Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (this post is for you big brother!)

Today my brother took the bus from Harrisville, MI to Toledo, OH to be able to board an Amtrak train to Boston tomorrow morning around 3 am. He'd been visiting us since December 11th when he arrived with Hal who had spent the previous week hunting in MA and NH with my younger sister's boy friend. I'd say we had a pretty good time. Walked the dogs a lot, watched a lot of movies, ate too much food, and talked a lot. We hadn't seen each other in the 3.5 years since our mother passed away.

A few days later my younger sister and her boy friend arrived with Lyra and much chaos and merriment ensued. (YAY!) More shopping, movie watching and of course, on Christmas day the opening of a few gifts which actually didn't happen till about 7:30 pm, the day was total chaos which seems odd for 5 adults and 3 dogs.
Christmas Morning
Dinner was a roast duck and a chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, creamed corn, hot rolls, stuffing and gravy, wine, and pumpkin pie. I swear my sister and I spent all day in the kitchen though. Next year I'd like not to do that so I'm thinking a ham and side dishes instead, quite a departure for us, I think I've always had some kind of bird for Christmas dinner.

We had quite the cold snap here, too. One night the low temperature was -11.6 degrees. Now it's been colder than that here but not in a few years. And we have had lots and lots of snow! It seemed we'd get 3-4 inches, then an inch a couple nights, then another 4-6, it just kept adding up and not melting due to the cold weather. There was eventually over a foot of fluffy snow till yesterday when it hit close to 40 degrees. But it's back to cold weather and wind tonight and probably more snow in the near future.
Home on Christmas Evening
My 2 siblings and I went to Alpena to see the second Hobbit movie. It was very enjoyable. We ate 2 big buckets of popcorn, the first before the movie had even started. What can I say? We didn't have lunch and it was a 4:30 matinee.

But I am tired now, went back to Alpena with my sister and Hal's sister. Bought an artificial tree, a crock pot, a shower curtain rod and miscellaneous Christmas stuff at half price. A couple future Christmas gifts for some lucky person, too. Time for bed and a good book.

edited to add photos

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday 2013 and a New Laptop

I went shopping in Alpena, with Hal's sister but not until after 10 am. We shopped a lot. Peebles, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Tractor Supply. We went to a few places to return items or just run errands that needed doing. We had lunch at our favorite all you can eat Chinese restaurant. And we went to Staples where I bought a new laptop that I am using right now. Normally, I wouldn't be up at 3 am but I couldn't sleep. A combination of indigestion and insomnia. So I am downloading updates and writing in this blog while that happens.

I bought another Dell. I liked my old Dell desktop and my last laptop even though the laptop has been misbehaving these last few months, random crashes, the battery is toast, I can't close the lid or it crashes the operating system, using the SD card reader results in the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. So it was time and I waited for Black Friday to find something. I bought a touch screen. Most of the machines out there are running windows 8 (there are a few 7 machines left but I wanted to go with the newer tech.) and a lot of them are not touch screens which I find ridiculous as windows 8 was designed for the touch interface. That interface adds to the cost of the machine though so it was tough getting one cheap. I found one at Staples for $399 plus tax. I had it on my wish list at Amazon with a number of others and they actually had it for the same price with no tax but by the time I got around to ordering it jumped above $400. Then I saw the staples add though in the store itself it still listed for $499, they had to honor their own online price.

It's different, and a little frustrating trying to navigate. It doesn't help that I am tired. But I am finally getting the OS to update and then I can download the 8.1 version which is supposed to be less buggy than 8.0. Later I will discuss my experience with this machine. Incidentally the model is the Inspiron i15RV-6143. Not the fastest processor they sell but it's got to be faster than the 4 year old machine I've been using. But that's enough for now, I think the initial download is almost done. I'd like to finish that up and see if I can finally fall asleep.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Still Like My Car!

Been almost a month and I realize I haven't posted any more photos of my new used car. So here are a couple I took earlier this month.
The cargo area is nice and large, plus a piece comes out of the floor to become a shelf, or cover to hide things. I even found an inexpensive large dog bed in the color gray that fits very well.
The interior is very clean and has lots of buttons. The usual power windows, heated seats, powered driver seat, cd player and I can even have xm radio if I want to spend the money.
And a nice photo on a sunnier day. Luna had to get in the picture, too. And as you can see, it is indeed, purple.

