Monday, April 30, 2012

monday musings - moving along downstream

feels like there has been quite a lot of water under the bridge since last able to post freely...

Dear G arrived late Friday, along with the news that he will be training on a new machine starting Monday, so will be transitioning to temporary daysider. This meant setting the dread alarming clock for much earlier in the morn than is our wont. And sure enough, it went off right next to my head in far fewer hours than desirable, and dang near caused levitation + falling out of bed! (the idea is to start being awake earlier several days before necessary, to allow adaptation...)

Saturday morning included a trip to RCT for more sewing supplies, to complete the second safety vest, and for wide webbing to customise workpant belt loops for carrying tools. I plum love that store and the sweet woman who works there, she is always interested in the projects we/I are creating, and has great suggestions for suitable materials.

Later that afternoon was the Resiliency Ranger potluck, where much educational fun was had experimenting with various ways to start fire. It is much harder than it looks, if you take matches and lighters out of the picture.

Several braziers were set up on the covered patio to allow safely trying out flint and steel, magnesium and firesteels, and some of the Rangers created a bow drill from some split firewood! I still am truly inept with flint and steel, though I know a few friends that can start fire that way as fast as with matches; had much better luck with the newly acquired firesteel...
Useful tips are to be generous with the magnesium shavings, and to have PLENTY of additional tinder and small dry wood bits of various sizes right to hand, it takes a lot more than might be suspected to actually get fire to the point where you can leave it long enough to grab more fire-food
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Have experienced quite a variation in customer service experiences in the last few days... Century Link (phone and internet) has not made me happy at all. Service here at Acorn Cottage is currently intermittent, despite repeated calls to repair and tech support. There is something very annoying about being placed on hold for extended periods of time, and forced to listen to ever-repeating adverts suggesting that you switch to this new improved type of internet connection! Had no one thought of the fact that folks calling their internet tech and repair line have a problem with that "improved connection" and would be better served by soothing music, perhaps??

Completely different was my experience on the phone with the good folks at Marlin, and with the service desk at Midway. Both places got me competent coherent humans after only a minute or two on hold listening to lively instrumental music, and both places did not imply that I had caused the problem, but rather were eager to help me resolve the issues (being new at this did not realise the significant difference between 1894 and 1894C, and so had accidentally ordered the wrong parts, and in addition, some parts are only available directly from the manufacturer) Those interactions did not have a deleterious effect on my blood pressure, but left me smiling. Perhaps in more than one way, an armed society is a polite society...
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Ended up missing both SWAP and the spring 6PAC this year due to medical foo, and so need some new clothes to brighten things up here at Acorn Cottage!) Have been feeling well enough to get back to sewing, done a bit of safety equipment sewing for the sweetheart and now is time for some summer things for me. Signing up for the Summer 6PAC. Realised when we had an almost 80F day a bit ago that I'd really like a few more summer dresses, so I might modify the plan to be four summer dresses, one pair of woodland rambling pants or overalls, and one really light overshirt or vest, as that combination will work best with the clothing already in my closet and dresser...

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despite impending irradiation,
trust future path be always under foot

Saturday, April 28, 2012

brought to you by the letter C

Yay! Internet tubes full of cats are now flowing freely, and our plucky heroine is cheerful again, not the least because she has G here visiting for the weekend...

This is your one day announcement, Crafternoon is happening here at Acorn Cottage tomorrow. Show up anytime after noon, drink tea, eat tasty snacks, work on projects, meet the mysterious G, enjoy lemon poppyseed cakes, etc etc... (For more information and directions if needed give me a call)

Friday, April 27, 2012

quick update, with pictures

In which our plucky heroine gets a great deal of satisfaction bossing fabric around...

Have been making progress on the safety vest for G's work pal A. Somewhat different configuration, longer and more narrow, since A does not carry the same tools as G. Both men have asked for both appliqued and embroidered custom decorations; if you are going to have something made just for you, whyever not?

