Tuesday, December 29, 2009

if it's not one thing.....

it's another.

Our furnace has been acting up for the last few weeks. We thought it was toast on Christmas Eve at about 11:30 pm but Dan managed to get it going again after several tries. We were trying to coax it along until we could call a service person today and avoid the after hours charges. It gave up the ghost late last evening. We couldn't get someone out until morning so we turned on the natural gas fireplace and fan in the living room and placed space heaters in the bedroom before going to bed. I don't like leaving those things on when we're asleep because of the fire hazard so it was pretty chilly this morning but not cold enough to cause the water pipes to freeze. (For those of you in warmer climes *coughLynncough*, frozen water pipes are very, very, very bad. Big mess, lots of $$ to repair.)

The serviceman was here bright and early this morning. It took all morning and he still didn't know for sure what was wrong with the furnace. He did know that he would have to order parts, it would cost a lot of money, and we would be without heat until next week. It was an easy decision to opt to get a new furnace instead. It will be installed tomorrow and Thursday; we should have heat by tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime we have been moving the heaters around the house and I baked bread to have the oven on. Luckily the fireplace throws a lot of heat so the house is still quite warm except in the rooms farthest away from the living room and kitchen. Poor Dan. Between the sick dog, the Christmas bustle, and now the furnace issues, he hasn't had a very relaxing holiday.

A nice distraction arrived in the mail though.
Polwarth fleeces from Rovings. The white fleece is an Elite quality yearling and the silver one is an Export quality lamb. The white one is superb; it's very clean with long locks. The silver one must not have been coated as it's very dirty compared to the white one and the lock length varies but it's a pretty color. I've already washed some of each and can't wait to start playing with them.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Well, Pocus had a very rough week adapting to the anti-seizure medication but things are improving now, thank goodness. I was prepared for his drowsiness and unco-ordination but not for the constant pacing while he was out of it. It was so upsetting that I couldn't bear to post about it until I knew how things would turn out.

On Monday evening, he started walking. Walking constantly. Walking into tight spaces and getting stuck but still moving his legs even when his legs gave out under him and splayed out from his sides. Walking night and day. He stumbled around in his crate at night, crashing into the sides and door. When I let him out of his crate, he walked into corners and got stuck or tried to walk under the bed and got stuck. When I put him up on the bed, he walked to the edges and would have walked off if I dozed off. In desperation, I phoned Jo-Ann and she said that he was having more trouble with the loading dose of the bromide than usual and to give him another seizure medication, Phenobarb, to sedate him while he adjusted to the bromide. It helped but the sedation wore off before the time that I could give him more Phenobarb. It was heartbreaking and tiring, and the busy-ness of Christmas didn't help. The only thing that kept us from considering euthanasia was Jo-Ann's assurance that things would improve. And things have.

We could tell that he was getting a bit better on Christmas Eve and things gradually improved since then. He's almost back to his old self.
The biggest problem that we're having now is that he has decided that he should sleep on the bed at night instead of in his beloved-his-whole-life-until-now crate. It's a small price to pay for getting back our little marshmallow dog.

Christmas Eve brought us a couple of welcome surprises while we were so worried about Pocus. Bentley's breeder/grandma Daphne stopped in with a gift for him.
It's a silver racing jacket. His sister Chloe has a matching one. Daphne bought them because both dogs have "silver" in their registered names.

Here's a closer look:
We thought that it was a NASCAR jacket but Dan decided that it is more likely to be a Formula One jacket. Not being a car race aficionado, I have no idea but it's very cute.

And later that afternoon, this came in the mail:
The two skeins that I entered in the Schacht Anniversary contest along with the niddy noddy prize and a certificate. There is still no answer to which skein was the winner, however. My guess is that the sheltie blend one must hold the honor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

more than a little loopy

The treatment for seizures has left poor Pocus more than a little loopy. The medication is given in large amounts for the first three days. Today he starts getting a much smaller dose. It can take a couple of weeks to adjust. At this point, it looks like we've gotten a toddler all liquored up and put him on skates for the first time. Poke is lurching around with his legs splayed out, falling over and into things. He has no sense of balance at all. He trails around after me and even needs to be with me on the bed. He woke me up every three hours on Saturday night and I was reminded of the sleep-deprivation of having a young baby in the house. So last night he was on the bed with me and it was better. It seems that he knows that I will look out for him while he's so confused. Good thing that Jo-Ann warned me this would happen or it would have really upset me. She promised that it would get better.

