Monday, September 21, 2009

21 September 2009--Last (official) Day of Summer

                         Brief Glory

Doomed leaves blaze
With desperate color

As an icy wind nips

Their frangible stems.
Already, some are slipping silently
Down the sharp-edged air,
Tracing slow, irregular circles,
Settling with a sigh
On the yellowing grass.

Tomorrow is the official beginning of autumn. I hate to see summer go, especially since she only arrived here around the second week of August, and seems to want to linger. Autumn, however, is my next-favorite season, so I do welcome her, only regretting that she foretells the inevitable onslaught of winter, my least-favorite season. Actually, the only thing I really hate about our harsh Québec winters is the darkness of the compacted days. The leaves and acorns on the right were found around my apartment building today. The leaves on the left are stamped and embossed. The arrowhead was found years ago by one of my sons in our then-backyard. 

The layout is not as good as I wanted it to be, but that's the fault of Rascal and Fripon. They not only love  to chase leaves but to eat them. When I started arranging the leaves, they were at my elbow,  sniffing and trying to claw one out of the arrangement. While I was aiming the camera, one  would run  away with a leaf in his mouth as if it were prey. As I chased him, the other took advantage of my distraction to nab one for himself. The leaf at top right bears a jagged edge as evidence of capture. Finally, I managed to make a hasty arrangement and photograph it.  

Soon, I’ll hear geese overhead calling me to follow them south for the winter.

                                                            Summer’s End
Geese v-lining south
Noisely trumpet triumph;
Feathered thieves are
Stealing summer.

 The rocks and driftwood in the picture on the right were found in Nova Scotia and Québec years ago. Note the split-open rock with the orange center. There's also a piece of petrified tree. The Champagne cork? Hmmm! Perhaps a romantically-inclined couple toasted their love on a rocky beach somewhere.

All rights reserved for the two poems. 

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Friday, September 11, 2009

11 September 2009 Chip...or Dale?

As I sat knitting in the sun on my balcony yesterday, I caught a movement at the corner of my eye. Turning, I saw a chipmunk on the wall, just beyond the balcony railing. We eyed each other for a moment then he continued his jerky He took cover among some empty flower pots way downand a folded chaise longue. I slowly stood up. He huddled there, keeping an eye on me. My camera was just inside the door; should I go for it and risk scaring him away? I did. He stayed. I decided to for a handout. He was still there when I came back,   but would he run away if I approached to put down a cracker? the wall, and onto my balcony.
I suspect that this was not the first time that he’d enticed someone into giving him a treat, because he was immovable as I broke off bits of cracker and placed them as close to him as I dared. As he munched his way around a tad of tasty saltine, I caught him in still and in video mode, happily eating his treat. Now the treat’s for you!
I can't but take a moment to offer a prayer for all those who died, were injured or lost someone on this day in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. By the grace of God, Never Again!

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

9 September 2009--Violet Sunsets and Butterscotch Socks

From the vantage point of my 3rd floor balcony, I’ve been privileged to watch and share with you all some colourful sunsets. They have all displayed magnificent shades of red and orange. Then, a few days ago, the sun decided to set in shades of violet.
The sight brought vividly back to mind a sunset I witnessed during a trip to Spain with my husband in 1982. As we ate our evening meal in front of a panoramic hotel window, we watched as the sun disappeared, blazing first vivid red, shading to orange, then through degrees of pink down to pale and darker shades of violet, until nothing was left but the black velvet of night. I don’t remember what we ate that evening. I feasted too heavily on the sunset.
The half-finished sock is my first ever. The yarn is from Three Irish Girls (click their logo on the right side of this page to go there). The colorway is Grady, and the yarn is TIG’s Lindon Merino. The pattern is as basic as it gets, and comes from the book peeking out from under the sock, “Getting Started Knitting Socks”, by Ann Budd. The book contains instructions for five different weights of yarn in about as many sizes. I love it because I actually understand the instructions with the first reading. There are detailed pictures, too. In case you’re wondering, I’m not on the payroll of Three Irish Girls nor of Interweave Press, source of the book mentioned above.
Now, back to enjoying the weather we should’ve had here in July!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

