Saturday, December 30, 2006

B is for Blog, C is for Christmas

B is for Blog -

Yeah, I'm still here. Life just kinda got away from me for a bit.

I started the blog in April 2005 and in that first year (April to December), I made 83 posts. In the entire year 2006, I've only made 65 posts. My urge to blog has decreased significantly.

And yet, I've gathered more comments, switched to the new Blogger, and installed a site meter just so I can see how few hits I'm getting.

I'm conflicted. And I don't really know what category I fit in as a blogger. If I knew that, I could join a few rings and get more hits that way.

Of course, posting more often might get me more hits too....

Mother of Invention
asked what the big present pictured in a previous post was - and it turns out that it's a mini-greenhouse! I can get started with new seedlings earlier in the year without clogging up the mudroom.

I also got (from the hubby) several new books and cds and dvds - on gardening, viking scotland, womyns' music, and the Animaniacs!

Mom and I made contributions to each other's wardrobe - both from Northern Reflections! While it's sometimes been difficult for Mom to buy clothing for me that I appreciate....she was right on the money this time!

Christmas up at the hubby's family home was fun in a whole different way. His brother and two sisters and their respective spouses are bound and determined to reproduce so there is a lot of kids to up the energy level. Running around the yard with the Nerf rockets, and watching them open the presents was just wonderful.

And there have been plenty of turkey sandwiches for me. The best part of holiday season food. :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I am a Sunflower!

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"When your friends think smile, they think of you. There is not a day that goes by that you can't find something good about the world and your fellow human."

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging

Hiya, I've decided to join the Weekend Cat Blogging. Here's my first contribution:

Ginger's all curled up to sleep. At 18, she does little more then sleep, eat, and just generally put up with her mummy's use of the macro feature on the camera. At bedtime, she moves from the back of the couch to sleeping pressed up against my stomach in bed.

Head on over to The Hidden Paw for more of this weekend's kitties.


ABC, and webrings, and the Liberals - a very mixed day

"A, your an Amazon
B, growing brave and strong
Clearly and Consciously you C....."

Lyrics from a song from the 70s. Part of the 'radical feminist' experience. Written by the delightful Alix Dobkin. I can't find the lyrics on the web, but you can buy her music at Ladyslipper.

Funny, the more research I do on the web to write anything on the blog about feminism, the more I'm convinced that there's a serious gap in written 'herstory'. Not that I'm volunteering to fill that gap.


Cyndy, of Riverrim, asked:
"If you are looking for hits, you could join a web ring?"

I don't know where I fit in. Is there a webring for people who just write randomly about their life?

Often it's about the garden, but heck, flowers make for pretty pictures. Rarely, it's about fibre crafts (or fiber, depending on how I feel like spelling it - I hear the first version is Canadian, eh) but just how many pictures of spinning can one post?

And sometimes it's about Canadian politics. Like today.

I've been watching the Liberal leadership convention today....Stephane Dion won! It's the first time in Liberal history that the front runner in the process didn't win.

It's not what I expected, or wanted - Gerard Kennedy impressed me with his outspoken opposition to Prime Minister Harper's "Quebecois nation" motion.

But I'm very happy that Michael Ignatieff did NOT win. One just can't leave Canada for 30 years and come back expecting to lead it. It's just not right in my books. I don't care how many books he's written or that he taught at Harvard. Big deal. If the Canadian university system is good enough for me to work in, it's good enough for him too.

Not that I vote Liberal. I generally go with the New Democratic Party. But the Liberals have the biggest chance of stopping Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the future. And that is very important to me.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Questions, and Answers

Diana, of Piffle, asked:
Have you told us how you and Neil got together? Tales of radical feminism? Odd holiday traditions?

Neil and I met via mutual friends, with a little twist of the Internet thrown in. There was this local group that we both came out to visit once in awhile, and it had an email list. He was first attracted to me because of what I wrote on the email list, but we kept missing each other at the group's real life functions. Eventually, he got assertive in meeting me, and the rest just fell into place.