In knitting news, I finished Dan's mom's socks in time for Christmas.
I know she really appreciates them so I don't mind knitting for her but I don't like knitting with a deadline so I'm glad they're done.

Friday, December 18, 2009

some bad news

I woke up to the sound of Pocus thrashing in his crate early this morning. It didn't last too long and he settled down to sleep again. I suspected a short seizure but wasn't sure. At 1 pm he had another seizure so I phoned the vet right away. My good friend Jo-Ann, vet extraordinaire, told me to bring him in for blood work.

There was nothing terribly out of whack in his blood panel so a brain tumor is suspected. He is 12 1/2 years old and has been very healthy up to now. We will treat the seizures and hope that he will still have some good quality of life for a while. It's so hard when our friends get old and we know that good-bye is coming. It never gets easier.

For now, he is fine and perky. Except for the blood getting drawn, I think he quite enjoyed his visit to the vet's office. He got to say hello to lots of people and dogs while we were there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

in the deep, deep freeze

To say that it's been cold in western Canada would be an understatement. Click on the link to see a great picture. I'll wait.

We've had wind chills in the -40's and -50's for several days. As a reference, -40 is about the same in both Celsius and Fahrenheit measurement.

Here are a few ways to know that you are in extreme cold:

-Your exposed skin can freeze in less than 10 minutes.

-Vehicles can freeze solid outside. You have to plug in the block heater so that the car's innards are warm enough to start. Geoff's little Volkswagen Golf gave up the ghost after being outside on the driveway overnight in -50 temps. Dan and Geoff put the car in neutral to push it into the garage and had so much trouble that the next door neighbors came to help. Even with four guys pushing, they barely got it moving. In warm weather, Geoff can push it easily himself. I guess it got so cold that the wheels didn't want to turn, never mind the engine. That poor frozen little car had to sit in the garage all day and overnight to thaw enough to grudgingly start this morning.

-The dogs' feet get too cold to stand on to finish their business outside. I don't blame them. Thank goodness for indoor plumbing.

-The snow is freeze-dried and crunchy underfoot.

-There are little rainbows in the sky in the afternoon sun. They're called sundogs. We don't see them unless it's really cold.

-Even women look like they have beards if they're out for a while. The little, fine hairs on our faces get coated with frost.

-Late at night, when I take the dogs outside before going to bed, the silence is profound and palpable. When the weather is warm, it is never silent; there are insect and bird noises, and the rustle of wind in the leaves of the trees. I don't think you can understand silence unless you are outside in the cold at night. It's very beautiful.

-Ice fog. Exhaust from traffic becomes a visibility issue when roads are busy.

-Away from traffic, in the wee hours, the air that fills my lungs seems very clean. Any particulates in the air have frozen and settled.

-There's always at least one little kid on every playground that discovers that licking frosty play equipment is a mistake. FYI, pulling away from the metal is a big mistake. Pouring warm water on the poor tongue frees it and keeps skin on said tongue.

In warmer news...
the lovely merino that arrived in today's mail. It's Traditions, the November club fiber from BeeMiceElf. So beautiful, as each shipment from Laurs' club always is! I made sure to renew my club membership as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I'm having so much fun!

I'm up to my ears (almost literally) in fiber and I love it!

I put the new drumcarder to good use to blend some dyed wool top that I didn't much care for. It had red, blue, and Barbie pink splashes on a white background and was too bright for my taste. I just ran it through the carder a few times with a touch of angelina and here is the result.
I like it much better now.

I got a table top picker a while back. It's called a Lil Dynamo and is much less scary than traditional wool pickers. Here it is closed for storage.
When you're ready to use it you remove the big top piece, put your fiber into the left part of the box. This is some merino/silk top that is a bit felted and real bear to try to spin. I previously handcarded it with some BFL. I split the top and tore it into pieces to put in the picker.
Then you move the top piece back and forth to put the fiber through the sharp picker teeth (nails). The nails catch the fiber and gradually pull it to the right side of the box, separating and fluffing the fiber. Here it is partway through the process.
And after picking, at the right side of the box.
The next picture shows you what the fiber looked like before going through the picker (bottom) and, when done, the fluffy mass ready for the carder (top).

I need to finish a pair of socks for Dan's mom for Christmas and I'm having a tough time getting around to knitting them because it's more fun to do all this other fiber stuff.

