Sunday, April 26, 2015


Sorry for the blog absence. I got home from my Chicago trip late Wednesday afternoon. Thursday was spent grocery shopping, doing laundry, and catching up on a long list of things that needed my attention after being away for a week. Friday I had to drive down to Bellingham to pick up Rebekah, who is here again to take care of some things before their move back to Vancouver next month. And Saturday was spent recovering.

There is so much to blog about - a knitalong I've joined on Ravelry, two little sweaters I've finished knitting for Lucy, a new favourite kitchen product, along with some other odds and ends. But I want to devote this post to the Chicago trip.

My mom and I had to catch a 6:00 AM flight. I don't recommend this as an optimal departure time, especially when travelling with an elderly parent. There were some tense moments. Then we were going to leave my vehicle at the Park-n-Ride near the airport, but in the dark, and with my brain not quite engaged due to the ungodly hour, I managed to miss the turn-off. More tense moments.

Then the real fun began. It turns out that Southwest Airlines (or maybe all US airlines, I'm not sure) have a policy that if you don't show up within a certain time period before your flight they can mark your luggage as late, and don't guarantee it will get on the plane with you. We missed the cut-off by about three minutes. More tense moments. The very nice airline employee said not to worry, it was a small airport and she was sure the luggage would make it on. She even promised to come let me know at the gate once she saw it get on the plane. I think she could see my mom was not happy.

So all of that had happened and it wasn't even 5:30 in the morning. This may be an overly pessimistic view of the world, but I think it's a general rule in life that when your day has already started on a rapid downhill trajectory and it isn't even 6:00 yet, things probably aren't going to turn around. We were meant to fly to Denver, then change planes and go on to Chicago. I could do a series of blog posts on the events that transpired over the next eight hours, but will spare you the pain of having to read the gruesome details.

The Reader's Digest version is, our plane got diverted to Pueblo, Colorado due to weather in Denver. Eight other planes got diverted to Pueblo as well, and we had to wait in a queue to get more fuel before we could try landing in Denver again. While waiting they finally got some air stairs pulled up to the plane and we were told we could get off the plane, but if we did so we would not be allowed back on for security reasons. After waiting an hour and a half we finally taxied out to the runway, but then sat there for another hour because the pilots had just been told there was now wind shear in Denver. Any chance of making our connecting flight was gone. All I can say is thank heavens I had my knitting with me. And a phone plan that allows me to use my phone in the US, so my brother and I could alter our plans for when he would pick us up at the airport.

I'll skip over the nightmare of getting us onto the next available flight out of Denver to Chicago. Just picture an airport full of angry people whose flights had all been messed with, and airline workers who looked like their day wasn't going so great either, and you'll have the general idea. Many tense moments, and by now my mom was done. She had had it, and I felt terrible. But there wasn't anything I could do but keep us moving forward. We got on the next flight out with minutes to spare. At this point I would just like to say that sometimes, in the midst of an awful thing, a good thing can happen, and that good thing is magnified because of the timing. As we boarded the flight I spoke with the flight attendant about getting something for my mom, who is diabetic and had missed lunch, a little something to eat. Several passengers overheard and offered food to my mom, and those acts of kindness really took the rough edges off of what was a less than brilliant experience.

We proceeded without incident on to Chicago. Well, except for when the flight attendant snapped at me over the loudspeaker to sit down as I tried to go use the washroom. I've never seen an airline take turbulence, real or imagined, so seriously. Of course, I knew that there was no way our luggage made it onto the plane. We barely made it on. So in spite of the reassurance in Spokane that our luggage would get to Chicago when we did, it ended up coming in on that 9:30 flight after all, and my brother had to make an extra trip back to the airport to pick it up.

I'm happy to report that the rest of our time was wonderful. My niece Danielle was with us for the weekend. We played many hands of pinochle.

My brother and I went for long walks every day. While we were at this nature reserve I spotted cardinals, blue jays, and eastern bluebirds. Here I am trying to get a picture of a jay.

Saturday evening my mom had bought tickets for us to go to Tommy Gun's Garage. It's a dinner theatre set up like a Speakeasy during the Prohibition Era in the 1920s. My mom and dad had gone to the show many years ago when visiting Chicago, and my mom wanted me to see it. We had a great time! Here's my mom being led in by one of the gangsters.

My brother knows how much I love to knit, so he made sure were had time before the show to stop at Loopy Yarns. Thanks to blog reader Sue at Granny's World who emailed me about this shop! Of course I had to buy a souvenir skein of yarn. I had the lady put it into a cake so my mom and brother could see how a ball winder and swift worked.

Then my brother surprised me by buying one of their beautiful hand thrown pottery yarn bowls!

Sunday we played more cards, and in the evening went to Mastro's Steakhouse. The food was great, and our server was a dead ringer for Aidan Turner, the actor who plays the part of Ross in the new BBC series Poldark.

We had an uneventful flight home on Tuesday. The only glitch was a delay with our connection in Las Vegas. Somehow, my mom didn't seem to mind this as much as she did sitting on the tarmac in Pueblo.

So that's it. Chicago done and dusted. My apologies for a very long-winded post. I've gotten behind in my blog reading while I was away, so my apologies for that as well. I'm happy to be home, and hope to catch up with all of you this week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Away Again

I thought I should do a quick post before I disappear for a few days. Tomorrow I am driving down to Spokane, then Friday my mom and I are flying to Chicago to visit my brother. I think this might turn out to be my lowest budget trip ever. My brother has air miles running out his ears, so he got the tickets. And my mom is not in great health and isn't really able to do much in the way of tourist activities, so I don't see it costing us very much when we are there. Unless, of course, I happen upon a yarn shop.