Tales from my radical feminism days? hmmm.... several rewrites later, all I have to say is ...that's a post for another day. And one I'll have to give some considerable thought.

Here's a link to Wikipedia's page about Radical Feminism 'though. I think they sum it up nicely.


Now, by 'odd holiday traditions', I'll presume you mean Christmas, and not Thanksgiving, since up here in Canada, we did Thanksgiving more then a month ago.

Nope, no odd traditions here..... I like a traditional turkey dinner, lights on houses, christmas trees, presents.... the usual. I suppose the oddest thing comes with Neil. He seems to have this need to put a christmas present on the shelf for me earlier and earlier every year.

This year, it was in the first few days of November. Nearly two months ahead of time. And it's a big one, gets in the way, and collects dust bunnies at the floor that I have to vacuum up. Really, I think I should just open it and get it out of the way, yes?

I mean, just because I like to peek at the last few pages of the book, and shake presents, and try to see what labelling is on the package when they arrive in the mail .... that doesn't mean that something shiny and pretty and unknown tortures me at all. Not at all.....nope, not this girl.

I'm just thinking of the dust bunnies... really, that's all.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Blog blahs

So.... did you know that some folks call these things Blahgs? A statement on the often boring content?

Well, I've got it. A bad case of the blahs. Nothing to see here folks.

Not that anyone's looking anyway... I'm getting just 6 hits per day according to my Site Meter and most of those are search engines. Ah well...

I'll tell ya what. Leave a comment asking me a question, or telling me what you might like to see me write about and I'll do my best to be responsive where appropriate. Feel free to tag me for a meme if you've got an interesting one floating around.

In the meantime, maybe I can forge through the garden pics and bring summer back with some of the ones that never got used in the first place, or borrow an idea from another blogger.... I need to go a'hunting.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Mixed Bag o'Fun

This is Neil's arrowhead. I didn't have a picture of it in the last post. He's also done some research summarizing Norse arrowhead finds from various sources. If you're interested, it's here.

New rovings from Wellington Fibres! Great service, good prices, and nice people!

Some of these rovings are naturally dyed raw fleece that had become too difficult to work after dyeing. Sending them through the commercial mill to be turned into rovings really made all the difference to their spin-ability. It's not a historical process, but at least it means I'll get around to actually spinning them.

On sunday, we went to the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair in Toronto. We met this sheep, among many others.

I didn't see any Icelandic or Shetland sheep, surprisingly enough. There's certainly enough people raising them in Ontario.

I waved at CraftyGrrl (aka Mel) briefly during the fleece and shawl auction, but we didn't chat. I didn't want to distract her from the hunting. :)

This is one of the shawls produced in the Sheep to Shawl contest - my favourite. But I haven't the foggiest which team made it.

One of the great disappointments of the Fair was that very little was well labeled. Not all of the shawls were easy to match with the team. Not all of the sheep could be identified. Not all of the fleeces for auction could be identified. It was somewhat frustrating.

The other disappointment was that there didn't appear to be a merchant selling rovings, spindles, spinning wheels, or looms. I had been hoping to poke at a few of the more expensive toys, and perhaps to pick up some exotic fiber to spin.

But the Fair was still a lot of fun. I loved wandering around the sheep, talking to the Sheep to Shawl teams - other women who actually understand the fiber hobby!


Playing with the New Blogger

Still here, I'm playing with the new Beta Blogger.

The template will take a bit to figure out. At the moment, I'm stumped for re-adding the moon phase calculator and Site Meter.


Tuesday, November 7, 2006

I've been busy

I made these...

... and yes, I am absurdly proud of myself.

Well, okay, I didn't actually _make_ the metal, but I did shape it. Hot metal, hammers, brute force. :)

Our friend Darrell, who is a blacksmith, opened his shop to some of his friends this past weekend, taught us the basics and set us free.

Neil made a Viking Era arrowhead replica. It's still unfinished.

Marcus made a knife. Sarah made a knife and a twisty Viking Era fry pan. Richard made two tools for gouging wood. Nancy also made S-hooks. Other stuff was made as well, but I only caught bits and pieces. The shop was very busy.