26 August Bared Room Re-dux

Marc, my very own Personal Space Designer, says he's coming this weekend, so I might have some new pics to put up next week. He's always so helpful, because he won't let me get away with excuses such as, "But I might use it someday", or "It seemed like a good buy at the time".
He's also trying to psych me into selling unused stuff on E-Bay. He sings a siren song that goes, "It'll be fun, you'll make money, and then you can buy other stuff, or save up for a trip, a new dress..."
We also have conversations that go;
Marc: "Mom, do you really, really, reeeally need this?"
Me: "Need is relative."
Marc: "But mom, you need more space. If you have no space, you can't get new things."
Me: "I'll figure something out."
Marc: "Mom, you have to have a rule; one thing in, one thing out."
Me: "Why?"
Is it beginning to sound as if we're at that stage of life where he's parenting me? Good grief! Adolescence Revisited! Wait'll he finds out I have a few doubles because I forgot I already had one.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

25 August 2009--Baring

It’s not quite that dramatic, but since I couldn’t post these photos on the Inkstainers site, here they are for God and everyone who happens by to see. The pictures are views of my Reading/Computer/Stamping room, which used to have so many piles of books, stamp sets and Only-God-Knows-What-Else, that there was access to the computer at the back of the room by a narrow path through the mess.

Enter Marc, my DS2, who cleared half of the room for me by getting all the books on shelves, and shoving the rest to the other (stamping) side of the room. He’s currently working on designing me a crafting cornor, with room for all my stamps and accessories.

The first picture, you probably have guessed, is the cleared side of the room.

The others are the Cluttered Truth photos of the soon-to-be Stamping Nook. Soon-to-be sounds so much more positive then “present look”.

There, I hope I’ve made a lot of people feel virtuous and better about themselves. :)

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

11 August 2009--More Sonshine!

Today is a day of celebration! I’m celebrating the birth of my younger son, 43 today. Here he is at one, with an uncle of mine who was more brother and father than uncle to me. The contrast between this little one’s serious face and the smiling one of his brother in the previous post is indicative of their greatly different but amazing personalities.

Second Sonshine is an architect. In fact, he lives, breathes and, no doubt, dreams architecture. He’s also had a solo exhibit of his paintings, and another of his collage art (If you read this, son, it’s a mother’s prerogative to boast, so don’t groan). He’s decided to put all that expertise into drawing up plans for a crafting centre in my spare bedroom. I can’t wait to see the plans put into reality.

That serious look belies the kooky sense of humour we share. We love the cartoons in which Bugs Bunny meets a vampire, the one in which he meets up with a witch, and the one in which he does a “squarry dance” to thwart a couple of hillbillies determined to shorten his lifespan. We can recite the dialogue of each cartoon by heart.

I give thanks today for being blessed not once, but twice with exceptional sons, and also for the daughter-in-law and granddaughters, which Firstborn has brought into my life. My only concern is not being able to express how much I love them. If my hero-husband were alive, I know he’d agree with me.

