Friday, July 25, 2014

Coffee this morning is on the deck with the good company of the mint. 

Mr. A seems intrigued that we are growing mint. (It was here when we got the house.) Mint, of course, is a garden thug, but since we both like it, it's a small bonus. I read somewhere that it is best harvested when flowering. Yesterday I yanked a bunch of it and today I will figure out what to do with it. My first thought was Mojitos, but Mr. A was not convinced. 

I spent some time in the garden yesterday afternoon. It's been wonderful watching things come up. Mr. A called it 'fireworks'. Every few days something surprising is exploding in another part of the garden. 

This spot is at the side of our property, next to the road. North facing, if that matters. I'd decided to just let it go this summer and see what we get. It's an established garden. That variegated groundcover plant is also a thug, I'm learning. It grows everywhere. I pulled out some weeds yesterday then uncovered a small path to the compost bin. 

Interestingly, the compost bin contains the remains of a marshmallow roast, metal cooking grate included. 

Joining me this morning...sort of...are the two beasts. If you look closely, you'll see they've both slipped their Halties off their noses. I slept in a bit this morning so I'm combining my coffee time and 'walking the dogs'. Efficiency at its best. 

In other news, the kids have handed in all their assignments for this course they're finishing. I have their exam scheduled and the exam proctor in place. They have a couple of exam review classes to attend (virtually, of course). They've worked really hard all through July. 

I'm trying to convince them to have a bit of a pool party to celebrate the completion of their course next week. We'll see how that shapes up. 

So cleaning and chores today. I'm also trying to track down a coupon. 

Mr. A has agreed to make the trek to IKEA to get some chairs for out unfurnished sitting room. (I know it's a sitting room because even though it has no furniture, people insist on sitting in there. Awkward as it's been, almost four months in and we're still trying to sit in there with no furniture.) We did a practice trip recently where we parked at the loading area and entered the store through the back door. We looked up the item we wanted at the handy kiosk and went directly to the aisle of the warehouse to pick up the boxes we needed. Mr. A was very impressed that I didn't drag him through the lengthy showroom. It turned what is normally an hour-long meander into a 15 minute retrieval mission. Of course since he has to go to IKEA, he might as well visit the outdoor store for fishing supplies. As long as I get my chairs....

Mrs. A


I Really Must Take A News Vacation

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sometimes the news gets to me. This is one of those times. So I think I will distance myself from it for a while. CBC Radio might be ok...I find its news to be somewhat less sensational than tv and website news. 

Let's talk about knitting! 

Here is my current Works In Progress cabinet. I say current because I'm not sure that this is the cabinet's true calling. But it's working for now and I'm going with it. 

This lovely dark red thing is a Henslowe scarf. I'm knitting it as written. I think many people would like to upsize it a little, but I love the pattern so much and I'm still new at scarf/shawl construction that I'm going to just do what I'm told and appreciate that it will be awesome in the end.  

I'm not usually one who likes a garter stitch fabric, but I'm finding it ok here. I liked the beginning: cast on 2. Very amusing. I'm sure the novelty will wear off after I've knit a few scarves. There's a very clever yarn over edge that I'm meant to pick up and knit the edging on to. I'm just happy that it's my first attempt and it seems I'm doing it correctly!

This is my Age of Brass And Steam. Also a scarf. Also in its beginnings. There's was a wee garter tab cast on. I found it different and it's very difficult to determine where to pick up stitches when there's seven rows of only two stitches in a row and everything gets muddled. We'll just hope that's not noticeable. 

Reading through these projects at Ravelry, I found a simple set of notes that outlines how easy it was to make this scarf a little bigger. I've attempted to do so, but am kind if second guessing myself. On a row of 'yo, k2tog', I had a stitch left over. After double checking my stitch count, I just knit it and went on - good practice for my perfectionist tendencies - but I still think of the single knit stitch in a row of knit2togethers. I think I should press on. 

Rams and Yowes was pleasing knitting yesterday! I finished the first row of yowes. A colour change is up next. The next yowes will be 'moorit'. That's the brown colour in the basket. I'm keeping the tension very loose and it seems to be working out. I'm not sure if I need to catch the longer floats in the back or not? The longest is a 13 stitch float. The yarn is super sticky and it is recommended to give the back a good rub when it's done being knit and having its bath. So far I've been catching the long floats. 

