Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lightning Strike!

About 9 pm I just happened to be in the east bedroom programming the VCR (yes, some of us still use those) when I just happened to be looking toward the window and saw a vertical strike somewhere across the pond. It was accompanied by a HUGE BOOM. Scared the crap out of me. I don't know what it hit, a tree I suspect, but dang that was violent. I called Mrs J to be sure she was all right, she thought it had hit her house. I just hope it didn't go deep enough to take out another well pump. Guess we'll know that in a couple of days unless it's already stone dead. If there is anything to photograph I'll post those tomorrow.

Incidentally, some snow peas are finally sprouting, from the 2013 seeds.

Lillian in the Cedars

It's just a coincidence that the name of this shawl is my paternal grandmother's name. But I liked the pattern and i loved my grandmother so it seemed appropriate. I posted a beginning photo back and April 10th but just realized I did not post one of the finished shawl. The main body was pretty easy though I'd been working with worsted yarns so much going back to fingering weight was awkward to the point that the first few rows of the shawl were crocheted much too loosely than they should have been. I tried to fix that in blocking.
The edging is very open and a little awkward to attach but I did my best. I also added beads to the final outer edge within the picots.
One annoyance with this pattern is the edging doesn't seem to go all the way to the side edges as the rows continue. It's very odd and looks even odder blocked but at some point I may try to add some chain stitches to the sides. Haven't figured out how yet and I'm about to start 2 new shawls so who knows when it will happen. Still, if I can figure out how to fix the edging it would be nice to make another.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Photo of Crocuses

As the weather is still a bit colder than normal and wetter than I'd like I did manage to get a photo of my purple crocuses on one nice day. I really need to plant more varieties.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fixing The Back Deck

As I've probably posted before Hal is slowly replacing the decking around the house. Last year he did the east deck suspended over the garage. This year he is tackling the north deck on the back of the house. It is the least used of all of them but the most damaged from the fact it is on the north side and bears the brunt of the the winter storms coming out of the northwest.

I don't know if he is going to do the whole of the deck this year or just half, but so far he's blocked off the upper part and has torn apart the lower portion. Here are a couple of photos.
Here's a closeup showing the extent of the rot. As the project progresses I will take more photos. The weather hasn't been cooperating however so nothing much will be happening again for a few days.
rotten joist

Saturday, April 26, 2014

More Crochet Projects Completed

Finished a couple more crochet projects this week. One of them, another shawl called Winter's End that I started at the end of March was blocked and photographed in the woods 2 days ago. It's 100% Peruvian wool (Cascade 220). I had the brown and purple yarns for years, can't remember how many, but picked it up when I visited WEBs in Northhampton, MA with some online friends. I said at the time it would probably be a shawl though at the time I really wasn't do much crocheting and I didn't have a great amount of experience doing anything fancier than the occasional hat or afghan. But a little more than a year after getting back into crocheting I have really learned at lot. I'm calling my version of the pattern Really Late Spring because spring was late and is staying very cold.
64" wide x 23" deep at the center
I am really pleased with how much this shawl stretched when I blocked it because it sure didn't look very big when I first completed it. I'm just luck wool and the mesh design of the body cooperated.
Pre-blocking almost as wide but only 12" deep
The other project I just completed today is the lace cardigan I started last August. Unfortunately I have since gained quite a bit of weight and it no longer fits so I am hoping it might fit someone else in the family. Until then I can't do the final blocking or add the buttons. Otherwise, it is finished so will sit in a drawer for now. Hey, maybe I'll lose that weight someday!

The yarn was a bamboo acrylic from NaturallyCaron.com that is no longer made which is a shame because it has a nice weight, feel and sheen to to. I was lucky to find another skein of it at my local hardware store when it turned out I hadn't bought enough. The dye lot was different but I alternated for a few rows in case it runs in the wash. Hopefully that won't happen. Sure can't see any difference in this photo or in person.
Latticework Cardigan
Both patterns were designed by Michelle DuNaier who can be found at ravelry.com.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Luna is Limping, Again

Luna seems to be the klutz of the family. I don't know how she does it but every few weeks it seems something is wrong with her. Lately she has been obsessed with licking the outside toes of her right front paw. I kept checking but couldn't find anything wrong. Those outer 2 toes were blood stained as well so I suspected a toenail problem but still couldn't see anything. I made sure to keep her toenails clipped as well, but not too short.

