Monday, August 15, 2016

August Update

Sorry for the blog silence. One of the problems with not having blogged for a whole month is knowing where to even start. It's been quite a month. First the good stuff.

There's been lots of family time, with three weekends in a row of visitors.

Lucy has, unbelievably, turned three. She loved the "egg to owl" toy I made her, and word has it that it has made it into her favoured stuffed animal rotation that she sleeps with every night.

Toasting marshmallows for s'mores was a hit.

And it's always a treat to go to the blueberry farm, especially when Aunt Alex is there to pick with you.

Also unbelievable is the fact that Ella is now a year old. She made her first trip to the blueberry farm and ate the berries as fast as she could pick them.

When you are one things like the grates on the road are endlessly fascinating.

We discovered it is very hard to get a picture of two toddlers and a baby.

Oliver is a delight. He's a very laid back baby, and loves to coo and smile.

I love how his hair sticks straight up.

My mom, brother and niece Danielle came for a visit. Ella had lots of attention while they were here!

We visited the lavender farm.

I took Danielle to the 49th parallel, which is just down the road a few kilometres from where we live. My brother and I had her cross the line and enter the US. It's one of my favourite things to do with unsuspecting American visitors. The joke was on me this time though, as there happened to be a US Border Patrol guy there, and he came over to have a word with us about our illegal entry into the US.

Now for the bad. I'll spare you the full list and just tell you about two of the unfortunate things that have happened since I last blogged. The first is Sono Nis, the publisher of my two books, had their warehouse burn to the ground on August 4th. The news story can be found here. Every book by every author they published has been lost. That includes all the copies of my books. The owner of Sono Nis, Dianne Morriss, is such a lovely person, and I feel sick for her and her husband. I also feel sick for all the authors who have lost their books. At this point I have no idea what will happen. The picture below is a screenshot from their website showing a picture of the gutted warehouse.

The second thing is this past week my online banking was hacked into. It has been a nightmare trying to deal with it. The bank is saying my computer must have malware, and that it needs to be wiped and set back to factory settings. I'm not convinced it's my computer and think it could well be the bank who has a security issue. The two pieces of good news here are that the bank has put back the money that was stolen from me, and I have a son-in-law who is a tech expert. Anton has kindly said he will deal with my computer.

I've actually considered stopping blogging altogether. It really hasn't been the best summer (supreme understatement), and I don't like to blog about negative things. I would much rather talk about things that illuminate the light like family, creative pursuits and nature. But the blogging community and all my readers mean a lot to me, and in the end I have decided I don't want to make a hasty decision that I'm going to end up feeling sorry about. So for now I'm going to be taking a blogging break. I'll be back in September, and in the meantime I will still be popping by your blogs to say hi.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Six

:: Jay was away this week cat sitting for his sister. My viewing on Netflix and Slingplayer is greatly curtailed when he is away because I am a first class coward. The series I am currently watching is The Bridge. I've mastered the art of reading subtitles while knitting, which, if you think about it, is a skill that doesn't really transfer to anything else in life. I'm almost at the end of season one and have come to the conclusion that the female police detective, Saga Noren, is almost as scary as the psychopath they are trying to find.

:: Last week my vehicle was broken into while I was hiking up Teapot Hill. To say this was a low moment would be a gross understatement. I heard my car alarm go off just as I got to the bottom of the hill, and was close enough to catching the thieves in the act that I caught a glimpse of the back of their beat-up old van as it sped out of the parking lot. The back window was bashed in, and my purse, which had been carefully concealed on the floor at the back, had been stolen. They also grabbed my favourite lightweight jacket, which really made me mad. That jacket was perfect for traveling, and had been to China, South Korea, England, Scotland, Shetland, Wales, Ireland and Luxembourg with me. I've since replaced it with a new jacket, but it just isn't the same. Replacing all of my ID and cancelling bank cards has been a major headache, and the whole thing left me feeling quite depressed.

:: The news this past week has also been quite depressing. It feels like the world just keeps tilting a bit more with each new horrific event. I'm trying to find a balance between being well informed and being an ostrich. Right now the ostrich option is looking very appealing. How do you cope with the constant stream of bad news? I would appreciate any tips you might have for maintaining a sense of balance in the midst of current world events.

:: On a brighter note, the blueberry farm is now open. I've picked at least thirty pounds so far, and hope to pick at least that many more before the season ends. I try to put lots in the freezer, I dehydrate some, and best of all we eat tons of them fresh. And I was the lucky winner of a ten pound box of berries in a draw the farm had, which was especially nice because it happened right after my vehicle was broken into and made me feel like the universe was somehow trying to balance things out again.

