Saturday, February 28, 2009

Best Birthday Cake Ever

A fibre birthday cake. I couldn't ask for a better birthday. Thank you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Book: The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook

I've been reading The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook by Albert Bates lately. The book has a moderate ink-stink so it's slow reading for me; a few pages every couple of days.

I love the idea of living a self sufficient life; of opting out of the industrial establishment if you will. People living in small communities, helping each other out. That idealized past that never really existed except as a longing in the harts of people.

Lately, the importance of being able to live without petroleum products has taken on a new importance in my life due to recent health issues. But even without that, I've always wondered if a catastrophe happened that cut the place where I live off from the rest of the world, how long could I survive? A week? A month? A decade? If we had no electricity, if we had no trade outside our little island, if we were suddenly forced to be entirely self sufficient, would we make it?

Actually, this is one of the reasons why I now live on a farm. I want to be as self sufficient for food as possible, that way, if things do go to hell in a hand basket, the transition to fending for ones self won't be quite so bumpy. I'll have the skills to do everything from grow my own food to make my own clothes.

That's a bit of what this book is about. Bates addresses the fact that, guess what, we are running out of oil. Even if we don't use up the world's oil, it will soon become so expensive that we will need to seek out alternatives. This is going to hit society as a whole really hard as it will effect everything from food distribution to garbage bags. How do you dispose of your garbage without using plastic bags?

Functional anthropologist like Marvin Harris state that in previous cultures, drastic changes in technology, for example from ox to horse for ploughing fields, don't occur the way we would think. People on the whole, hold on to older, inefficient technology for longer than is prudent. No matter how economical or efficient the new technology is, a culture does not take up the new technology until using the old technology costs more than twice what is required to acquire the new technology. This cost isn't always financial either. I think that this has something to say about where we are as a culture just now. We are on the cusp between technologies and if we follow the patterns of the past, we won't switch to a more efficient source of energy or systems of distribution until it costs too much to continue as we are.

There is another thing we can learn from the past, when it comes to the vital structures of a culture like energy or water for example, this is where previous state level societies die off. If they are incapable of adopting or abandoning certain technologies in time, societies fall apart, sometimes in as little as ten years, sometimes it takes a hundred, and we are left with nothing more but the basic parts: small communities and family units. This is a repeating pattern in history and I think it is hubris to assume that we are immune from such a possibility.

It's worse than that, the technologies we are using now are capable of making the world inhospitable to human existence and instead of the collapse of society as we know it, our failure to adjust our technology will result in the end of human existence on this world.

I've strayed away from the book I wanted to tell you about into my own opinions. The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide dosen't go about pestering us about just how doomed we are. Instead, Bates looks at how we, as individuals and small communities, can adjust our lives now so that the transition away from a petroleum based existence can be as smooth as possible with as little loss of life and of standard of life can be managed under the circumstances.

The argument goes basically that governments, industry, &c. are not the place to look for change. People have to take responsibility for their own existence in the world. If individuals vote for a new way of life with their dollar then the larger organizations will follow. This is easier now than it ever was. We have access to things like solar panels and such. The book is about how to go about this. I think that's great.

There are a few points I disagree on. First, Bates would benefit from reading older works, say anything pre 1970 but especially pre 1940 which had a lot better information on how to get on in hard times. Many of his recommendations are not practical, take far more effort than pre-petroleum methods, and many of the equipment required for his suggestions require petrol for either creating it or acquiring it. Also, things like the solar powered dehydrator, which Bates gives plans for, would be pretty lousy in our climate where it gets quite moist at night which would cause the dehydrating food to rehydrate each evening increasing the possibility of food contaminants like mold.

Also, I have major issues with Bates exaltation of soy as a viable source of food in a post-petroleum life. The controversy of the nutritional value of soy aside, the ease of access to soy and the wide spread knowledge of how to process it that Bates describes is dubious at best.

All in all I would say that the value of this book far outweighs my objections to some of it's content. It got me thinking about things in a different way and I think that is the most valuable thing a book can do for a person.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I am actually still alive. I've learnt that being away from the internet does not equate being dead. It definitely feels disconnecting though.

Okay, the thing is, the internet lives in a part of the house which makes me feel unwell to visit. So, I've been down here maybe three times since the internet came back. In the apartment, the internet was in my bedroom, so even on the most health-poor days, I could stay in bed, reach over to the computer and check my email. Not so here.