All my people are home and working today. The kids finish up the content of their Civics class and move on to exam review. Exam on Tuesday. I'm being the mean mom and making them submit their independent study essay today instead of on the last day of the course. You can imagine how impressed they are. But, I think they will thank me after having the weekend 'off'. We'll see. They might be distracted by exam stress. It will be The Boy's first official exam. 

Mr. A is in his little home office in the basement and is quite satisfied. He's travelled for work twice this week - that's more than usual. He commented that this morning's commute - coffee in hand, down one flight of stairs - was much better than yesterday's hour long drive. 

Mrs. A


I Don't Have To Be Anywhere on Wednesdays.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July is flying by. 

This Civics course the kids are doing is pretty intense. Good, though. We're all learning lots....not necessarily about civics, though. The exam is next Tuesday morning. The Independent Study Essay - which seems sort of rushed and glossed over given the pace of the rest of the work - is due Tuesday as well. I'm encouraging the kids to get it handed in before the weekend. 

The Girl Child will be off to Saskatchewan next month for a weeklong adventure. So preparations for that are ramping up. 

Knitting continues. I'm impressed that I've got two scarves on the needles: The Age of Brass and Steam and Henslowe. Rams and Yowes has reached the first colour change. I will drop the grey 'shaela' colour and pick up 'mooskit', which is a light brown.  The picture below shows the legs of the first row of Yowes and there's Mooskit in the background, all ready to go. 

I've received a wee swap package (pic below)!! This amuses me to no end. I'm part of a Ravelry group that has to do with knitting Hexipuffs out of small skeins of yarn. I qualify for participation because I have knit these little 'puffs in the past and imagine that I'd like to knit more of them given all the time in the world. Last month I noticed a friendly swap was being planned so I jumped in not really knowing what to expect. I received a lovely little package from a lady in Ireland. This month I received one from just up the road in Ottawa. 

I've been enjoying your comments lately. I always find good for for thought after receiving a comment. Yesterday I found myself considering complaints all day. Good thoughts, believe it or not. 

And I bought a flame thrower. Not really, but it's fun to joke about. The weeds in the driveway are a little out of control. It's bothering Mr. A. Paving of any sort for a large driveway is not in the budget. So I started looking at options. Fire seemed the most earth-friendly and economical. 

Mr. A was not convinced. Normally he is the one who has to convince me that something is a good idea. This time he thought perhaps vinegar would be a better option for weed killing. I couldn't imagine killing off the amount of weeds he'd like gone with vinegar. So while The Boy Child was at soccer practice last night, I dragged Mr. A around looking for a propane torch. Four stores and an hour later, we found one dusty, lonely specimen and brought it home. 

See? It's not like I can set the house on fire, or anything. Thankfully, Mr. A is at the office today so I will see how far I get with a pound of propane without interruption. Look forward to before/during/after pictures next week. 

Thunderstorms seem imminent today if the sound of the sky is to be believed. I'm off to herd teenagers, feed dogs, flammenwerf the driveway and hopefully knit the top half of the first row of sheep. 

Mrs. A



Monday, July 21, 2014

Last week I read a little tidbit on Facebook. It went something like "Don't complain for a week and see what happens to your life". Normally, I find Facebook to be full of useless time wasters and slack-tivism. It's a love-hate relationship for me. I love to see what friends and family are up to but I hate how useless and stupid it can be. 

This particular saying, though, stuck with me. I thought that perhaps I should define 'complaint'. I wondered if 'complain' was the same as 'voicing a frustration'. I thought that, surely, I could stop complaining for a week. 

Mr. A hates it when I complain about things. Which is curious, since our entire relationship was built around a cup of coffee, sitting on a curb late into the night complaining about what was wrong with the world. 

As I went to sleep last night, I was seriously considering challenging myself to a complaint-free week. I wondered if anyone would notice. 

I was thinking about it when the dog woke me up at stupid o'clock to go outside. I thought about it while I was out there, avoiding mosquitoes in the starlight and noticing all my solar garden lights weren't lit, waiting for the dog to do her thing. 

Then I was still considering it at 4:30am when I couldn't sleep any longer. And at 6:45am when I was noticing how covered in dog hair I was while I walked both dogs. 

I was still thinking about it after Mr. A left for work and I was making myself a coffee.

No cream. It's like the universe is laughing at me. 

So now I'm thinking perhaps I should maybe try just one complaint-free day. And I wonder if the complaints in my head count if I don't say them out loud? I would hope there's points for trying. 

It seems there's a book!

