Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Date with my Camera

Silver birch - how grasslands become forests.....
Step One: Dress in layers.

Step Two: Stuff a few things - sketch pad, water bottle, wallet, and camera - into tiny little day pack. Look outside and realize that you've picked the windiest day of the year and grab iPod to give your ears a little protection from the blowing wind and to see how nature looks with a soundtrack.

Step Three: Leave a note.
Mine reads: I have gone to Beaver Creek for the afternoon. If I am not back by the time you read this, I've likely been kidnapped by badgers as retaliation for that thing that time. Send help! Love, C

Step Four: Snap with impunity.
I hadn't been out to Beaver Creek in a long time. But when the leaves start turning colours, I get this sense of wanderlust that drives me out amongst the trees.

(Last October, I was able to take a relaxed stroll down by the river at Fort Edmonton Park - it was very orange - and beautiful. And I don't have a single shot because I didn't back them up and my hard drive suffered a massive failure from which nothing was retrievable.)
So I went walking, weaving around groups of school children, taking photos when I wasn't being blown over and some even when I was. It's always refreshing to just breathe...
I am not much of a wildlife photographer. I photograph wildlife much like I garden - terribly. It's sad. I managed to frighten almost everything before I got a good shot or was so far away, by the time you zoom in, it's pixel-ated beyond all hope of recognition.
I did manage to say hi to the chickadee...
Catch a chipmunk before he dashed off....
And see what I thought was a stick in the path before it moved and I had the presence of mind to reach for the camera before the full body panic set in over a harmless little thing?
SEE????Probably not - but it's in there..... Did I mention that I'm lousy at wildlife photography? It is just a garter snake. Less than two feet long. But one of the things I adore about autumn is that reptiles like snakes are supposed to be hibernating. Sleeping. Dreaming of fields full of mice and affected British accents for when they are cast in the latest Disney cartoon. Anything but creeping me out. (Yeah, yeah - get over it City Girl. )
I did spot one particular tree....
Alone and defiant. Standing tall against the prairie, laughing into the wind. And not likely jumpy around harmless garter snakes...

It never ceases to amaze me how the prairie can go from thick brush and forest to plains in less time than it takes to aim a camera.
Anyone who says there is nothing on the prairies, or that they're a boring flatland, just isn't looking hard enough.

And anyone who thinks I'm afraid of snakes just hasn't seen me around spiders. :-) I'm not afraid - I respect. And respect requires a healthy distance.

PS. The quilt has been basted. However, its state of un-finish does not prevent its usefulness. To some, anyway.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

By Jove, I think I've got it....

Well, I sat down (figuratively and literally) to fix the broken quilt top. And I desperately wish I'd had a flannel wall or something instead of as much carpet as I can scrounge. :-) My knees are a little sore from crawling and kneeling all over the floor. It took me about an hour or so. If I had realized how little time it was going to take, it probably would have been done before now. It's like cleaning the bathroom - it never takes as long as you think it will when you are using time as an excuse to actively avoid doing it. And you feel so much better when it's done.

Why didn't I just do it this way to begin with? It's not perfect by any means but I like it so much better. I can breathe at least and will be comfortable admitting that I made it instead of shrugging my shoulders in front of company and going, "That? Oh. Uh.... I have no idea where that came from. Let me just put that in the closet...." before gathering it franticly in my arms and running away.

Lessons learned: Not all fabrics in a stash need to be used in a single project even if that stash was collected specifically for said project. "Ooohhhh, pretty!" does not guarantee that any one fabric will go well with any other. If all-over randomness does not work, light to dark might do the trick. Even if you're heavy on the light and severely lacking in medium.

And I have no excuse not to clean the bathroom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Object Project wanted me to tell you...

...about this great giveaway Leigh Ann's got going on...

Not only does she have another cute tutorial using an everyday object as a pattern, but


there is a beautiful throw blanket which will be given to a random commenter (double entry if you link your own weblog to it) so GOOOO!!!!! NOW!! Before Sunday!! Leave a comment!!! Share what you enjoy reading in the summer, the onslaught of projects you've got upcoming... Or simply admit that you're in it for the blanket.