Darrell also teaches Blacksmithing courses. Go check out his website for more info.


We finally got the front lawn leveled sufficiently and seeded. I think at this point, we're leaving the back yard damage until the spring and throwing money at it then.

Must get the spring bulbs in this week, and clean up the driveway so the snowblower guy can do his thing without impediment this winter.


Some catch-up, upon rereading old posts:

I got busy, and neglected the green tomatoes. They turned red and I used them in the usual manner - pasta sauces. I feel most humbly lazy in the face of Anti-V's energetic posting of Green Tomato recipes on her blog for me.

The Verilux "Rise and Shine" light alarm clock. It's now been several weeks since we bought it and I promised a review.

It's OK.

The light bulb that came with it died relatively quickly, and replacements are quite expensive. I hope that isn't a normal thing for the life of the bulb. There's a strange 'whiney' noise that occurs when the lamp is first coming can be quite annoying. And the time/setting display is quite bright, even on it's dimmest setting, and that can be kind of annoying.


It's way better to wake up to then the jarring radio alarm. It's so much gentler. I don't wake up suddenly and swear at the lack of light outside anymore. It seems to gently and gradually push me toward wakefulness and when I open my eyes, I'm ready for it.

I'm not feeling particularly well rested... but I'm not feeling like my alarm has violently assaulted my senses anymore. And that's a good thing.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Crazy day(s)

Let's see now....

Thursday - I cleared my schedule and took the day off to finish some of the chores around the yard. It was supposed to be the last of three days without rain. Not really long enough to make a huge difference, but something to grab at while it lasted.

We had a load of topsoil dumped into the hole in the front yard and I started spreading it around. Got that half done by the time the hubby came home, and he almost finished it.

I moved some of the gravel from the big pile where it got dumped into some of the places it's supposed to end up.

I got all the herbs clipped back and added some more mulch in some areas. It's getting increasing difficult to see where the thin spots are because of the leaves falling all over everything.

Friday - Rain. Lots of rain.

Saturday - Little bit of rain. Took a trailer full of yard waster to the dump. Unable to lift (between the two of us) the second laundry T bar that came out of the yard when they put the septic in, because it has a large block of cement attached to it. Also a large concrete block from the old patio that got dislodged in the septic replacement process.

Today - oh my. It was supposed to be simple. The final little bit of leveling out of the front yard. You would think the Gods didn't want us out there. We literally had a snow storm drop out of nowhere while we worked. We finally let it chase us back in the house.


Ya know, there was a point this summer where I looked around at the yard and gardens and thought "it's all good, my garden doesn't need me anymore" and felt a little bereft.

I don't think that's true anymore. And the spring is going to be a busy one. Let me go away and make a list of chores...


Monday, October 23, 2006

Irregular Programming

With apologies, we briefly interrupt to bring you this important, and deeply heartfelt message:

(and don't be tricky and replace it with snow instead)

We now return you to your regularily scheduled programming.


I'm okay with seasonal change. Really I am. But there are things to do in the yard that must be done before the darned Canadian landscape gets buried for the next few months. I'm running out of time and the weather just isn't co-operating.

The ground needs to dry out considerably for us to be able to finish making the yard flat enough to seed, if we don't want a yard full of ankle-twisting holes and divits.

I'm depressed every time I look out the back door.


Oh well, if it won't stop raining, then maybe snow isn't so bad an alternative. Let's cover up the damned eyesore with a quiet blanket of white stuff and I can just bury my head for the winter and deal with it in the spring.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Fence and Flower, Berries and Bush

We got the fence back up.

Still need to do:
Flatten the lumpy mud that is the back yard and seed it. It's been too wet for the last two weeks.
Add more dirt to the front yard and seed it.
Plant some bulbs.
Cut up the pear tree we killed (because it was falling over, being unstably rooted).
Move the woodpile.
Spread the gravel over the will-be-a-patio-someday area.
Spread the gravel over the shed side drive area.
Clip the herbs back for the winter.
Re-establish, and possibly expand, the firepit.

