Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Catch Up

My mom and sister-in-law Cheri just left this morning. We had a great visit with them, and I think it was really good for my mom to have a mini-holiday. I really appreciated the fact that not only was Cheri willing to drive my mom 600 kilometers to see us, she also had to fly from her home in Chicago in order to do so. I gifted her with these autumn-themed dish cloths by KrisKnits. I don't especially enjoy knitting with cotton, but these patterns were so cute I decided to make an exception.

Clockwise from upper left: tree with bare branches, pear, scarecrow, maple leaf, pumpkin pie, pumpkin

Here's another recently finished project. I knit this for my dear friend Barb, who is celebrating a birthday tomorrow. Unfortunately I had to mail Barb's present to her, so don't have a picture of her wearing it. You will have to settle for my in-house model Alexandra.

This is my second Boneyard Shawl, and I have to say it was as much fun knitting this one as the first. Now I am caught up with posting recently completed knitting projects. I just wish I could say the same about the other areas of my life. It is always fun having guests, but once they leave and real life takes over again it is always shocking to discover how far behind I am.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fergus Friday, August 24, 2012

It has been guest time here at the Hammond house. Jay's sister has been here all week and goes home tomorrow. The day after she leaves my mom and sister-in-law Cheri arrive for a visit. This hasn't left me much time for blogging, so I thought I would sneak in a picture heavy Fergus Friday post.

Fergus is now eight months old, and seems to be growing more mischievous with age rather than less. Don't be fooled by this innocent pose.

Now that he is bigger he is able to get up onto furniture that we really don't want him on. This is the coffee table in our living room. It used to be a place Jay could leave his newspapers, magazines and books and expect them to be there when he returned. Not any longer. Fergus's favourite periodical is The Economist. What you can't see in this picture is the section he has ripped out. There is nothing Fergus likes better than a good paper shredding session. Last week's Economist proved particularly troublesome to read due to the fact Fergus managed to bite the whole top corner of the magazine off.

Last week I was sitting at the kitchen table doing something on my computer when a flash of white caught my eye. I looked up and could not believe it! There was Fergus, sitting on top of our dining room table liked he owned it. I have no clue how he got up there.

I am not the only one who loves whipped cream in this house. Fergus goes crazy when he sees me take the hand mixer out. He runs over to the floor beside me, waiting for little bits to splatter onto the floor, then licks them up before Jenny can get them. Even better are the beaters and spatula.

My mom is going to have conniption fits when she is here. She is not an animal lover, and somehow I just don't think she is going to find scenes like this quite as endearing as we do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Out and About

There have been a few things that have happened over the past couple of weeks that I have meant to blog about but am only now getting around to. Now, I know I lean a little more to the OCD end of the rating scale than most people, but even so I think this was over the top. A couple weeks ago in the gym change room I looked under the bathroom door to see if it was vacant. It wasn't, and this is how I could tell. The person using it had her iPod and earbuds sitting at her feet. On the bathroom floor. A public bathroom floor.

The next day I was at Costco, standing in line waiting to pay. A movement behind me caught my eye and when I looked back there was a guy rummaging through his billfold looking for something and while he was doing so he was holding a $5 bill in his mouth so he could use both hands.

Am I just paranoid, or are these things that most people would never do? I know I would never do them, but maybe I'm the person who is over the top and the two people I saw are the normal ones.

My next "out and about" story is much nicer. I was at the grocery store waiting to pay (it sounds like I am in line at stores a lot, but really it is only once a week when I shop) and there was this lovely older lady ahead of me. She was probably in her mid-eighties, and was one of those woman who "put on their face" even if they are just popping out for some bread and milk. Her outfit was gorgeous and her face had carefully applied make-up. This was in direct contrast to the person standing behind her in line.

As she pulled out her charge card to insert in the machine I was thinking how challenging it must be for older people who have to deal with all the new technology and ways of doing business. She had trouble entering her PIN and was saying how she was always forgetting it even though she used the same one for all her accounts. The cashier and I glanced at each other and shared an "oh, isn't she sweet?' look between us.

It was what happened next that took us totally by surprise. When she reached into her purse I was expecting her to pull out a piece of paper with her number on it. Instead she whipped out an iPhone, flicked her fingers across it like she had been doing it all her life, and then entered her PIN for her charge card. As the elegant elderly lady wheeled her cart away the cashier turned to me, a look of shock on her face, and said she was also totally expecting the lady to pull out a piece of paper, not an iPhone. Silly us.

This next item happened right outside our house, but I am going to count it in the "out and about" department anyway. We had a huge hail storm a few weeks ago. The hail stones were the biggest I have ever seen. Now I realize that there are places in the Midwest and the Prairies that have much worse storms than the one we had, but on a Kamloops scale this was pretty epic. I wanted to get a picture for my blog so braved getting pelted and quickly ran out to take this.

It isn't just when I go out for walks on the trail that I have to be on the watch for wildlife. If I do my neighbourhood walk I have to constantly remind myself to look up before walking under the lampposts. Here's why.

My final "out and about" happened yesterday. I was at the Kamloops Farmer's Market doing my usual Saturday shopping. I happened to look over at a lady selling fruit and spied one lone basket of sour cherries on her table! It is almost impossible to find sour cherries and I dearly love them. Here they are, baked my new favourite way for doing crisps, in 250ml canning jars.

There are three people eating dinner here tonight and four jars with cherry crisp in them. I definitely think the extra one should go to the person who pitted all those cherries.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sky Watching For Dummies

Saturday night was supposed to be The Night to observe the Perseid Meteor Shower. It happens every August, but this year had two things going for it that not all years do. There was a waning moon and a clear sky, which meant unobstructed viewing.

