Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bye for a Week

Off to Idaho.

Tuesday morning, June 26, I'm headed to the airport before the sun comes up to spend a week with granddaughter Sydney and her parents.

I'm taking a vacation from blogging and knitting while I'm gone. Lord willing, blogging will resume toward the middle of next week.

Doggy Chat

Click on pictures for more detail.

Pappy has his rodent hunting partner back.

Glory is out of the tee shirt and back to her normal activities - wading in the creek and rodent chasing. In fact, she happily has a wet belly in this picture.

This is her good side. She asked me not to show her shaved side.

Some people think they know more about my dogs than I do.

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent PWDL (Person Who Doesn't Listen).

Conversation with PWDL two weeks ago:

  • PWDL - Looks like Sunny (left in picture) got a new haircut.

  • Me - She hasn't had a haircut. Her coat is thin and we don't have it cut. She looks like she has less hair because she's six pounds slimmer than last time you saw her.

  • PWDL - It's great that Sunny's lost weight and I like her new haircut.

Conversation with PWDL one week ago:

  • PWDL - Oh, Pappy's lost weight!

  • Me - Pappy still weighs the same. He has a short, summer haircut. It makes him look slimmer.

  • PWDL - No, I can tell. He lost weight.

  • Me, as I grab dogs to go find someone sane to talk with - Well, he did lose several pounds of hair.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Birds Ready for Next Step

The young swallows from a post ten days ago think they're ready to leave the nest box.

They're hopping up and down and hanging out the hole checking out the world. Mom and Dad aren't going to have any trouble getting these little ones out of the nest.

Meanwhile, in a nestbox fourteen feet away, the bluebirds have finished a plush nest to hold their eggs and hatchlings.

Oops. It's not perfect yet.

Here's Dad with one more piece of grass.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday Sky and Emerald City Socks

A beautiful day today. Not too hot, not too cool, and a clear sky.

I'm guessing these planes are from the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. It houses historical and rare aircraft and many of its antique planes are airworthy.

For some fun, fill-in knitting, I started a pair of socks for myself.

Click to enlarge.

Pattern: 60 stitch cuff using stitch pattern 107 from Japanese Knitting Pattern Book 250.

Yarn: Lisa Souza Sock! 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon

Color: Emerald City

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette (Guessing from past experience. So far there hasn't been any stockinette.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday's Feast for June 22

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Name a funny habit you have.

According to DH Bob, it's not being able to throw away food.

Instead, the unwanted food goes into the refrigerator where it works its way to the back and remains until totally uneatable. Then, it can be thrown away.

I don't find this funny (as in ha-ha) or funny (as in weird) at all. But, I asked and he answered. So, there it is.

If you could instantly know how to play a musical instrument, which one would you pick?


Because my brother makes the best trumpets in the world.

How long is your hair?


Main Course
When was the last time you forgave someone, and who was it?

Yesterday I forgave myself for thinking I could save money doing the oil change on my new John Deere tractor by myself.

I couldn't even figure out how to get the hood up. It goes up backward from a car hood. There's no latch (which explains why I couldn't find a latch), it just needs a strong tug.

The instructions used words I didn't understand well enough to translate into action, like "gasket" and "valve". A large wrench and DH's muscles were required to get the oil filter off.

Thanks to DH Bob's help, the oil change is done. But from now on the dealer is doing the maintenance.

What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

Microwave. How did we ever get along without it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Trip Triage

Before the sun comes up next Tuesday morning, I'll be on my way to the airport. If the airline cooperates, I'll be arriving in Spokane before lunch, Washington time.

At this point in the countdown to takeoff, everything on my todo list goes into one of three categories:
  1. Have to have done before I leave
  2. Would like to have done before I leave
  3. Not even going to think about until I get back

With that in mind, here's a knitting update.

Click on pictures to embiggen.

One sleeve is done on the Red White Gansey. (Project details here.)

The second sleeve is only a stockinette inch away from starting the ribbing.

Finishing this sweater is triage category 2. The blocked and modeled photo shot is triage category 3, especially since no cool days are forecast between now and flight time.

A decision has been made. Next sweater I'm going to knit will be Autumn Song (the Acorn Sweater) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting. Unless I'm unable to find yarn that I love for the pattern and decide to work in a different sweater while I'm looking and swatching for said yarn.

How's that for being decisive?

These two swatches flunked the test.

On top is Patternworks Bretton. I love this yarn and I love this color, Hunter Green. But for Autumn Song the yarn is a bit too thin and the green has too much blue in it.

