights is up on the escarpment that runs south of Lake Ontario, and Brock's monument is positioned so that he is looking out over the Niagara River:

It's such a beautiful view, even from my paltry-by-comparison height.  The two sides of the river are quite near, and official border crossings are accomplished via a pretty short bridge.  At the bottom of the Heights is a small community that was in 1812 a village whose inhabitants included the Secord family.  Apparently their house was within firing range of the cannons on the American side, which must have been quite stressful until American troops made it across and occupied the area and onward as far as the Warplane Museum in Hamilton and the cannons stopped.

Laura Secord's husband had fought in a battle and been injured - basically, when he didn't come home after the fight she went looking for him and got him home with two musket balls in his body that they never did get out, but he managed all right with them until his death a couple of decades later.  He was still in bed and recovering when a couple of American soldiers noticed the smoke from her chimney and stopped by to ask for a meal.  While they ate, they discussed the plan for an imminent invasion, and after they'd gone Laura, who heard everything of course, went upstairs to talk it over with her husband.  In the morning, she told her oldest daughter to watch the other children while she went to check on her brother in law, who was ill, and then she walked some distance to his house hoping he would be able to carry the news of the invasion the rest of the way to the English soldiers near the aforementioned Warplane Museum.

Unfortunately, when Laura arrived, she found her brother in law was still very sick, and couldn't do it, so she had to.  She ended up walking 20 miles, on the hottest day of summer, in all the gear women had to wear in the early 1800s, through terrain that was pretty consistently like this:

Plus bugs, I would imagine.  In the end she got where she needed to go and thanks to her warning the invasion failed, but she was turned down for official recognition of her heroism several times owing to the fact that she was a woman and women couldn't even vote at that point.  She persisted though, and she was finally recognized a few years before her death at the age of 93.

After that, a really, really good chocolate company adopted her name, but that's another story.  The point is: women are awesome.  And isn't it bizarre to think that Americans and Canadians ever fought over our border?

Also, the staff at the Laura Secord museum have a spinning wheel, and I saw a guy there plying the most gorgeous silk merino blend in an emerald green that I can guarantee you was not period-correct.  (our tour guide said she is finding the learning curve a challenge, and another staffer said that after some tries with a drop spindle she is sticking strictly to needlepoint.)

Today, Queenston Heights looks like this:

I swear, Niagara Parks does the most fabulous job of keeping the entire area looking gorgeous. There are so many historic sights over a huge area here - all the places where battles were fought or forts were built - and the gardeners and landscapers are on top of it all.

Now that we are at the cottage looking at much wilder greenery, I just feel lucky to live in a place where I am spoiled for choice when it comes to being outside.

Hope you are having some good times while I am valiantly packing up our summer getaway, sigh... I'll see you again as soon as I can!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bread baking resumes

Out of all the deliciously self-indulgent options I had for filling up two perfect-weather days in the city - I picked 'overhauling the kitchen', for no good reason that I can think of.  It took the entire weekend and wasn't fun until around 3pm on Saturday when I realized I had enough counter space to use the mixer.  Pete kindly went downstairs to buy yeast for me, and I made bread.

I'm also quite desperate to finally make use of the madeleine pans Pete gave me lo these many years ago, but Priorities.  Also, I didn't have all the right ingredients.

I have a great bread recipe (which you can access here) and I used to make use of it once or twice a week, even in the house when I had very little counter space.  But eventually, the kitchen there got so cluttered with front hall stuff, I couldn't clear enough room to do anything ambitious, and when I got everything into the condo where the counters are plentiful? I was WAY too busy with the renovation decisions to do anything home made.

Now I'm remembering why it's better to bake the whole batch at once rather than refrigerating dough for a day or two.  That's the allure and temptation of this recipe: the yeast is very intense and will rise the dough even after a stint in the refrigerator.  So in theory, you can bake a loaf of bread with one third of the dough, and wrap up the other two thirds into separate buttered cling wrap parcels for fresh bread another day.  The first loaf, the one that's never refrigerated, rises really, really high:

This probably looks like an ordinary loaf that wasn't kneaded enough to get the air bubbles evenly distributed but in fact, it is the MOST DELICIOUS loaf of bread ever produced by anyone anywhere at any point in history.  I present the following evidence:

This is all that was left after the initial feeding frenzy (which did not include just me.)

Okay, okay, I will concede that another loaf of bread produced by somebody else is probably just as delicious but after a year downtown with limited good-bakery resources, this one seemed pretty fabulous.