And I want you to know that I decided to share this information with you DESPITE the fact that your own entry makes my odds of winning a little smaller. :-)

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday - Game Day

Today the Riders are playing. So that means we all bleed green.

Anyone not from the Canadian prairies might not know about the tense rivalry between Alberta and Saskatchewan, but the unusual thing isn't the rivalry but the geography of it.

Saskatchewan (the province) has just over a million people in it. (That's one in about 34 Canadians.....) Edmonton alone has 800, 000-ish. Calgary has well-over a million. But when the Riders play in one of these cities in Alberta, the stands never look too lopsided.

I lived in Edmonton (Home of the Edmonton Eskimos) for a while, working in the world's largest shopping mall/entertainment centre (so many stories for another time....). On game weekend, the mall was always full of jerseys. Jerseys for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And it wasn't just people who'd driven the three, five, eight hours to watch the game in Edmonton (and there were many). It was people who lived in Edmonton, maybe for years, but bravely wore the homeland green anyway - even when the Riders were playing in Hamilton or Montreal. It's what we do. Those of us from Saskatchewan may roam and travel, full of wanderlust, but more often than not, our hearts never really leave. I've always joked that there are four million people from Saskatchewan - only one million live locally. :-)

There's an interesting sense of loyalty and making the best of things as they sit. I remember, in that same mall, running to grab a snack on a break, and passing a bunch of green ladies with big S's on their cheeks sitting at the caricature artist's stand. They were giggling away and having a great time, joking about where they'd get their husbands to take them for dinner. I stopped to ask them the score and expected good news from their joviality.

"Oh, we got murdered," one of them said, with a smile and a wave.

Her friend piped up, "But it never stops us from cheering." And I walked away and off to my snack with a grin on my face, not sad that our team lost, but glad to be a part of our little fan-dom.

More remarkable than the sea of green on game day and the attitudes of those who watch and cheer, is the sea of green the day AFTER the game day we didn't win. We still send up the flag.

In his backyard, my father has a flagpole and you had better believe that today, the big green one is flying just under the maple leaf.

Because it's game day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mustache cushions.... seriously

Okay - so if you're not as committed to the idea of tattooing a mustache on your finger like I wrote about just yesterday..., you can always get these cushions and play around with the facial hair. I love that there is a fumanchu, too. Whorange always finds cool stuff.

The blog-verse works in mysterious ways.

And this is Senor Mysterioso. He also sports the 'stache but I'm saving his story for a slow news day.... ;-{

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finger Mustache - always a good time

So the Saskatoon Soaps have our upcoming improv comedy season opener on Friday. As is customary for us, we pose for a newspaper picture. It involved mustaches. And as mine was still on my finger when I got back from said photo op, I decided to fool around with the ol' web cam. (Picture made more authentically masculine by a complete lack of makeup and the accidental position of my scarf mimicking an ascot....) ( and being A Scot is evidenced by my complete lack of tan and or pigmentation... oh, the word play...... but seriously, could I be a paler person???)

Apparently, according to Sister, there are three or four gentlemen in town here who've taken the finger mustache to a whole new level. They've gotten them tattooed. What started as a joke, a way to say 'hi' to your best bud from across a crowded party, became a life-long commitment to the bit. And, I guess, to each other. Long live the friendship!! Vive le mustache!

Sister and Sister's Friend were out one night, having drinks, and at some point in the evening decided finger mustaches were very necessary. No sooner had they applied them and started modeling than their server told them of the Mustachioed Caballeros mentioned above. A little later, they found themselves outside keeping a smoker company, when someone else they knew pointed to a random man in another cluster of smokers. Sister caught his eye from across the way and without a word, raised her finger mustache in miniature salute. Random Man, in kind, raised his eyebrow and a tattooed index finger to his lip. Each of them nodded solemnly before returning to their respective friends.

