Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Power of Dad

Things have been surprisingly busy around here. Mom and Dad visited last weekend. It's always great to see them of course, but even more so when they come here, because Dad comes bearing power tools, years of building fixit experience, and a burning desire to Not Sit Still. In this case, he also brought us the second half of our housewarming gift: a 16-17 ft. telescoping stepladder (the cordless drill was Part One).

A ladder is absolutely essential around here with our high ceilings. Even with a stepstool, DH can barely change a lightbulb without risking serious injury. For me there's no chance. Heaven help us if the smoke alarm had gone off in the last six months. I was considering a nerf crossbow.

Come to think of it, that's probably still not a bad idea. scribbles a note

Dad is the type of guy who has to be kept busy. He loves puttering around drilling and fixing things and generally being extremely helpful. It's his idea of a vacation, if you can believe it. So, to encourage him to visit (we do also enjoy his company, after all) and lest he end up knocking down and putting up walls (it's been known to happen - not here, though... yet), I keep a small list of short-term projects he can play with when he visits.

Within two hours of their arrival, before DH got home from work, Dad had the bathroom fan out of the ceiling, cleaned and back in, purring nicely, a far cry from its previous wake-the-dead-rattle. When DH got home, we unloaded and moved a piano.

The next morning, Dad assembled six drawers for our Ikea wardrobes. We saved those for him (Ikea = DadLego: last time he spent a morning happily assembling our cheap Ikea shelving in the basement). After that, he and DH tackled the air-conditioner, which wasn't running since over the winter something chewed through the wires outside that connected it to the thermostat. It was a 2-person job to run the new wire, so it went onto the DadFunList. I now have air-conditioning again (they both received many hugs and kisses for that, in addition to a fresh round of iced tea).

Then Dad found the loppers and cultivator, and he and DH (bearing the weed-whacker and push-mower) went to town on the jungle growing in our backyard and started plotting the demise of some excess foilage. As the day wound down, he was devising ways of helping me keep up the heat on my indigo vat.

It's OK, he left us a few things to do - the smoke alarms need to be replaced (and now can be, thanks to The Ladder), and we need to get up into the crawlspace and put down some insulation before the fall. Of course, once DH showed him Google Sketch-up, they started excitedly brainstorming ways to tear apart and redo our kitchen. The two of them together are... scary.

I am the luckiest girl ever. I know this. I supply building materials, food, and a constant flow of iced tea, and things happen around me. It's like magic. It's the Power of Dad.

And did I mention I now have my piano?

1978 Baldwin Acrosonic spinet, French provincial style

This is the piano I learned on, ca. 1978. My sister has the piano she learned on (from my grandmother's house). Not to be outdone or without keys, Mom has her "pet rock": a Petrov grand (early on, Dad heard and parsed "Petrov" as "pet rock" and the name stuck). They were so pleased at the notion of recovering some floor space that they loaded the spinet into the trailer and delivered it personally. They've been waiting for me to have a place for it for nearly 15 years. It went into the house much easier than expected, and without serious injury to any person or property.

Now if only I could find all my sheet music. I am missing Chopin, and yet I have two copies of the Bach. It's inexplicable.

In spinning news, I recently scored some lovely new spindles from Butterfly Girl Designs. They are, from L-R, a pair of interchangable carnelian stone whorls on straight shafts, a murano foil whorl on a dark wood shaft, and a black lip mother-of-pearl whorl on an asymetrically carved shaft.

I made a special request for these spindles: shafts without hooks. I've discovered that I prefer using a half-hitch to secure my yarn to the spindle rather than a hook, and BFG was more than happy to help me out. At some point, I would love to get one of her openwork Italian resin spindles, and another multi-whorl set in a nice stone.

The carnelian whorls being used together. Wool is DorsetX, as thin as I can spin it.

I love these paired sets - the whorls are interchangable. Each one can be used separately or together, anywhere on the shaft (high, mid, low), and they would make great supported spindles. No sooner had I bought the carnelian pair than she listed a stunning blue goldstone pair. In the past, she's also had paired sets of rose quartz and hematite. But more spindles will have to wait for a while, I think.