I took her to the vet Friday but in my mind the doc really didn't pay that much attention to it since she wasn't limping. Maybe it's because Ziggy was there too and getting all his shots and his annual exam, who knows? He thought it was an allergy, gave her a shot and said to watch it. uhuh.

Well late yesterday afternoon on our last walk of the day the two of them decided to go wild digging a hole looking for critters. I just kept walking on our circular trail and on my 3rd past finally just grabbed collars and dragged them away. I thought I noticed a slight limp. Later in the evening that limp was quite pronounced and there was no improvement this morning. So I've made another appointment for this afternoon. I suspect this time that foot will get looked at properly.


Back from the vet. Poor Luna got her foot prodded and poked and pulled, and then that outer toe shaved and got her webbing nicked to boot! But the doc thinks she caught her toenail on something and hyper-extended the joint and of course digging exacerbated the injury. So she is on pain/anti-inflammatory meds for 10 days and no walks or digging. She isn't going to be happy about that, but she should be used to it by now, every year it seems she injures one limb or another!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Problem with Spring

As much as I look forward to warmer weather, especially after such a brutal winter, I don't enjoy what my dogs often find in the woods, namely, stinky things to roll around in. And so as not to let me become too complacent in my enjoyment of spring, Luna was the first to find something to cover her neck in. Notice how she seems so proud of herself.

She must have found something old though, as it didn't smell as bad as it usually does. I still had to take the hose to her and use the odor killing shampoo.
Of course, after the bath she had to roll the in the dirt to compensate. Fortunately the dirt is fairly clean and did eventually fall off after she dried.
Not to be outdone however, the ever feisty Ziggy did find fresh bear poop and you could smell him coming. I didn't bother with the photo though because you can't see it on a black dog. He did not enjoy the outdoor hose bath because it was colder out that day. Plus the shampoo didn't get all the smell out so he was also doused with baby powder. So for now, all are mostly clean. Till next time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More Snow and a Few Other Things

Woke up to 4 inches of fluffy new snow on the ground yesterday morning and temps that wouldn't climb out of the high 20s. Rather disappointing after all the nicer weather we'd been having but we always seem to get at least one snow storm in April so it wasn't unexpected. I managed to walk the dogs once through the woods before I had to leave for Alpena. I snapped a few photos. Of course Luna and Ziggy are in some of them.

While in Alpena Mrs J and I ate at the Mexican restaurant that replaced the previous one that just couldn't make a go of it. I was not impressed. Hal was not impressed with the take-out I brought him. The rice and beans were bland, actually needed salt to improve the taste, I almost never add salt to my food.  Mrs J like it, said it was better than the old one. I miss the old one, at least they knew how to use spices, this new place does not. Still it's only been open a couple weeks maybe they'll improve. I'll try it at least once more, get something different.

I also picked up my new eye glasses. I've been wearing wire rims for years and decided to go with something different this time, back to plastic, but they're dark purple. and just happen to match the color of Rory. Must be fate.

Nothing else I can think of to relate. Temps got to 45 today but the wind was blowing so it felt cold even with the sun. May be better tomorrow.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Planted Some Snow Peas

The day after I dug in the garden I dug some more, mostly along the south and west sides. I found some snow-pea seeds from last year. One a packet of Burpee Snowbird that I hadn't even open, it got lost on a shelf in the garage. The other snow peas were from the bulk seeds I bought at the Lincoln hardware store. I soaked them for about an hour which should help with the germination and managed to get them planted just as a light rain shower started. I counted a little over 270 seeds, about 120 were the Snowbird and the rest were the unknown variety. I hope I get some germination as I don't know when my seeds from Pinetree in Maine will arrive.

We're going to have a 3 day taste of winter starting tomorrow. Though the high is supposed to be around 43, the night temps are to be around 20, and then Tuesday's high only 31 and then 16. Wednesday it creeps a bit higher but no 40s again till Thursday. They're even talking snow Monday night though I don't know how much yet. Hopefully most of the wet weather will come through in the daytime, it's all about the timing of the cold front's arrival. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but at least it shouldn't stick around too long. I just don't want it to crush the 2 crocuses that are about to bloom. It will be nice to see a flower or two!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Got to Dig in the Garden Today!