I'm sure all the answers are in the book. I'm not generally one for the self-improvement genre. I'll have to order this and see if I can get though it. 

Until then, I'll continue to think about the complaint-free challenge. Maybe if I start with a short time and work on increasing it? Perhaps I should first consider if I complain excessively? What's an acceptable level of daily complaining? 

I didn't expect this to be so complex....

Mrs. A


What Didn't Happen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yesterday happened. But it happened in the way things do sometimes when the universe is laughing at you. 

I went kayaking, but didn't see the particular island and bay I was hoping to see. A map would have helped. 

I got the paddling route guide to print, but not the last page: the map. 

I left the house a half hour after I was supposed to, putting me at the launch site a half hour late. My paddling buddy had brought a book, thank goodness. 

My brother and his wife showed up a day ahead of schedule but didn't tell anyone. Thankfully they stayed over at my parents' place where Mom and Dad have had experience waking up to people who have arrived sometime in the night. 

I didn't get to clean the bathrooms, the kids did it while I was paddling. Recommended. 

I didn't get to make a nice family dinner of ribs and coleslaw. Family dinner happened - without my kids (working and soccer) - with all the extendeds at the local sushi place. 

And finally, I didn't learn to get the pictures off my phone. Perhaps today. 

I don't think I'll share my plans for today, though. One mixed up crazy day deserves a day of the expected afterward, I've decided. 

But coffee and knitting first. I've accidentally started a Henslowe shawl. It's pretty awesome. 

Mrs. A


This Is The Life!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm up early this morning. What's up today, you ask?

Well, first a little Rams & Yowes. That tiny bit of insignificant knitting wrapped on the needle there in the picture represents two days of knitting. Not really but kind of. The first chart requires one to count to six. If you knit at all, I'm sure you know that this can be a challenge. I got a few rounds done then ripped it out and began again. I'll never catch up to Jean at this pace! It's just as well because when casting on the required 197 stitches, I got to 189 and ran out of tail. I cheated and just tossed a few backward loop cast on stitches to make up the rest. But, all is good now. Correct number of cast on stitches all in one style, correctly knit first row of colourwork. 

After a little knitting and after Mr. A gets up, I will make his coffee then head out for the morning for a little kayaking. My boat and gear are loaded and ready to go. Since we don't live in the 'hood anymore, it's safe to do that and leave it in the driveway overnight and yet still sleep without worrying that when I wake in the morning I will find my stuff molested in some way by misguided nocturnal troublemakers. 

The goal today is to paddle about the islands and see a place where they've held floating, non-denominational church services during the summer for 125 years or so. I'm also hoping to figure out how to post photos from my phone when I get home. Keep your fingers crossed. 

This afternoon, I get to look over the kids' school work, clean the bathrooms and make ribs and coleslaw for dinner - a dinner which Mr. A and I may get to sit down to eat between chauffeuring kids about to their activities. I also get to figure out if I have house guests tonight or tomorrow night. My brother will be visiting and making plans with him is always an impromptu adventure. 

Mrs. A


Well, That Didn't Last Long.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Blue Eyed Bandit came to us as a wee rescued pup, one of a litter of 8. She had this little stuffed chicken she carried around with her. It was made of fake fleece. She loved it. Until it was a scrap too small to find. 

So she graduated from sucking on a chewed up stuffed chicken bit to grabbing on to the side of the giant dog pillow - also fake fleece - that we kept in our living room. She would suck on the side of the bed and knead the pillow with her paws. Very puppyish...and she didn't outgrow the habit very quickly. 

The dog pillow, like the little stuffed chicken, also died a scrappy death. It's been a while since we've had any fake fleece hanging about the house. 

Last month we were at the store and fake fleece pet crate liners were on sale. So we bought one for our creature. She lay on it, very proudly, then settled in to do her nails. Because she's weird like that. 

I suppose I knew that it would get chewed up and that the edge would get unstuffed. For some reason our huskies insist that nothing remain stuffed if they can help it. 

But I also thought that since it was a bedtime thing, only in her crate, it might last a little longer than the chicken did. 

I'm glad a took a few pictures and only paid $17. I'm not sure Mr. A will be so easily convinced next time. 

Because it's unstuffed and very, very loved right now. On special days, and who knows how she determines special days, she drags it out of her crate, takes a lot of trouble to kill it just right, then naps with it. 

When people come over and see that my sweet puppy-dog sleeps on tattered bits of rag, I feel bad. I really do. But then I tell them that this is why the dogs can't have nice things. 