~ ~ ~ ≈ ::: ≈ ~ ~ ~

Ferro-rod sparker arrived fast and well, works great, good addition to the kit. Plan on taking it to the ranger picnic, where our intended activity is to try different methods of making fire, a suitable activity for an  afternoon that includes barbeque.  Sigh, knife is indeed out of stock for real and for certain. Must look for a different one that fits my paws and feels comfortable in the hand.
~ ~ ~ ≈ ::: ≈ ~ ~ ~

Beginning to feel a bit like my ownself again, now that the antibiotic is taking care of the infection, not finding it necessary to sleep ALL the time. With luck and effort Acorn Cottage will be clean enough to not embarrass me for Crafternoon this Sunday.
~ ~ ~ ≈ ::: ≈ ~ ~ ~

It is ever mysterious to me that the same two hens can lay eggs that vary greatly in color from day to day sometimes very pale brown, othertimes deeper, or even with tiny speckles...
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Grrr... Arrrgggh... still no internet here!  (grumpy face)  I am not terribly impressed with Century Link, successor to Qwest, as they seem to not communicate well internally. Hopefully, writing up the post while at home, and transferring it to the library computer will not be overly difficult, thought will be unpleasantly time consuming...
~ ~ ~ ≈ ::: ≈ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

electronical whinge

our plucky heroine is not happy today... woke up to find that for some unknown reason there is no internet connectivity at Acorn Cottage. Spent over an hour waiting for tech support from gorram Century Link only to be told to do the same exact things I'd already done on  my own before calling. Might be able to be fixed if they send a tech out tomorrow. Walked to library to check emails and blogland. I wish that I had one of those nifty little laptops with wifi. Well, time almost up here at library, so will be offline until the internet is restored. Sigh, it feels so isolated...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine continues playing with yarn...

Since my parents will be arriving here in only ten days, it seems kindhearted to actually finish the wool slippers for both of them... Mom's were finished months ago, but the slippers for Dad have been languishing at the bottom of the knitting basket. Not okay. So today included sorting out the yarn, and tinking back to a row that would let me have some idea of how many stitches I added to the original pattern to come up with something Dad-foot-sized (more or less, since they will be felted after knitting.

The pattern is only nineteen rows of knitting, so goes really fast. I found that the slipper needs a bit more coverage over the instep, which on the Mom slippers was dealt with by knitting a small tab that added a bit of style as well as better fit. For my Dad slippers, I am trying a different approach and added a bit of short rows to the instep before felting, making them a bit more like clogs; am curious to see the result.
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This project means putting the Ultramarina shawl on hold for just a bit, but I could not resist heading out this morning with S to look for a suitable border yarn. Turned out more difficult than expected, to come up with a color that did not fight with the intense blue, and also looked pleasingly "gem-like". After trying Happy Knits (with one of the best selections of Madeline Tosh around)and being quite unsuccessful, we ended up at Twisted, where a single skein of Lanaloft Worsted seemed just the thing, a strong royal purple to play happily with the blue.
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There was purple to greet us in a yard near where we parked, these heavily clustered violets were underneath a venerable pink dogwood tree. Had they been growing in my yard, at least some would have been harvested, for the flowers and leaves are both edible and full of vitamins. Not everyone is partial to flower flavors, but years ago in Paris, violet ice cream was a real treat, and even a few violet flowers make a delightful salad garnish...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

a small mystery solved...

In which, among other things, our plucky heroine resolves to bake a cake and find an answer...