I've also been toying with names for my car. I've only ever named 2 of my vehicles. My very first car was a brown Honda Civic and I named it Spiny Norman. And of course, my beater truck was Bruce. For my Equinox, Sid was suggested by Hal's sister. Oddly, it was one of the names suggested in an online naming program I tried. I was going with Dark Star for a while. Hal suggested the Midnight Rider but I don't care for it. I went with Loki for a few days, my favorite bad boy from the Avengers. But do I really want to name my car after the master of mischief? That seems to be asking for trouble, although the battery was stone dead the day I tried to drive home. Martin, as in Purple Martin, was another very, very brief thought. But the other day I think the right name finally presented itself; Roranicus, loyal, steadfast, protective. Seems perfect, I'll have to try it out for a while, see what my car thinks.

But I think Rory is cool.

Skunked, Again!

I'm surprised I didn't mention this earlier but I have been busy.

A couple weeks ago, about 11:45 pm, 5, I tell you FIVE minutes before I was heading to bed Ziggy trotted downstairs and wanted to go outside. Now the yard is fenced, it has electric wires at the top and bottom, and though those are primarily to keep my dogs from escaping it seems to have done a good job keeping other critters out. Just as I was opening the screen door Ziggy started to go nuts and I was too slow with the realization that "something is out there" and couldn't quite grasp hold of his collar before he pushed himself outside, leapt of the deck and tore down to the bottom of the front yard.

In less than a minute he was back. And I could smell him before I opened the door. The poor little guy must have tried to bite its back end and he got the entire dose in his mouth. Saliva was foaming and following out of Ziggy's jaws as if he was rabid. I dragged him across the vinyl floor into the bathroom and stuffed him into the tub. He did not fight me. It took 5 minutes to locate the shower hose, the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish washing liquid but then Ziggy got the treatment. It was the first time I'd ever had to wash anyone's mouth out with soap but it had to be done. He was constantly working his mouth trying to get out what couldn't be gotten out, I could tell it was in his nostrils, he was a mess. When we finished all he did was pace, following me around while I wiped the drool off the floor with the same de-skunking concoction.

Then I had a minor brainstorm and got out some raw burger and a can of tomato sauce and mixed it together and hand fed him. I figured if bathing a dog in tomato juice was the old stand-by solution (which I've heard doesn't work that well), then getting tomato into his mouth might help a little, better than on the outside anyway. He ate it. I do believe it did help. After I took my shower and went to bed I do think he finally was able to sleep. At least when I got up an hour later, 3 am he was laying on the rug in the hall.

I fed him more tomato burger in the morning and by the end of the day he was actually back to his old rambunctious self instead of the miserable, tail drooping, head hanging pup he had been. And you really couldn't smell hardly anything on his fur, that skunk really had fired directly into his mouth. But when Ziggy opened that mouth for the next few days, wow, it was nasty!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bruce and the Ford Taurus are Gone!

When I bought my car the dealership wasn't accepting cars falling apart as trade ins. Lucky us. However, the salesman did call a local guy who buys old cars and parts them out. He came out today and took a look. He gave us scrap price for the Ford, but a bit more for the truck. And he was able to drive them out though he had to replace the battery in the Ford. They are gone now, good riddance, though we seemed to put more money into them than we should have, it's just nice to no longer have the problem. And its amazing how much more space is in the yard now!

Friday, November 1, 2013

My New Car!!

Two days ago I started my beater truck Bruce and it started hard. It sputtered as I chugged up my 1/4 mile long driveway and half way up it died. Couldn't get it restarted, the battery was too weak. When Hal came home he jump started it, we let it warm up but after driving a short distance, about 20 feet? it died again. This time the battery worked fine but it would not keep going. Hal finally got it to keep running but there was a high pitched whine coming from the location where the fuel pump and filter are. The fuel pump is in the gas tank. He would have to drop the tank or remove the pick-up bed or cut a hole through the bed to get to it. Hal is also hoping to go out of town at the end of the month so he'd have to get it done in the next 3 weeks. Plus there is no guarantee it would solve my continuous problems.

So that night I went on line as I have done a few times in the past year to look at used cars in the area. The local Chevy dealer only 8 miles away had a nifty looking 2004 Pontiac Vibe. It also had several Chevy Trailblazers, a 2003 GMC Envoy and a 2006 Chevy Equinox. The plan has been a used car under $10,000. When I was looking last year that was the low price of even 2006 small SUVs most of them being more money. This shortage of used vehicles for reasonably low prices is a direct result of that "cash for clunkers" program. I don't even want to talk about that.