I'm told that a wire will be run up to a part of the house that I do well in so that I can sit there and use the internet. Fingers crossed that it will be soon.

The upside is that all that time I would otherwise be spending online has been used for things like spinning and knitting. That, and being attacked by a goat. We went to this farm to look at a second hand tractor and this insane goat cornered me while everyone else walked away not noticing the situation I was in. The ground was all mud and manure so it was super-slippery and the goat just wanted to but me with his horns. Eventually he gave up but not before getting the point of his considerable horn dug into my knee. So now I'm limping about the house with a swollen knee but, you know what, I don't mind. At least I got to pet a goat. Do goats come without horns?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bread rising

Kitten came ‘round yesterday with the world’s most perfect house warming present: Starter. Starter is a living thing that is used for making bread. It captures naturally occurring yeast from the air and gives it a nurturing home in a mixture of flour and water. This has several advantages: as you are already exposed to this yeast on an everyday basis, your body is accustomed to it and can digest it easily; you don’t have to buy manufactured yeast which is made in a factory and transported from far off places; a starter can live for hundreds of years, and some have; the timing is not fussy when you make bread this way; and it’s the prefect thing to give to friends when they move into their new home. I suspect that this has been a tradition since people started making bread.

Kitten actually brought two different starters. One is a rye starter, I started about two or three years ago (I’ll have to check back on my blog to see when) and gave to Mr and Mrs Kitten. I let mine die off when I got super-sick and couldn’t eat yeast in any form. The other, a white wheat starter, Curleysalamander started and gave to them.

Today I’m making bread for the family. I’m trying out Curleysalamander’s starter to see how it goes. As it’s still cold in the house, I have the dough sitting on top of the dehydrator for warmth. It seems to like it there. I put some Buddy Holly on earlier, but the dough seems to respond better to Grieg. My rye starter use to like something with a heavy beat, so it’s interesting to see how different starters respond to different music. I’ll have to get some Tchaikovsky and see how they like it.

You think I’m crazy? Bread responding to music? How can I tell? Simple. Yeast is a plant. Science says that plants respond to music and that different plants respond to different music. When yeast is happy, it makes the bread get bigger faster and the speed that the bread is rising has more than doubled since I switched music even though the room temperature is less in favour of helping the bread.

Something that makes me happy: a month ago, I didn’t have the energy to kneed the dough.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Internet at the farm

I finally have internet again, but you know what; I'm hesitant to use it. I think I've become use to the idea of not having it. I hate not having it, but not using it these last few days has given me time to do other things and, for some reason, more energy too.

Anyway, I have way too much to do today and no where near enough energy to do it with, so I'll make this short.

I do want to say that I absolutely love living in the Country. The other day all of us were outside, Dad, G'pa, Brazil and myself, in the garden. It was sunny and warm and I loved it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Away to see the Doctor

Only here in Seattle do I have reliable internet. I'm here yet again to see my specialist. The trip so far has been refreshing and tireing.

I've kept a little journal of my life in the new house so far. It's quite long as I've been away from the blog for some time, but I thought I'ld post it all in one go (provided that Blogger is kind to me tonight) and you can read through it at your leasure.

Also, I apologize in advance; it's prety late so my editing skills may not be up to the task.

Blog: first day at the new house.

Today I woke up to a misty morning. It was absolutely beautiful. The trees, the mist, Mr W. feeding his chickens next door, and all the potential the land has to offer. Should I make the old hen house a goat shed and have chickens in chicken tractors? I saw the perfect goats for me on Used Victoria. Too bad I’m not ready for them yet. Do I want to keep a pig or two? If so, will there be enough water in the summer to sustain them? What kind of tree is that? How far back does the property go? What adventures await me today?

I love the potential of things. There something in the not yet actualized that I find fascinating. Call it Schrödinger’s cat or Aristotle’s theory of motion – it’s the same thing. A thing is always becoming another thing and you don’t know what it will become until it is that. And then, it is already in the process of becoming something else. It’s like a blank piece of paper for writing letters on and pen in one’s hand. There are so many things that can happen to that page, or it could stay blank a while longer. That’s why I love old style stationary and writing letters by hand so much. That is also the feeling I get when I look out the window of this place, especially in the morning – this new day could bring any manner of adventures before the sun sets.

