Saturday, December 31, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Ahhhhh. Contented sigh.

I'm home! The holiday travels are over, and it's time to sit, catch my breath, and get back to my regular routines. The holiday was lovely, but I'm ready for some downtime now.

We did the Central Alberta Loop (my name, not official) of Grande Cache, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, Edmonton, and home. The weather was mild (mostly just below zero degrees Celsius), and the roads were in excellent condition. Some skiing was done (at Sunshine, where Alec Baldwin was spotted enjoying the fresh powder on the slopes), but not by me. I sat with my Dad (yes, his broken leg kept him off the ski-hill) and drank way too much coffee.

My brother and his girlfriend shivered a lot - apparently coming to winter in Canada after summer in Australia is a bit of a shock. Who knew?

Here are Ivan and Emily acknowledging the proximity of dangerous wildlife. Of course, they're too skinny to be taken serious as bear bait - although a bear might choke on one of them trying to swallow.

Here they are playing along the Smokey River. Yes, that's ice. Yes, it was cold(ish). Yup, they're monkeying around skipping stones. This is all a novelty to them, as they don't usually find half frozen river beds in Melbourne, Australia. In a high rise. Near the beach. Poor little them.

This is Emily on the "beach" in Jasper National Park. The river widens out here, and is so slow and sandy that it appears more like an ocean vista than a river in the Rocky Mountains. Note the snow on the mountain peaks (it was December, after all).

And, here we have Ivan and Emily lounging around at the base of a small frozen waterfall. Later in the trip we drove by The Weeping Wall, which is such a large frozen waterfall that it had nearly a dozen ice climbers on it. Sadly, my camera batteries had died by that point, or you would be squinting at a photo of a huge wall of ice with teeny tiny way-up-high must-be-insane climbers dotted here and there on the ice. Oy.

So, I'm glad to be home, and will soon be back to knitting socks, binding quilted placemats, and cooking for DH. Oh, and keeping Peanut warm while she naps in my lap. Ahhh, life is sweet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ride 'er Cow-Bean

Here at Casa de Logan we share our lives with two creatures of feline persuasion. Regular readers will remember them from various previous incidents of blogging the cat, but for new readers (and those unfortunate enough to have just stumbled upon my regular posting of madness) I will go through the introductions all over again.

Please stay with me, as the mental image at the end is worth it. My stomach muscles still hurt from seeing it all played out in front of me.

Bean (the brown tabby) is light for her size, and a ball of fun, fun, fun. She's long, tall, and weighs 12 pounds. Her favorite activities include chasing shadows, playing with anyone who will play with her, and laying on her back in the sun. She is generally located by listening for galloping noises, interspersed with high jumps, flips, and barrel rolls. The only time she slows down is when patiently waiting to be fed (sits calmly while I open the can, the strolls casually toward the food bowls once they are put down).

Peanut (the black and white lump) is dense for her size, and a ball of naps, naps, naps. She's short along both the x- and y- axis, and weighs 12 pounds. Her favorite activities include napping on any soft surface, napping on anyone who will let her, and whining until we come and find her current nap location and cover her with a blanket. She is generally located by looking for a suspiciously breathing blanket or pillow, interspersed with whimpers when she needs the blanket rearranged. The only time she speeds up is when winding around my legs at feeding time, until I put down the bowls, when she goes running full tilt at them, determined to get the choice bowl, first.

Eventually it was bound to happen. The very nature of their natures had to collide. And, I think you know what I'm getting at here.

Yup. This morning Bean was standing patiently, looking at the spot where I put the food bowls, when Peanut, anxious to get there first, went running in at full speed, not looking where she was going...

She ran in underneath Bean, from between Bean's back legs, and just kept going. Poor Bean was suddenly traveling at full speed, on the back of the Peanut - until Peanut slammed on the claws right in front of the food bowl, and Bean went sliding off half forwards and half sideways, left legs flailing in the air as she went. Peanut, unperturbed, was at her bowl speed feeding, even as Bean was shaking her head and trying to get her bearings back.

I haven't laughed so hard in ages. The poor Bean had to go have a lie down in another room, and missed breakfast entirely. Oy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

On the Practice of Patience

The Plan:
"This year, I shall knit scarves for those I love. Except for the placemats I will be making for Dad and Marion - I love them too, but they asked for placemats."

The Followthrough:
"Honey, they're all finished! Yes, including washing and blocking. I'm getting them ready to send, now."

The Problem:
"Did I remember to take photos of all the hand knitted gifts before I wrapped them? Why no, of course not. Unwrap, take photos and re-wrap? I'd rather not. What, you insist? Threatening me with middle-of-nap-drooling photos of me, posted on my blog, if I don't take photos of the scarves? Okay, fine, I'll re-wrap them later." Photo taking did ensue, but I made DH take the photos seeing as how he was the one insisting on it.