Mrs. A


Rams & Yowes

Monday, July 14, 2014

You know how sometimes when you put something a away for a while, you're surprised when you pull it out again? I surprised myself this morning. 

A couple of years ago this pattern, Rams & Yowes by Kate Davies, a lovely Scottish lass, was published. 

It's a lap blanket, knit using the many natural, undyed Shetland sheep colours. It's knit in the round (a tube shape), steeked (cut open so it's a flat square), then finished with an ambitious border that will test me beyond my skill. In fact, I first bought it because just looking at it made me want to master stranded colourwork. 

At one point, I had begun knitting with some success. 

However, this morning, when I pulled it out of hibernation, I found something that I didn't really recall doing. 

There it is. All 12 balls of it. Safely tucked away into a zippered plastic bag. 

It seems I even packed away the pattern and needles with it, too. How thoughtful of me. What isn't there is the knitted tube of yowes (ewes) that I had started. So off to Ravelry I went and I dug around in my projects until I found my notes. 

Project Notes:

Jan 20/12 - Pattern & Yarn ordered. I bought nothing…my husband, however, is very generous!

Jan 30/12 - after a quick email, I’ve determined that J&S has ‘dispatched’ my order either on the 27th or the 30th.

Feb 3/12 - Yarn arrived bright and early this morning. Only about a week from door to door! I found a nice basket for it to live in while I scrape up the courage to start this project.

Jul 24/12 - I’m still waiting to start this project. Since I did not plunge in directly, I’ve had too much time to think about it. After reading many notes, I understand I will need the recommended needles. Mr. A and I have planned an anniversary date which will include the opportunity to pop by the yarn shop and pick up the required needles.

Jan 22/13 - holy Hannah this is taking a long time to start. Acquiring needles was delayed , but I finally ordered them at the KP Cyber Monday sale. They arrived and there were problems with two of the three needles. Replacements have now arrived and I am ready to start. I have some reservations about beginning. I’m afraid that my colourwork will improve throughout the duration of the knit ad there will be a noticeable difference between the beginning and end of the blanket. As soon as I get a few hours to myself I will sit down with my supplies and a couple of refresher videos and get going on this beast.

Feb 10/13 - hold background colour in my right hand. Hold foreground colour in my left hand. SWITCH HANDS FOR FACES!!!

Feb 23/13 - I’ve knit one repeat of the Yowes and stopped. I needed to take my beginnings to knit night to get the ladies’ opinions on whether my stranding was too tight. Consensus is that I’m doing fine! Very encouraging as I was prepared to rip the first (and only!) bit out and begin again. I do hope that there’s not too much noticeable difference in my knitting between starting and stopping. This is quite the ambitious project to be learning stranded colourwork and two handed knitting on. Hopefully as I go on, I’ll get less anxious about this project!

Feb 27/13 - finished row 27 of chart B1. Rams &Yowes travelled with me this week to Ktown where we accomplished one row at the dentist. 2 rows tonight.

Mar 9/13 - Finished chart B1. Had to drop down down two stitches 3rows to fix a Yowe’s ear. Used a float. Not sure how that’s going to end up. Tried my first spit splice with a length of grey when starting chart A after the Yowes. That worked like a charm! Finished up with row 5/6 chart A.

Dec 10/13 - I’ve decided to frog and start over. Frogged and spit spliced yarns back together. Will begin again soon.

Jul 14/14 - pulled out the bag this morning. Had forgotten I’d frogged it. Project installed in the living room and, if I can keep it safe from wool-loving dogs, should be available to knit on daily.

Sure enough, I had frogged the part I had started in December. Then in January Mr. A and I decided to hunt for a house. In February we bought a home. Packed in March, moved in April and have been settling in since then. I'm very much looking forward to starting over again and actually finishing this time. I think it will be an excellent project to knit as a bit of a housewarming present to myself. 

Mrs. A


School Time

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I signed the kids up for summer school. I pitched it as a sort of trial run. They would try out a half-credit course and we would go from there. 

The Girl Child is registered for a fully loaded fall semester. It's 'tentative' but we wanted to make sure she got the courses she wanted/needed should we decide to continue with this format of school work.  The Boy Child is registered for a fall science credit. He is preparing for a winter semester in a bricks-and-mortar school. 