My biggest problem with viewing the Perseids is that, given they require darkness in order to be observed, it means they happen after my bedtime. At 9:40 Saturday night I was ready to take myself and my book to bed. I wanted to say I had made an effort to see the meteor shower though, so went out the back door to the deck, glanced up at the sky, didn't see anything, and, satisfied I had done my bit, went back inside.

Twenty minutes later Jay came upstairs and expressed surprise that I wasn't going out to look at the sky. You need to know Jay is somewhat of an amateur astronomer, knows every constellation, and before we moved to Richmond owned a very nice telescope. I said I had already looked and there weren't any meteors. I was informed I was looking at the wrong part of the sky. Fine. I reluctantly got out of bed and followed him outside. This is how the rest of the evening went.

"There's one!"

"Where?" I ask in confusion, looking at a completely different patch of night sky.

More minutes pass with my head bent back, sending a pain down my neck and into my back, without spotting a single meteor. I have a brilliant idea and go to lie down on the hammock to watch. As soon as I lie down I realize that from that angle the roof of our house is blocking the view of the section of sky I want to see. It is also the the moment Jay calls out, "There's another one!"

I go back to standing, pointing out to Jay that it is easier for him to observe since he is a foot closer to the sky than me. I know this makes no sense, but it was past my bedtime. Then I have another great idea. If I scooted the hammock over to the lawn I could lie down and see the part of the sky where the alleged meteor shower was taking place. Guess what happened as I was busy pulling the hammock onto the grass?

"Wow! Did you see that one! That is the most amazing meteor I have ever seen! It was so bright it almost glowed purple!"

Okay, now I was mad. I decided there was no way I was going to bed until I had seen at least one stupid meteor, which I did about 10 excruciatingly painful minutes later. Who knew sky watching could be such a pain in the neck?

Well, to answer my own question I would have to admit I should have known. I have been watching the sky every day for the last six months.  I am now officially halfway down with my Sky Scarf and it is beginning to feel like I am knitting a noose rather than a scarf. I think it will be long enough for one too when it is finished. The thrill of looking at the sky every day at noon and knitting the colours into the scarf started to fade somewhere around the second month. By month four all enthusiasm for the project was gone. Every last little bit. Now, going into month seven I can say the tyranny of this project falls somewhere between shopping and paper work, unpleasant but also unavoidable.

I need to catch up on weaving in the ends. Sigh...

There are two things that keep me knitting away. The first is I have a fairly large investment in the yarn I bought for the project. The second is I know I am going to like the finished product. (Well, as long as I don't get tangled up in it and end up strangling myself.) If you look at the bottom part you can see we have had brilliant weather for the last month and a half. Above that is that horrible stretch of weather we had all through June and into the first of July. And I am just weird enough to think that's kind of neat.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Helpful Hiking Hints

First of all I want to say thank you for everyone's kind comments on my last post. They were very much appreciated. I find one cure for feeling sad is to get out in nature. Yesterday Kellen, Anita and I went up to Sun Peaks to do some hiking, and by the time our adventure was over I was feeling much better.

The chairlift takes you up to the start of the trail. It is a weird experience to ride a chairlift in the summer. For one thing, without the snow it is a lot farther down to the ground than in the winter. And I am not keen on heights!

This is the time of the year that the alpine meadows are filled with wildflowers - lupines, tiger lilies, Indian paintbrush, cow parsnip, wild rhododendrons, heather, asters, daisies and more. When you walk through a thick patch of lupines the air is thick with a sweet scent and the hum of bees. I wish there was a way to capture that along with the scenery in these pictures.

Kellen and Anita at the start of the trail

Me, surrounded by lupines and Indian paintbrush

The white lupine was only in this one patch

Nearing the peak

Kellen and I at the peak

I love this picture. Kellen and I look the same height, at least until you look at our feet. The elevation was 2152 meters (7060 feet), which explained why I was a bit winded by the time I got to the top. Now I have three helpful hints for hiking.

1. If you lift up your arm to smell it, checking to see if you still have bug repellant on because the mosquitoes seem to be having a picnic on it, be sure to not lift it so high you obstruct your vision and end up tripping over a rock and falling head first onto the trail.

2. If you need to take a bathroom break it might be best to not choose a spot right after the trail has forked. Just because there isn't anyone on the trail behind you does not mean there isn't anyone on the trail above you. 

3. If you decide it would be fun to get a picture of yourself standing in the snow in August,

and you laugh at your son when he gets mired down in a muddy spot as he steps off the patch of snow, be very careful you don't do the same thing when you step off the snow patch.

The climb down took a fraction of the time the hike up the mountain did. On the way down we went by this picturesque alpine lake.

Tod Lake

Five hours, 13 kilometers and quite a few mosquito bites later we were back at the chairlift, ready to head down the mountain. It was a picture perfect day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Remembering, One Year Later

Time moves on,
People move on,
Pain lingers...

One year ago today my dad passed away.

Last month when Karsten, Diana and I were visiting my mom we went out to the Washington State Veterans Cemetery. It was July 8th, my dad's birthday. Last year my dad turned 80, and we had plans to celebrate together after Rebekah and Anton's wedding in August. It was a celebration that never happened.

The military cemetery is a hauntingly beautiful place, set in the midst of the rolling grain fields of Eastern Washington. My dad was so proud of his country, and his military service. It is the perfect resting place for him.

Even worse than having postponed celebrating my dad's birthday was my decision to not go down to Spokane the minute he went into the hospital. But none of us had any idea he was so sick, including the doctors. I made the decision to finish the baking for Rebekah's wedding, then go down. If I could go back and change just one moment in my life, reverse a single thought or action, this would be the one. He died in the early morning hours of the day I was planning to drive down to see him.

Special Man
Kind Man
Loved The Farm
His Children &