But Wednesday night the Lincoln Chevy dealer had several cars below 10k and Hal agreed to go look at one in particular the next morning (yesterday), the 2004 Pontiac Vibe listed at $6,995 with 126,000 miles on it. I checked out reviews of it and they were very, very good. Good gas mileage, decent price, a lovely cherry red color. A little worrisome in that it was already 9 years old, but we would see.

We took it for a test drive, twice because I found it awkward handling the first time which I thought could be attributed to fighting with the wheel of a huge sloppy steering truck. It was, second time it was easy and pleasant. The car itself had a noisy engine, it was only 4 cylinders so acceleration was slow, I would call it nimble though. It was a rainy day so I got to test out the windshield wipers, braking on wet pavement, etc. The interior was clean, black cloth seats with some obvious stains. the cargo area in back was nice, the rear seats folded down flush with the floor and it had tracks in the floor for tie downs. Stereo worked. But on the outside we noticed some rust (Hal did, actually) on the hood, never treated and bubbling up at the nose. Well my Taurus had lots more than that which we didn't notice at the time because it was covered up with paint, so maybe it wouldn't be a big deal. But under the hood there was also some obvious rust at the top of the struts.

In between those 2 test drives I drove the 2006 Equinox. It has 145,00 miles but it's 2 years newer. It doesn't get as good reviews but out of 5 stars possible on Edmund's for instance, it was over 4 stars. But this car drove wonderfully. It's slightly bigger but handles well. At first on starting it I couldn't hear the engine! Everything seemed to work fine, too and we couldn't find any rust on it, the body is in excellent shape, the carpet is a little worn and the 2 most used radio buttons have eroded decals but otherwise, it's a nice car.

So as we sat in our salesman's office we went back and forth over mileage, age, rust, and price because the Equinox was $1000 more, though still under $10k. It was the rust and being 2 years older than killed it for the pretty red Pontiac. So at 3 pm today we will be meeting with our salesman (who isn't pushy at all!) with the check, the plate from my truck and other paperwork and then shortly after I should be the proud owner of a very nice small SUV! Looking forward to it. I will have more to say about "DarkStar" later.

edit to strike out info on decals, that was on the Pontiac radio. The Equinox radio is in primo condition. Also added photo.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Three World Series championships for the Boston Red Sox in my life time! After all those years of heart break when I was a whole lot younger, I still am amazed!

Congratulations to the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crocheting Update and Other Minor Tidbits

Crocheting seems to be my main hobby now so not much else gets done when I'm in the zone. Housework is last on the list but it gets done eventually. I was ill for a couple of weeks, managed to contract conjunctivitis in both eyes (pink eye) and that was miserable till the eye drops took effect in a couple days. Couldn't crochet at all those days. Between that and a sinus infection at the same time I really slacked off on things. Plus Hal got himself TWO deer and we had to process the first one and part of the second though he gave most of that one away. However, he did save the tallow and fat from that second deer and spent all last weekend rendering it and made suet cakes, about 17 pounds worth. The wild birds are loving it.
But here are some photos of my progress in my crochet projects as of Sunday morning.

My Anemone test cardigan. This is the bodice. I discovered when I was laying it out that I had connected the shoulder to the underarm on the wrong edges so had to rip it apart. I'll fix it at some point but it is very frustrating when I do a stupid thing and then keep going without noticing!
Anemone Bodice
This is my Design Diva mystery shawl. This is part of a crochet-a-long over on I am very far behind the other crocheters because I was unhappy with my previous color choice and I was having trouble with the center stitches. All resolved now. I don't think it's my most beautiful shawl but at least I don't hate it any more. It's supposed to be finished by November 11th and by then we should all have enough clues to solve the murder mystery told within the pattern.
3 Color Design Diva Shawl
My Goldberry shawl is turning out absolutely gorgeous. It's made with a worsted weight acrylic yarn so it's pretty heavy but I love it. I am hoping it will block nicely and open up the stitches to give it a lacier look. Hard to do with a heavy yarn, but acrylic can be very stretchy. I'm on row 50 now, only 56 rows total before the final edging.