The Completion:
"Honey, I just mailed off all of the gifts for your family. On Monday, December 12th. Doesn't this make 2005 the first (and possibly only) year I've ever finished and sent the hand made gifts on time?"

The Temper Tantrum:
"But the photos, they are sooo great! Really DH, you take photos so much better than me. The stitch definition, the colours, the shading - so much better than I would have taken. What do you mean, I can't post them on my blog until after Christmas? Are you freakin' kidding? I've been knitting since the beginning of Sep-fucking-tember, dammit! Screw you! Patience? Fuck that! It's my blog, and I'll post when I want to!"

The Disclaimer:
If you are expecting a gift from us, and want the finished product (even though you know you are getting a scarf) to be a surprise, then stop reading this post here. Do NOT scroll down. Come back after Christmas. Because I refuse to practice patience after knitting for months. And months. Since September. So there!

Note: Not all scarves are shown. Some views are odd. I don't care. I am, however, really thrilled to be able to finally post some "finished" photos. Yay!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Counting Down the Gifts

Time to take stock of hand made Christmas presents completed, and those yet to be finished (or started - argh!).

DH's Family:
Dad - finished (needs cat hair removal)
Mom - finished (including blocking & conditioning)
Chris - finished
Rhea - finished (including blocking)
Grandma - finished (including blocking)
Grandpa - finished
Dave - finished
All that is left is wrapping, packaging, and mailing. Yippee!

My Family:
Dad & Marion - not started (uh oh!)
Mom - 1/4 done (glass half full view)
Horst - finished
Dan - finished
Alex - finished
Faith - finished
Blake - finished
Ivan - not started
Emily - not started

DH & I:
Fuzzy Feet for DH - finished
Fuzzy Feet for me - not started
Socks for DH - 1 done, 1 started
Socks for me - not started

Okay, so overall, I'm doing pretty good on the hand made gifts. Ivan & Emily won't be started until I have spoken with them Dec. 16th (which is when they arrive in Canada). I don't want to make them gifts they don't want or need, so will be asking what in particular they would like.

Dad & Marion's gift (a set of 8 quilted placemats) requires some measurements before I get cutting, as I don't want to make them too big to have the full set of 8 on the table (need table top size).

Mom's scarf is giving me headaches, as it is a complex pattern (must pay attention) in an inky purple, so is not good TV knitting. However, the yarn is lovely to work with (Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool), so I enjoy my few minutes a day with it.

The gifts for DH will be finished by Christmas, plus I will buy him something small (probably a DVD, video game, or book). The "gifts for me" are really just things I would like, so can wait until after Christmas. Plus, DH bought me some sock wool in colours just for me, even though he doesn't know it yet. I will put it in a basket with a ribbon, and leave it under the Christmas tree - he loves surprise wife gifts like that (takes the pressure off him).

So, I believe I am in pretty good shape for Christmas. No, I probably won't get the two wall hangings and new bed quilt done as hoped, but I think I must have been on crack the day I included those in my pre-Christmas list, anyway. Okay, I wasn't actually on crack, but I was weak to the influence of yummy fabric stash. I love my stash. Mmmmm, stash.

Also, in case you're wondering, yes, I plan to do a lot of knitting for the feet in this home (mine and DH's). Even though the floor downstairs is heated, our feet generally aren't on that floor - we tend to live reclined. So, our dangling feet get chilly. Yes, we both have 5ft x 7ft quilts for our recliners, but the cats tend to take up extra footage in the lap zone (must cover cats to prevent kitty chills), thus leaving the feet uncovered. Brrrr, cold. Whimper, whine, complain. Dork. Mostly, I'm just having fun trying out new toe styles (next up - the short row toe a la Wendy Johnson) and heel turning techniques (currently in love with the afterthought heel). Knitting a sock with no heel, then cutting out and inserting a heel is way fun, dudes!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Damn Near Palpable!

Yup. The excitement is damn near palpable! There's a whole lotta Christmas stuff going on at Loganvilla, including (but not limited to) vacuuming, dishwashing, bathroom cleaning, linen changing, dusting, fabric room tidying, and office organizing.

What? That doesn't sound Christmas-y? Would it make a difference if I told you I'm wearing green underoos and a red bra? 'Tis the season, and all of that.

Okay, housework aside (wait - housework is never aside - in this household it is always right there in front of me, needing to be done), I am doing quasi-Christmas-y things. These things include blocking scads and scads of gift scarves, and booking accommodations for a three night trip through the mountains.