On the bottom is Knitpicks Swish in Dublin. The gauge is great, the fabric is great, the stitch definition is great, the color puts me to sleep. I don't want to knit with this color for the dozens of hours it will take to knit Autumn Song.

In fact, I'm thinking I don't want to knit Autumn Song in green.

Autumn is a bright time, the perfect time of year to wear oranges, rusts, and reds.

This little dab of yarn with the red oak leaf is Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Firecracker Heather.

I think I've got some more swatching to do.

Ordering some more sample skeins of yarn is triage category 1 so they'll be here when I get back to SW Michigan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bluebirds At Last

Click on pictures to embiggen.

I've been seeing bluebirds like this beautiful female around all spring.

Until this week, they've all chosen to reject my nest boxes and raise their families in one of the multitude of natural cavities in the area.

I've missed having them. To be truthful, my feelings have been a little hurt.

Finally, this week, an intelligent pair of bluebirds claimed the nest box (on the right) paired with the occupied Tree Swallow box (on the left).

Both the male and the female are busy bringing dry grass and building a nest. The female in the picture is probably not the same female in the earlier picture above.

The picture was taken from 50 feet (guessing) away with a zoom lens, so the perspective is off. The nest boxes are about fourteen feet apart in a clear area. The zooming makes it appear they are closer together and in a stand of trees.

In return for a predator protected nest box, the intelligent bluebird pair has agreed that I may occasionally open the nest box and take a picture of their progress.

This is what they have done since yesterday.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mom's Birthday

Happy Birthday Mom!

This sweet looking, smiling lady was actually threatening me:

"There better be socks in here!"

Or what? I'm grounded?

Fortunately, I didn't need to worry because there were socks in there.

Mom was happy to get her Skittle socks, and a few Skittles to munch on while waiting for some cooler weather to wear her new socks. (Sock details here.)

Then, because I didn't get grounded, I was able to take her out to a yummy lunch at Bravo to complete the celebration.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Not As Planned

It's been hot and humid for the past week. Temps over 90F/32C. That's about 10 degrees hotter than normal for this time of year. Usually this heat happens in July and/or August, not June.

According to the weatherman, it's going to continue this way until mid next week.

We're hunkered down trying to stay cool. Actually, cool is impossible but we can manage comfortable if we work at it.

I have several outdoor projects that are getting no activity, and I'm not doing much housework, either. There will be cooler days ahead to work on these things.

Early Thursday morning Glory got her stitches taken out. First she chased all the chipmunks and squirrels back to their hide outs, then she went for a dip in the creek. It was a great day.

When the little dogs and I got home from doggy school that evening, I noticed a pink fluid on the hall floor. Glory? Yes, she had licked away what the vet assistant called granulation and I called scab. Her incision was raw looking and seeping fluid.

So, back in the tee shirt. (Those light spots on her are sunbeams.)

Friday morning it was back to the vet. Nothing serious, it's just going to take more time. And, while it's taking more time, estimated to be a week, there is tee shirt, twice a day antibiotic, restriction to leash, and no creek.

Not as planned. The no creek part is the hardest. Did I mention it's very hot here?

This is a very long story involving many frustrating hours. I'll summarize the long, middle of the story into one sentence to make it fit for blogging.

The Beginning:
Three weeks ago I decided to create a pretty violet header for my blog and switch to Blogger "layout" mode so I could use some of the newest features, including having a picture in my header.

Being a former IT professional and understanding the concept of testing things before going live, I converted my old blog, Seasons of Violet that has almost no readers, to see if it would all work.

It worked great. The header was lovely, the new colors were attractive, and I was excited. Then, I reinstalled Haloscan comments and the header disappeared. Totally.

The Middle: Long afternoon of fiddling around to try and find someway it would work, finally ending up leaving a support request on the Haloscan forum.

The End: Still no answer from Haloscan, although other Blogger/Haloscan users have done a "me too" to my problem, so I know I'm not alone.

Seasons of Violet remains converted. Haloscan comments are working but there is no pretty violet picture in the header. Not as planned.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday's Feast for June 15

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Fill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________…

The best thing about SW Michigan is the four seasons. The weather is always changing.

The best thing about the location of my house is being surrounded by nature. This picture was taken at the end of my driveway looking east down the road. Most of the properties on this road are between five and ten acres. Ours is five.

Create a new name for a deodorant (like “Flower Fresh” or “Shower Scent”).

How about "Stink like this because anything is better than smelling human"?

