Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ripping Out

I've been knitting since I was seven years old, and usually have multiple projects on the needles.  Sometimes a project runs into a snag and then gets put aside for a while.  This sweater was started in 2008 as my "trip project" for  our holiday travels.  It has a fairly complicated pattern for which charts are provided.  But I soon realized that it was too complicated to knit while traveling so it was put into the closet and languished there for years.

Now I'm in a finishing mood, so the sweater was taken out of limbo.  The back was finished, and this is the left side front.  I don't know what possessed me to knit the bottom the way I did.  Instead of changing and carrying the two yarns in the usual manner, I alternated the yarn front and back of the stitch for every stitch.  The result was an area that was supposed to be smooth, but looked like ribbing.  Further up the chart I switched to the normal way of carrying the unused yarn.

The ribbed effect really bothered me.  I had to make a decision: to leave it that way, or to rip out.  Now all
good knitters and quilters know that there are time when you have to swallow hard and go backwards.  Quilters even call it "sewing backwards."  So I snipped the yarn just above the ribbed effect and ripped out down to the bottom edging, which is simple garter stitch.

Then I started up again, using the proper method.  Here's how far I am today, and I'm feeling good about redoing it.  It's slow knitting because of all the colour change, especially on the purl rows, but it is definitely worthwhile.

Beside the newly knit bottom you can see the chart.  It's in pretty small print.  When I knit the back I took the pattern to the local drug store and had it enlarged.  This is my new discovery: use post it notes to underline the row of the chart that you are currently knitting.  Even though the printing is fairly small, the line of paper allows your eye to easily see where you are on the chart.  It's working niftily!

It will be quite a while before this project is finished.  It's a slow way of knitting, but the finished sweater will be very attractive.  The back and the right side front are finished.  The left side front is coming along.  Then there are the two sleeves which are almost as big as the side fronts.  The temptation will be to put the project back in the closet and start something new, but I'm going to hold out against that, and try to have this finished before our trip in October.

We hope to go back to Yosemite to visit #1 Son, the same trip we made four years ago when I started this project.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to wear the sweater this time around?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Finish

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and This Tuesday and Wednesday found me in my painting clothes--real old rags, for sure.  I was working in the garage, doing the interior painting.

We had this garage added to our house about 12 years ago.  In the photo you see the stucco wall that was the exterior of the house and one of the three walls that were added.  It's a good sized room--about 22' x 24', if I remember right.

About four years ago I put a primer on the ceiling and the three added walls.  Now it was time to finish the job.  I had bought 2 gallons of paint when it was on sale, a colour called "Steamed Milk," and picked up another gallon of mistint for about $10, I think.  It was an off white, and I figured I could use it for something.  I also had about 3 cups of an orangey tan semigloss latex.  

I found a large plastic bucket, scrubbed it up very well and started mixing those paints.  I could do a half batch, limited by the size of the mixing bucket.  Whatever colour came was fine to me.  Imagine my surprise when the mixed paint exactly matched the colour of the stuccoed wall!  The second time this summer that the odds 'n ends of paint provided the perfect match!  That really tickled me.

First I put the second coat on the ceiling, using Kilz2, a stain blocking paint.  Sometime in the future I'll have to put on a third coat, as the coverage is not complete.

Then I painted the three walls with my lovely mixed paint.  The walls are made of particle board, not drywall, so they absorb quite a bit of paint.  I was very pleased with the results.

Then I tackled the window.  What a mess of fly spots, with the window track grossly full of dead flies and moths.  But determination wins: the window and surroundings were spotless.  The wooden frame around the window needed to be painted, and I thought to use the brown that is the trim on the house.  Somehow that just didn't look right at all, so the window frame is a lovely, semigloss white.  Just makes everything looks so nice and bright.

The rough shelf you see holds our recycling bins, and that got a coat of the semigloss white also.

Last up was the door and its frame.  That took a couple days, as it had been roughly put together.  Nail holes had to be filled and rough lumber sanded.  Yesterday it got a primer coat of Kilz2 and today I finished the job with a final coat of white semigloss.  The sill is painted with a solid colour stain, to prevent peeling due to weather damage.

A final touch: a tennis ball to keep the car from crowding the recycle shelf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

White Cherries

Again today, just as I got home from my walk, S. arrived and we started picking together.  First up were Nanking Cherries.  I had promised friends in Rocky Mountain House that when they stop by here, hopefully in two weeks, I will have two gallons of Nankings in the freezer for them.  The Nankings are ripe now, so this morning was a good time to pick them.  We soon had the two ice cream buckets full that I had promised.