The trip will be taken by my brother Ivan and his girlfriend Emily (both arriving later this month, from Australia), myself (the driver/logistics manager), and Dad (because after breaking his leg windsurfing this summer, he needs a little mountain adventure in the depths of winter).

We will be leaving Loganvilla on the 27th, skiing at Marmot Basin (near Jasper) that day, spending the night in Jasper, traveling to Banff on the 28th, visiting the family's historic homestead on the 29th, spending that night in Calgary, trouping off to Drumheller to see the Hoodoos and the Dinosaur Museum, then zipping back up to Edmonton that night. It's like the Alberta version of the trek around BC that I was driver for this past summer. But in the winter. With parkas, mitts, toques, and scarves.

Highlights will surely include red runny noses, frosted eyebrows, chapped lips, wet pants (no, not like that - damp around the bottom from getting all snowy then thawing in the car), and hopefully avoidance of the old "put 'er in the ditch, I did". Although, maybe a car meets ditch full of snow experience will be fun for Emily, who has never experienced anything colder than an English winter before. I bet she'll love central heating. And that two of our hotels have pools and hot tubs.

Blah, blah, blah, ... I actually am really excited about this Christmas. I am looking forward to the family gathering, which will be made even more fun by Mom's husband Horst, who plans to take over the kitchen and cook on both the 24th and 25th! He will handle all meat and bread, while I get to handle veggies and cleanup. He's a great cook, and a lot of fun in the kitchen. Until it comes time to wash up...

As an aside, photos will be taken of the scarves so that after Christmas I can do the big reveal and post pictures.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Wee Tad Hungover

Yup. I'm a wee tad hungover. Just a tetch. Which is ridiculous, as I only had three drinks last night - but apparently years of being out of practice does a three drink hangover make.

The head, it pounds. The stomach, it roils. The eyes, they sting. The breath, is steenky.

I thought that maybe some fresh air would help, but it is -21C here, and a really bright sun has been joined by two large and bright sun dogs, all of which are reflecting on newly fallen snow (essentially, making the obnoxious whiteness even more nasty).

So, for your enjoyment/giggles, I'm posting a photo of the outfit I finally chose for the party. Following advice from the comments (thanks Deborah!) I chose a pair of casual pants (black, though), a black tank, and a shiny shirt for over top. The orchids were given out to all of the ladies (a classy touch). The food was good, the room was smokeless (yippee!!), and the company was most excellent. Note the drunken laughter in the "after" shot (found camera after we were dropped off at home by the designated driver program).

You may also notice ... evidence of a quilt in process on the design wall. This is a Lone Star in hand dyes from Caryl Breyer Fallert, plus a great background, and wee bits of a Paula Nadelstern feature fabric. What a name dropper! DH has requested that this be turned into a wall hanging for the TV room, especially once he realized I had some of the hand dyes left over. He's suggested matching pillows for on the couch, or using the leftovers in another lap quilt. The man knows exactly how to get me back into the studio. ;-)

I was downloading the camera when I found these photos, taken a few weeks ago. This is Ojo Sama, a 10 week old Sheba Inu (sp?) belonging to a friend of ours. I was tasked with puppy sitting one day, and Monkey Butt (Ojo Sama seemed too formal, Monkey Butt was much better) enjoyed the view from the guest room window. And chewing on my hand. And jumping in the snow. And peeing on the carpet, after having too much fun outdoors to pee there. Puppies. Good thing they're so cute. Okay, one more of Monkey Butt, because she is just so darned cute.

Friday, December 02, 2005

On Pants, Skirts, and other things that Hang

'Tis the season for Christmas parties. Yup. And DH is expected to go to all of them. With his lovely wife (not me, no one would ever call me lovely to my face and get away with it).

Due to the shiftwork nature of working at the mine, there are three parties. I have consented to attend two of them, which, considering my tendency to remain in the home unless we're completely out of cat food and bread, is a pretty darn big thing.

In my typical way of avoiding thinking about things I consider unpleasant (tee hee), I am only just now (2 hours 10 minutes from "Cocktails at 6:00") looking at my closet and deciding what to wear. Oy.

Here's the kicker. Some weight has come off over the last year (good), but new clothes have not been added to the wardrobe. So, knowing that my dressy clothes all hang sadly off my hips, and run the danger of dropping off completely if I don't stick out my stomach, I have been carb loading and eating everything I can get in my mouth all week. You know, add a little cushioning. In a probably futile attempt to get the Christmas party wardrobe to look like it is actually mine, not borrowed from a bigger sister.

The camera is still misplaced, so no photos. Will advise on the weekend as to whether the mad "oh shit, my pants are too loose" eating binge helped, or whether the bottom half of my party ensemble fell off at an inopportune time. Wait, is there an opportune time for your pants to fall down? Hmmm.