One of the band of brothers is rumoured to have committed both of his index fingers to the cause. Each one forms half of the infamous fumanchu!!

Sometimes something silly is just what we need to connect us to something bigger than ourselves. Or to each other.

And sometimes something silly is just something to do on Friday night. (Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon, Fri Sep18 9:30pm, $10) Very very silly.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's all good stuff that's in it

Well, the quilt layout from the other day just isn't working for me. After consulting with a couple of sources, I've decided to try and rearrange it. Likely tomorrow.

Because it's broken.

And it's not at all 'me.' Other than the colours. The fabrics are gorgeous individually. But the execution... Yeesh! It reminds me of something my great-grandmother Jemima used to say, mostly about her baking:

It's all good stuff that's in it.

Then everyone was expected to eat it, regardless of how it looked, smelled, or tasted. :-) Scottish practicality! (PS - how awesome is it that my great grandmother was named 'Jemima'?)

Time to call in the reinforcements. And when sewing just isn't going your way, who does one call? (Hint: she answers to "Mum") I'll try breaking up the colours into their own little groups and "fading" the quilt from bottom to top and put the orange in a strip down the middle. Or move it to the back. Or something. See why I need help?

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

As Random as the Crow Flies...

I was accused at work today of inserting a non-sequitur into conversation. Once I stopped to consider what was last spoken aloud and my most recent statement, I had to admit that it did, indeed, sound completely unrelated to the conversation. I am guilty of the non-sequitur (if it is a crime) frequently as I am frequently forgetful of the fact that not all people can follow the Train of Thought Schedule posted in my brain station. My trains move fast (and aren't always fully boarded....) once they head out and switch tracks with alarming rapidity. In fact, the more time passes in my life, the more likely I am to watch the zippy red light of a laser-pointer until I see something shiny. In my defense, today, the conversation was less a direct exchange and more of a running sidebar while each worked on their individual projects.

It was later tonight while making supper that I began to examine how one train of thought becomes another, or how one grain of thought becomes a tree with many branches and roots from a seed you can no longer recognize, or how a germ of an idea becomes a rampaging epidemic - a plague of notions - an infectious brainstorm. If you had been cooking with me, I might have remarked that escargot had been on my mind all day. And I could easily have followed that remark with "Are zombies a meat source or would eating udead zombie flesh (in the event of a zombie-related apocalypse where we were running out of protein sources) turn you into a zombie yourself, same as a zombie bite?"

If you haven't quit reading by now, humour me.

Escargot - thinking about how I would cook escargot, especially for company. What if my company liked to keep kosher? Are escargot kosher or do they fall in league with the lobster?

At this moment, I also had a thought about what to make for dinner on Sunday night and considered lasagna. Which wouldn't be kosher either because of meat and cheese together and you couldn't sub in pork, obviously, and I'm not sure on the rules with dairy and poultry.. So I decide if I invited company with dietary restrictions, it would have to be vegetarian lasagna.

Vegetarian lasagna could be cool, I guess but then I think I couldn't likely go vegetarian myself since I love beef and feel that if cows aren't eaten, then they don't have a purpose, would die in the wild and are creating methane, etc, polluting, without any gain except their actual existence..... (one of my half-empty trains)

And then I begin to wonder what if I had to go vegetarian by circumstance - say zombies (thanks, Richard) take over the earth, stewardship of livestock goes the way of the dodo and the only source of meat is other people. I don't think I could eat other people no matter how dire the circumstances. But zombies, on the other hand......

And all this happens in my brain in a matter of moments. I'm sure random track-jumping happens in your brain, too. (Please tell me I'm not the only one...) It can happen as fast as a fast-forward click on the iPod, affected by the associations made by our individual experiences. Each web of tracks looks different. Each train schedule has different departure times and destinations. And I'm really hoping I'm not the only one to get to the end, look down at my ticket and ask...

"How the hell did I get from there to here?"