*sigh* When it stops raining long enough to do the work.

Berries on the madder plants. I'm waiting for the plants to be in their 3rd or 4th year to use the roots for dying.

This delphinium flower has established itself rather well. We planted it just last weekend and it seems very happy.

And this is the elderberry bush, with it's leaves turning red. Now, this thing - I'm not sure it's happy. I didn't see any berries on it this year.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Green Tomato Recipes

Anti-V (aka Vandy) has been blogging her Green Tomato Recipes for me. :)

Go and take a look, if you're interested, and while you're there, scroll down to the picture of her back porch. That's only 1 hour north of us.

Today dawns cold, but not freezing, and wet, but not raining.

The dog's been out already.....

I did mention the septic tank replacement recently? Large portions of yard dug up and not yet restored beyond being flattened? Oh good.

I've decided to make the Green Tomato Mincement. I'll let y'all know how it turns out.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

green tomatoes?

Does anyone have some simple recipes for green tomatoes?

The snow, she has started to fly by this afternoon, so I guess this marks the end of the growing season for us.


Monday, October 9, 2006


What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful that I'm Canadian and we get to do this holiday a month earlier then in the USA. :) More separation from Christmas = less stress.

Bogenschuetzenfest was it's usual mellow good time, although they moved the shooting site and it was a less then satisfactory change. More room for parking, less room for archery. Sorry, no pics this year.

I'm thankful for mellow good times, in great weather.

While we were out at Bogenschuetzenfest, the machine guy came by and finished spreading the mountains of topsoil in the yard as much as he could, given that the ground was still quite wet and the clay-based topsoil wouldn't spread well.

On Sunday, we begged off the family stuff on account of coming down with colds. No need to infect the relatives and lots of need to do work around the house while sniffling. We planted a lot of new acquisitions in the garden.

Here's a few pics of the remaining flowers.....the fall aster and mums were a pleasant surprise in the front garden. I do remember planting them, but I didn't think they'd turn out so well.

And these calendula flowers are quite simply the craziest things I've ever seen. They're still going strong, and they self-seed so abundantly, they are almost weed-like in their replication.

I'm thankful for pretty flowers. :)

Today, we managed to get fence posts up. Big holes, leveling, cement. It's the bare bones start of replacing the section that had to be pulled down to allow big machines into the yard to dig it up and put the septic in.

I'm thankful that we could afford to replace the septic.

A simple turkey dinner was achieved nonetheless - a breast for himself, and a leg for me. Dressing, potato, peas, and a pumpkin pie. Modern shortcuts were employed - microwave, frozen pie crust, and Stove Top dressing. I'm capable of doing it from scratch, with perfect ingredients but I'm low on energy these days and there's so much to do.

I'm thankful for turkey sandwiches for the rest of the week. :)


Thursday, October 5, 2006

Random Thursday

This is random burblings day.

The yard is still a mess - piles of dirt waiting to be shoved back into a flat state of being. Theoretically, that happens tomorrow. And once it's flat again, we can seed the lawn. I'm eager to get those seeds in.

We've bought bulbs and some new perennials half off in the end of season sale - waiting for a day that's warm enough, in which we have sufficient energy to plant them. We had friends over last weekend who took away some of the things we needed to split.

This weekend is the annual Bogenschuetzenfest. It's one of the first events of the largest Oktoberfest celebration held outside of Germany. Now generally, I can't much stomach this annual celebration of drinking, bad music, bad food, and eye-bleedingly bad costumes, but Bogenschuetzenfest is a silly fun archery contest that generally avoids ... well, at least the rabid drinking.

Now, that's the part of the weekend that I'm most looking forward to - there's also pies, various and sundry family gatherings and a bit of Canada's history suggested for the rest of the weekend. I'm just not sure I feel like waking up for sunday or monday.... at all.

And speaking of sleeping..... I finally got to the store that keeps very-short-hours-during-my-workday and bought this light alarm. So far, so good. But I think the devil's in the settings and there are quite a few of them to choose from.