After the refrigerator treatment, the second loaf doesn't do quite as well.  I'm happy just to see the dough clear the top of the loaf pan before it hits the oven.  The picture at the top of the post is the second loaf - attractive, but not overwhelmingly tall by any means.

And on the third day?  WHEW.  I didn't have any cling wrap for this batch so I just flung the extra dough into buttered Ziploc bags, and the air inside morning's bag was so plentiful it was like picking up a foil balloon filled to the maximum.  It was wedged into the top shelf of the fridge hard enough that I had trouble getting it out, and when I started to open the seal there was a huge POP and the Ziploc strip tore itself right off the bag on one side.  The dough itself is quite yeasty, as though it has started to ferment.  So.... sourdough?

It's hard to believe that this sluglike, cold lump could turn into anything palatable, but it did - this is the second loaf when it was fresh out of the refrigerator.  The third loaf didn't even look this good, but it's gone into the oven at very respectable height.

I think when I mix the next batch of dough I'll bake two loaves and one muffin pan's worth of buns, then freeze half a loaf and a few rolls to see how they do.  The only really yummy bread I've been able to find around here is a baguette that goes stale on the second day and it would be great to have a go-to option for fresh bread any time I want it.

Here's the important result of the weekend's efforts though.

Thanks to the miracle of reorganization and expired food removal, I'm using the kitchen again.  I'm treating food preparation as an activity and not a depressing chore.  I'm thinking things like, Hmmmm, what shall I make today?  Meringues, or Madeleines?  and answering, Why not both?

And that is a very nice feeling.  Even nicer than biting into a slice of freshly-baked bread from your own kitchen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday plus new yarn plus new spinning fiber equals yay

Last week I had a 'moment' which resulted in a second skein of Vesper sock yarn arriving in my mailbox with the current yarn club offering:

Oops.  Actually I'm not sure why I had to have this.  I think I may have been in a weak moment after trying to figure out how to get some extra support for my aunt?  Anyway Oasis is here now and I think I will really enjoy knitting stripes in white, kelly green, grey, yellow, pink, and bottle blue.  How on earth does Julia pack in all those colours?  Is that a darker green in there too??

The actual club yarn is called Let's Dance and, since I have been watching for a yarn with a purple stripe, it seems likely that I will knit this skein for Jan (once I figure out how long to make the foot on her socks.)  I say this, and I'm looking at the stripe in this photograph and thinking there is no purple in there, but there is most definitely a purple when you're looking at this yarn in real life.  It's the bit that looks like blue.

Jan and her husband were supposed to come up to the cottage this weekend but they were only really coming for an afternoon and overnight, and it turned out the afternoon part plus the entire next day is to be thunderstormy, which kind of makes six hours of driving less appealing to them.  So: next year.  But that means I have to find some other time to get her to try on a finished sock in the size I make for myself to see how well it fits her.

Actually, we're not super inclined to do six hours of driving to sit inside and watch the rain, either, even though we were also planning to eat raspberry pie, which is not available in the city.  I have a strong feeling we would regret staying home, but Pete has a strong feeling he will regret not staying home where we have air conditioning and he has a very good point: every other time it has been hot and rainy at our cottage (or just hot), it's really hard to sleep.

If we stay home, I can play with this:

it's the last installment of the Twisted Fiber Art club I couldn't stop myself from joining this summer, and it's 50% silk, so yum to that.

(I should have titled this post, "Mary has no willpower whatsoever", shouldn't I.)

(Yeah, the bunny endorses that conclusion, what with being evidence of last year's lack of willpower.)

Anyhoo, since I promised myself I would spin the fiber from this club very quickly, which is to say within days of its arrival, I could take advantage of being in the city with my wheel to make good on that commitment.

Or I could nap,
or clean up the condo, which still looks like the site of a not very recent explosion of paper,
or just watch TV and knit through the chompy sock I'm working on,
or go to the Farmer's Market and toy with the idea of buying ingredients for some form of pie,
or read through my new decorating magazine,
or - did I say nap?  Because I would totally enjoy a nap.

Hope you have a great weekend whatever you end up doing, and I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A good place for artists

While we were in Bancroft last week we stopped into a used bookstore with a small display of prints by local artists, and I couldn't leave without this framed print of three chickadees in a snow-covered tree:

I suppose it might look a bit weird to me in summer and fall, but it just called out to be hung over my desk in the new house, so I can look at these cute birds all the time and imagine ridiculous things they're saying to each other, the way I do with my embarrassingly large collection of Jellycat rabbits.