Row 48 of Goldberry

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bitten Off More (Yarn Projects) than I Can Chew

I've got too many crochet projects happening at once: 3 sweaters, a shawl I have yet to start because I can't decide on the yarn and Tuesday I am supposed to start another shawl during a mystery crochet-a-long (CAL)where, as far as I know, the pattern is released in stages in the form of clues. Supposedly the person who figures out who the murderer is first wins a prize. I suspect it will be a crochet pattern from the shawl designer which is cool because I like her patterns, otherwise I wouldn't be in this CAL

The first sweater the Doris Chan pullover I started a few weeks ago and then just stopped before the end of the yoke because I started these other things plus a caplet in yet another CAL which I finished and gave to my neighbor because the fuzzy yarn was giving me fits and I just wanted to get it over with. I do not like Patons Divine I have decided and will not buy it again. Good thing I bought it on clearance, still have 1.5 skeins and it will be permanently stuck in the back of a drawer now.

Paris Tunic Yoke
Shortie Shell Capelet
Second sweater is my Lattice Cardigan by Michelle DuNaier. I am actually on the edging but I think I put in 2 many dc stitches and it has become too wavy. I had finally picked it up yesterday after another long hiatus to work on a 3rd sweater by the same designer. It's looking very nice other than the waviness but unfortunately I think it is too small for me as when I tried it on last time it wouldn't pull closed in front. I have since discovered I had gained 6 pounds but even if I lose that for it to have affected the fit that much I think I underestimated the size I needed yet again. Perhaps it will fit my younger sister.

wavy edging
The third sweater is another cardigan and is actually a test for a new design by Ms DuNaier. It is another cardigan but the yoke is made up of several square motifs (granny squares with a different stitch pattern than the traditional granny), The model is very pretty, it needs 4 different color yarns in a DK weight (fairly thin but not as thin as lace yarn). I'm actually using 2 yarns, a sock weight by Premier (Serenity Sock, a wool blend) I picked up at Joann's Fabric in dark green and a color called Chili which is a white with dark green and purple specks. And a dark purple and gold yarn by Red Heart called Luster Sheen which is an acrylic and though it claims to be a different weight than the sock, together the 4 yarns fit quite well. It took a while but I finished the motifs yesterday in 3 colors and my next job is to join them together with the Chili.

Unfinished Motif
The shawl I am supposed to be starting is another Ms DuNaier called Goldberry. (all these patterns are available at, some free or for $5 or less (I got some of mine half price during a sale, Ms DuNaier is having a 1/2 off sale through Sept 30). She named it after a character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (she's in the book, not in the Peter Jackson movies). She is re-telling part of the Hobbits' adventure and various sections of the shawl abstractly depict this. Now I just have to choose the colors to use which is generally my problem, I can't decide. I bought a bunch of new yarns, too thinking my problem was a lack o suitable yarns, and indeed that was a problem but now I've got too many to make a decision. I should just think about this some more.
Which yarn will I choose? Need at least 4, maybe.
Of course, I can't really talk about the mystery pattern as it's a mystery and other than some main characters; the shawl designer, her sister, her cheating ex-husband and a band of fictional crocheting detectives, I've no clue what the shawl is supposed to look like or what yarns to use. I'll post next month after it starts.

But I still think I'm doing way too many things at once. It's practically impossible to do all these in a timely manner and conduct the rest of my life, i.e. the dog walks, housework, cooking, etc!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Oops, Happy Belated Birthday, Hal

I may have missed wishing my wonderful husband "Hal" a happy birthday on my blog but I did not neglect him on his day itself. I made him his favorite dinner which is what he seems to want every year. Again it was roast chicken with giblet/bread stuffing, home grown green beans, gravy, no potatoes, he prefers just stuffing with gravy, a nice white wine and for dessert, blueberry pie made with Michigan berries. He told me it was very good. I know I enjoyed it. He got a couple flannel shirts, too. Funnily enough one of them was an exact match to the one he was wearing. I can't help it if I can't remember what I bought him the year before.

So, not that he even cares whether I mentioned it here or not, Happy Belated Birthday, Hal! Hope you had fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So Much for the Growing Season

Two nights ago there was a frost warning, I covered the veggie gardens and my potted flowers on the deck and it did drop to 32.7f over night but I never saw any signs of frost in my yard. I got home from being in Alpena all day yesterday and saw we had a freeze warning. I covered mostly everything last night, took the cherry tomatoes and other small fruit off the plants (and accidentally left the bag of veggies on the driveway!). Last night or early this morning it dropped to 30.7f and there was evidence of frost all over when I walked the dogs. (I just got back). It was only 35f when I left the house, still below 40 I suspect. I won't uncover the plants till it gets to 45f or so but I would say the growing season is no over for this part of Michigan, even if the temperatures on Thursday do rise into the high 70s as predicted.