Can you guess I'm not a big fan of deodorant? We have pores and perspiration for a reason. They should not be clogged up with metallic chemicals.

On the rare occasion I deem it necessary, I use unscented.

What was the last piece of software you installed onto your computer?

Zoombrowser, the image software that came with my Canon camera.

Main Course
If you were to receive a superlative award today beginning with the words ”Most likely to…”, what would the rest of the phrase say?

Most likely to knit.

But not for the last few days. My hands are sore from the tight gauge, my back is sore from working in the yard, and it's been very hot here - over 90 F/32 C all week.

What two colors do you like to wear together?

Navy blue (jeans) and terra cotta/peach colored tops.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tree Swallow Nest Box Pictures

Click on picture for larger view.

Late spring the Tree Swallows (Iridoprocne bicolor) arrive in SW Michigan.

They're small swallows, about the size of a sparrow.

First order of business is scouting out the area for a nice place to build a nest.

This looks like the perfect place to raise a family. Nice box, predator protection, and it's sitting in the middle of a field full of insects.

Our nest boxes are in pairs about fifteen feet apart. Bluebirds won't nest that close to bluebirds. Swallows won't nest that close to swallows. Bluebirds and swallows don't mind nesting that close to each other. There's a nest box for each of them.

Swallows love to use lots of white feathers in the nest. Our neighbor has chickens, white geese, and all the white feathers a swallow could want.

This swallow claimed the box by moving in feathers before she started building the nest.

By the end of May there were pretty white eggs in the box, almost impossible to see because of all the white feathers.

For every feather I pushed aside, two others popped up to get in the camera's way.

June 13 there are six hungry hatchlings in the luxurious feather bed.

Mom and Dad are dive bombing my head and clicking at me while I'm taking this picture.

The babies are dark and not easily seen or photographed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Swatching Failures

The sleeves on the Red White Gansey are progressing slowly.

One reason they're taking so long is that I'm in no hurry because I don't have yarn to start my next project.

I don't have yarn to start my next project because I don't know what my next project is going to be.

I don't know what what my next project is going to be because none of my swatches are satisfactory.

Current plan, always subject to change according to my knitting whims, is to knit these two sweaters from the Japanese knitting book The New Style of Heirloom Knitting. I'm not going to knit them at the same time, so I need to pick one and buy yarn.

Potential project A is Autumn Song, fondly called the Acorn Sweater.

I have a nice swatch for it in Louet Gems, a yarn that costs more money than I want to spend. But I feel myself weakening.

A second swatch I knit with Knitpicks Swish turned out awful. I used #3 needles, making the fabric too firm. It curled into a ball when I washed it. I'll spare you the sight.

It's possible I'll knit two more acorn swatches, one in Swish with #5 needles and one in Patternworks Bretton. Some test skeins of Bretton are on the way, but if they're as dark as they look in the catalog I'll use them for socks, not acorns.

Potential project B is this gansey from Heirloom Knitting.

The Japanese patterns only come in one size. This one has 296 stitches around at a gauge of 8 stitches/inch giving it a circumference of 37 inches.

To get it to fit, I need to knit it at 7.5 stitches/inch so it will be about 40 inches around.

The violet swatch on top is Louet Gems sport weight knit on a #1 needle. I was sure this would get me close to the right gauge, but it missed the mark by a lot. The gauge on that swatch is 8.5 stitches/inch after washing. It was 9 stitches/inch before washing. The fabric isn't tight enough that I want to go up several needle sizes. The stitch definition is mediocre. I'm passing on this yarn for the gansey.

The gold swatch is Patternworks Bretton, a DK weight yarn knit on #1 needles.

It knit up 7.9 stitches/inch after washing. If the colors I've ordered aren't too dark, I'll try a second swatch on bigger needles.

Is anyone still reading? If so, you get a cute dog picture.

For some reason Sunny decided to bury herself in the laundry this morning.

I didn't see her do it and was amazed at how nicely she fit herself into my dirty clothes.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Glory Speaks Out

Guest Author: Glory, a 62 pound, eleven year old lab mix who has a five inch surgical incision healing on her left rib cage.

Click on any picture for more detail.

It's another beautiful summer day in SW Michigan.

The sky is blue, the grass is green, the yard is full of critters to chase.

And here I am, standing around on a leash wearing one of Dad's old tee shirts.

I'm trying to retain my dignity by submitting to this insanity with cheerfulness and class.

Don't they know that wounds heal better when they're licked?

And I really do need to get better quick.

The rabbits are taking over the dog walking path.