There's always more room for cute in my world.

This is the same shop where I found the birch tree print I showed you yesterday, by the same artist - Ketha Newman.

I'm looking forward to seeing this framed and hung up somewhere in the house... we will have very little wall space for art, but the birch is so narrow I am certain to find a place to tuck it in.  And I know I will stop often wherever we do hang it, to look at all the little details she painted.

The week before, we had an early supper at the local fish and chips shop (so, so delicious) and our server, who is a potter, mentioned that she settled in Bancroft later in life, after living in Toronto and Prince Edward County.  She said she never felt quite at home until she found Bancroft, and I agreed - there's just something about it that's especially lovely.

A river runs through town and that helps, I think - rivers are always moving, which is mesmerizing to sit beside.  Also, the hills and forest surrounding it are incredible, like nothing else.  I took pictures and posted them last summer so if you missed that and want to see what I mean, click here.

The day I found the prints we'd gone back for another meal at the fish and chip shop and I bought one of Saidie's pottery pieces - just a simple leaf that could serve as a dish or just something lovely to hold in your hand.

Saidie will be participating in a studio tour this fall in the Bancroft area, along with Ketha, and I wish we could go... maybe we will, if the timing works out.

As for the little leaf dish?  Sadly its future is pretty utilitarian...

But I will get to look at it and hold it every day, and that's how art should be treated, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Context isn't everything

I noticed something last week, when I spotted some pretty clouds and grabbed my chance to take a picture of them...

(yeah, I know, what a surprise that I wanted more sky pictures.)

You know what I was looking at when I saw them?  This.

A regular old strip of shops in a small northern town, none of them very fancy, across the street from the gas station where we were parked.  And yet: the clouds... so stunning.  You still see them with the buildings in the frame, but without them, when you're just looking at the clouds and a fringe of treetops, they just feel good, don't they?

This is true of blogs obviously.  Do you read Smitten Kitchen?  I love the photographs of gorgeous food there and artfully displayed messy backgrounds, and I also love that the 'real' life beyond those pictures is cropped out.  You can totally live in an escapist fantasy land when you leave out the extra stuff.

Check out this picture that I took while I was pondering this simple fact.

Isn't this is a gorgeous image of a birch trunk?  No effort made to square off the painting with other plants growing on either side.  Just the birch.

Which is still in a parking lot, on my lap, leaning on the dashboard of Pete's truck.

(sorry not to have the painter's name handy just at the moment but I have another of her prints to show you another day and I'll let you know then.)

The last few weeks, my life has been a total jumble of background mess that I have not wanted to have in the picture at. all.  The excess furniture in the condo has been difficult to move around, and the stacks of magazines and paperwork and odds and ends that got left behind when we took our hutch north to the cottage has been stressful to look at, but neither compares to a new medical issue for an aunt whose care and comfort is among our responsibilities here.  Thankfully the solution was obvious, if bureaucratic to set up, and it's all sorting itself out now, but WHEW.  I am so ready to have some semblance of a normal life back.

Sometimes how you look at a thing is as important as which parts of it you focus on.  Check out this lilypad I found floating near shore at the lake:

What do you want to bet that a stealth loon took a bite out of this thing?

I don't know why it surprised me, but the underside is very different (if still bitten):

The fish in the water see a red surface.  From above, we see green.  And yet: it's the same lilypad.  I mean this is not rocket science, we all know these things, but it really struck a chord with me last week and still does today.  I would like to be a swimming fish for ten minutes and see whether my aunt's situation looks any better to me from there.

Sometimes context doesn't make a bit of difference.  Just look at this tree stump:

No stump is really a happy thing, because it means a tree fell or was cut down (this one crashed in a wind storm onto one of our dock supports and somebody kindly cleaned it up for us) but I love seeing it.  I pass it every time I go to or from the lake and it's just as interesting to me when I take in the whole picture.

Sometimes I think the key to getting through tough stuff is knowing when to look at the entire scene and when to focus in on just the most enriching part of it.  Or maybe it's just a good way to make a pretty photograph, heh.

Monday, August 15, 2016

What I did on my summer vacation

Hi again!  I know last time we met here I mentioned that I was enjoying my holiday, and that if I wasn't back the next day it wasn't necessarily because I'd been attacked by a stealth loon... but seriously: the next day, I got into the lake and saw another stealth loon swimming nearby before diving under water, and wished I hadn't written that.

