Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Concerts, Fairs and Bad Manners

At this exact moment in time, I am wedged between to fantastic weekends chocked full of wonderful events. Journey back in time with to last weekend.

We at Chez Hoy kicked of the weekend on Friday--as any great weekend should--by finding an excellent new home for our family dog, Shiela. I had been struggling for a long time, trying to fit in enough time to make sure she got all the exercise and attention she needed and try as I might, I just couldn't do it. So I interviewed a bunch of really nice people and found a young couple who attend the University of Ottawa who were delighted to have her in their family. So, the kids and I packed a picnic lunch and made a day of it. After we said our goodbyes, we went to meet Bruce at Dows Lake for a lunch in the sunshine. It was bliss. There were squirrels for the girls to chase and everyone stuffed themselves.

When I got home, I got to work letting go of two garbage bags of clothes that, even if they did still fit (and they didn't) would be so out of style I couldn't get away with wearing them anyway. People, I threw away bridesmaids dresses from three weddings I attended 15 to 20 years ago! What was I thinking?! On the upside, I have room in my closet now to get me some clothes that fit.
Saturday, the girls and I took in the Middleville Fair during the afternoon. This is a great place to take kids who really dig animals. There were Alpacas (I am teaching them at a tender age the beauty of luxury fibre) and bees and teams of horses, sheep, cows and fowl. We paid special attention to where we were walking. There's nothing quite like being in the middle of a crowd and having one of your children scream at the top of their lungs, "MOMMY WATCH OUT FOR THAT POO!" Can't say they don't listen. Good times.

On the way home, we took a slew of back roads and got to see the trees starting to turn. The area we live in is just on the cusp of the Autumn colour show. In the next two weeks, the hills will look like they are on fire. It is a fleeting time when the sun's light plays off the leaves, making everything around you appear golden. I love this time of year.

Saturday night, Bruce and I got our good duds on and headed into the city. I know, this makes it sound like we live in hicksville (and well, I sort of do, but that's besides the point) since we do in fact come into the city to go to work every day. However, Saturday night was special because we were going to the National Arts Centre to see Loreena McKennitt's Ancient Muse Tour. I have had the privilege of seeing her three or four times now and she never fails to enthrall her audiences. It was stunning. It has been far too long since I completely indulged in her music and that's got to change. Just a magical evening completeing a wonderful day.

Sunday, after getting groceries, hanging out laundry and making lunch (there must be balance between work and play. We all need clean undies, after all) we headed off to the Richmond Fair. Living within 40 minutes of at least 20 small towns really does give you endless entertainment in September. Having gone to the Perth Fair a couple of weeks ago, the girls were primed for rides and animals and treats and the fair certainly delivered. I had taken the kids to the Perth Fair on my own and found that they are just small enough to require an adult to go with them on most of the really good rides but most of those rides only allowed for 2 per carriage or bucket or whatever. So, we were stymied on a few of them, but I promised that we'd drag Mr B along with us the next time so that everyone could enjoy the rides. That said, we dropped a load of cash for the tickets and went on all the rides the girls wanted to go on! I will admit that I was just as scared as they were on the Ferris Wheel, but I sucked it up and we had a great time.

This is Fiona's paparazzi pose.

This weekend coming will be filled with music. On Friday afternoon, Corkery Road will be making its international debut at the International Ploughing Match in Crosby Ontario. We are schduled to play for 1.5 hours from 1 pm to 2:30. If'n yer gonna be in the area, drop by the Leeds-Grenville County Showcase stage. That's where we'll be making history!
On Saturday, we'll be hitting the road to Russell for their first Celticfest. And thereafter, I susupect we might be in a bit of need of a lie-down.