:: Another bright spot was my visit with Oliver and Lucy last weekend. I couldn't believe how much Oliver had changed since I last saw him. He's smiling and cooing, and I even got him to laugh a couple of times. Although I don't think Karsten and Diana believed me since they didn't hear it themselves. And Lucy had me laughing on more than one occasion! Oh my goodness, the things that come out of the mouth of an almost three year old.

:: And, of course, there has been knitting. I still have shawl fever. It's something I thought I was immune to, but now that I've caught it I can see it might be incurable. This is the Amulet Shawl, which is the second shawl pattern released in Curious Handmade's Shawl Society. It's my first time working with beads, and I'm impressed by the fact they are actually sticking on the shawl. I'm also working on the Montbretia Shawl from The Book of Haps by Kate Davies. My strategy is to work on Montbretia while the dogs are around, and the beaded Amulet after they've gone to bed for the night. Beads and Fergus are not a good mix!

Those are my six things for a summer Sunday. I hope the rest of your weekend is filled with lovely things.

Monday, July 4, 2016

An Idaho Hike

Last week I was in Spokane to visit my mom. She seems to be doing well, and has mostly recovered from the multiple health issues she had faced earlier this year. My visit coincided with a family reunion. It was great visiting with cousins I hadn't seen in years, and in many cases decades. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures. We were having such a good time I didn't get around to taking many pictures, and the few I did take aren't all that great.

I do have pictures from the next day though. My brother and I drove to the Idaho/Montana border and hiked up to the Stevens Lakes. It is quite a steep climb up to the alpine lakes, but worth the effort required. (This was my first time to get 200 flights on my Fitbit before I was at 10,000 steps!)

This area of Northern Idaho is full of many abandoned silver mines, along with many that are still active. Here you can see the old tracks for the mining train.

Never mind silver. The real treasures in the mountains of Northern Idaho are these. Huckleberries! These are my favourite berry, my favourite fruit, and quite possibly my overall favourite food.

This is the first of the lakes. The picture doesn't do it justice.

This white flower is known by several names, the most common being Bear Grass. It was in bloom all along the trail once we reached the higher elevation.

The second lake was a bit smaller than the first, but every bit as beautiful.

This frog (or toad??) was sitting on the path, unnoticed by me since I was busy taking in the view. I don't know who jumped higher, me or the frog. Fortunately it was the only one to land in the water. (No, I'm not afraid of frogs. But I am afraid of snakes, and for just a second that's what I thought it was. And yes, I know snakes don't jump.)

We encountered lots of rocks on the hike. We went through them.

We went over them.

And I even climbed on top of one. Although honesty forces me to admit I was only on top of this rock for a microsecond. Heights and I don't do well together.

I love where I live now, and you often read about my hikes in the beautiful mountains that are near our cottage. But these mountains, well, these are the mountains of my childhood. The wildflowers, the berries, the trees, the smell of the forest, it all brought back a flood of memories from when I was young. And I left guiltily thinking maybe I love them just a little bit more than the ones out my front door.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I'm Still Here

:: When I first took this picture I thought this squirrel was eating a peanut. I later realized that no, it wasn't a peanut. It was a raspberry from my bushes in front of the porch. I guess it was tired of eating the seeds and new plants in my garden and decided to add in a new food group.

:: Garlic scapes might be my very favourite thing to harvest from the garden. (Thankfully the squirrels and birds don't seem to like garlic, so it's left for me to consume.) Between the community garden, and the crop in my own garden boxes, there's been an abundance of scapes. I use them in lots of ways. I throw them in with pea pods and steam them. I put them into omelettes. I make garlic scape pesto. I even roast them in the oven.

:: The community garden is next to the pond, which is home to a pair of swans. They are actually quite nasty birds, and have attacked several residents here. I choose my path carefully when I go down to the garden, making sure I don't get near them. They don't like to be outsmarted though, so often will come sit just outside the gate to the fenced in garden area after they see me enter, making it impossible to leave.

:: Great excitement this week, as my Book of Haps by Kate Davies has arrived. I haven't started knitting a  hap yet, but will be soon. It's going to be hard to decide which one to knit first!

:: Along with garlic scapes, this is also the season for thimbleberries. They grow in abundance in the surrounding forest, and every day I eat handfuls of them.