Also on the sleep frontier - we're still considering moving off the waterbed and onto a Tempurpedic mattress. We slept on Tempurpedic mattresses for two nights during the recent vacation and have mixed feelings about them. They weren't as soft as expected and I still woke up with some soreness - just in different spots. Now, there are different models and the ones in the hotels are on the lower end of the spectrum. They can get cushier, and more expensive. Any forewarnings? comments? recommendations? If you have a Tempurpedic, which model do you have?


Thursday, September 28, 2006

scuba diving and a septic tank

But first, one more picture from the museum demo. This is why we do these things.

Anyway, da boys in the group went scuba-diving after the demo was over. Here they are getting ready....

While they were in the water, da girls wandered around the shoreline, taking in the sights.....

.....collecting seaweed to dye wool with...

And then laughing at Darrell when he flopped up on the shore.

Now, on the other hand, this past week hasn't been quite so fun. A year ago, our septic tank overflowed. We dutifully called in a septic service - it had been raining a lot, and it's an old house. These things happen.

They drained the tank and then two weeks later..... it overflowed again. This can't be good.

So some exploration was done, and the verdict? It's dying. It's old, no longer up to code, and the clay outflow pipes are full of tree roots. Surprise surprise. The yard is full of trees.

The nice septic people bored out some of the pipes, buying us a year or two to decide what to do with it. That's where we pick up the story again... in these past few days, we had the whole system replaced.

That sounds simple, doesn't it?

Holes are dug, and foundations drilled...

This is the crawl space under the addition through which the new septic lines had to be routed. The new hole through the foundation can be seen in the back wall. Our plumber, brave soul that he apparently is, had to get in there to do the job. I don't think I could do it.

While those insignificant tasks were going on, there was this big machine digging out an even bigger hole in the yard...

The bathroom wall (yes, my freshly painted pink walls) had to be cannibalized to fix some pipes that had to brought up to "code" as well.

The tank gets lifted in....quite a feat around trees, sheds, and a Bell telephone wire inconveniently placed.

And connected.... five metres away from the house, as per "code". I'm thinking that this whole "code" thing is a real nuisance. I haven't died for living in a house with an out-of-code septic tank for the past five years. Let's not even get into "permits" and "inspections", shall we?

All the time, that big machine keeps digging out the big hole..... order that the weeping bed and pipes can be laid down.

This is as far as the refilling process got before the rain stopped them yesterday.

The yard is now a collection of mountains of topsoil waiting to be spread out neatly....whenever the rain stops for a sufficient amount of time.



Friday, September 22, 2006

Great trip, back to the garden

Well now, last year's trip got blogged about on the road, almost every day we were gone. This year? Not so much.

We've been back home now for a few days and I've been unpacking and doing laundry and gardening and playing with the pictures. Neil pretty much went right back to work. I have more available vacation time so I took more time. I'm back to the grindstone on Monday.

Anyway, without further ado then.... a few pictures.

This is from our last day through the Adirondaks. It was overcast and rainy through most of the trip, but I found this lovely flower growing by one of our stops.

Got to the Haffenreffer Museum, and while I completely forgot to take any pictures of the Museum itself.... I did take a picture of their beach. Apparently, I have a strong preference for nature shots.

The DARC folks are referred here by their re-enactment names.

Bera and Unn talk over some changes to their area.

Ketill beats on some hot metal - he's our blacksmith.

Ketill lectures Kevin Smith, the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the Haffenreffer Museum.

Grimmi sits in front of one of the typical Norse a-frame tents.

This is me in front of my warp-weighted loom. I also demonstrated spinning with a drop spindle, how to separate tog and thel in Icelandic sheep fleece, and some of the colours that I've gotten from natural dyes.

Kjarval talks to some of the folks who came to visit.

Ragnarr talks to some of the other visitors. He sent an awful lot of little girls my way to learn how to spin, in order that they have proper skills to nab a husband.

These are some of Ragnarr's trade goods. Too bad that we weren't allowed to really trade things. Could have been fun.