And now for the Bad Manners part of the, no, everyone, it will not be a divulging of my own bad manners (although I totally would if I realized it was me). No, this is addressed to the man who pulled up behind me at the brand-spakin new TD Canada Trust drive-through bank machine in Carleton Place just as we were heading off to the Richmond Fair. Now folks, I don't know about you, but in my hardly ever humble opinion, drive-through bank machines were made for orangutans or men with long arms. No matter how close to taking off my mirror I get (and I can get pretty close to it) I still have to take off my seatbelt, throw the car in neutral, pull the parking brake (newsflash to anyone who didn't know I drive a standard transmission), haul my carcass half-way out of the car to lean over far enough to just be able to shove the card into the slot and key in my vital statics, praying all the while that I don't make a mistake because I suspect I'm cutting off circulation to something the entire lower half of my body.

Now, I was just getting out some cash to cover the ransom for the ride tickets at the fair. I was not paying bills, transfering monies from foreign accounts. No, I was not checking my account balances, nor was I arranging changes to my mortgage or opening a new account. A simple, fast (in my opinion) transaction, with no keying errors.

There was one car that pulled up behind me when I was already half way through my transaction. I got my money, retrieved my card and receipt, still hanging half out of the car. Pulled myself back into the car and opened up my wallet to put money in and card back. And before I could stick the bills in my wallet, the jerk behind me honked his horn for me to hurry up.

People, honestly, do you throw the car in gear the moment your arse hits the seat, before putting your money away, before putting your seatbelt on, before you are ready?! Even if you do, I do not.

So I flipped him the bird. Which made the guy go snakey, but what could he do? He was still behind me and HAD to wait until I got my seat belt on (I'm just a stickler that way) and got into first (it is the one that I take care with so that I don't waste more precious time starting the car again after I've stalled it...this car behaviour is usually reserved for left-hand turns when the light has already gone yellow) and slowly and cautiously pulled away (safety first, I did have the children with me). And what does he do, but roll down his window to give me a flippy comment as he's getting ready to use the machine with his long manly arms. I bet the bastard didn't even have to take off his seat belt (if in fact he was wearing one to begin with.)

It was everything I could do, I swear, to go past the drive-through entrance and not come up behind him and honk. However, the thought of having to back up through the obstacle course to get out of there was the clincher, so instead I nobly ignored whatever it was he said and prayed fervently that the children didn't catch the bird-flipping move, 'cos, you know, that's all I need them to do the next time I'm waiting in line at the grocery store!

Next time, I'll discuss my Little Black Thumb and the total and utter failure of all my gardening efforts this year and why this should lead you to go forth and send me seed heads from your know, where good garden karma grows. And because I'm too cheap to go and spend $500 on plants.
Have a great weekend folks!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Work in Progress

Now this could be a way of describing my life, but I'm shooting for something a bit less philosophical here (and by the way, am I the only one who has trouble spelling that?).

Anyway, I led a bunch of you to believe that there would be knitting on this blog. So far, there has been yarn, yummy, yummy yarn...ahem. Sorry, I got a bit out of hand there. But to date, no knitting. Let us rectify that situation.

As most of you are aware, I am pretty much continuously knitting. I carry it around like Linus carries his blue blanket. And there are many projects on the go. This is all quite normal if you are a knitter. You may ask yourself (if you are not a knitter), how does one manage 10 different projects all at the same time. Just the same as if I only had one project on the go (and how boring would that be...not to worry though, I'll never know): one stitch at a time. But stitch on stitch and row on row, things appear. However, I am not always the best at following instructions eventhough I am assuredly quite literate (I am employed as an editor after all). You see, I was about to say that all of this obsessive-compulsive knitting turns out garment after garment, but with the instruction reading impairment, sometimes I knit ashtrays. Most of the time, however, this is correctable and furthers my learning in both the art of knitting and adds to my store of patience.

And so, without further ado, I give you my current fun and easy thing I'm knitting (you'll get to see the others later). I have been watching the blogosphere for some time and seeing all sorts of knitters churning out Mitred Square blankets. I thought that this was an interesting thing to do, but it was pretty far down on my list. Until I saw Ann Budd's Quilt Blocks to Knit on Interweave's Piecework Magazine. Sure her pattern called for thread and some crazy small needle size because it was for a greeting cards, but I figured in a chunky yarn on 6mm needles, I should get a reasonable sized square. You see! I DO think before I try my experiments in knitting. Anyway, here is the result so far...and for all you fibre snobs out there, stop reading now. My blankie is made out of acrylic. With two 3 year olds, being able to throw it into the washer and dryer is a must for anything that is going to get sneezed on, barfed on, food see where this is going.