The squirrels know they don't have to watch their butts as long as they're out of leash range.

One more week and I can get off this leash and reclaim my kingdom.

First thing I'm going to do is jump in the creek.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday's Feast for June 8

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?

Ice cream in almost any flavor. Pecan Praline is one of my favorites, but plain vanilla is also wonderful. Especially with fruit.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?

Before I met DH Bob, I didn't know anyone with his last name, so I thought it was rather unique.

Since taking that name, I've noticed it's not so rare. I give it a 3.

My first husband and my kids are/were named Baker. That rates a 10.

Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?

I'm not a sitcom aficionado, but I've always enjoyed seeing and hearing Harry Morgan.

He's nice to look at and I love his voice.

According to his entry in Wikipedia, Harry is still living and turned 92 in April.

Main Course
Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.

Dessert Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.
I think any dog who passes their CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and has a health certificate should be allowed to go almost anywhere with their owner. Pappy says he would like to go to the grocery store with me and ride around in the cart. He promises to be good and stay in the child seat. Click on picture for more detail.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Red White Gansey Progress for June 7

Click on pictures for more detail.

There's been slow progress on the sleeves.

For each skein, I'm switching sleeves so when one is done, the other will be almost finished and the sweater will be done.

It's 90 F/32 C today, so I decided to try it on. Fit's great.

The second pattern band on the sleeve was supposed to be the diagonal lines, second pattern down from the top on the body.

I got dizzy thinking about which way to run the diagonals on the sleeves so the sweater would look attractive, and decided to knit diamonds instead. I like the diamonds better and they're more fun to knit.

Pattern: White Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Pepper Red

Needles: Knitpicks Options #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette. A very firm gauge for this yarn but great for showing stitch definition.

Here's a close up of the underarm gusset.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Questions and Answers

First, thanks for all the well wishes for Glory's recovery from surgery.

She's still not perky, but she's alert, taking short leash walks, eating heartily, performing all necessary bodily functions, and doing lots of tail wagging.

That's not a horrible wound in the middle of the bandage, it's part of the bandage fabric. The side showing in the picture is not the shaved side with the incision.

So far she hasn't decided to rid herself of the bandage. It comes off tomorrow night.

Vivian who blogs at Bits and Pieces asked . . .
Would you mind sharing some the books you listen to and what you think about them?

The perfect audio book for knitting is entertaining, often light (but not stupid), and not too difficult to follow. After all, I do occasionally have to count stitches and/or rows.

Some of my favorites from the past that quickly come to mind are:

  • Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffery Deaver
  • Dortmunder series by Donald Westlake
  • Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr
  • Harry Potter (I'll be listening to these again this summer in anticipation of the final book arriving in July.)

Going forward, I'll try to remember to mention when I'm listening to something good.

Laurie asked . . .
The picture wasn't as clear as most of your other pictures. Maybe just that shot. what about posting the dove or phoebe pic from earlier in the week and seeing the difference.

When I was hosting my blog pictures on Picturetrail, they had one size, the size seen on my blog. I tried to get the pictures as clear as possible without having them take forever to upload. I'm still on dialup. It's a handicap.

Now that I'm hosting my pictures in Blogger, a reduced picture appears on the blog. It's not as clear as the Picturetrail picture. The benefit is that you can click on the picture to view it in much better detail than you were able to see with the Picturetrail hosting.

I'm already tired of mentioning the click in every post, but will continue to do so for the new people who stop by.

Kathy who blogs at Runs With Needles asked . . .
Those pictures are with a point and click camera?

It is a fancy camera, but I've never bothered learning how to use all the fancy settings because when I set it on "Auto" it does magic.

All I ever do is zoom the lens in and out and press the button.

It was the perfect Christmas gift. I've been having a wonderful time with it. And, someday I'm going to read the manual and see what all those other buttons do.

Shelly who blogs at Knitting and Praying asked . . .
Are you still enjoying the yarn? (Knitpicks Swish)
I like the Swish very much. It's knitting up so nice at the six stitches/inch. Great stitch definition, but still it's soft and I'm going to able to machine wash it.

This is my first time knitting with 100% superwash wool and I'm looking forward to seeing how it blocks out compared to regular wool.

Then, Shelly asked . . .
I really like Swish, too. So far, it's my favorite superwash worsted weight wool. May I ask what type of join you are using?

Click on any picture for more detail.

I'm sure this is a common type of join and has a name, but I don't know what it's called. Feel free to educate me.

First, split about six inches of the yarn on the needle and the end of the new yarn.