Then I said to S., "Now I'd like to pick the white Nanking cherries."  She looked at me doubtfully and thought, "Louise is not much of a gardener.  She probably just doesn't know that there is no such thing as white cherries!"

Well, there are, and we have one bush of them.  We didn't realize when we planted that bush that they were white Nankings, and not red as usual.  I had never noticed them until this year, but there they were, and the bush was loaded.

We had picked the red Nankings very carefully, as they were going straight into the freezer.  So we didn't want any blemished berries, or twigs or leaves in the buckets.  But I planned to wash the white cherries and then steam juice them, so we were able to pick quite quickly and almost carelessly.  In about 45 minutes the two of us had stripped that bush clean.

The top photo shows how many we gathered.  They don't look much like cherries, do they?

The second photo shows them in the steam juicer.  This is a three piece pan.  The bottom section holds the water for steaming.  The middle part collects the juice that falls from the fruit and has a spout for removing the scalding juice.  The part you see in the second picture is the top part of the juicer.  It holds the fruit in a sieve-like structure.  The steam rises through the centre and draws the juice from the berries.

The third picture shows the product: four quart jars of pure white cherry juice.  I guess I should say pure golden juice from white cherries.  There was about 3 more cups of juice which I put directly into the fridge.

Tomorrow I hope to use this juice to start a good batch of wine.  I made a small batch for my friend M. nine years ago from juice that she had from her white cherry bush.  I gave that to her in the carboy, so never did find out how that batch turned out.  It takes at least six weeks for fruit wines to be ready to bottle.  Often I leave them in the carboy for much longer.  With our dinner today we had some lovely apple wine that I started in April, which is still in the carboy.  Tomorrow I should bottle that apple wine to make room for this batch of cherry wine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beans, Beans, Beans!

Just as I got home from my walk with M. this morning at 9, S., our garden centre helper, arrived.  She and I started an "orgy" of picking, shelling and snipping.

First up were the broad beans (Fava beans).  That finishes the harvest for those beans.  I brought them into the kitchen for blanching and freezing.

Then we looked at the peas.  They were too far gone.  I picked a few pods which we shelled and got about two handfuls.

But there were still lots of Royal Burgundy beans to be picked.  When we finished those rows we had quite a haul.  We sat down on the deck in the shade of the apple tree and snipped all those beans.  It gave me two ice cream buckets heaped high with snipped beans.

But before I blanched them S. picked two half full pails of Evans cherries, the same kind Jim and I had prepared for freezing last week.  S. and I got busy pitting them, and filled a 4 quart container almost full.  They didn't need to be blanched, so I spread them on my cookie trays, on top of waxed paper and put them in the freezer as the Fava beans were already solid enough to put into gallon Ziplock bags.

I like to freeze everything on trays so that it's loose in the gallon bags and I can take out however much is needed at one time without defrosting the whole bag.

I had been doing the laundry at the same time, and it was now 1 p.m., time for S. to go home and for me to get the meatloaf and potatoes into the oven for dinner.  Our vegetable today was corn on the cob, and that I cook by putting the ears into boiling water and when the water returns to a boil, time it just one minute and then turn off the heat.  I learned that method about 10 years ago from M.'s mother.  Before that I boiled it according to an old cookbook that I had, and it was always tough!  Now it's tender and delicious!

After dinner I took down the first load of laundry and hung up the second.  By that time it was after 4 p.m. and I needed a break!  But the start of a rain shower about 4:45 meant quickly retrieving the wash from the line.  Aha, it was dry!

Finally this evening I got around to blanching the Royal Burgundy beans.  That's the only kind of bean I like to grow because they seldom become to fat to use.  These deep purple beans grow long and slim and don't have large seeds.  Jim and I had picked, blanched and frozen two gallon bags last week Friday, but there were already oodles more.  Blanching turns the beans green.

The cookie trays were still loaded with cherries that weren't hard enough to put away, so I went looking for a substitute "tray."  I found this 46" long piece of plywood that would fit in my big freezer, which is 65" long.  I covered it with waxed paper, and there they are: enough green beans to get us through the winter! I'll stir them around occasionally as they are freezing so they don't stick together.

So that was one day full of accomplishments, and I'm so gratified.  From now until August 31 I have no appointments or duties on my calendar.  I'm hoping to get tons of projects finished.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finally Finished

Finally finished my first project for this summer!  Yeah, I know, I should be able to say, the fifth project, or something like that, but that's not how this summer is panning out.

This is the front door, and I had it off the hinges for a week, scraping, priming and painting.  That was a week ago.  This week I painted the frame around the door.