I wonder if my one tiny pumpkin will ever get ripe enough to pick and turn into a pie. It's so small it might not have enough meat in it! Better luck next year. Then again, maybe I ought to give up growing veggies at all up here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Luna is Eight

Today is her birthday. Same age as Rocket was when I adopted her. She's still a peppy little pup and still gets into things she shouldn't, mud in particular. We've already had 2 walks today with the Zigman. It's not at hot as yesterday, only around 80. Yesterday hit 92 so she swam more than walked. Had a nice swim today though she pretty much fell in. I tossed a stick and just as she was deciding to leap she changed her mind but her body couldn't quite stop, so plop off the edge into the water. And she still brought the stick back.

Here's a fairly recent photo of my girl, if you can call June recent.
And because he's cute, here's Ziggy pausing at a really good digging hole. Luna's head is still in it. They do so love to dig. I need to take photos of the mine field of holes in the woods inside the fence, they're ankle breakers!
And one more of Luna because it is her birthday!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dissappointing Weather

For a 3 day weekend, thick clouds, mist and cool temperatures are no fun. There was a possibility of taking the pontoon boat out every day with Hal's brother and wife but no go. We've been on the lake before when it's cool out and we freeze. Wouldn't want to swim in this, either. Today I woke up to mist, and the breeze has picked up, it's after 10:30 am and it's barely 60 degrees. I suppose I should be grateful we're not having a "not quite a tornado". Well, of course, but some warm weather would be nicer. Kind of a bummer for my BIL and SIL who drove the 4.5 hours to enjoy the weekend. Maybe we'll luck out by noon. We shall see.

And it's now almost 3 pm and it's 9 degrees colder than the forecast of 72, too breezy and just not good boating weather. So instead we're heading over for dinner with Hal's parents. I baked a cake. Boating is probably over for the year.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Last Day of August, Oops, First Day of September!

I figured I may as well post something.

Finally, I had the root canal Thursday morning though I had to drive almost 2 hours to Gaylord to see an endodontist, same one I'd seen for a double root canal quite a few years ago. Hal volunteered to go with me and drive me home. That was very sweet. My jaw was still painful yesterday, from inflammation of the gums. Feeling better today, I assume it will just improve now as the days go by.

The pizza tonight was very good. The wheat/white flour crust was deep and seasoned with garlic, onion, oregano and basil. And on top of the sauce was pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beer bratwurst, broccoli, mushrooms, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. It was accompanied with a Red Sky beer from the Frankenmuth brewery.

Now we're watching a little TV, a documentary about the rise and fall of the 3rd Reich. Then a little Doctor Who documentary at 9 pm.

Ha, I forgot to publish this last night so it's a day late. I guess the documentaries were too fascinating to ignore.

edit (removed redundancies)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some Fair Results

I picked up my entries from the Home Arts building at the Alcona County fair Sunday morning. The entries for the fair itself were pretty sad, many, many categories had no entries at all, and many others had only 1 or two entries. However, I was informed by the Secretary and it's printed in the rules that first place will only be awarded if something deserves it and I did see an example of that. The crochet hat category for instance, my hat came in 4th, 2nd and 3rd place were awarded but there was no first place hat that I could see.

So my hat may have had a dismal finish, (I suspect they did not think an acrylic microfiber was an appropriate material for a winter hat) but I did much better in the shawl and sweater categories.

 Sweater, crochet, first place.
 Isolde shawl, crochet, first place.
 This is what it looks like spread out. It's a shame they have no way of hanging things so people can appreciate the work everyone has done. I wonder if that fact keeps more people from bothering to enter.
You were allowed two entries per category and as I had finished the Small Talk shawl earlier this year I put it in as well. It got second place. Feels kind of weird losing to oneself. If I enter next year I'll probably only enter one. I'm also going to try to get the local church ladies to enter something, at the very least my neighbor. She makes mittens and hats and lovely prayer shawls.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Today I went to the Fair

For the first time in the 13 years I've lived here I went to the Alcona County Fair. It was fun if exhausting. I took a neighbor, her daughter and her nephew. We ran into another family unit of 3 and the kids had a blast riding the rides, I even rode a few along with the other adults and occasionally with the boy. I took photos but I am tired. So I will finish this post tomorrow.

And here I am back with a few photos of the county fair.