Yesterday, most mysteriously, my lawn was mowed while I was napping. There was no clue left to relieve my curiousity and gratitude. First try across the street, where there had been lawnmower action earlier that day, was without success, but for a suggestion that the "folks in the green house were seen with a push mower". Aha! My own next door neighbors indeed, who now have a treat for Sunday afternoon, a small, still warm, chocolate loaf cake. Is this a great neighborhood or what?
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Have made a good start on the lapis shawl, about a quarter of the new yarn is already knitted. The combination of silk and merino means that there is a slight silvery haze over the blue, like the bloom on a plum. Wishing that I'd ordered one skein of a purple for the border, that would look really nice... Shall look round locally for an interesting border yarn; if another beaded border will be suitable, then another trip to Shipwreck for beads will be necessary... maybe these matte cobalt crow rollers?
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

At the end of May there will be some temporary short term new inhabitants of Acorn Cottage; my pal S will be staying here till she and B find housing in Eugene for themselves and their two large cats Toby and Pye. It will be quite an adjustment a grand opportunity to get the public spaces here suitable for feline living.

Over the next month many small knicknacks will need be boxed up, and just perhaps some of the neglected dusting and sorting will happen... Organising my abundant craft materials and supplies is as difficult for me as dealing with the abundant avoirdupois that I carry around every day. The tasks both appear so overwhelming that a beginning is rarely made, and even more rarely continued. (I have started dealing with my weight, by keeping a food diary every day, have done this for the last week, now that it seems that I will likely survive, it seems worth doing more to improve my well-being)

I can envision the joy of being able to easily lay my hands on any desired equipment, to readily find the yarn or fabric in my stash most suited to a particular project. There is storage room allocated here, open shelves and drawers, but mostly at present badly filled with boxes of randomly packed things. Wishing will not shift the stuff, working on it will... Let us imagine, then, that by this time next year that both my person and my homeplace will both be lighter and more coherent.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday snippets

For a short chunk of time this afternoon, it felt like just being where I was, was okay. My heart was peaceful and happy, while not ignoring the trauma just passed or the unknown future, the now was warm and blue sky and sun heading towards the horizon, and the wheels under me carrying me home...

Yes indeed, today our plucky heroine took to the streets on her bicycle, for the first time this year, the first time since my surgery! Was a bit wobbly, but made it the entire way to New Seasons and back. Heading over there with the afternoon sun warming my back, chasing my shadow all the way down Rosa Parks, like some large toddler cut loose from her trike. Despite my age, I feel so childlike on the bike, a kind of pleasurable glee at the freedom. Perhaps exacerbated by my usual attire, a mid-calf loose dress (sometimes with a pinafore), my grey hair streaming under that concession to the modern streets, the bike helmet. I am not a fast rider, and in the bike lane am often passed by lithe grown-up people covered in spandex. I am not in a hurry, I pay attention to to the bright world all round me...
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first one seen this season, hanging out on a strawberry leaf beside Trillium School... Turns out, courtesy of my friend J for sharing the info, that there is a "Lost Ladybug Project" tracking ladybug sightings all over, since:
... populations of ladybugs around the world are inexplicably disappearing, and these once-ubiquitous little beetles also perform an important service in the natural world: controlling the population of harmful crop-destroying insects...
including this type, the "Two Spot" Ladybug or Adalia bipunctata. It was very satisfying to fill in all the blanks on the submission form, to look up the latitude and longitude and altitude of the place, to transform my observation in a way that turned it from not only a pretty picture but also helped with actually doing real science!