Happy Birthday, Sonshine!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

23 July 2009--Birthday Boy

Today, my First Born is 45. Still has the same big smile, albeit he has pearly white teeth to show now. The barely-visible, silky hair on his 3-month-old head in the above picture is white. As he grew, the white hair became blonde and visible. When he was born, however, everyone made me furious by saying, “Il est chauve!” (He’s bald!) They’d be almost right today. He’s got that classic Male Pattern Balding going for him, and definitely has more than a few white hairs, too.
I have no brothers or sisters, had never babysat for children under the age of three, so First Born was, to say the least, an entirely new experience. He was also the source of some frightening learning experiences. Like the time I gave him his first bath.
The Canadian Mother’s Handbook said not to give a baby a tub bath until the remains of the umbilical cord had fallen off.
“Spread a large towel on your lap," said the CMH authoritatively. "Place the baby on the towel and carefully sponge him down, avoiding the naval area and being careful not to allow soap to get in his eyes.”
My husband was the oldest of three. His sister was four years younger and his brother almost seven years younger than he. Figuring the whole sponge bath thing would be a piece of cake for him, I stationed him by my side, relying on his (Hah!) superior knowledge to fill in if anything went wrong, I began the ritual. (I learned later that he was never interested in such proceedings being performed on his siblings.)
I undressed our precious FB, placed him on my towelled lap and touched him with the warm, soapy, wash-cloth the CMH had prescribed. Instantly, FB let out a bone-jarring scream. My husband, who could field-dress a moose with only a little assistance, screamed even louder, “Tu lui fais mal!” (You’re hurting him!). FB started sliding off my lap. “Help me hold him!” I screamed back. “Je n’en peux plus!” (I can’t stand it!) my Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods cried as he ran out of the bathroom. I started crying, wrapped FB back up securely and decided the First Bath could wait.
My mother died when I was 5½, and the grandmother who took over raising me had died two weeks before I was married. I called my mother-in-law for help the next day. She calmed me down and had her FB drive her over to our apartment the next day.
She made the whole operation look easy, and gave me the confidence that I could bath FB just as proficiently as she did. I threw away the Canadian Mother’s Handbook, because DML had totally ignored its instructions, and obviously knew better than any handbook I could've turned to.
As for Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods, he developed confidence too, although he never gave baths to either of his sons. He preferred doing the dishes while I did the baths.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

21 July 2009--Skywatching

On the long trips made in my childhood with my grandparents from Oklahoma to Nebraska , I sang to make the time pass faster, I sang because my grandparents asked me to, I sang because it was as natural to me as breathing.
When I wasn't singing, I was watching the pictures in passing clouds and making them into stories. The sky and clouds have never lost their fascination for me, and I still sing every chance I get.
Fripon and I love sky watching. At least, I do. Fripon just likes to snooze outdoors, chase and eat passing bugs, and watch maintenance people mowing lawns and tending gardens. He never loses hope that a bird will land within pouncing reach. He also just likes to be close to me, although he would never admit it.

Mare's Tails, a sure sign of rain to come. Again.
Following three photos; More Mare's Tails--the sky can't stop talking about rain. Last; no, not another Mare's Tail-- a contrail!                                        

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Friday, July 17, 2009

17 July, 2009--I'm Biased!

That is, my present knitting project is. I found this scarf pattern on The Three Irish Girls yarn site. If you know how to cast on, do the knit stitch and the yarn over, take that leftover ball of yarn from your stash, or--much better--buy a new one, and go to the TIG site.
The curve in the scarf comes from being knit on the bias. The pattern mentions that the original use an entire ball of yarn and was 7½ feet long! Now that's enough to wrap around anyone's neck and still have plenty left over. The scarf doesn't have to be that long. Make it the length you prefer. I'm going to use the whole ball, just for fun. Unless I get tired of the scarf and terminate it sooner.

Here's a close-up of the stitch.

Here's a neat video teaching the yarn over and its uses:

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Friday, July 10, 2009

10 July 2009 POV; Enchanted Backyard

American ToadImage by Steve Beger Photography ( Productions) via Flickr

My backyard wasn't a backyard in the summer. Its southeast cornor was a fairy kingdom. Tucked behind an extension of the enclosed back porch, it was kept safe from the penetrating, curious eye of the sun by a towering elm. A supple emerald-and-gold Honeysuckle vine cascaded over the rigid interlacing of the chain link fence. Its sticky-sweet perfume was a siren call to the bees and me. We drank nectar from the fragile little blossom flutes. The ravenous bees continued to feast as I communed with the warty toad who spent his summers in the oozy, chocolate mud below the vine. Portly, placid, bronzed as a buddah, he sat unblinking, snatching passing flies. What he did at night, I never knew. I did know that he wasn't a toad, but a prince in disguise. I preferred him as a toad.

The whole east side of the fence was profuse with rose bushes of pale pink, blood-red and snowy hues, purple and violet iris, sunny marigolds, zinnias in rainbow colors, and blushing pink peony bushes. This wasn't a garden, but camouflage for the dusty prairie under the foliage, where plastic horses stirred up dust as they ran wild and free.