And the photo above does have something to do with this post but I honestly can't remember exactly what it is... :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Circadian upset

This is naptime - see the nap face?It usually takes a few days to adjust to a new schedule. For a number of months now, I've been running on a sleep cycle that begins about 3am and ends with the above face meeting me nose to nose about 10am. Still early enough to accomplish things during the day and plenty of evening to catch up on everything else.

And then, I find myself needing to be places at 8 or 9am. Switching schedules was so simple in university when most nights I averaged 5 to 8 hours of sleep and seemed to be able to fall asleep at will and recover without much damage until Christmas break. Then, sleep was only broken for a few butter tarts, a turkey bun, and a holiday special before it was naptime again. But now, I'm in my thirties and it's harder to change and to sleep, period.

The first day goes relatively smooth: bedtime was later than you hoped but hey, it'll be good to be a little tired after that first early day. Yeah, right.

At the end of the day, bedtime comes closer to goal but your body decides it's going to grab the sleep you "skipped" the night before and you wake up later that you slept before you changed the routine, having slept through two alarms and the above paws kneading your face and asking when breakfast is going to be served and how long before your pillow becomes available. Chances are, there is cat hair up your nose and your wrist has some sort of strange kink in it developed under the sedimentary pressure of your comatose body on top of it.

That night, you fall instantly asleep. You hear the alarm and so do the above ears which cue the above body to snuggle in. You wince but you get up. It's easier, or at least, it's getting there.

And you fantasize all day about finding a warm patch of sun in which to nap. MMMmmmmmm, sun nap...

I think I'll have one now.

PS - Happy Birthday, Mike.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stacks and stacks..

Some days, the piles begin to chase you around, begging you to make them something else. I've had different piles to tackle every day this week. For example:

On Wednesday, I made a stack. (Creating inventory for the etsy shop I plan to open...)

On Thursday, I made a few stacks.

On Friday, Thursday's stacks became a pile once again, trimmed and ironed. By Saturday, it looked like this:

Don't let the layout fool you; it's still very much a stack. This stack is begging to be made pretty. (I'm still working on that part...) And then the very same stack gets broken into 11 little piles, which becomes 1 pile. When I finally finish with the last pile, I'll fold it up and add it to a stack of blankets, waiting to become warmth, comfort, or a merely a decorating statement, if it's a bit shallow. :-)

The piles never really go away, they just morph into other things.

As children, we used to stack things as high as we could; houses of cards, coins and books, balls of snow, piles of leaves to jump on... And it gave us a little thrill.

As adults, we like to lay things low; plow through the inbox, finish the laundry, sort the recyclables... It gives us a thrill to distill a pile down to its simplest, or its most complicated and beautiful, form. Quantity becomes quality.

I'd like to meet the visionary who first saw a pile of wool and thought, "hmmmmm, sweater."

There are myriads of other stacks to tackle this week - and I'll do my best to reduce each to what it needs to be. Or, and this is probably more important with some piles, what I need it to be. Good things can be found in stacks and layers.

Like cake.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

They're not literally unicorns..

We all have at least one - the object you came across once that disappeared when you tried to find it again. And frequently, no one to whom you mention it, can confirm its existence. In fact, they usually look at you with the same suspicious eyebrow reserved for those wearing tin foil hats. Eventually, after beginning to doubt your own sanity, you stop looking for it. And you forget. But not entirely.

If you're very, very lucky, it will turn up out of the blue when you least expect it. You point, perhaps hop up and down as though you were standing barefoot on hot sand, and usually a noise trying to be a word without succeeding escapes your lips. If you are unlucky (and by unlucky, I mean "lottery" unlucky, meaning "most likely"), you will not have witnesses. The item you've discovered is a unicorn.

It could be food-related; a long-lost penny candy, a flavour of snack food, a candy bar thought to be a myth by your long-suffering friends who humour you when you check the chocolate aisle for eleventy-first time. It could be an item of clothing seen in a shop window on a hurried walk past and that no sales clerk has ever heard of if you try to locate it the next day when you actually have the time. Or it could be a song you heard on the radio but the announcer failed to mention the title or the artist after you listened patiently only to receive a discount furniture commercial for your effort. Suspicious Eyebrow is even more likely to occur in the event of a song, especially when you tell them it went "hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, da-doo doo doo da-doo" and that you think it had the word "blender" in it.