Not sure exactly when I shifted primary interest to making rather than observing... As a girl I loved science class in school just as much as I loved art class, learning about the natural world fascinated me; there were geology trips to find fossils in road cuts, afterschool programs on marine biology; as a child, lived in an educationally rich environment the likes of which shall probably not be seen again for ordinary folks...
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My carbon steel #6 Opinel, pocket companion for over twenty years, has gone walkabout again, nowhere to be seen, alas. There are a lot of knives here at Acorn Cottage: a decent assortment of kitchen knives, including two I made myself, and a number of Norse womens belt knives that are part of my SCA kit. Though there is a bitsy knifeblade on my Leatherman, I want something a bit larger for my EDC. L came by to hang out after work with S and I earlier this week, and in response to my no-knife whinging, let me have a look at his pocketknife... OoooOh, shiney! His Gerber Magnum Junior fit my tiny paws perfectly; had never had a chance to try a knife with a thumbhole before. The size, shape, and weight of the knife was just right, and the ease of one handed opening felt really intuitive. What has it got in it's pocketses indeed?? Encouraged by my beloved G, a new knife is on order, (since L was understandably not interested in donating his to the cause...)
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I have no idea why I am suddenly drawn to the idea of a new party dress, I have less than no need for such a garment, but am finding the idea of partial layers of transparency interspersed with layers of opacity drawing my interest. The Ava (Liberty Patterns), and this more local Macaron, (Colette Pattens) seem very appealing, even though the patterns are not at all drafted to fit the body I live in or the life that I live. I shall simply let these ideas float entertainingly through my head, while I busy myself with safety yellow cordura, and reflectorised webbing, and bits of polartec to pad the edges of the custom safety vests. There is no place for multiple dresses of lace and silk and velvet in my closet, but for some reason, that is what is dancing in my head...
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My Grandpa's Weeder has disappeared, which means that the dandelions and the tansy will soon overtake the crabgrass. How it could get legs, or why someone would take that from out of the pile of garden tools is unknown. There needs to be another one acquired, it is a tool in steady use, and one that will not be too strenuous for me as I continue to heal from surgery. Turns out that the company is also local, so there will be a field trip to Lake Oswego in the near future. K is interested in how well/if the tool will grub out scotch broom.
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hurry and worry, drama and trauma
keep both sets of siblings far from my door...

Friday, April 20, 2012

jumbley bits

A week without much inspiration for writing, as our plucky heroine attempts to not only find but use bootstraps* to return to some form of equanimity... However, there is a new favorite quote that maybe ought to be put up on the wall to see every day, from the artist Chuck Close:
"Inspiration is for amateurs,
the rest of us just show up and get to work..."

~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Started a few new knitting projects, slippers for my Dad, and a shawl for Darla (G's mom). It soothes me so much to have ongoing handwork, Likely part of last weeks meltdown involved not having any pleasant handicraft, arithmetic, however necessary, is not soothing!
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Has anyone gone to look at this new Ikea sewing machine?!? Wondering if it would make a good backup/travel machine, as my regular machine is quite heavy, and this one appears to be quite similar in capabilities. Perhaps a trip to the big blue box is in order... some of their new spring line of fabrics are quite appealing, in a retro 50's way.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Am still VERY CURIOUS as to what happened to my Grampa's Weeder...? not with any of the garden tools either by the back door, or in the shed. No memory of lending it out to someone. Most odd, and the lawn will be allover dandelions if it does not turn up soon...
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

* This week have been trying an assortment of different actions, to help figure out what will shift my current frustrating body/mind immobility. Drinking enough water helps. Being around folks who lift my spirits helps, whether online or in the bright world. Eating grain-based foods does not, the less grain eat and the more vegetables added to my daily meals, the more lively and hopeful I feel. Food prepared ahead, baked chicken, boiled eggs, a skilletfull of sauteed veggies, these make life so much easier, 'specially in the morning. Have also been keeping track of food intake on "Sparkpeople", ignoring most of the site, but using the nutrition tracker; shall see if it proves helpful, it sure has been educational. Still wishing I could find a useful counselor to help me sort out all my feelings about the cancer, sigh...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday musings, whinges, and a simple recipe

long strange trip not over yet
destination unknown
balance precarious
determination unbounded

our plucky heroine must needs remember the basics, drink water, eat nourishing food, get enough rest, time spent alone and with others... neglect any of those to your folly, lest a self-perpetuating spiral ensue...