I always enjoy reading your comments, and wanted to respond to a few things from the last couple of posts I have written. Several of you wondered if it would be possible to have the cougar moved to a different location. Unfortunately that isn't a possibility. There are several reasons for this, the main one being the cost involved. Generally speaking, in this province when there is a bear or cougar that is proving to be a problem they are put down. It's the reason the conservation officer said he wouldn't come out unless several other complaints were made. To come out meant he would have to shoot the cougar.

As for the heron nests, I was very surprised as well when I saw how small they were compared to the size of the birds. We had binoculars with us, and when I got a close-up view it looked rather silly to see such a big bird in such a small nest. I have no idea how there could possibly be room for eggs!

Also, when I mentioned I was starting a sweater called the Plain Grandpa Sweater there was a comment saying the sweater seemed too nice for its name. I agree. Here it is, finished and ready to be gifted to a friend.

Plain Grandpa Sweater, size 12 months

The instructions didn't say how to make the button loop, so I did some Googling and came up with this YouTube tutorial. I was really pleased with the result.

Now it's time to do some packing. I hope you have a great week!

*Edited to say this is a baby sweater, meant to fit a a 12 month old. It looks bigger than it really is in the picture. Ravelry details here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Nature Walk

When my three youngest children were small we would often go on nature walks. One of our favourite places to go was Grohman Narrows, a small provincial park just ten minutes down the road from where we lived. We would amble along, looking for turtles, dragon and damselflies, wild ginger, interesting rocks, ant hills, and anything else that caught our attention. Sometimes when we returned home I would have them sketch something they had seen in their Nature Notebooks, but more often than not the walk itself was enough.

Grohman Narrows borders the Kootenay River, and just before the park entrance the highway goes by a tall pole, and on that pole was an osprey's nest. Right around this time every spring we would all guess what date we thought the ospreys would return to their nest. My children are all adults now, but they still talk about making their osprey guesses. It's nice to know this seemingly small thing has remained one of their fond childhood memories.

I was reminded of our nature walks when Rebekah was visiting. On her last day here we went to the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, a place I have written about before. The last time I was there was on my birthday in February, long before the leaves were out, and well before the herons were nesting. What a contrast this visit was to the previous one.

There were new inhabitants at the pond.

The leaves were making an appearance on the trees along the Vedder River.

The warmer weather meant there were more people on the trail, and not all of them were walkers.

We continued on the path until it left the river and took us up on a dike. The river was to our right, and to the left was open farmland with the mountains in the distance.

Do you see the trees just beyond where the path curves? That's where the heron nests are located. Here's a closer view.

It was hard to get a good picture of a heron. Those nests are quite high up in the trees.

Just beyond the heron nesting area we spotted this pair of eagles. Did you know that eagles mate for life? I wonder how many years this pair have been together.

I hope you've enjoyed today's nature walk, and I would love to hear about any traditions you've done in your family to encourage a love of nature.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

In Between

In between knitting projects...

I am waiting for some yarn to arrive to start a couple new knitting projects. So in the meantime I cast on a baby sweater to gift to someone here at The Cottages who just had her first baby. It's called the Plain Grandpa Sweater, and if you can get past some of the rather quirky Norwegian to English translation, it's a fast and interesting project. I know it looks like a lump of nothing in this picture, but the pattern promises it will all work out.

In between countries...

Rebekah and Anton are moving back to Canada! I am so happy about this I can hardly contain myself. Rebekah is here right now taking care of the some of the details involved with that move. She's taking advantage of my sewing machine while she visits.

We were in Vancouver on Wednesday, and found our way to the Button Button store. I wished I had the yarn for the baby sweater I'm knitting with me so I could have purchased a button.

In between trips to Spokane...

I was just down to see my mom a few weeks ago, and am now planning for my next trip down which will be in less than two weeks. My mom wanted to fly back to Chicago to visit my brother, but didn't want to travel alone. I'm the official escort.

In between fear and courage (or stupidity?)...

Yesterday was the first nice day in awhile, so I decided to go hike Teapot Hill instead of doing my usual walk to Lindell Beach. It was Good Friday, so I knew there would be lots of other hikers and I wouldn't have to worry about being alone on the trail. While I was hiking Teapot the neighbours behind us had come over to our cottage to let us know they had just walked down to Lindell Beach and encountered a cougar. They said it obviously had something wrong with it. It looked very thin, had a cut on its head, and was attempting to jump over a chain link fence but couldn't make it. They also said it was big. Very big.

They spotted the cougar before it spotted them. They slowly backed up and were trying to decide what to do when someone drove by, pulled over, and gave them a lift home. I wrote a post about my walk to Lindell Beach back in January. If you scroll down through the pictures you will see one of a mossy stone hanging on a pole. The chain link fence in the background is what the cougar was trying to jump over. If I hadn't decided to do Teapot Hill I would have been walking by that spot at the exact time the cougar was there. Of course, hiking Teapot doesn't guarantee one won't have a cougar encounter either.

Here's the thing. This is my daily walk. My meditation. My exercise. My routine. I am not going to stop walking to Lindell Beach. However, for the next week or two I do think I'll take my walking stick.

In between Good Friday and Easter...

We are having a fairly quiet holiday weekend. Alexandra is driving down from Kamloops today, so it will be a treat having both girls here together. Happy Easter!