Finally, the first full skein, 135-ish yards, of plied worsted-to-bulky "Berry Berry Nice" yarn: my earliest spinning (the pink tin-mordanted/brazilwood-dyed wool) plied with DorsetX. There's still an equal amount of pink singles left, and I'm spinning more DorsetX to probably make another skein of this.

Whew, that was a lot. I say naps all around are in order:


Friday, June 06, 2008

Sale on shiny things! Sale on shiny things!

This is a special bulletin of the Magpie Telegraph Alert System.

Elisem, who is a jewelry maker and artist of immense talent, is having a sale. I have accumulated my share of Eliseian shinies over the last while, and I love them all. I highly recommend checking out her stuff. And buying some, if you're able and interested.

Some lucky bugger wise person with great taste bought a necklace that I've been coveting recently, called Odd Dinosaur Out. In all seriousness, whoever you are, my pocketbook thanks you. Profusely. I really couldn't afford it right now, and you saved me considerable agony over that fact. It's too awesome a necklace not to be out there being worn.

Of course, then there's the marvelous sculptural necklace Bordertown Runway Queen, which is even more outside my budgetary constraints. But, damn. I mean, wow.

Seriously, go forth and oooh and ahhh.

Right then, my work here is done.

This has been a special bulletin of the Magpie Telegraph Alert System.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The wildlife needs a nap, too

The backyard is teeming with life. The magnolia tree has lost all its flowers and is now green and leafy. The grass, in the patches where there is grass, is growing. The wildlife is... napping?

Springtime is hard work

I watched this squirrel for nearly half an hour, while it dozed lightly on the fence in the shade of our downspout. When it finally woke up, it made its way down the fence into the shade of a pinetree and posed for a few minutes. I particularly like this one:

This is my better side

I love how its paws are crossed in front.

With the unseasonably cool month of May and first week of June, my indigo vat has not yet started to ferment and reduce, and so it remains stubbornly blue. I've been reassured by people with experience that this is okay, as long as it isn't so cold that things frost. Nothing will happen until the weather warms up - the temperatures need to stay up for several days in a row, and the jar needs to feel as warm to the touch as a heated baby bottle. It finally got there a couple days ago, sitting in the direct sunlight in 26C (that's 79F). That level of warmth lasted a day, and now we're back to room temperature or below, and more rain. But I am patient. The sun will prevail.

I want to believe

I'm still spinning the black superwash/tussah silk batts. I recently figured out that my niddy-noddy is not only designed to skein yarn, but also measure length. If I use the short centre-stick, a full wrap is exactly one yard. Talk about a lightbulb moment. (I think the long centre-stick makes a three yard wrap, but I'll have to check, it might be two.) So now I know exactly what my yardage is. So far I have 220 yds. in singles, and an little more left from the first 38g. bag.

Niddy-noddy: Best non-essential tool ever

I guesstimate I'll get 300 yds. total from the first bag, and then I have another bag of the same amount. Since I want a 2-ply yarn to make a lacey shrug or shawl, that gives me 300 yds. total, which isn't quite enough for what I want to do. 600 yds. should do the trick.

One option is to either make a trip to Purple Purl or call Black Lamb and see if they have more of this colourway (Purple Purl is where I bought it originally, but Black Lamb had several bags of it at the Knitter's Frolic and might still have some). Or I could just go with my original plan of mixing up this black baby alpaca and more of the silk colourway myself to ply it with. I'll probably try a little of the alpaca and silk, ply a small skein and see how it goes before I start scouring the city for more baggies of Pat's Colours batts.

The last week has been, in a word, brutal. I've been trying to make progress on my proposal, and I am failing spectacularly. Things came to a head with me canceling a Very Important Meeting with Lady S. and the committee yesterday. I've never been in this situation before. I'm sure this will have administrative repercussions. It would be so easy if I didn't care. But I do care. I care very much, in fact, and I want to do this so badly - but I want to do it well, I want to do the topic justice, and I can't do that in my current state.

I've come to the realization that I need to see to certain long-term health issues, and that they can simply no longer be put off. They are affecting my every moment, waking or sleeping. Everything in my life - work, hobbies, family - is suffering for it. So, I have temporarily put my committee, my work and several other things, excepting a few small obligations, on hold. The initial appointment has been made and will happen this afternoon. It's the best I can do. It's the only thing I can do, and it has been a long time coming.

It can only get better. It will be better.