Last week was rough, started off well and went steadily downhill. Now attempting of locate bootstraps for pulling self up with. Surely no one wants a recitation of trouble and woe, though is rather tiring to always present a steadfastly cheerful face to the world. (perhaps that is why I am prone to occasionally bursting into tears during the precious rare times when G visits, guard only let down when someone else has the watch)

My appointment last Monday with Dr Rockstar sent me home clear of restrictions, I am healing well, and can resume all activity as strength and intention will allow. While not yet up to running the weedwhacker, or strenuous shovel work in the yard, if we get another sunshiney day, taking the bicycle out for a short spin might be an option, and returning to day job is now an option necessary. Clearance of restriction also means that it is time for "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it", and I am scheduled for brachytherapy (internal radiation) at the beginning of May. While there are usually no immediate side effects of this type of treatment, there are probable long term issues that will require effort to manage; my hope is that the intended benefit (decrease likelihood of recurrence by a factor of ten) will be successful, and worth the drawbacks...

There are so many current oddities in my behavior, which can no longer be attributed to the lingering effects of anaesthesia. At times I put off doing needful activities, as if such inaction can stop the clock, and my focus is nowhere near my normal brightly looking ahead, happily planning activities and projects. Our plucky heroine can only hope that now past being spayed, and once past being irradiated, that the turning wheel of the year will also turn focus in more interesting directions...

pick self up by scruff of neck, give a good shake, hit the restart button...

Am feeling stronger, can now ride about on public transit, and will be returning to some semblance of former life, while continuing to seek creative alternatives to being a charlady, and continuing to generate artisanry of the textile and metalwork flavor...

The sewing room here at Acorn Cottage has most recently produced a custom safety vest for G to use at work, which has been such a success, even in the XP1 model, that there were materials acquired for XP2, the summer version with mesh back for ventilation, as well as measurements taken for an additional vest for his work buddy A. Feels downright good to be using skills for helpful tasks and to stretch a bit with the doing. Embroidered patch details will further customise each vest to the wearer, just for their own amusement, without compromising the legal safety requirements...

G at work (pictures taken from his "Longshore" FB album)

Today is Taxes Day, and our plucky heroine is grateful that despite months without income, and despite having a more than 25% drop between 2010 and 2011, there is still enough money in the kitty. The paperwork being all finished will allow reclamation of the dining table for activities more entertaining than arithmetic, and will also allow me to apply to IEP, for supportive alternative treatment to go along with my continued medical journey.

This weekend, while cooking dinner with visiting friends B & K, came up with a simple topping for the broiled marinated lamb steaks... B had picked a small handful of mint from their yard, and showed up saying "mint, for the lamb"... Turned out neither of us actually knew what to do with it, so, off to the reference library that never sleeps for inspiration. The small handful of mint was joined by about one green-onionsworth of walking onion leaves from the yard, and whizzed in the micro-chopper with about two teaspoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of olive oil and several tablespoons of yoghurt. Made a delectable springtime-flavored Greek-inspired sauce for the lamb, which would be also wonderful on things like potatoes, had we cooked any.

Am very much looking forward to test-sewing the Sisters of Edwardia blouse for Stephanie over at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. Will be a learning experience for me, as well as being useful and helpful to her. Have never downloaded a sewing pattern, and has been many years since sewing with invisible zippers was a part of my repertoire - indeed the special foot and sewing machine that it fit have long passed from the workroom. And it still tickles me to no end that through the electronical world, folks of common interest can connect with one another, despite living on opposite sides of the planet, or at least, in this case, on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean!

Once back from the copy store, post office and suchlike, there is a small backlog of springtime photos waiting... tune in tomorrow

Monday, April 9, 2012

ravenwing shawl

in which our plucky heroine looks on the dark bright side, and talks a bit about design decisions...

another significant doctor appointment coming up, and rather than dwell on that, instead think about how it was a spring day warm enough to be able to wear the just finished Ravenwing Shawl.

This project started out as a design experiment, adapting a favorite simple texture to a new shape, using a basic recipe found in an online "cheat sheet". Great success, the heart-crescent shawl really wants to stay put around your shoulders, which is an excellent characteristic. I suspect that most future shawl knitting will use this basic recipe, but then my personal preference is currently strongly in the shawl rather than scarf camp.