I went with G’pa to pick up ten fruit trees he bought. It’s very important to him to plant fruit trees within a week of moving to a new home. It’s something like setting his mark on a place. It’s not home until the trees are in the ground and growing. If all goes well, we should get enough fruit from them to sustain us (provided we can supplement our apple supply by picking any extra apples on friends trees). Does anyone have any good ideas on dear proofing young trees? The yard is too large and thus expensive to fence completely at this time, so that’s out. There must be another way.

After getting the trees we stopped at the local honey farm and sampled the yummy creations. I picked up some beeswax candles for me to keep in my room for power outages. I figured that given we are trying to keep all petro chemicals out of my room; it would be pretty stupid to burn a petrochemical in my room. Apparently even our old glass oil lamps burn a petroleum product. So, these candles are a good thing.

And last, we stopped at the local market. I haven’t seen fruit and veg this fresh in any of the shops near my old home. No wonder people come from all over to shop there. They have everything and they are only a short walk from our mail box (it’s a half hour walk to our mail box).

Everywhere we went the people were so helpful and friendly. I feel like I belong to a community already and I’ve only been here one day. I got to know the guy in the deli, the bee woman, the pet food and livestock feed person quite well

I helped G’pa in the garden before lunch, then I rested for a while and started supper. By about four o’clock though, I was starting to feel pretty bad. My joints were (and are) so swollen that the first thing my dad said to me when he came home that afternoon was to comment on how swollen they looked. Also, something has made the skin on my hands break out. I figure this is probably a Herxheimer reaction from killing off all those nasty Lyme bugs and a physical reaction to the dust, cardboard boxes and stress of moving. I think that every single moving part in my body has gone terribly rusty and the worst part about it is that even with pain killers, it keeps getting worse. Maybe I should try without painkillers and it will get better. Also, I’ve got the weirdest headache on the top of the left side of my head, not tooth related, just in one spot. It comes and goes, but when it comes I just about fall to the floor it hurts that much.

But anyway, it will go away eventually or not. I’m just glad that I’m here now and I can take things easy. I think tomorrow I’ll spend some time with the bunny and potter in the kitchen. It’s an adventure merging two households together, both of which are use to a much larger kitchen.

Also, I’m almost enjoying not having internet. I’ve finally got started on writing my book. But, I do really miss my blog. I’ve been without it over 24 hours now and I wonder what it’s been up to without me.

Day: two

Day two I woke up feeling even more lousy physically but better about the world emotionally. Isn’t that so often the way? The headache is gone but the joints are far worse. I didn’t know if I should listen to my body and stay absolutely still (they hurt more when I move) or not. I worried if I did stay in bed, then my joints would rust up and stay in that position. There is still lots to be done in the house, and besides, if I stayed in bed, it would probably worry my G’pa and Dad too much. This is definitely a Herx.

After getting up and stoking the fire (the only heating in the house right now is one extremely inefficient wood stove/furnace at the end of the house furthest away from the bedrooms.) I started on the kitchen. Did I mention that we are merging two households into one? My G’pa has had ninety years to accumulate stuff and add that to the fact that when I am in the kitchen, I’m a whole different person. Think of the most vicious TV Chef and double it. The kitchen was my domain and it will be again just as soon as I’m better, if not before, so every little thing gets to go where I want it. It’s also the room in the house where I suffer the most injuries and to avoid that, it’s best to keep things in the same place at all times.

By lunch time I had tided up a bit, finished making soup broth (I make it in the slowcooker overnight as 12 hours of slowcooker is about ½ hour of stove electricity wise and it’s also way more convent), put some bananas to dry and made fudge. I took the recipie from Dry It – You’ll Like It and of course changed it a bit. Took out the things I’m allergic too and added some other things to compensate. Then, it goes in the dehydrator for a day or two until it’s chewy and holds together. It was surprisingly easy to make. I bet it would be even more delicious in the Vegan version – take out the honey, put in some quality maple syrup. Mmmm...

I’ve also made some friends today. The pervious owners left a humming bird feeder up next to the window where I am sitting now. We’ve had a male and a female anis hummingbird visits and take a sip. I need to look up the proportions for boiling sugar water. I have tones of sugar left from back when I could bake with it, so this will be a good way to use it up.

After lunch I had a wee cat nap, or so I thought. When OB1 called and woke me up, I had been asleep three hours. I really needed that. OB1 and some other kind people will come help us move our furniture from the apartment to our new home tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to seeing them, but I feel bad that I can’t be a bigger help with all this.

This evening, I made some banana bread for tomorrow and now, I’m off to bed.