 There were carnival rides.
 And there was a carriage ride.
 This ride one is known as the Himalaya. It's small. I took this photo while riding it.
There were animals, too. Cute little goats, and pigs and chickens. I'm surprised I didn't take more animal photos.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Need a Root Canal

How's that for a kick in the teeth? Actually, the way my jaw has felt for the past couple of days a kick in the teeth would feel good in comparison! It started Friday night when I decided to try a new flavor of ice cream, lemon chiffon. When it hit my teeth on the right lower side I about went through the roof it hurt so much! And it kept throbbing for hours. It finally settled down and I slept fine that night. Next morning, forgot all about it till I had cereal for breakfast with cold milk. ACK! The pain! Thing didn't really get much worse and then felt better and I slept fine Saturday night. Sunday was a different story.

Yesterday things just got progressively worse as the day went on. I was eating acetaminophen, aspirin, brushing my teeth over and over with sensitive toothpaste, and using what was left of the topical analgesic I had left from my last bout of tooth pain. nothing worked. By the time I went to bed that tooth and the ones near it just throbbed and by 3:30 am that whole side of my face was in agony so I was online looking for home remedies of which the usual always seemed to be oil of cloves. (I see poor Dustin Hoffman as the Marathon Man running through my head whenever I hear that phrase!) I found another odd remedy of sticking a garlic clove next to the offending tooth. Now garlic I had though it didn't seem to help until I bit down slightly on it keeping it between my upper and lower jaw. I also propped myself up in bed with a extra pillows to keep the blood from pooling in my jaw. It seemed to help, though it was probably more like the sitting up than the garlic. I managed to get through the rest of the night, waking up a lot, but at least time was passing faster till I could call the dentist at 9 am and get in to see him.

I was at the office by 10:15, two x-rays were taken and sure enough the dentist said the roots were dying in #31. So he prescribed a week of penicillin which hopefully will kick in soon and take the swelling from the probably infection down. I got some fresh topical gel at the store and also tried taking one of my back pain pills (I can't take ibuprofen or that other over the counter anti-inflammatory any more). I sure hope things kick in soon because it hasn't been long enough to take more pills and the aching is just miserable!

Oh, there aren't really any endodontists in the area so I have to drive nearly 2 hours to the city of Gaylord, MI to get this done, hopefully next week at the latest. I've been to that guy before, he's very good, just very expensive. No such thing as dental insurance in our house!

One more note to add. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and placed it against my jawline. INSTANT relief! I don't know what I didn't think of it earlier except that my brain was in a fog due to pain. And as cold hurts on the inside my brain probably figured cold would hurt on the outside, too. Finally, I use for peas! (I still can't stand the taste!)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hawk Attack

I've been free ranging my chickens and guineas more than I had been, after all it's summer, bugs and weeds are free which is a lot cheaper than the $20 per 50 pound bag of chicken feed. So I took the pups over to visit my friend for an hour so they and his dogs Tink and Mike could play. (forgot my camera, of course).

When I drove back down the driveway at the final curve there were a lot of gray guinea feathers and Killer, my white guinea and a couple of his guinea hens were screaming their heads off just outside the fence. As I pulled up to the garage a very large raptor took off to the east. I parked, walked back down the driveway and there was a silver guinea on her back, very dead but only just dead. I couldn't tell what actually killed her and neither could Hal who came down the driveway withing 15 minutes. I suppose it's possible she had a heart attack. Her neck was very limp but really, I couldn't say it was broken.

But I definitely interrupted the hawk before it could dig in, they seem to particularly love breast meat which is probably why my bird was belly up on the ground. Hal skinned and gutted the bird and as there was nothing wrong with it I stuck it in the fridge till I got home from Alpena this afternoon. It's now in the crock pot and smells great. As the guineas are a few years old I figure it had better stew for a quite a few hours.

Good thing I'm not sentimental about these birds.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beading the Isolde Shawl

So I started the final row of edging on my purple Isolde shawl the other day. The pattern originally required a triplet of picots but they weren't coming out right so I dropped the smaller ones on either side of the larger central one and changed the dc (double crochet) on either side to a triple crochet (treble aka tr). I've also added beading to this final edge but am not sure I'll leave it this way. I'm alternating 4 shades of purple and I think it's at least one too many.

It's not a very good photo, the lighting is bad and required the flash and it washed out the shininess as well as the actual bead colors. They are all shades of purple but seem to turn the lavender ones pink and the purple ones blue.