In the northwest corner of the yard, grown-ups saw a crimson swing-set of steel tubing. I saw a steaming, tropical jungle, heard the cries of monkeys, the snarls of tigers, and the grunts of wild pigs rooting for insects in the damp carpet of leaves on the jungle floor. Their pungent, feral odor pinched my nose. The set of rings suspended by chains were vines on Tarzan trees.

Other times, the swing-set was a circus ring, where I balanced on a tightrope high above the crowd, which gasped and held its breath when I almost fell. As I landed firmly on both feet, arms raised in a triumphant vee, the music of cheers engulfed me.

The swing, its oak seat smoothed colorless by frequent rides, was a sleek, silver jet airplane. I performed loops and dives, defied gravity, soared beyond the clouds. The wind rushed in my ear and tousled my hair as I broke the sound barrier with a boom that rattled every window in the neighborhood.

On summer evenings, after supper and dishes were done, and a reluctant sun had eased down the horizon to bed, we trooped outdoors to feel the cool breeze that arose most every night. We sat in adirondack chairs, and I studied the winking stars while the hushed voices and laughter of the others embraced me. I considered the vast number of people— ancient Greeks and Romans, Cleopatra's Egyptians, neighbors of Copernicus—who had contemplated the same stars.

Eventually, the swing-set was taken apart, the house demolished, the grounds and gardens cemented over as a parking lot for a newly built student nurses' residence. But on soft summer evenings, when the ancient stars are icily smiling, I hear again the rise and fall of laughter, the low murmur of familiar voices, and I'm transported to my enchanted back yard.

Kathleen Chabot, All Rights Reserved

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

9 June 2009 Sky Watching & Knitting

Finished Aran Afghan Square #6! The yarn was very docile, so I finished it in record time.

As I sat on the balcony knitting last evening, I watched the clouds dancing with the setting sun. It was quite a show!

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning." This old saying is based in fact. A red sky in the morning indicates a sun rising in clear eastern skies casting its rays on storm clouds approaching from the west. At night the clear sight of the red setting sun would tell a sailor that no storms are to the west. Such sunsets and sunrises are not 100% accurate, but today is a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky! I found that info here:

Fripon trying to stare me down. He usually wins. He either wants a snack, or to be brushed. I'd better figure out what He Who Must Be Obeyed wants exactly. Hope your day is filled with joy.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

6 June 2009 Winner of the Knitting Wars--Me

I finally managed to untangle--for the second time--the ball of yarn I'm using to knit the Aran Afghan squares! If it hadn't been for the yarn battles, that square would be finished by now. Oh, well. Here's the #6 square in progress. All the motifs are there except for the 4th, a ribbon shape.
This square was designed by Vicki Sever of Oshkosh, WI, for the Spring 2001 issue of Knitter's Magazine. Vicki says in the article on her square, "The loss of my sister to breast cancer in December 1999 was the inspiration for this square. Each motif in the square represents a different symbol. The ribbon, which is shown in the same aran color as the rest of the square, I've also knit in pink for the symbol of the fight against breast cancer; the cross stands for faith; the anchor stands for hope; and naturally, the heart is for love."
What a great idea! I could imagine an entire quilt made using Vicki's design for each square, either entirely in pink, or only the ribbon worked in pink. Another idea; a quilt using this square with the ribbon worked in yellow, to keep someone serving their country in the armed forces warm.
Vicki's cross has an appropriate Celtic look. I love these motifs. Can't wait to start on the ribbon.