When we bought our place, this was an outdoor area, and the ceiling was the underside of a second floor balcony.  We had our carpenter frame it in and install windows, continuously, all the way around.  This door used to give access to the balcony upstairs.  It was replaced with a three part window, eliminating one area where the rain was able to soak into the living room.

The house was built in 1979 so this door was, by now, a very dingy looking door.  This afternoon I put on the final touches by staining the wood parts of the door sill.

It feels so good to say "Finished!" to one project!

Here's the view from outside.  What an improvement!

Next up: finish painting the inside of the garage, and refinish the "people" door to the garage.  The house had no attached garage when we bought it.  There was a single car garage down where the garden centre is now.  We dug a foundation in under the walls of that building, which had been simply sitting on the ground.  Then we double insulated it, filled in the wall where the window and the garage door had been and installed an entry door.  That old garage is now our cold storage building.  We store shrubs and perennials in there over winter.  Because of the double walls, it remains above freezing throughout the winter.  It's where we store our potatoes, onions and carrots over winter also.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Well, it seems as if it did work that time.  Apparently something was wrong with the settings, and has been straightened out.  I hope it stays that way!

On Tuesday before the storms we picked cherries, and here's the result:  four quarts and one pint of cherry juice from Nanking cherries and an almost full 4 litre pail of pitted Evans cherries.

Our area is not kind to "soft" fruits, such as cherries, peaches, apricots, etc. but we are able to grow lots of small cherries like these.  The Nanking cherries are a medium sized shrub that really loads up with small, deep red cherries, with a fairly large pit.  I put about 2 1/2 gallons of those cherries into the steam juicer, and these sealed jars of cherry juice are the result.  It's very tasty and makes great jelly, syrup, table juice and wine.

The Evans cherry is a tree form that also produces lots of small cherries, also with fairly large pits.  These cherries are good for pies and tarts, but need to be individually "de-pitted."  I have a cherry pitter, but it doesn't work too well with these small fruits.  I've found the best method is to take a nail set, insert the pointed end in the stem hole and give it a circular twist to pop out the pit.  That bucket took me a full two hours of concentrated effort.  Jim helped every now and then as he was able.

When I finished I looked as if I'd been in a battle with a crowd of voracious insects!  There was cherry juice all over my arms, legs, the floor and the chair the container was set on.  But, you know, this winter I'll be glad that I did it when we enjoy cherry pie and tarts!

Stormy Weather

Our area has been stuck in a pattern of hot, sunny days with gathering clouds in the west,  until late afternoon or early evening when the storms "overcome the sun"--meaning that they become powerful enough to take over the sky.

On July 20 our little town was celebrating its centennial.  The fireworks finished at 10 p.m., just ahead of a massive thunderstorm that seemed like a fabulous continuation of a "sound and light show."

That Saturday morning started with rain.  Around 10 a.m. the sky grew lighter, and exactly at 11 a.m. the sun broke through, precisely at the start time for the parade.

These pictures are of the storms we had on Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.  The top photo shows the storm approaching from the west.  This is just a small segment of the western sky which was filled with similar clouds.

The second photo shows the leading edge of the storm as it passed south of us.  The under cloud, just above the trees, had two conflicting swirls of wind driving it.  I fully expected to see a funnel reach down from that maelstrom!  We were under tornado warning again that night, as we have been several times this summer.

This third photo shows the leading edge of the second storm.  This was the heaviest storm that evening and did serious damage south of us.  We are about 1 1/4 miles north of town.  The southern part of town and the crop land beyond that were totally hailed out.  Someone said their garden looked like a rice paddy.  Another person said she shovelled several inches of hail off her back deck.

This is the front page of Wednesday's paper, the left photo showing the accumulated hail on one of the streets, the right photo showing the flooding down the lower end of main street.

Our neighbour, who farms several different sections of land, was out Wednesday morning checking his scattered fields.  Some of his crops were 100% hailed out.  It's such a terrible shame, especially since the crops here were in fantastic shape, and would be badly needed in view of the many areas in North America that are experiencing historic levels of drought!

This last photo gives a little indication of how hard it was raining.  It was like a solid curtain of rain, being shoved horizontally by the heavy wind.

I had written this whole post yesterday, but was having trouble with blogger and couldn't get it published.  So here it is now, and we'll see if it's a go.

Having Problems

Something is wrong with my page on Blogger. It won't let me upload any more pictures. But I can't find out how to delete anything to make room for the new stuff. Yesterday I prepared a long post about the violent weather we've been having, but couldn't get it published. If anyone out there has encountered this problem and knows how to fix it, please email me at "" to let me know how to continue posting on my blog. Thanks!!! from Grammilou