I'm hoping this will be done in a few more days because I've decided to enter it in the Alcona County Fair. I've never been and I've never entered anything in a fair before. In fact I've entered 4 items: 2 shawls, my pink pullover and a hat I have yet to make. The items have to be brought in on the 19th so I've got time but I don't want to rush. So back to work I go.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Shawl

This one is called Isolde by Wendy Lewis. I got the pattern from the summer issue of Crochet! Magazine. I decided to buy the entire issue rather than just the pattern because there were other patterns inside I wanted to make. I'm using Lion Brands LB 1878, a 100% virgin will in plum, a dark purple color. I really like this yarn, and of course, as soon as I discovered it Lionbrand decides to discontinue it! But there's plenty on the cone so I'll have more than enough to finish.

The design in in 3 sections, I'm currently on the 3rd pattern repeat of Section 2. The first section went really fast, the second has lots of picots which are an annoying little stitch requiring one to stick the hook into the beginning chain of a certain number of chains specified in the pattern. To me the worst this time though is the row with a double crochet every stitch. It seems to take forever to complete those rows.

Here is a photo of it unblocked. It's got an awful lot of ripples which I find worrisome as I wasn't sure that they would go away after blocking so I did a test block with it dry.

As you can see the dry blocking makes them disappear but of course they won't and didn't stay away when i unpinned it. I am hoping a good long soak and pinning to dry will make them disappear permanently. I'm told this will usually work. I hope so because I am toying with the idea of entering it in the county fair in August. Stay tuned.

My Crocheted Summer Sweater the Bell Sleeve Pullover

I see I have neglected to show off my lovely, pink cotton top that I only took 2 months (5 weeks really) to crochet. It is called the Bell Sleeve Pullover and was designed by Doris Chan, an interesting person with lots of wonderful designs, many patterns available for free as was this one. I would like to mention the Bell Sleeve is not as hard as I originally thought it was, I merely had a steep learning curve in that I had no idea how to make a foundation single crochet (fsc) to replace the ubiquitous and quite miserable to work with usual starting chain. Everyone learning to crochet starts with the row of chains which in itself is not hard to learn, what is hard is the next row, sticking that hook into and under the appropriate chain over and over again. It is VERY annoying and often frustrating especially if you're making a king size afghan or using a fuzzy yarn. I learned the fsc by watching various you tube videos, just do a search and give it a try.

But back to my glorious pullover. I used nearly all of 7 skeins of Patons Grace 100% mercerized cotton yarn in the color Wildberry. (purchased on sale for $2.99 a skein) It is soft and easy to work with, plus it dealt well with continuously ripping out sections when I screwed up something or, as I did 3 times I think, have to change to a larger pattern size. I ended up using the large size (can't believe I really started with small first!) and added 20 rows to the body and 8 rows to the sleeves plus one for the actual bell. I'm a tall women so I always have to add extra whether I am using yarn or fabric.

Here it is.

I do believe I will be making another one in  but with short cap sleeves. I thought it looked very cute that way but I wanted to make the first garment in the original design to prove I could. I love it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Photos from the "Not Quite a Tornado" Storm

This is my wooden deck. I took this photo through the window because I didn't want to get beaned by hail. It was a couple inches thick by the time it was over and it was a couple hours before it all melted.

These 2 trees are hanging over the trail I regularly walk with Luna and the Zigman. The trunks are twisted. You can barely see in the upper right corner what looks like 2 white trunks. it's actually one poplar tree broken in half, the top hanging down on the left side by its bark. Hal cut them and a lot of the other trees out of the way today. 

Closeup of the trunk of the tree in the photo above. Only swirling winds can do this I think.

Another twisted tree.
This last photo shows more trees laying in several different directions. Again, I can only believe a swirling wind could create this sort of orientation.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

POWER!!!!! and Cooler Temps!

Just before 1 am Ziggy started barking, we looked out the bedroom window and lights were slowly coming down the driveway. It was a big Consumers Electric cherry picker truck. I thought they must be lost coming down our ridiculously narrow dirt driveway when the downed lines were one street over, other side of the swamp, where our power comes from.

Hal got dressed and ambled out to see what was going. They told him the hardest part of the job was find our place, and they had to repair the cracked, and thus opened, switch linking our transformer to the lines. Also said something about us being the last ones. Hal mentioned that yeah, we were the end of the line. They were gone in 10 minutes and we just lay there waiting, and at 1:15 am the power snapped back on. SO happy to have electricity again and running water!

As a side note, last night Hal tested the small generator on the well pump and it wasn't powerful enough to run it. So now we are looking at generators on line to figure out what is the smallest size we can get away with that could also run the furnace blower in winter. Has to be bigger than the 2500 watts this Honda had. Sure did do the trick for saving our food though.