Day: three

There are a few things in this world that are identifiably Canadian. I would have to say that today was one of those thing: Moving day, Canadian style.

Canadian moving days are special. Unless you wish to hire a team of men and a truck, Canadian moving days go like this: First, rent a truck for $19.95 per day plus mileage. The truck of course has to be on it’s last legs and extremely noisy. The seatbelts probably don’t work, or if they do, you need to know the secret password. But, it’s a truck and it’s cheep so you don’t complain. Besides, there is always that sense of accomplishment when you nurse that last few miles out of an aged machine.

Next you stop at Tim Horton’s to pick up a couple of dozen Tim Bits. These are like little doughnut balls about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter – often called doughnut holes in other countries. These are bite size and perfect for popping in your mouth while working at other tasks. This is a vital step in Canadian Moving day because your friends who you have requisitioned for the day and who will each independently show up with their own Double Double (a kind of Canadian Coffee that can only be bought at Tim Horton’s), will need some special treats to keep them going.

And now the chaos begins. An hour and a half later, the entire contents of your life (or in this case our apartment) are crammed into a rental truck and you spend a moment standing there baffled by how much stuff you actually own and amazed at the generosity of your friends.

Unloading the truck at the other end goes much faster than you could imagine. My job was to arrange compensation: lunch. I phoned around to find the best kitchen for making pizza within delivery distance of our new home: pizza being the mandatory lunch on moving day as it can be eaten with the minimal amount of fuss. After much kafuffle ordering the pizza, making certain he had the house and phone numbers right, &c. I get a phone call a few minutes later from the owner of the restaurant stating that the drive has gone missing and if he does eventually come into work today, will probably be fired, but if I can come and pick up the pizza I will be compensated with a discount and a free 2leter bottle of pop. There goes convenience, but lucky for me OB1 has a sexy red car and takes me to collect the pizza. Of course, something like this always has to go amiss on a Canadian moving day. We were very lucky because it is usually something to do with the weather or the truck breaking down. A little lunch hick up was a welcome change from the usual catastrophe.

By the time all that is sorted and we return home, the boys are standing around the driveway looking extremely board. They had already finished and were waiting for our arrival, or more likely the arrival of the pizza in the sexy red car.

Before one in the afternoon we were moved in, lunch was eaten and our friends were on their ways back to their individual lives.

As for me today; most importantly I am extremely grateful. I feel like I should do something more to thank these kind people who took time out of their lives to help us out.

Other than that, well, I did my best to surprises my health troubles, but I suspect it showed anyway. The pain was still there and the day wore me out something fierce. I couldn’t manage a nap so I decided to go for a walk with G’pa to the back of the property. We hadn’t gone that far before and it get’s quite wild in the back third of the property. The back neighbour has a camalid like a thin llama. I don’t know what they are, the shape seems wrong for a llama or alpaca. I’ll have to go there and get some photos another day.

I have a lot to do tomorrow but dad says I’ll be sleeping in. I have no ability to wake up on my own before noon these days. Even the alarm is no use, so I stopped having a clock in my room. I suppose my body compensates for not getting to sleep before two in the morning. I wonder, do I always talk about my physical self in the third person? It often seems like someone else but that may be because I don’t enjoy residing in it much these days.

I need to make some more of that dehydrator fudge. I’ve eaten it all and it’s wasn’t even close to being ready. I’m lucky because no one in house likes it but they can all eat chocolate whenever they want – me, not so much. For someone who hasn’t eaten real chocolate in a year and a half, I’m not going to mind if it tastes ‘too healthy’.

Now, as sleep feels far away despite how late it is, I’m going back to working on my book. It’s slow going, but you know what, I can’t expect miracles from myself even if I was at my peek. I’ve got most of it worked out in my head – I’ve been researching it in earnest for about a year now – it’s just the process of taking thoughts and putting them into words on paper (or fingers on keys). But that’s the main reason why I blog: to practice writing every day. I want to get use to accepting the flow of ideas as they come and not judging them before they appear on the page. I can judge and edit after the section is complete otherwise, if I think too much about perfection before I write, I never type a word. The blog helps me get over this.

Day ? I’ve lost count already.
Day: Monday.

They let me sleep in today. I certainly needed it. There is lots of organizing that needs doing in the house, but once I was dressed and the last few slices of banana bread were on their way to my stomach I was out the door to see what adventures my G’pa had been up to while I remained in the land of nod. He had dug two more holes for some pear trees my uncle gave him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy as when he is in the garden.