Loons aside, I have to show you what happened to our friend the chompy sock on our way home from the cottage:

That my friends is not loose yarn pulled out from the cake and ready to knit.  That is frogging.

This was one of those scenarios where you make a simple yet incredibly annoying mistake - in my case, I shifted the toe decreases on one side of the sock two stitches over from where they should have been - and make it much, much worse.  I discovered the problem about five rounds into the toe, and decided it would be faster to drop the offending stitches down and work them back up again with the crochet hook I keep in my purse for emergencies.


About forty minutes later, with very wonky looking re-worked crochet hook stitches and big gaps where the decreases were supposed to go, I gave up and frogged and took the picture above, then started knitting again.

Another thing I did on my vacation was to take a closer look at the Torquay ware jug we've kept pens in since I noticed it languishing in a kitchen cupboard at the cottage:

Isn't it cute?  I love Torquay ware anyway but I especially love this piece, for the motto on the other side:

"Never say die; up man and try" - much as I resent making an effort most days, I still manage to live by this rule.

Anyway as I was looking at it (because I was taking the pens out, shifting them instead to a bin inside the upper part of our hutch that miraculously fit into the back of our truck with 1/4" to spare and is now living in the main room at the cottage) I noticed that it is a cream coloured jug with dark brown trim and inky blue accents.

In other words, OUR HOUSE COLOURS.  How did I miss that?

I am totally bringing this jug home at the end of the summer to fit into a little decorator's tableaux somewhere or other.

At another point, I was tidying up the guest room, aka the room my aunt and uncle used when they owned the cottage, and I stopped to admire a cute picture of them from maybe fifteen years ago.  In the picture, they are chatting happily while seated in the wooden outdoor chairs they bought and painted yellow, and which now look like this:

mainly because Pete and I are such terrible people.  Well, that's me really, because of course Pete is an incredibly nice person.  I was the one who suggested we not keep dragging these pieces up under the cottage every fall, because I was already overwhelmed with the magnitude of Closing.  We never, ever sit outside together and I still don't know how my aunt and uncle managed to do it (massive amounts of insect spray?) so it's not like we were ever going to use this set as anything but rustic art, but I still feel a little guilty about this particular judgement call.

Another thing I feel a little guilty about is not finishing the jigsaw puzzle.

I think we snuck in a few more pieces after we got this far, but it's clear that the older boy's back and the father's knee will be perpetually missing a critical piece.  Tell you what though - however incomplete, you can still tell the mom in this picture bought her kids' clothes too big so they would last a size or two, and then sent the three of them off for an outing by the river so she could take a nap.  And isn't that really what this particular puzzle is all about discovering?

Pete and I have been telling each other with glee that this year is the one where we finally hit our stride with the cottage.  It's our fifth summer there, so we were due, but it is still an exciting surprise.  While Pete indulged in endless busywork and early-morning kayak outings, I collapsed in a heap.  My days dissolved into an ebb and flow of naps, jigsaw pieces, moving through water, and card-playing.  I learned that no matter how good I am at Euchre and Cribbage, I will always lose at Sorry Revenge.  I appreciated Bancroft, a small Ontario town with a truly stunning landscape surrounding its humble buildings.  And I learned to cut myself a lot of slack because obviously, if I am comfortable not writing at my blog for the better part of a week, I need it.  Normally I get twitchy if I skip a Hugs post.

After I finished knitting my sock back up to where I'd frogged it, I carried on knitting, and finished off the last rounds of the toe as we were approaching our house in the city to pick up the mail.

It didn't look as neat and tidy in there as the stitches on this sock do - it's drywall time after all - but it sure did look beautiful to us.

Hope you had a good week and I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Socks - the stage after Chompy

I have some jigsaw puzzle progress to show you today but first, let's explore the developmental stage after the Chompy Sock.  We haven't given enough airtime to the adorable, endlessly cheerful Smiley Sock:

I love this stage.  Especially if it happens on a car trip, because as much as Smiley Socks are super excited and happy about everything that is happening around them, they love the view out of a car window even more than the average dog does. 

You can practically see this one drooling, can't you?

But seriously, this stage is great because you've turned the heel and finished the gusset and you're on to plain old leg.

I so enjoy the way Vesper stripes get wide on the heel flap and then shrink back down to narrow, as if by magic, and not just the addition of twice as many stitches again.