For my other half, it's a book he had once and really enjoyed before it ripped a hole in the space-time continuum and killed its own grandfather, preventing itself from ever existing again in any form other than his memory of it. He's fairly certain the word "pyramid" was in the title, although no internet search or secondhand bookstore scouring has ever turned up a copy.

But to find one, or have one find you, is like a little reassurance from the universe that sometimes, the improbable (and even if very rarely, the impossible) can actually be.

So, what's your unicorn?

This is how addiction starts...

Every fall, it starts a little earlier. And this year, it was my fault.

I knit mittens. I give them as gifts. And I get requests for them. A friend of mine, (and I'm going to start using initials here to keep the story making any semblance of sense...) R, had trashed his mittens (though he calls them 'mitts' so they sound manlier, I guess) and had asked me for a new pair. This was last November and I was eyeballs deep in knitting insanity. I told him it was no problem for new mitts but that it would have to wait until January.

Well, that didn't happen. (here for the story) So, while watching a couple of movies in July, I picked up the needles to keep my hands busy and R had new mitts. Our schedules didn't connect for a while so I passed them over at a party, where they were seen by...

A. A requested a pair and since I adore A, I naturally agreed thinking that I'd get around to them sooner or later. But sooner was the case because the fifth season of House came out on DVD and I wanted to be caught up before the new season started, and again, needed to keep my hands busy. A & B live together and I'm even closer to B so I couldn't very well, not knit for B after knitting for A. So B got a pair, too.

Then I made the utter mistake of piling them by the door so I could grab them on my way out and I noticed: 1) that they looked like an unfinished sequence and 2)...

...that I, C, needed an new pair, too.

And all this happened while Hugh Laurie was popping vicodin and being snarky. The irony is not lost on me. Here is the ABC that reflects my OCD and ADD. At least now, the visual sequence is finished.

It reminds me of an anecdote about Handel, or Haydn - whichever had a bunch of kids, one of whom used to sneak down the stairs in the middle of the night to play the first 7 notes of a G scale and then sneak back up to bed. Handel/Haydn would be compelled to quit his own warm bed to trundle down the stairs to the piano to play the 8th and final note.

I'm really glad I didn't know of any D's needing mittens at the moment I set the needles down. It would have led to E, F'n' G, for sure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Happy, Warm Feeling and FREE Thank-you Notes

I left a comment on a WhiskerGraphics post last week. Whitney was having a giveaway and to win, you could suggest a new stationery product... I didn't win but this is pretty cool too.

She made my suggested item!

See them here! (where you can get them for free...)

WhiskerGraphics has been mentioned here before on this weblog - if you haven't checked out her blog (or especially her etsy shop), do it.

And know, that when you get recipes from me on pretty pretty cards in a pretty little folder tied up with ribbon or twine, I'm not the only one responsible.... :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Buttercup Bag

I just intended to make a gift for my sister - a little something to say, "Hey, married lady." But I had such a good time, I made a few more. In the days leading up to my sister's wedding, I showed them to some of my very supportive relatives who encouraged me to sell my wares....

The Buttercup Bag (featured above) was designed by Rae Hoekstra of Made By Rae and is used with permission. Rae is a very talented designer and lovely human being - you can learn more about her at MadebyRae.

Currently, my bags are available at Riverstone Massage Therapy in Saskatoon or by contacting me. The great part about going to Riverstone is you can grab a massage and a pedicure while you "think deeply" about which bag you'd like to make your own. I have not opened a shop on Etsy yet, but we'll see how the next few weeks go.

The bag above is on its way to Port Coquitlam, BC, to one of those fabulously supportive family members.

I also have some ideas bubbling in my mind for some other designs so I'll keep you posted when I get the prototypes (heehee- that word always makes me giggle for some reason) hammered out.

Have a sunshine filled day!