After inspecting his work, I put on my wellingtons, took my shovel and went to play in the mud. In case you didn’t know, there is this rivulet of mud that bisects the back yard which I hope to turn into a brook by digging a sort of meandering trench and filling it with field stone that litters the property. That’s the goal anyway. After twenty minutes, most of it spent watching the wild life, I was all in. The thing is, most of my joints are still absolutely horrible and the major ones are only at 40% capacity – meaning they are willing to bend not even half of what they should and even then complain bitterly at being asked to move.

During the afternoon I made up some more food for dehydrating while listening to Michal Palin’s Around the World in 80 Days (narrated by the author). I made some apricot flax crackers out of some unprocessed dried apricots I had bought a while back but were too sour for anyone in the house to eat on their own. I also had some old apples that needed eating up, so I put them through the food processer with some spices but forgot to add honey. Hopefully it won’t be as bitter when it dries into apple butter leather. I also made some more of that fudge. It didn’t turn out as wonderful as the first time, but still very tasty. I’ll know in a day or two if my cunning plan works. With any luck they will all be beautiful taste explosions and I can take them with me to Seattle later this month. Also, the banana slices turned out FANTASTIC. I’m in love.

As the day continued the weather started to change. The pain in my joints became less sharp but deeper and a dull ache settled into my bones. This is the sort of feeling that is usually followed by inclimate weather. I spent the evening huddled up next to the fire wrapped in wool blankets. I missed spinning which is a real shame because I so much wanted to go. They way I am today, it just isn’t possible.

I’m told I get some internet tomorrow. This is great news, sort of. The internets and computers and such, I’m told, will go downstairs in the basement which is also the place where all the things with chemicals and that cause my health to suffer live. We are not getting a wireless router because my GP suggests I need to limit my exposure to electromagnetic fields. So, um, maybe a long wire thread through one of the ducts? But that’s not going to happen soon. I miss the internet and I probably have hundreds of emails, some of which are important, to read. Besides, this blog entry is getting impossibly long. I wonder if anyone has commented lately? I wonder if my friend made it safely back to Quebec yet and how the story telling festival went.

In the apartment, the internet was the only thing that got me out of bed most days. That and the urge to relieve myself. But here, it doesn’t feel so necessary. Even on really bad days, I still manage to play in the yard (mud) for twenty minutes or more whereas before I could go a week without getting out of my PJs when I feel like this. I think this move has done me a lot of good already. All that remains is to finish sorting the house and removing the chemicals from it. Then, I think my path to good health will accelerate nicely.

The sky is clear tonight and the full moon is casting long shadows from the trees. It looks beautiful and peaceful out my window, but if my bones have anything to say about it, we might be in for some snow or at least a heck of a wind storm tomorrow.

Day: Tuesday

Dad woke me up with the news that snow was on it’s way. A warning of 15cm or around 6 inches of snow by tomorrow night. This is unprecedented around these parts. It’s too late in the year for starters and, despite the prophecy in my bones, I’m inclined to think that this is a joke of some sort, just not very funny.

As the day progresses things outside start to get darker rather than brighter. A breeze is picking up and as I climb into an extra warm sweater and look out the front window, I see the bad weather truck spraying the road with urea. Our driveway is rather long and steep and takes over a minute to walk down to the bottom to get the paper and up to twice that to walk up it again. We haven’t any snow shovels or sand or anything to clear it with if we do get the forecasted precipitation. I have a faint dream that our neighbours will take pity on us and bring their tractor over and clear the drive but I also fear for the new fruit trees, that despite our encouragement to the contrary, G’pa has planted dangerously close to the drive and would become destroyed in a pile of snow.

I also hope that the cable man comes before the snow does. I’m promised that he will hook up our internet for us. I’m greatly looking forward to this but there is nothing I can do about it, so it’s off to grind some oats and make myself some porage.

Well, we did get some snow. At first it was a few flakes blowing in from the side, then more and more. It didn’t actually start to stick until after lunch. All in all about three inches by bed time. There was one accident outside our drive way. A car missed the curve and slid into the ditch. No one was injured but I got to be a Good Samaritan and let a little girl use my bathroom. I was combing Ginger (the rabbit) so I had her in my arms when I answered the door. It gave us something to talk about.

Still no internet. This is super-annoying. At least there is cable, but if I had to choose between cable and internet, I would choose the latter. I spent all day near the front window waiting for the internet man who promised to come today and has apparently sent us an email confirming what time today he was suppose to arrive.