The girls each grabbed one of the squares last night and professed their undying love for their blankies. Imagine what they'll think when the whole thing is done.

I got this yarn from a co-worker whose MIL had decided a decade ago that she was going to take up starting with a blanket. This is how I acquired a bag-load of phentex chunky weight acrylic in (I have to say it) pretty great colours. Now, I would not knit a sweater or a scarf out of this stuff, but for snuggling down to watch a movie, it'll do just fine.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cape Breton Part III

Onwards to new places

I'm starting to think I'll be posting about this trip until Christmas (which, knitters is less than 4 months away). Where were we? Oh yes, the end college. After picking up a few things in the College Gift Shop, we bid goodbye to St Ann's and made our way to Lake Ainslie where we rented a cottage for a couple of nights. We were going to take in the South West Margaree Dance, but after lying down for a short nap and waking up 12 hours later, we decided that we really needed to catch up on the sleep instead!
This is what the place looked like...
But, this is what we looked out on...
Not bad, eh!
On Saturday, we went for a little visit to Dunvegan where my buddy Jac and his lovely wife Laurie are camping for (wait for it) 7 weeks. We had a wonderful lunch during which I sighed and smiled a lot. This is living. Here is the view from the camper. I can see why they stay. After lunch, Laurie took Bruce and I on a hike down to the beach to enjoy the surf and the turf. At first the water was seriously cold on my sand-baked feet, but I got used to it. We had a good bob in the ocean and fell asleep in the sun on the beech. And for our efforts, got sun burnt. The sun knows when you fall asleep and then he gets out a huge magnifying glass and just smokes you. We are still peeling 3 weeks later. :-)

That night after a nice meal at the Red Shoe, we went to the fabled West Mabou Dance and it was everything I had come to expect. No pictures though. Bruce did not sit down the entire night. My knees can only take one set of dances at a time, but not Bruce! He could literally dance all night! The hall was filled with people--tourists at the back and a mob of locals at the front--and Sandy MacIntyre and his band cranked out jigs and reels for 4 hours without much of a break! Thank God the air outside was cool because that hoppin' hall was HOT.

The next day (after sleeping in a bit), we started on the Cabot Trail. Now, I've always wanted to do this part of the trip, and despite being in Cape Breton at least once before, I had not achieved this goal. Well, if the Fates had kept me from it before, I was certainly not disappointed. It took us all day to wind along the roads and through the Cape Breton Highland National Park and we were tired at the end of it, but it was worth it.

We started on the West side of the island at the Margarees (all of them, North, South, East, West, SSW, SSE, EWW, I don't know how emergency crews find these places...oh wait, they know every body), following the road
up to Cheticamp where we had scallops for lunch and bought a pile of music near Pleasant Bay. Now the trail is a challenging drive full of twists and turns and steep inclines. Not for the faint of heart. I'm seriously indebted to Bruce for doing this leg of the driving. There were moments when I had a good grip on my door rest and I may not have completely appreciated his fervent wish that the brakes stayed in fine working order.

There is something you should know about this stretch of road, people. If you are driving an automatic transmission car, you are in for a beautiful, windy, panoramic drive . If you are driving a standard transmission car, you are in for a beautiful, windy, panoramic drive with adventure built in. Because the way is steep, with hairpin turns and lots of switchbacks, you really have to know what you're getting into beforehand and be ready to put the hammer down and give 'er on the way up. Those who insist on taking their campers through the park without a full knowledge of this little tidbit need to get their heads examined! Not only are these vehicles large and usually have manual transmission, they catch the wind and are rather difficult to see around, especially when one has not put said hammer down and all the power drains out of the camper on a hairpin turn in the middle of a long upward stretch where there is no hope of a pull off for miles. This is a crappy place to COME TO A COMPLETE FREAKING STOP forcing those behind you to PULL OUT BLINDLY on a curve where anyone coming downhill is just trying to gear down to stop their brakes from catching fire! You know who you are.