I then went a little over the edge and decided on adding a knitted beaded twisted fringe as the border. Why? Tosh Vintage is a very smooth multi-ply yarn with exquisite colors and a somewhat polished appearance, at least compared to my beloved Noro Kureyon, which is far more rustic. My favorite Noro shawlette has a border of knitted long picots, which give a sort of rough tentacular fringe effect, for Ravenwing, something more refined seemed appropriate. The tendrils from Cat Bordhi would do nicely, and even better if they were tipped with beads...

You'd think that in such a large and crafty city, that finding suitable beads would be easy. Nope. So often, when inspiration strikes, the specific materials seen in the mindseye are not seen in the shops. Even a field trip to the vast warehouse of Shipwreck Beads outside Olympia did not provide the exact beads I envisioned, but they did have some matte black glass beads that would work. Oh my word, the border took almost as long to knit as the body of the shawl, as each individual fringe had to have three glass beads picked up with the most tiny crochet hook, slipped onto the yarn loop before twisting, plying and then knitting on... didn't bother to actually count, but there were somewhere between 200 and 300 beads used.

The results make me very happy indeed. The beaded border adds a fair bit of weight to the edge, the fringe hangs nicely because of the beads (some wool yarn fringes can tangle up in an unbecoming fashion) and the rich subtle colors of the yarn is set off by the grey/black border. I call this a win.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Just in case you need another thing to do with knitting needles, check out this demonstration:

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If all goes well in the land of med-fu, and my restrictions are lifted, there will be a modest return to work happening. Some marmalade made from some of the last of the organic blood oranges, currently sitting in the fridge, is scheduled for this week as well, it would be a very sad year if no marmalade was made at all. There may be some experimental jam bars happening too, suitable for long distance transport; I have promised G that homemade cookies will prove to be a good substitute for truck stop sweets, a promise he is looking forward to collecting on... here's hoping that my energy proves up to the tasks set for the week!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

trillium time - mostly pictorial

In which our plucky heroine takes a bit of a break from city life, to head north to Emerald Keep. Has been long days since I was strong enough to be out in the woods, since December last year, since before my surgery. The new growth all round the greenwood, the very air filled with soft moist sweetness, is healing...

There were massive amounts of branches and trees that fell in this winters storm, the week that I was in hospital. There are open places now along the pathways, clearings where there was deep shade. It means much to me to greet another springtime, to see the bright light of the trilliums again, to breathe the forest air...

In the two days there was time for visiting friends, for a town and country ramble, in a break in the seasonal rain there was time for Dorje and Little Sister to make sudden loud noises, and there was time just to recharge...

(In The Woods)

greenwood beauty, different at every turn...
ferns and moss and indian plum

indian plum blossom

between the rain, blue sky, clouds soft and low

fractal green, the moss fronds and the fern feathers

barely taller than last fall's leaf litter,
tiny pink blossoms are everywhere.

these lovely faces greet those who walk the greenwood paths

Not always alone, trillium sometimes dance together in the rain...

downed maple branches so full of greenlife
buds still sprout and grow

upturned mushroom caps catch the light between the rain

this stump, in decay, is full of life

landscape too small to touch

at the close of day, the evening star graces tree branches

(and In The Town)

wandering round downtown Olympia,
even the back alleys are colorful

we were hungry,
McMenamins Spar is reliable and decorative

'Tis doubtful that even the pressure cooker
will make these into a tender tasty dinner

Through a locked gate -
. .
the stakes lead through the dark to a red canoe,
and more mysterious objects...

no visit north is complete without some Toshi time - just ask him!

still life in blue, behind the Menagerie pumphouse...

back in the city, watery grey light shines
through a lantern inside the Courtyard Restaurant

after the greenwood, is a whole different world back in urbania,
under branches of steel and wire instead of fir and yew...