Friday, December 04, 2009

the new drumcarder

It's big. And heavy. So big and heavy that I had to wait for one of the guys to get home yesterday to move the box from the front door, where the UPS delivery person left it, to my craft room.
The dogs were very impressed.

A peek inside the box:

All set up and ready to go. It just fits on top of my sewing machine cabinet. Good thing I don't want to sew anything much because it's too heavy to move often.
I ran some junk fiber through it last night to make sure that any metal filings were cleaned off the parts before carding more precious fibers.

Like these:
Mmmmmm. (I can't be the only person who would like to roll around naked on freshly washed and teased locks, can I? Not saying that I would, of course, just that the temptation exists.)

On a very different note, I finished these:
more honking big socks for Dan. I used the same yarn that I did for Jo-Ann's socks last summer. Hopefully, these will last longer than the ones I made for him out of merino.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

as if on cue.....

Mother Nature must have looked at the calendar. After the beautiful autumn weather that we had in November, the start of December is decidedly wintery. It started snowing last evening and by the time I took out the dogs before bedtime last night it looked like this.

We received an Alberta Clipper and today it is definitely winter.

The dogs are happy, especially the shelties. They love snow!
It's not very cold outside at this point but that's supposed to change by the weekend. Yep, it's winter.

I have been playing with fiber - so what's new, you may ask? What's new is some beautiful fleece from Jean Near in California.

There's some Merino,

some Corriedale,

and some Merino/Columbia.

I have started washing and flick carding some of it, and it will keep the new drum carder busy when it arrives (probably on Friday). I'll post more pics as I go.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

breathe, breathe

So I decided to blend some fiber that came in a colored variegation that I wasn't in love with. I spent a couple of hours on Wednesday and only blended about 2 oz. That night my shoulder was SORE! Before bedtime, a migraine was setting in. Not that my Strauch Petite drumcarder is difficult to turn. It isn't. It's a lovely little carder and does its job well. It was just my TMJ protesting the repetitive motion.

I had an appointment for physiotherapy on Thursday. My wonderful physio, Rachel, listened to what I did to my shoulder (even though I had to explain what, exactly, a drumcarder is) and she immediately touched the sore muscle on my shoulder. I guess she knew my body well enough by now to know what was going on in my shoulder (which connects to my neck, which connects to my head, and so on, and so on). She worked out the kinks and the pain is gradually subsiding.

When I got home from physio, Dan (bless his heart!) said, "Well, we can afford an electric drumcarder better now while I'm still working than we will when I'm retired." So I ordered an electric Strauch Finest single-wide. It should be here in a couple of weeks or so.

Now I am alternating between joyous anticipation and moments of hyperventilation about the cost. Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

another gorgeous day

The beautiful weather continues. Yesterday was a record-breaker at 17 degrees C (63 degrees F)! Today was also lovely although not quite that warm. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

The shadows are long and the days are short but there was warmth in the sun. Robbie's markings blend right in to the patches of sunshine and shadow.

Bentley thinks nothing of climbing up onto the picnic table to survey the back yard.

Last night I washed and thwacked the very large skein of Sheltie/Targhee/Cormo/Angelina that I finished spinning. Here it is now that it's bloomed and dried.
It's 2 ply, 518 yds., and 223 g. Each of the singles filled a Majacraft bobbin and both plied together just managed to fit on a Roberta jumbo bobbin. That is a big bobbin! I'm so happy to have that electric Roberta for plying. It really saves my knees from a lot of pain.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm still here

We had summer weather in September, winter weather in October, and beautiful autumn weather so far in November. I've been trying to make the most of it by walking the dogs in the park and hanging out in the sunny sunroom until dark. Unfortunately dark happens too early (before 5 p.m.) in the day but it is November after all. I saw a mosquito in the back yard on November 10! Here in Saskatchewan on November 10! That is not a common occurence for sure. It wasn't a very frisky mosquito but it was very much alive and moving slowly.

I've been combing the Targhee fiber that I washed then blending it with sheltie fur and a bit of angelina for slight sparkle. The Targhee is wonderfully bouncy, soft fiber but it is full of vegetable matter. It's easier to comb out the bits of straw and burrs than to pick it. It's a lot of work but the result is so beautiful. Here is a batt fresh off the carder.

I found fishy buttons for the EZ Baby Surprise Sweater and it is being mailed to Manitoba for little Dawson to wear.