Here is my world famous Cape Breton fiddler.

And likewise, the drummer...(seriously folks, when we were in Pictou, I saw a woman wearing the exact same outfit. She has some excellent style!)
And when we saw the sign that read "Alternate Scenic Route" we looked at one another and decided then and there to take the road less traveled. And this is what we saw:

We saw a bald eagle hunting here. This is Neil's Harbour, at the edge of the world.

After an exhausting day (the trail took 7 hours to drive with stops), we ended up in Sydney, home of the giant fiddle. It is easy to find Syndey, however, once you are there, it is difficult to find your way out or around or through because of a rabbit warren of one way streets, a preponderance of roads without signs, a total lack of grid system for the roads because they follow the lay of the river, and the fact that the electricity goes out occasionally because some shmo is trying to steal copper from the lines! I am not kidding you. Finding your way out of Syndney without the help of road signs or LIGHTS is tricky indeed.
And we stayed at the Lingan Bay B&B. A nice place. Interesting view:

The Quaint Church next door

The Bay

The massive coal-fired power plant 2 blocks away (complete with 7 wind turbines). Can you say Pink Floyd?
We went to Louisbourg and after a full day of 1750s adventuring we went for my lobster dinner at the world famous Fortress View Restaurant...from which you could NOT see the fortress. Maybe in 1955, you could see the fortress from there, perhaps.

We saw the Hector in Pictou. This is a replica of the ship that brought the first settlers from Scotland to the area. After we were done reading half of the extremely detailed displays in the interpretive centre, I felt like I had taken the 12 week journey in the bowels of that boat. Still, it is a municiple project which I think is very ambitious and deserves the price of admission.

We also stopped at Grohmann Knives, one of Canada's knife manufacturers. Everything here is made in Nova Scotia.

We went to see a mill that was without at miller for the past year and therefore was not running. And at the same stop were told that the steam-driven saw mill had been closed due to public safety issues and they could no longer provide us with directions to the beautiful water fall in the area because some idiot had decided to climb to the top and jump (to his death) . Too bad Evil Knievel had to do it in front of his son. Three strikes for us and we moved on to Halifax.Where I got to meet some of Bruce's friends (and now I'll say they are mine too), Diane, Ian and Nolan. Sadly, as I had my tourist hat on, I neglected to take pictures of Diane and Ian, but did get a good one of Nolan.

And we enjoyed our sightseeing in Peggy's Cove (which was 10 minutes away from a bright, sunny day...Maritime Fog) and the Citadel.

And for those knitters amongst you...there was yarn. We stopped in Baddeck at Baadeck Yarns where Patricia made me feel most at home and Bruce had a wee snooze in an arm chair while I browsed. This is what I came home with...
yummy, scrumptious goodness. These colours, I was told, are done up just for shops in Cape Breton. I'm thinking there will be two lace shawls and a dandy pair of socks out of this haul.

Near Margree Harbour, I saw a sign that said, "Will ewe stop?" And we did. My only regret about this shop is that I did not buy more. At $4.99 a skein, I was a fool to only pick up these...

In Pictou, we went into a gift shop to pick up some pressies for the family and Bruce pointed out that there were felted hats like I make in the back corner. And there was some wool back there too. Is there any wonder why I love this man like I do? So I bought a few skeins of undyed wool for trying my hand at home dyes.
And on the way home, we made a side trip to Briggs and Little Woolen Mills where I was completely overcome by yarn fumes when we discovered that we had arrived 5 minutes before they closed! Rest assured, I can work quickly when under pressure.

Here is a picture of the complete haul. I almost feel ashamed of it all. The decadence. The over abundance.

And when I came home....what should be waiting for me, but my Bee Fields shawl kit designed by Anne Hansen of Knitspot fame and wool dyed and spun by Wooly Wonka's fibres. Can it get any better?