Speaking of magic, the jigsaw puzzle that obsessed me so last weekend got a big boost on Saturday.  For some reason, I could not leave that thing alone!

The swimming weather has been amazing, so I am hating myself every time I pick up a piece to put it into the picture.  And picking up the next piece anyway.

There's loads more progress today - the posts on the pier are done, and the boys are fully connected at last (that poor dad, with the floating arm syndrome, is all better now) but can you see that missing piece on the dad's upper knee?


I mean, nowhere to be found.  We had to move the puzzle a couple of times and I am pretty sure that piece was loose and fell down, but we can't find it under any of the furniture.

So I'm wondering, given that we are staying up here for most of the week for our last 'long stay' before we close up for this year (there are still a couple of weekends before that sad day, but that's not nearly enough to suit me), do I finish the puzzle knowing it will never be fully finished?

Now that any dark blue pieces belong for sure in one tiny area of pants, and all that's left is the white white sky, do I bother?

Can I put this thing away and have my coffee table and knitting time back?

I guess I'll know in the morning, when I either gravitate back to Sky Duty or get to work on any of the other more useful projects around here.

Fun loon story: it's incredibly quiet on the lake this week, which means fewer boats out in our section of it, which means that tonight I felt safe quietly swimming and drifting quite far out into the middle.  All of a sudden, I noticed a loon swimming along quite near me.  It was so much bigger than I expected!  And so beautiful.  Pete joined me and we watched it for a long time, until it tipped over and went under water.

Whenever we've seen a loon do this from our vantage point on the dock, Pete tracks its possible progress in all directions for as long as it takes to resurface.  So, we know that a loon can swim a really, REALLY long way before coming back up for air.

And let me tell you, there is something more than a little unnerving about swimming out in the middle of a lake knowing a giant hungry loon could be heading your way as your legs dangle around beneath the surface.  Forget how scary Jaws was when it came out.

BEAKS, people.  BEAKS.

We never did see it pop back up.  I wonder if it's still out there, waiting for us to come back out in the morning?

(ps, if I don't come back for another post any time soon, it's probably not the result of a horrific man-eating loon attack.  it will be because I've been so ridiculously relaxed on this trip, it's taken me three days even to pull out anything resembling a computer to type on.  hope you're having a great week yourself!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How much sock?

As we do every year, we had neighbours up to the cottage for the August long weekend.  We have a routine now of playing euchre every evening we have together (and eating pie, but more on that later) and I thought, I wonder how much sock I can knit while hanging out with friends?  I mean, yes, there is swimming, and pegging out wet gear, and group food prep and washing up, but in between there is downtime, right?  And sometimes you can knit while playing games, too.

I had a completed cuff and one or two rounds of stocking stitch when we left Toronto, expecting to get a good chunk of leg done on the drive.

Ha!  Not a chance.  For one thing, I didn't factor in that we were leaving late on Friday night instead of early on Saturday morning like usual, which meant the light would fail partway there.  The first setback came when I realized I hadn't e-mailed some cousins about various news items they needed, so I sat typing on my little phone keyboard for the best part of the evening instead of waiting till it was too dark to knit.  Then when I used the mini flashlight in my bag I was recommended to keep for night knitting adventures (thank you again for that tip!!), Pete found it too distracting with all the heavy traffic, and I had to wait for pit stops to fix mistakes.

Sidebar: I was reading yesterday that Canada is known for its embrace of multiculturalism, and I thought: yesss! this is me.  Because every time we pulled into an Enroute roadside stop for bathrooms and travel snacks, it made me so happy to see the huge range of humans, in various family and friend combinations, of every age and ethnicity, all agreeing that long weekends are to be celebrated by traveling someplace where 'outside' is different from what it is at home.

I have to say, I also love how long weekends at Enroute stops give you a sense of what camping in Ontario is like, without actually doing it.  So many people looking tired and a little bedraggled, sporting flip flops and accidental sunburn and big new bug bites, and yet relaxed and enjoying themselves... it's wonderful.  And yes, I usually look much the same even though we have indoor plumbing at the cottage, apart from the sunburn.  Who has time for a shower when you're up north for the weekend?

The whole outside-in-summer thing is kind of like knitting, to me... it's a common point for huge numbers of people who might not have many other ones.

Speaking of which: sock!  Another setback occurred when we played euchre.  I forgot how fast the hands go when the four of us get together over a deck of cards.  Plus, unlike with Scrabble with its handy tile ledge, your hands are always engaged. 