:: I've done a bit of sewing. This is my denim version of the Willow Tank & Dress. I think it will be great to wear this fall with leggings and a long-sleeved shirt. My original plan had been to distress the denim and do some Sashiko embroidery on it, but now I'm having second thoughts.

:: Last, but not least, there's been some knitting happening. I joined The Shawl Society. It was a rather odd thing to do since I rarely knit shawls, but I really enjoy the Curious Handmade forum on Ravelry, and Helen's Curious Handmade podcast, so I decided to give it a try. There will be one shawl pattern released every month for the next six months. I don't plan to knit every one of them, but I did join in for the first pattern, the Talisman Shawl.

:: Lucy has a birthday coming up next month, so I've been busy making her present. This is Egg to Owl, and once I got the head stabilized (it looked like an owl imitating Nearly Headless Nick until I got it fixed) I was quite pleased with it. I hope Lucy will be too.

:: The world seems to have gone a bit crazy lately. It seems fitting to borrow the closing line my blogging friend at Hostess of the Humble Bungalow uses in each of her posts. Be Well and Be Kind.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Out and About

I have to say I was overwhelmed and touched by your comments and support after my post about Fergus getting attacked by the German shepherd. So many of you have had similar experiences, or know of someone who has. In the end I did file a complaint about the dog, as so many of you had encouraged me to do. Now, on to more pleasant things!

A few weeks ago my brother came up for a quick visit. He's a walker too, so we always manage to get in a hike or two when he is here.

In spite of the fact he had just had shoulder surgery he decided he wanted to attempt to climb up Mt. Cheam with me. You can see Mt. Cheam peaking out in the top right of the picture above. The mountain is accessed by driving up a very rough forestry road. You have to have an off road vehicle to attempt it, which my brother does. We didn't make it to the top due to the amount of snow on the trail, but we did have a great time. I think the ride up that road was almost more of a workout than the hike itself!

Last weekend Rebekah, Ella and I went up to visit Alexandra in Kamloops for the weekend. We also spent time with our friends out in Sorrento, and while we were out walking in the forested area of their property we spotted some wildflowers. Tiger lilies always brighten up the path.

My favourites though are the lady's slippers. You can see how they got their name.

The evening light and the mountain background near our cottage combined to make one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen.

I liked how this snail was colour coordinated with the dead leaf next to it.

The salmonberries are ripe. There's a big patch of them I go by when I walk to the lake, so I've been snacking on them on a regular basis.

While walking last week I spotted this lichen. It was hard to miss, as it was practically glowing.

The devil's club is in abundance when I hike up Teapot Hill.

And, of course, there have been more teapots spotted on Teapot Hill. This time it looked like someone was having a tea party.

Balance in life is so important. I'm so very fortunate to live in a place where I'm surrounded by natural beauty. I was so stressed about what happened last week, and it was a gift to be able to walk out my door and be surrounded by nature. There's something very healing about the smell of the forest, the sound of the birds singing in the trees and bushes, the mix of colours and light, and the unexpected beauty of something as simple as a snail or a patch of lichen. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Today's post was originally going to be about a couple of recent outings, with a bit of local flora and fauna thrown in for good measure. But early yesterday evening something happened that has left me feeling very upset and unsettled. Thus, that planned post will have to wait for another time to make it onto my blog.

Almost every evening now that the weather is nice and the days are longer I take Fergus for a walk at the small off leash area here at The Cottages. It's really more of a path that follows the dike above Frost Creek than the traditional wide open area you would associate with a dog park. Fergus loves going there, and so do I. While he runs around sniffing every blade of grass, wildflower and weed that grows along the side of the path, I enjoy the sound of the creek running nearby, take in the trees, the rock facing on the other side of the stream, and if I'm especially fortunate watch one of the resident bald eagles soaring overhead. 

Fergus at the off leash area, photo bombing my shot of this wild Columbine

When we were there yesterday a friend phoned. I sat down on one of the picnic tables to have a chat with her while Fergus meandered down to the gate, waiting to go back home. One minute everything was lovely, peaceful and calm. I was chatting and laughing with my friend and watching Fergus look at me with a "can you please hurry up" look on his face. Then in an instant it all changed. A huge German shepherd came charging through an open door in the fence at the edge of the off leash area and attacked Fergus. At this point all hell broke loose. The dog's person came running behind, making a feeble attempt to control her dog. I was yelling at her to get her dog on the leash. Fergus was cowering in a little ball under the Shepherd. (In hindsight I think Fergus's fearful nature is probably what save him from getting hurt. Had he attempted to fight the dog off I think it would have ended very differently.)