This is a game called Hnefatafl - tafl for short. Neil (the hubby, aka Ragnarr) has articles on how to play the game here, and Darrell and Neil also sell a version of the game here.

Rig fetches some water for the kitchen area.

Windborne Farms brought some of their Icelandic sheep for people to gawk at. Icelandic sheep have a distinctive look to them. Most have horns - Windborne has polled all of their sheep. Icelandic sheep also have two distinctive parts to their fleece - one of the very few breeds left that have not been gentically altered over the past thousand years. Tog is the long hairy outer coat, and the thel is the short downy undercoat.

I think they're pretty.

These are some of the folks from the Higgins Armory. They came out this year to round out the demonstration with a combat display.

And then.....on Monday, the boys went scuba-diving and I got a whole bunch of neat shots of the area. But I think at this point, I'll wait a day or two for the next post. This one's plenty long enough as it is.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

blogging from... Rhode Island!

So, we're on holidays, of a sort. We're out in Rhode Island, playing at being Vikings for the Haffenreffer Museum on Saturday and Sunday.

So it's partially a working vacation. But still.... it's Rhode Island. :)

And I get a lot of hits sent to my site from Sheila Lennon's list of Gardening Blogs for the Providence Journal. :) I entered myself a few years ago when we came to visit the Haffenreffer for the first time.

Now, by "we", I mean the Dark Ages Recreation Company. Most of the time, it's a hobby. It's why I do Viking Age weaving, spinning, and naalbinding. But sometimes we recover our costs from museums for the traveling to entertain and educate and draw the public in.

Oh, okay.... you catch me. I'd probably spin and weave and naalbind anyway, having learned about them, just because I like being crafty. I've learned how to knit, although I generally prefer crochet (gasp, the horror! :)). I grew up learning more then any human being should about ceramics, and it's left me with a desire to learn more about pottery instead.

A year ago, I started making glass beads with a hothead torch (lampwork) but I haven't put a lot of time in on it yet. So many things to do, so little time!

And of course, there's gardening.....the usual chatter of this blog.

No pictures yet on the trip, the weather's been kind of overcast and rainy. We drove through the Adirondacks simply for the pleasure, but most of that is in the memory, not the camera. Ah well....

Maybe the demo on the weekend will make it into the camera. :)


Sunday, September 10, 2006

3 things

In lieu of a real post, for lack of a present brain....I ripped off this meme. Although if I couldn't think of three things in any given question, I deleted the whole question.

Three people who make me laugh
1. my husband
2. Leif the licky
3. Ginger cat

Three things I can do (with varying degrees of talent)
1. spin / weave
2. photography
3. facilitate academic research

Three things I can't do ('though I continue to attempt them now and then)
1. whistle
2. academic research (actually absorb the content)
3. meditate

Three things I'm doing right now
1. drinking coca cola
2. watching the Eureka premiere on Space
3. blogging

Three things I want to do before I die
1. travel Europe
2. do the things I can do many times better
3. do the things I can't do (above)

Three skills I'd like to learn
1. play the guitar
2. play the piano
3. tablet-weaving

Three favourite foods
1. chocolate
2. icing sugar
3. maple nut fudge

Three beverages I drink regularly
1. coca cola
2. water
3. water


Friday, August 25, 2006

I'm a little behind on the reporting

Last weekend, da hubby....

and his friend, Darrell (who writes Hammered Out Bits) ...

....went scuba-diving.

Vandy (who is sometimes known as Anti-V) and I alternated being watching the bubbles, enjoying the pleasant weather, taking pictures, sewing and spinning. Sorry, no pics of us enjoying our activities.

Although, at dinner afterwards, Neil decided to play with my hair.

At home in the garden:

This spotted lilly is finally blooming. Of course I don't know it's exact name. :)

This feverfew is still blooming, while it's neighbouring feverfew stopped blooming a few weeks ago. My garden is very strange this year.

This is just a small part of the harvest to date. The tomatoes have been quite prolific this year.