I really didn't think I'd be able to any gardening as the snow only melted off my 3 vegetable gardens in the last few days. I figured I'd hit frost a couple inches down, but I took my claw-hoe to it and dang, I could dig! So I spent about an hour cleaning the weeds off the top of my smallest garden, the one with the higher fence for the snow peas to climb.

It felt good, I will work on it and the others a little more this week, though probably not tomorrow as they are forecasting rain.

I also finally ordered my vegetable seeds from PineTree Gardens in Maine. Usually I'd have ordered them a month ago but the nasty winter just kept me from even thinking about gardening. Since I was so late they actually sold out of one of my favorite green beans, Jade, but I was still able to get Masai and got a couple others to try.

Free ranged the birds again, and walked the dogs as usual. While I was digging they poked around in the swamp, getting into places they hadn't seen in months. I suspect that soon they will find something stinky to roll in.

I also walked the electric fence this afternoon and repaired 3 separate breaks in the top wire, all caused by deer leaping into the yard (I could tell by the quantity of deer poop everywhere and the lack of trees laying across the wire). Still won't turn it back on for a few days as the lower wire is still buried in places by snow.

And my daffodils are poking through the ground. No sign of any crocuses though.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Finally Arrived

These last few days we have had temperatures in the low 50s. Today reached 56.8 F. It's been really nice, sunny, all around pleasant. The snow is melting much more quickly now though my driveway is still a sheet of ice in places. The vegetable gardens are slowly appearing though the ground is still too cold and mostly frozen to even think about planting cold weather veggies like lettuce or peas. I haven't even bought any seeds because it just seemed as though winter would never end.

I saw my first robin yesterday while driving to Alpena. Hal had seen a flock last week but I still haven't seen any in my own yard.

Been free ranging the chickens and guineas now and then. They've been enjoying getting out of their wet, crap filled run and picking at whatever they can find. They particularly have enjoyed dust bathing again up against the house foundation where the ground has thawed and dried out. I even mucked the coop out Sunday and did a little more today. It was worse than it's ever been in the past because it was just too cold most of the winter for the birds to be outside. I still need to pull out a bit more crap before I can add fresh straw.

No sign of any crocuses yet, maybe within the week. That would be nice. I wonder when the grass will start reviving.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finished a Shawl and Started 2 More

I do seem to be addicted to the things. Of course, when done they almost always need blocking and that seems to take me weeks to get around to doing, but here is the one I just finished last week. The pattern is called Ginny's Patronus Cloak, I named mine Candied Nougat Chocolate Frog Patronus Shawl.  I learned a new stitch for this one, the Post double crochet, front and back. Made some interesting ridges in the center of the shawl. The yarn is mostly acrylic except for two that are an acrylic wool mix. I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.

Right after finishing that one I started another by the same designer. It's called Winter's End. I haven't really named this one yet. I'm using some 100% wool yarn I picked up a long time ago at WEBs in North Hampton, MA. A huge yarn warehouse place with so much yarn I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what to get. It probably didn't help at the time that I really hadn't been crocheting with anything other than cheap acrylics and so had no idea what I needed or wanted. So it sat in the closet till I started this one and boy do I love this yarn. So much that I ordered more this week during their anniversary sale. Turns out it's one of their most popular brands. Oh, that would be Cascade 220.

This is a crescent shaped shawl, made with chains and single crochets. The edging is next but I'm waiting on a contrasting color to arrive before I can finish.

While I am waiting for my yarn I started yet another shawl, this one by a different designer. It's a pattern I won last year and is called Lillian. I like that name. I tried 3 different yarns and several different hooks before I settled on this merino wool/rayon/nylon sock yarn and a 4.5 mm hook. I started it yesterday. This is crocheted one side to the other rather than center top down, this photo is about one third of the way through and I am now working on the center back section, it won't get any longer until the lace edging is added at the end.
And my yarn shipped tonight, with one set of yarn missing. Although I know I ordered it in time it is now back ordered. Means I won't get it at all at the sale price even when it comes back in. *sigh* At least it wasn't the wool yarn.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First of April

The low early this morning was 33.8 F, the high 49.2 though the wind felt colder. The high was barely a blip when it started dropping back to the low 40s. There were on and off rain showers which changed to snow a couple hours ago, which left a dusting on the ground.

Took a few photos today. Planning on taking the same ones the first of every month so I can tell next year what I should or shouldn't expect at a particular time of year.
There's been some melting