I don’t know how to live my life without the internet. Certainly there is lots to do around here but I feel so isolated without email and blog. Little things like the humming bird feeder was running low and I wanted to make up some sugar water but I didn’t know the correct ratio of sugar to water and how hot do I need to heat. I would usually Google this sort of thing and that would be that. I had to use my own brain and think back to everything I know about humming birds and cooking sugar. I figured a quarter cup of sugar to two cups of water, bring slowly to just before the boil then cool, put in feeder, hope for best. I don’t know if that’s correct and no birds have been buy to drink from it yet, so I might be way off.

Other than sorting some more of the kitchen, today was pots and pans, finding my alpaca toque and wearing it around the house all day – it sure does make things feel warmer -, I hooked up the TV and DVD players. This is perhaps one of my most favourite tasks. I give myself an hour or two just to enjoy tracing the wires, making certain the connections are just right, programming the clocks and the settings, and all that jaz. I am one of those apparently few people in the world that instinctively get VCRs (and DVD players, and TVs and stuff like that). My brain is good at finding the structure of things. It traces one wire to all it’s possible paths then finds the most efficient and best quality way to hook things up. I think I would have made a stunning electrician or plumber if things had turned out differently. It’s planning out this type of thing, whether it be hooking up the physical wires that hold the CPU to the peripheries or planning out the most efficient rout on a map, that I often do in my mind to stop me from becoming board. Weird eh?

Well, tomorrow, provided there isn’t too much snow, I’m off to find some internet. I have a vital, super-important phone interview tomorrow that requires the paperwork to be finished and delivered an hour after the call – all the paper work, I might mention is online and I haven’t been able to get at it. Infuriating. If only I had known before the internet left me. I’m so dependent on technology and no, apparently, I cannot pick up this paperwork from a physical location. No matter, what will be will be and not only do I have no internet, I have no control over the situation. This move is an exercise in learning to accept that I can’t control my own life. At least not when it comes to the big things.

Day Thursday: Going South

Today was spent travelling south. I will visit my Specialist tomorrow morning then we will drive back again.

Yesterday OB1 stopped by with some lovely space heaters. They are a blessing. And of course, it’s always lovely to see my mentor.

We also spent half an hour at my old home, the apartment. Dad is in the process of fixing it up to get it ready to sell. He’s done a lot already, but there is plenty more to go. We took the old modem and checked our emails, then continued home for an important phone call from the government (don’t worry, it was a very nice young chap on the other end and it was a pleasure to talk with him).

I know I did other things yesterday, but I don’t have the mind to remember them just now. The Herx still continues so my joints are monstrously swollen again and painful but other than that, I’m feeling optimistic.

(vegans, feel free to skip this paragraph) Oh, that’s right; I talked to a butcher about bacon. Most bacon and smoked meets are cured with cane sugar, a substance I cannot consume. I miss bacon and ham and such so much. I’ve asked high and low for someone who would do a batch for me with honey or maple syrup instead but no one was willing to take the effort, no matter how large a batch I was willing to order. But then yesterday I got talking with this blue eyed angled behind the counter at the place we call “The Scottish Butcher” and, after discussing things with the fellow in the back, he told me it was possible, provided I bring my own maple syrup. Well, it was all I could do not to kiss him. I need to remember to do this next week as it will take time for him to make the bacon.

And now it's time for me to turn in. It's been a long day to get here and it will be an even longer day to get home again tomrrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alive, still no internet at home. Will tell you more when the darn guy finally arrives to fix internet. He was suppose to come yesterday but didn't. Otherwise, having fun. Miss you all.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

bye internet

Bye internet and emails.

I'll miss you.

See you again in a week or three.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Busy getting ready

I finally did it, I took some yarn down to Knotty by Nature to put on consignment.

This is the weirdest sensation for me. Spinning is something I do for pleasure. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. How can I put a monetary value on something like that? But then again, it's also a hobby that tends to cost money so it would be nice to have it pay for itself.

The yarn is there now and if they sell, then great. If they don't sell, then that's okay too because I had a lot of fun making them and yarn always comes in handy.

Yesterday, while dad, G'pa and a few other kind relatives are busy working on the new house to get it ready for me to move in, I've been pottering around the house. I did three loads of laundry and plan on doing at least two more today. I have some undyed cotton fabric that I bought. I need to hem the edges, wash out the sizing, then sew into sheets for my new bed. I have a set of PJs I made out of this stuff and the fabric just gets softer and stronger the more it is used (so far) so I think this will work well. It's also about a quarter of the price of buying new sheets.