The summer half-credit is civics. It was next up in the plan anyway. I have the textbooks and had just about started to prep the course for them, when I had a change of mind in regards to the homeschooling path we were on. The timing seemed to work out as both kids are registered -there were hoops to jump through - and both are busily working their way through the boring work of meeting others' expectations.

Civics is Canadian government. I have to say that the kids are pretty well versed in the subject. It feels like they are learning to present their work to someone for evaluation and filling in few holes as we go along. The Girl is producing like crazy...but then producing paperwork has always been her thing. The Boy is a little bogged down in the process of producing. He wants it to be 'right'. 

Free time has been seriously curbed. Four days a week there are two-hour classes to attend (online, live). There is easily two hours a day of reading and assignment work as well. 

So far the virtual school is looking good. As always, much of the course depends on the teacher. Although the kids are taking the same Civics course, they are assigned to different teachers, one more dynamic and entertaining than the other. In a week, there has been a quiz and two assignments handed in yet we are still waiting on the evaluations. I think The Boy would be more comfortable moving forward if he had some feedback about his work. I'm sure that's difficult in a condensed course, though. (It's an 18 week course condensed to 4 weeks.) 

I'm finding my time is redistributed. It's a little strange, really. I'm needed for finishing: checking over work before it's submitted, explaining a couple of points after a lecture or reading, finding an alternate source of information. I'm less divided. Usually I'm doing dogs, schoolwork, house, husband, schedule, meals all at the same time. This last week has felt less hectic in that I'm able to concentrate on just one or two things at a time. Somehow, my brain feels more awake. 

Today I'm preparing The Boy for the fast jump from Federal Political Structure to Provincial Political Structure, determining if the pool has a leak, watching Germany vs. Brazil, taking The Girl to work, The Boy to soccer practice, myself to knit night and then picking The Girl up after her very first Meet His Parents evening. Onward!

Mrs. A


It Is 28 Degrees In My House.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day. It's 28 degrees in my house. I'm not sure what that is in American...but in real life, it's hot. 

This weekend saw some of the plans that we had get cancelled. Sort of. 

I didn't go to my 25th school reunion. Even though I sorta made it sound like I was interested in going. To be fair, a month or so ago when the idea was pitched to me, it sounded ok. But then I had that month or so to think about it. I didn't really have a good time at school in general. Why go spend an afternoon remembering all the things I stressed about for years? And the people I'd be catching up with haven't really been calling and there a lot of important things to catch up about? I imagine it would have been more of a Small Talk Nighmare.

Mr. A has not been fishing. Mr. A arranged four consecutive days off work and did not manage to get out fishing once. This is a Big Disappointment. 

Some things did get done this Canada Day Sort-Of Long Weekend! ('Sort-Of' because it's only a long weekend if you book a day off on the Monday. Then it's a 4-day weekend since Tuesday, today, is a holiday.) 

We made it to the dentist's office for the kids' cleanings. They had a fun summer BBQ at Friday night youth group. The house and yard got cleaned up Saturday morning. Friends arrived for an afternoon BBQ and swim. Fun times. Sunday, I took Mr. A to tour a local brewery. It was a date. I even tried beer - five different kinds. We washed it down with a rack of ribs and a Beaver Tail at the conveniently located RibFest. It was a Canadian Date. On Monday we met a neighbour. I think he's shy. The Girl Child will be doing some babysitting for him. Monday was also Power Tool Day! I used the pressure washer to clean the pool deck and the car jack to remove a stump from the garden. It was a very big sweaty deal of a stump and I wish I had a picture. 

Today is just hot. We cancelled our Canada Day plans on the river because of the severe thunderstorm warnings. The storms can blow up very quickly and I get a little nervous being out on the river in someone else's boat. So we've enjoyed the pool, tried to keep cool and will join the neighbours next door for fireworks later tonight. Hopefully our roof doesn't catch fire. 

This was the weekend that - for the first time - we all got in the pool together after the chores were done. 

I went swimming after the rest of them were finished throwing water at each other....

...and the dogs. 

I enjoyed an iced Chai Tea Latte until the tomfoolery settled down. Very civilized. 

This coming week will see 3 contractors working hard to get our last appliances installed and running. There's a bit of reno required, a new gas line to run and a hole to cut in the roof. Summer school courses will start. The Girl will need to begin training for fencing camp at the end of August. 

I'm hoping to keep people organized and fed, get some more gardening done and get July and August plans on the calendar. It's all just a good idea until it's written on the calendar!

Mrs. A.


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