The kitty face is part of the curled up kitty adorning my laptop table, which easily holds the yarn, pattern and other knitting items. It was a gift from my younger son's friend, Pierre. Stay tuned for a picture of the finished square.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

3 July 2009 Back to the Old Stamping Grounds

Stamping again, at last! The roses were made with Stampin’ Up’s Manhattan Flower embossing envelope. I hope to make many more of these. I wanted to try out the technique given in a tutorial by Patty Bennett;

The ATCs were made for ATC Artists' June partner swap . The theme was “Artist’s Choice”, and I used a Michelle Zindorf technique, using sponges instead of a brayer. Sponges work better on the 2½” x 3½” surface. Both stamps are from Cornish Heritage Farms.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

27 June 2009 Rain, Rain, Go Away!

That's not what flowers say. This little daisy looks as though she's drinking it in with zest. She was a birthday present from the friend of my younger son. He specified that she must be kept in the sun outdoors, and be watered every day.
She withstood last evening's violent wind and rainstorm valiantly, so I guess she's made for life in the wild. The picture was an experiment. I wanted to see how good a closeup I could take. The colored frame was another experiment. I thought the gold colour would highlight the flower's colour, but I'm not sure about that. But that just gives me a chance to experiment some more.
I hope you're enjoying the weather, wherever you are.

Friday, June 26, 2009

26 June 2009 Last Day of Class!

Two of my students were absent, but the other four and I celebrated the end of their English classes, the lovely sunny day, and St. John the Baptist's Feast Day, which is the Québec equivalent of Canada Day and the U.S. Independance Day. The classes were given at the students' workplace, one of the many huge Desjardins Insurance/Banking buildings, on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

One of Québec City's charming sidewalk cafés, across from the Québec/Lévis ferry dock. I was waiting for a taxi, which should have been waiting for me. We have a contract with a taxi company here and in Lévis, but somehow, the dispatchers manage to ignore it!

Here's another of my delightful companions; Fripon, Rascal's brother. His eyes are not fluorescent green, but truly are a lovely Shamrock colour. He's waiting for me to resume knitting, so he can try to catch the moving yarn. I've done quite a bit on the fifth square of the Aran Afghan. Only 19 more to go, not counting this one!

Monday, June 22, 2009

22 June 2009 Change is Good!

I know, I barely put up a new template for my Blog, and I've just changed it again! The template is from Blogger, but the banner is one I bought from the Etsy shop, Art Tea Life,
It was very reasonably priced, and I'm really pleased with it. It's so neat to have a one and only banner.
I managed to do some stamping today. Two ATCs for a trade with a member of ATC Artists. The theme is "Pink". Hope to get two done for another ATC Artists trade. That theme is "Artist's Choice."
Today's blog is rather flat, due to my visit to the dentist this morning. Next-to-last step for my two implants. More inspired next time, I hope!

Pas de Trois

Fleur; blurring at top due to see-through pink flowered ribbon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

21 June 2009

Faithful followers of this blog, you may remember that in May 2008, I blogged about a knit Afghan I was making. I’d completed 2½ squares. To update you, I did finish the square, then a fourth, at which point I needed another skein of yarn. (pictures are at end of today’s blog) I won’t go into the details, but as I was winding the skein into a more manageable ball, the yarn, evidently unhappy about being wrenched from its cozy figure-8 position, started fighting with me. I’m sure you can guess what happened next; it got irremediably tangled.

I love a challenge, so I started unravelling the tangles. The yarn, however, wasn’t through with me yet. The more I untangled, the more tangled the yarn became. Exhausted, I gave up, somewhere around 1:00am. After several evenings trying to vanquish the evil ball of tangles, I put it out of sight, but not out of mind.

Every once in awhile, I went to peak at The Yarn. It stared balefully back at me. I smiled an evil smile. This was maybe around August. Then, I went to France, started working at Berlitz (not at the same time), and almost forgot about The Yarn, almost being the operative word. I’ll tackle it during my vacation, I promised myself.

True to my word, last evening, I brought the snarling, snaggled Yarn from it’s banishment, and…finally vanquished it! Yes! I’m ready to begin a new square, The Yarn is happy again—I knew it would be—and a pot of tea awaits me.

Below, squares 3 & 4 of the Afghan, instructions published in Knitter's Winter 2000. Square #3 was designed by Marian Tabler, Cincinnati, OH. Meredith Morioka, Garden City KS designed square #4.

Here are squares 1, right, and 2, left. Square #1 is the design of Judy Sumner, Knoxville, TN. Square #2 is from Julie H. Levy of Stuart, FL. The cat is Rascal. He's not knitted, but he often accompanies me as I knit.