But I was talking about yesterday. Yesterday I tidied up the house by finishing off some projects that were taking up space. Most of it is spinning. The justification for this is that unspun fibre takes up more space than yarn.

This is the merino and silk noils that I blended at Knotty by Nature the other day.

Oh! It's amazing yarn. So soft. I'm definitely not selling this yarn. I want to make a scarf out of it. I have just under 400m of singles and I don't think I want to ply them so perhaps I could use it as weft for weaving a scarf? I wonder how long a scarf that would make? Next time I'm at the shop I'll see if I can find some more marino fibre to spin up for the warp (no noils). I will have to get together with a weaving friend to work out if I have enough weft or if I need to spin some more of that too.

I also had a go at spinning baby camel.

This I got from Fun Knits almost a year ago, but I hadn't the courage to spin it up. It's so incredibly soft and luxurious. What if I ruined it? I gathered up my courage and had a go. It was a bit difficult to get the hang of, but after a while I was doing quite well. I spun it with a long woolen draft (in case you actually know what that is) and it made the softest yarn. The shiny stuff is bamboo top from Hummingbird Fibre Arts (and sorry, I never can find their website). It actually does shine in the sun like highly polished brass. I spun this worsted style and plyed it with the camel.

Such a beautiful yarn! For the rest of it I might spin the bamboo a bit finer. I imagine a lace stole for wearing to special occasions like weddings. The camel makes this extra warm and blooms beautifully when plied. I wish I could invite you all over to pet this.

Right, no spinning for me today. I have to packing to do. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Raven's Brook Farm?

I spent Sunday afternoon playing at the new house.

I didn't spend much time inside as it is not de-chemcialled yet, but I did explore the yard. It's five acres of agricultural land and hopefully, within a month or so we can stop calling it 'the new house' and start calling it a farm.

G'pa is over the moon about the neighbours. They keep horses and chickens, so they have a large pile of manure in their back yard. Some of it looks well seasoned. G'pa kept talking about how he could sneak in there at night and steal it slowly so that they wouldn't notice. I was beginning to suspect that he was serious. Lucky for us, he finally met the neighbours yesterday and they got to talking. At one point in the conversation G'pa said, "What are you going to do with all that manure?" and without missing a beat, Mr W. said, "Give it to you." Well, that made G'pa's day. So, now I know how to make my G'pa happy. Give him a big pile of Shite.

In the yard there is an old hen house that is in dire need of repair and some old fruit trees.

I think I could fix up the hen house in a week or so (a healthy person could maybe do it in a day). It needs to be predator proofed, cleaned and a door or two put on. There is this mettle thing I found in the brambles that you can use to give the chickens water. It just needs a little bit of fixing up. The thing is, there is no run for birds to play in. I could let them run around the yard as they like, but given the number of small animal bones around the yard, I don't think they would survive a week before someone else ate them.

I'm going to focus first on this low muddy bit that bisects the back yard.

It was bone dry when we viewed the house earlier in the year, but now that the rains are here, it is a real quagmire.

There are rocks all over the property. Basically like field stone, but probably something to do with glaciers (all rock deposits are glacier related around here - or so it seems). I was going to narrow and deepen where the water goes, then collect up these rocks and use them to make a brook. I figure this is a task I can work at slowly and put down when I need a rest.

It's lovely to be able to go outside without being poisoned with chemicals and perfume.

There are also about a dozen ravens hanging about the property. G'pa said that he would like to call the place, Raven's Brook Farm given the number of ravens and that I, also a raven, am planing on making a wee little brook in the back yard. I did a quick google and came up with only two places who have names similar: Raven Brook Farm (not Raven's) which is a Christmas Tree farm in Eastern Canada and RavensBrook Homes, a real estate company. So, I think this means that we can use this name but I have to check.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Yes sir, yes sir, three shops full

I got to meet a very special yarn friend in person on Saturday. We spent the afternoon together visiting yarn shops. I was very excited and, yes, a little bit nervous meeting her. It turned out that we had a great deal of fun together and I really hope she can show me around her home town some day in the future.

We meet up at my favourite cafe then, after tea, ventured to the Button and Needlework Boutique where we pet the luxury yarn.