But worse: somebody got the idea to open up a new jigsaw puzzle, then lost interest. 

It's not that I love jigsaw puzzles.  It's more that I can't stand random things lying around when they have a logical place to go.  I'm basically compelled to put them there just to make the annoyance go away.  When it comes to puzzles, I can pore over them for ages trying to make them tidy and when I finally get a piece in it's like YAY! the best thing ever just happened to me!  Totally out of proportion to the accomplishment, but still enough of a rush that I have to keep doing it.  Even when there is a sock pitifully waiting for its leg.

When our neighbours left to go home, we drove with them as far as the highway - they turned south, and we turned north to go to the hardware store in Bancroft, about 45 minutes from our door.  We had carpenter bees to deal with, and we needed a ladder, and there was a fish and chip shop Pete wanted to try (OMIGOSH I am ruined now for any other fish and chip shop, and we live across the street from the Market, where Buster's Sea Cove always has a line up around the corner.)  And since we were out anyway... I was able to talk Pete into a stop at the Old Hastings Gallery for a tablecloth I fell in love with last time we were there.

Isn't it lovely?  It's from April Cornell in case you're interested.  And I got a little more knitting done in the car, too, whew.

(Technically, this cloth is perfect for the table we took up to the cottage, but I think I will bring it home at the end of the summer because it will also be perfect on the kitchen table when the house is done.  All those blues and reds and light browns should blend in really well with the French linen tea towel window coverings, don't you think?  And the blue sofa in the adjoining room, too.)

That afternoon - it was Monday, the third day of the long weekend - we thought, meh, maybe we should just drive home tonight.  Surely the traffic won't be that bad?  (it was. )  We left late to guarantee minimal traffic (thereby guaranteeing maximum traffic) and so I lost the light early again.  But this time, I saved my e-mailing for after the light failed, and I got a little more sock onto my needles.

So I guess the answer to How Much Sock? is not a lot, when you are talking about a weekend away with friends by a lake when the weather is perfect and the pie, delicious*.  They're coming up again Saturday but this time, we're traveling by morning light.  Let's see how I do this time, shall we?

* Last year, we discovered the delicious raspberry pies at Trudy's, where we turn off the highway for the last leg of the cottage drive.  But this year we noticed they sell raspberry pies at Dooher's in Campbellford too, so we did a taste test of both and all four of us agreed that while the runny, gentle raspberry of Trudy's pie is amazing, the darker, sharper flavour of Dooher's approach, not to mention the amazing pie crust, is just enough better to make it the first choice.  So we will be leaving Toronto very, very early on Saturday to make sure we score one for the Saturday night euchre game!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Spinning in nature

One thing I love about the cottage is that even though we've made little changes, it still feels a lot like a time capsule from 1975.  The dark fake-wood paneled walls, the original dark-wood framed single-pane windows, the books published in that decade with pictures of men and women in bell-bottom suits on the cover, the records that capture the era... if you lived it yourself, you know what I mean.  And spinning yarn there, surrounded by giant picture windows overlooking trees and water, just fits right in with the decade's back to nature, back to our roots aesthetic.

Plying the 'Forager' colours last weekend felt very fitting.  While I worked, Pete put on our ironic-favourite Travelers album which celebrates Canada's centennial and Expo '67 in Montreal.

It was clouding over outside, which always deepens the green of the tall hemlocks and pines that surround the cottage, and the greens and purples building up under my hands seemed like a perfect match.

Of course, nothing ever is perfect, really.  I had spun these singles to be very very thin, and I had hoped the lean nature of the resulting yarn would fit onto one spool.  Usually I have to stop three-quarters of the way through, break the yarn, wind it all off into a ball, and start over with the remains, cursing myself for not yet figuring out how to use the bigger spool Pete bought for me a few years ago.

This time, I just kept moving the yarn up and down the hooks, hoping for the best, and accidentally winding a lot of yarn in the gap between spool and frame.  In the end I had to take the whole thing off and wind it from a post on the bottom of the wheel.

Still, I was making yarn, which is by definition very earthy and natural!  And when I finally finished getting as much of it as possible into one ball (I had to ditch a bunch at the end, when the last few feet of purple went all knotty and entangled and wouldn't cooperate with me at all) I took it outside onto the beautiful deck overlooking our little patch of forest, to photograph.

Whereupon I was descended-upon by persistent mosquitoes.

Go nature!

And, go windows with screens in them!  Next time: indoor photography. Yeesh.