Second side note, beautiful cool breeze coming through the front windows and it's only 76 degrees outside. Fantastic!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Still No Power

Where is Scotty when you need him?

Half the village actually does have power and there are electric company trucks all over, but not on the street I get my power from. They did send a crew to cut the dead tree off the power line that runs to our transformer so when the power does come back on it won't catch fire and knock it out again.

We have some power to our house in that Hal borrowed his dad's small Honda generator and hooked it into the circuits that power the 2 refrigerators and 3 chest freezers. Then he went to the store bought some male plug ends, cut up a 14 gauge power cord and made 2 cords with a plug end on each end. They are now plugged into separate outlets in the garage and into the 2 outlets of the generator and we can turn on various things in the house, and turn off other things to keep from tripping the breakers or generator. This is why I can write to this blog. We have refrigeration and internet. However, I am about to run out of laptop battery power and will need to power down to be able to plug this in and recharge.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Closest Thing to a Tornado!

Had a bit of bother this afternoon around 2 pm. Fifteen minutes of torrential sheet like rain, huge hail and toppled and snapped trees, power lines, etc. If this wasn't a tornado, it was awfully close. I'll just let my few photos tell today's tale. The reason they're such lousy photos is it was so hot when this hit when it was over steam was rising from the ground that was covered in hail. Here you go.
lots of trees like this
Another hail photo before it all melted

just off in the woods where Esther Rd ends

my thumb, this stuff was everywhere

my driveway near the house

lots of trees like this
I'll have more updates when I get home and get power back there. At least no one was hurt. (as far as I know).

edited to replace duplicate hail photo

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Love My New Floor!

So I ordered the new vinyl floor back in April at the local store's semi-annual sale. I can't really say I got a great deal, but there would be a lot of material and labor so I don't think I over paid by much. I said there was no rush as we had to rip up the carpet ourselves as well as baseboard molding, of which there was very little, and loose pieces of vinyl. Then we waited. And waited. I had originally been told the first week or so of May.

In mid June I finally called and was informed the installer had injured his knee.Okay, no biggie, he was supposed to be very good so we waited some more. The last week of June I got the call he would be out the  Tuesday before July 4th (a Thursday this year) and work around the holiday. Good thing we don't go places too often.
the old hallway
Ed and his helper who Hal thought was his wife (she didn't talk much as she really only spoke Spanish, I got to practice what little I remembered from high school, I think she was pleased I tried) arrived about 10:10 am on the 2nd in a van with all the luan which had to be put down as an underlayment to cover the imperfections in the floor including the glue ridges left from a carpet that was glued to the floor instead of installed with carpet tacks! The luan was stapled down about every 6 inches and the edges were ground down to create a shallow channel and filled with a white filler material and made smooth.

luan to the left old vinyl to the right
Before Ed got started we showed him some water damage to the sub floor in one corner that caused the sub-floor to swell and buckle a bit. He couldn't guarantee that that part wouldn't have problems in the future but since we weren't paying to have that issue fixed (the leak was fixed and the floor was dry), he did his best to make it work by putting in long nails to reach into the sub-sub-floor instead of relying just on staples.

the extra nailed corner
Ed said he had 45 years in the business and he was good. Before he lay down the vinyl, which he had to pre-cut at the store it was such a large roll and too heavy to move by even 3 people, he made sure there was nothing, no small scrap, a poked up staple that was in the way of a perfectly flat surface. He was also very careful in matching up the pattern, in fact the 4 of us sat down for half an hour and made sure the pattern matched perfectly.
the bad corner, aka the dining room
So we were really pleased with Ed's first 2 days of work, but when he returned on Friday to complete the hallway I was blown away by his work in the hallway. First, I never expected him to also cover the risers with vinyl and then I saw how meticulous he was in matching up the grout lines. The lines flow perfectly even in the angled section.
the grout lines all line up
 One last touch was his meticulous care in cutting the corner strips. The odd angle on the top stair in the above photo meshes beautifully.
the finished hall
So we may have waited a long time but it was worth the wait. Now Hal is slowly installing the baseboard molding in the main room. He's done 2 walls only (he finally caught that head cold, so is taking a break) so all the furniture is still scattered, plus we've decided to re-arrange the rooms again. Hopefully, I'll have final photos in a month or two.

Incidentally, the floor is by Congoleum and is called Midnight Terrace. :-)