I have some new spindles I haven't posted yet. First up is a 1.6 oz. Tabachek top whorl Zebrawood spindle,

and a Tabachek Purpleheart Tibetan spindle and bowl.
Apparently Mr. Tabachek isn't taking new orders for his spindles. I think he may be permanently retired so I figured I'd better get some of his beautiful spindles while I still could.

During the intermediate spinning class at Golden Willow, I was introduced to spinning cotton. Here is my new Tahkli and bowl with the first bit of cotton spun on it.
I am not very good at spinning either of the support spindles yet but I'm working on it.

And I've been spinning away on this gorgeous silk blend. I'm spinning it very fine and there are 8 oz. of it so it's taking a long time but I'm enjoying it. The plan is to Navajo ply it to keep the colors clear.
Spinning laceweight gives you great bang for the buck.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

football fever

Football fever has struck Saskatchewan even more than usual. As my sister Darcie blogged, most people around here are football fanatics. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have the most devoted fans in the CFL even when they lose but, when they win, there is little else on most people's minds. And they are winning. They won a game here tonight to clinch first place in the division and Regina will host the Western Final game in two weeks. The winner of that game goes to the Grey Cup, the Canadian version of the Super Bowl.

I am one of the lonely few people in this part of the world who could care less about football but I hear all about it as Dan watches it fervently. I can tell how the game is progressing even if I'm not in the same room as the TV by how loud Dan is yelling at it (btw, louder is not better - the worse things are going, the louder he yells). It confuses the dogs. They're not sure who is in trouble but look to me for assurance that it's not them. I keep telling Dan that the coaches can't hear him from the living room but it doesn't make any difference. He gets totally into sports to the point that he has been biting his nails to the quick during the games lately. Me? - not born with the competitive gene, which makes me a bit of a freak on days like this.

The friendly neighborhood gargoyle ain't no freak.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

uh, come again?

A parent of one of Dan's students left a phone message for him explaining the student's absence from class today. Apparently the entire family is ill with:

-black mold




-the H1 Nine 1 flu.

They're not sure.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket from the book "Knitting Workshop". It's a really interesting pattern and I will make another some day but I needed the DVD for help interpreting Elizabeth Zimmermann's brief original instructions. The DVD is great and Meg Swansen (EZ's daughter) explains everything very clearly. I still need to find the right buttons for it. I'm not sure who will be the recipient but I'm thinking that it might fit now-toddler Dawson.

I used my handspun superwash merino and love how bouncy the resulting fabric feels. I was starting to panic about running out of yarn near the end of the project and here's how much was left. Whew!
I might just attempt another one in a larger size using the pattern ABCSJ which has directions for sizing the BSJ for older children and adults.

Jeff Dunham Show

If any of you fellow Canadians were looking for the new Jeff Dunham Show, we found the listing that says it will air on Tuesday night on the Comedy Network. Obviously, the promo (in which Pocus is Achmed) in my other post is for the US schedule.

so cute!

See more funny videos and Cute Animals Videos at Today's Big Thing.

This clearly shows why breeds shouldn't be banned just because some dogs have been poorly bred and raised by stupid people. I've met many lovely, gentle Rotties just like the one in the video.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

the spectacle of Blue Man Group

Dan and I had tickets to see Blue Man Group's 'How To Be A Megastar Tour 2.0' last night.


but fun!

We had great seats and I was able to take reasonably good pictures. The opening act was an artist (sorry, I didn't catch his name) (see edit*) who painted portraits to the rock music that was playing. He was pretty amazing. Each portrait took about 5 minutes to complete from blank canvas to finished portrait.

John Lennon

Michael Jackson

And what's this?
turn it over and....
yes, he painted Einstein up-side down!

And then it was time for Blue Man Group. The show was interactive and clever, with lots of lights and loud music. The band was very good.

This picture shows just how bright it was at times.

The Blue Men were also talented percussionists. If you look hard you can see them drumming at the sides of the stage with the trademark paint bouncing off the surfaces.

They moved into the audience at times. We were right beside the sound and light engineers.

As the show neared the end, they got a guy out of the audience to introduce the band.

And the finish, with all the appropriate effects.
This is a family-friendly show and there were quite a few kids there with their parents. It was nice to see a show that the whole family could attend.
*edit: Dan remembered the artist's name. He is David Garibaldi. Here's a link to a YouTube video of his act.