As the person approached her dog it started walking towards me. I was still yelling at her to get it on the leash. Then it turned, ran back at Fergus, and attacked him again. It wasn't until this second attack that she managed to leash her dog. I had assumed she was a camper from the nearby Thousand Trails site, and was appalled when she punched in the gate code for the Cottages and walked through. The whole thing was bad enough when I thought it was some random camper that I would never encounter again, but when I realized that dog resided in the same community as me everything changed.

This dog was vicious. It attacked my dog. The attack was totally unprovoked. Thankfully Fergus wasn't hurt, but he was terrorized. But the fact that he wasn't physically hurt doesn't change anything. That Shepherd's intent was to harm him. And what if I had had Lucy or Ella with me? It makes me sick to think of what could have happened. 

My dilemma now is I have no choice but to report this dog to our strata. If I didn't, and then found out that it had gone on to harm someones pet or child I would never be able to forgive myself. But we are a small community, and pretty much everyone knows everyone else. I hate to stir up trouble. I just want to live my quiet, peaceful life here, minding my own business and being a positive part of the community. I feel like that is no longer going to be possible. 

This was taken earlier yesterday, before the incident with the vicious dog. I thought it was funny how Fergus had seemed white until I cast on a project with this white yarn and compared the two.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Win Some, Lose Some

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about a failed project I had just finished knitting. The comments it generated were very interesting. They ranged from those of you who agreed with me and thought the sweater was not one of my better knits, to those who thought it looked great and encouraged me to keep and wear it. There were also several people who thought that while the sweater was fine, if I didn't like it I should go ahead and take it to the thrift store so someone else could buy it and enjoy wearing it.

I most likely will be taking it to the thrift store, as I just can't see myself bothering to wear it when I have so many other sweaters. I already have a few sweaters that are worn and pilled enough to qualify as part of my dog walking wardrobe. The difference between them and this latest one is I actually like the others, even though they are rather worn and tattered. They are the ones I'm going to grab when I go for a hike, sit by the campfire, or take Fergus for a walk.

There is a deeper issue I wanted to talk about after that post, and it is about risk taking. I'm not the kind of person that wants to take any kind of risk with money, my health, or any other Very Important life scenario. But when it comes to things that don't fall into those categories I am just the opposite. Knitting is one of those things. I don't mind having the occasional failure (although I was a little sore about having special ordered that zipper and spending all those hours sewing the blasted thing in). I think failure is part of the learning process. If I hadn't ever been willing to risk trying a new technique I would still be knitting dish cloths and nothing else.

I feel much the same about sewing. I started out as a complete rookie, and would now probably classify myself as an advanced rookie. I make tons of mistakes, and probably log more time with my seam ripper than I do my sewing machine. Which is why, when I ran across the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern back in early April, I should have simply bookmarked them for some point in the distant future when my seam ripper and I aren't so well acquainted. But hey, I'm a risk taker, and before I knew it I had ordered some lovely denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts, who also happened to be hosting a sewalong for the jeans.

I went into sewing the Ginger Jeans knowing there was almost no chance they would turn out. And I was okay with that. I figured I would learn from the experience, and even if I didn't have a pair of jeans at the end I would have picked up some valuable sewing skills. Maybe even enough new skills that a second attempt would turn out. But then the most surprising thing happened. They did turn out. There's a part of me that still can't believe it.

My shirt is the Wiksten Tank 

They were definitely a challenge.

They also took me a long time to make. A month from start to finish. But I was okay with that. Knitting has taught me to be patient and not expect instant results.

I never could have succeeded without the Internet. It was very helpful to look at blogs and tutorials from those who had already made these jeans.

One of the fun things was being able to personalize them. Instead of plain fabric to line the pockets and waistband I chose a bright floral design.

They aren't perfect. Far from it as a matter of fact. My topstitching around the waistband wasn't the greatest. And when I put in the rivets at the side I hammered so hard I rubbed the copper colour off the middle of the rivet. But in spite of their small imperfections they are the best fitting jeans I have ever owned. I know there will be many more sewing fails in my future, and that my next pair of jeans might not turn out as well as these did. And I'm okay with that. For me it is not just about the finished product. The journey to get there is every bit as important as the end result.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Are you a product or a process crafter? Do you like to take risks and try new techniques, or does that take the enjoyment out of the process for you?