Overlap a new yarn section and old yarn section for about two inches.

Wind the new yarn section around the old yarn section following the original twist as much as possible.

Continue knitting, leaving the four half yarn tails hanging on the wrong side of the fabric.

Weave all four ends in separately. If the yarn grabs like wool, the ends can be clipped off after washing without having to weave them in.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday Miscellany

Beautiful Lace Knitting

Silvia from the Knitting in Japan Yahoo list is knitting the cover sweater from this Japanese Pattern book.

She has a couple of good size pieces done and they're gorgeous. They can be admired on the Knitting Elegance Blog.

Now I Have Room for More Sock Yarn
Last week I heard about Ronni who uses little balls of left over sock yarn to make colorful chemo caps for teens.

I had a medium size bin of nothing but little balls of left over sock yarn. For years I've been thinking I SHOULD use them for something. All the projects suitable for leftover sock yarn are not projects I want to knit, so the balls have been multiplying in my stash.

Not any more. They're on their way to Ronni. She's happy and I'm even happier. And relieved that they're gone.

Monday Was For the Dogs
Glory and Sunny were both at the vet by 8:30 this morning.

Sunny had her teeth cleaned. For you non-dog people, a doggy dental requires anesthetic.

Sunny gets very nervous at the vet's office. I was able to hold and comfort her until she was drugged and hold her while she came around after. Our vets are very good about that.

As I was bringing a wobbly Sunny home about ten, Glory was just going in for surgery to have a large lump removed from her side. It turned out to be a ten ounce lipoma (benign tumor composed of fatty tissue) under her muscle and between her ribs.

Now, late evening, Glory is home but still very groggy. She has an Ace bandage around her body from front legs to back legs and we're supposed to keep it on and dry for three days. We may succeed if it will stop raining.

For those sweet readers who wondered why my stress level was at three in last Friday's post, it was about Glory and her lump. She's almost eleven years old and I won't feel completely at ease about her until she's back to her normal, perky self and driving us crazy while we try to keep her quiet and dry.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sky and A Mouth Full of Bugs

It was a beautiful day today. Even the afternoon thunderstorm was nice - gentle, brief, and supplied some much needed rain.

The tall oak trees are in full leaf now. Everything is looking very green and lush.

Picture of the Week

In the bigger version of this picture (click on picture to see it) you can see the amazing amount and variety of insects this Robin parent has collected for his/her young.

How did it keep adding to the collection without some of the bugs falling out of its beak?

Also, I love the way the picture clearly shows the Robin feet gripping the branch.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday's Feast for June 1

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Click on pictures for more detail.

Appetizer - Name something you think is “the best.”

My Canon S3 IS camera.

Check out the birds at the feeder pictures below. They were taken on "auto", point and click, through a window spotted with suet flecks and other smudges.

The camera ignores the dirty window, ignores the background, and focuses in perfectly on the bird. Total magic. It's the best.

Soup - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 highest), how stressed are you today?


Salad - What kind of cleanser do you use to wash your face?

Kirk's Castile soap. For decades I've used it for everything except my hair.

It's inexpensive, lathers up great in our hardwater, leaves me feeling very clean, and doesn't smell.

It used to be called Kirk's Hardwater Castile, until the marketing department took a turn at the label.

From the label:
All natural, hypoallergenic skin care with no animal by-products or synthetic detergents. Pure botanical coconut oil soap. Ultra gentle with no drying residue.

Main Course - Tonight is a blue moon! What is something that you believe only happens “once in a blue moon.”

Once in a blue moon I spot a bird at the feeder I can't identify. It happened yesterday with this one.

Looks like a Grosbeak but the only Grosbeaks I've ever seen here are the Rose-breasted. This bird has a yellow breast. After thanking Bob again for the camera, I headed for the birdbook.

Conclusion: This is an immature female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The yellow on the breast fades as the bird matures.

This is a mature female Rose-breasted Grosbeak taken several weeks ago. She looks like a large sparrow (about 9 inches) with an obvious white line over her eye and an awesome, cream colored, seed cracking beak.

This might even be the mother of the yellow breasted young in the top picture.

Dessert - When was the last time it rained where you live?

One day this week we had a few sprinkles, too few to get the ground wet. Since I can't remember which day it was, we're not going to count that as rain.

The last good soaking rain we had was last Sunday morning. We do need more.

There's a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon and evening, which is why I'm posting this early in the day. When it thunders, I unplug my laptop and dial up connection.

Have a great weekend everyone!