There is a lot more yarn there than last time I visited. When yarn first arrived in that shop, it took up a little bit of space near the front. Then, it took up half the shop. Now... Have you ever seen that episode of Star Trek with the Tribbles? There is Yarn everywhere.

It is wonderful for someone like me to see the yarn multiplying at an exponential rate, but it does compress the buttons and needle work stuff. It's still all there, just more efficiently displayed.

Okay, I have to confess I said something that sounded way better in my mind before it came out of my mouth. I compared yarn to gas and explained that Boil had a law that said something about how gas expands to fit the container in which it is held. That's why the yarn was taking over the shop just like it takes over a knitter's home. See, it sounded great in my brain - scientific theory use as an analogy to explain a phenomena. Oh well, we all had a good laugh.

After that, we walked to the Beehive Wool Shop. This is The Traditional yarn shop for Victoria. It's been around forever and it is still extreemly popular. You can tell that because there was barely room to move for yarn and people.

It's a lovely shop, lots of yarn, lots of variety, lots of people, but not much air flow. (also, I've noticed that customers and staff are more likely to wear perfume in that shop than any other yarn shop near by). I do like listening to the sounds and conversations of the people there almost as much as I like petting the yarn. They had lots of new stuff in there that I had never seen before and it was horribly difficult to not buy this handmaiden silk yarn that had both Tussa and Mulberry silk and dyed the most amazing golden colours. I couldn't really bring myself to spend that much on one skein of yarn that I didn't have any project for it. I did dream of it that night though. Sigh. What do people who don't love yarn dream about?

After that, it was Knotty time. Knotty by Nature is only a couple of blocks away from the Beehive, so we ended our day there. They have this lovely comfy couch for resting on which is perfect for when I get tired from admiring so much yarn.

I feel very relaxed there. It's actually one of the few places outside my home that I seem to get energy from by being there. Most places, especially shops take energy from me, but not Knotty. I thought I was completely tired out and was congratulating myself for not buying any yarn, but then, after a little rest, I got the urge to blend some fibres. But, can you blame me, really? I'm surrounded by all those beautiful fibres, yarns and toys. After having a day of self restraint, I just couldn't hold out any longer.

Merino and silk cocoons. It's pretty.

The day was wonderful. I really enjoyed spending time with this yarn friend. I now want to visit Quebec more than anything AND, I'm going to try to learn more French. I suck at languages, especially these days, but maybe if I watch French films (like Seducing Dr Lewis and Amalie) without subtitles, I can start to learn what they are saying.

Today I have some tasks to do down town, so I might take some of my hand spun down to Knotty to put on consignment. I can hardly knit these days but I can spin. So, why not? This way my fibre habit can help pay for itself.

Feast of Brigid's silent poetry reading - 2009

A selection from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner


The Sun now rose upon the right:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the left 85

Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day for food or play

Came to the mariners' hollo! 90

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay, 95

That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,

The glorious Sun uprist:

Then all averred, I had killed the bird

That brought the fog and mist. 100

'T was right, said they, such birds to slay,

That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst 105

Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,

'T was sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea! 110

All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody Sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day, 115

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink; 120

Water, water, every where

Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!

That ever this should be!

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 125

Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout

The death-fires danced at night;

The water, like a witch's oils,

Burnt green, and blue and white. 130

And some in dreams assured were

Of the Spirit that plagued us so;

Nine fathom deep he had followed us

From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought, 135

Was withered at the root;

We could not speak, no more than if

We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks

Had I from old and young! 140

Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung.


O happy living things! no tongue

Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,

And I blessed them unaware: 285

Sure my kind saint took pity on me,

And I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off, and sank 290

Like lead into the sea.


I've always loved this poem. Lately, the metaphor of the albatross has taken on some rather strong significance for me. I wear a necklace of an albatross with a hole through the middle to remind me that even the most horrific of things come an end, eventually. The albatross did fall off for him, 'though it left him affected for the rest of his days. So too, will I be rid of my own albatross one day.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Important Notice

Hi all,

I have been informed that I will have intermittent internet and phone service for most of this month. I'm not entirely certain why, but they tell me it might happen for some of the middle two weeks of this month.

If I fall of the face of the internet, don't worry too much.

Other than that, I had a great day yesterday and today. I have some photos to load onto the computer before I can tell you too much, but if you would like a hint: yesterday was all about yarn and friends, and today I spent a bit of time at the new house (outside mostly). Tell you more later.