Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Testing, testing....

I am, in fact, now testing the waters, and may create a podcast in the next week.  Still figuring out details - what segments to include, how often to record a podcast, what sorts of themes, file hosting/storage, etc.  It's all so new!

Watch this space in the next little while - things are moving!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's in my ears, September 19th

Okay, I can't help myself - three blog posts in one day.  But it's in part due to being behind on my regular weekly updates, and also to just loving having my new laptop to type on.  I must admit, after having five computers in my life (counting this new one), three being desktops and the other two laptops, I infinitely prefer typing on a laptop.  The keys are flatter, have a softer "click" when pressed, and have less distance to be pressed.  I find regular keyboards often loud in their "clacking" sounds.  The sounds made when typing on a laptop are the gentle strikes of one's fingertips, and sometimes fingernails on the keys, mild, soothing, unobtrusive.  Perfect, in my amateur writer's mind.

Now I've seriously veered away from the title of this blog entry, my apologies.

Right, what have I been listening to?  Well, I have finished the second Outlander novel, Dragonfly in Amber, last week, and plunged directly into the third book, Voyager.  I intend to write a blog post shortly about these two books, so I won't go into it here.  Sufficient to say, I am really enjoying the twists and turns of the series and intend to read to the end.

In terms of podcasts, I fallen a bit behind this past week, with only a couple episodes of the Caithness Craft Collective (where Louise very kindly passed along some information I sent her about Gaia's Colours), and to the latest of Electric Sheep.  I'm seriously behind in both CogKnitive and CraftLit, but will be putting them on more when I'm working in the GC studio this week.

On a side note, I'm reading an actual, physical book called Screenplay: The Fountains of Screenwriting, by Syd Field.  From what I understand, Mr. Field and his books are very important and useful in the world of screenwriting.  It's been decent reading so far, in a simple, conversational style - quite pleasant, really.  Not that I have much time for actual reading, but I need to make the time, in order to help myself learns the "why's" and "wherefore's" (and even more important, in my eyes, the "how's") of writing a screenplay.  Pretty essential if I'm to put my story out into sell-able work, no?

Away from Montana and into School

I meant to write and post this last week, but I have been oddly busy (I can't imagine why....).  We returned from Montana and Alberta on Monday, the 6th, and were launched directly into the first day of school on the 7th

Yes, it's been a hectic past few weeks, what with our family trip to Montana for my sister's wedding, and then the first week of school for both of my boys.  Our youngest is now in his first year of pre-school, and our oldest in Grade 1.  It's been a week of adjustments for all.

But first, I did promise some photos from our Montana time.  I did take lots of pictures!

 This is farmland in Southern Alberta, about a hour north of the Montana border.
Ah, that lovely Alberta sky....
Getting closer to the Montana border, with mountains and rain clouds looming large...
Arriving at Flathead lake, to a stormy, windy evening view across the water to dark mountains.
The first house, the lake-side house, that we stayed at.  I blogged here, overlooking the lake.  Yeah, rough, I know....
I was able to see all sorts of weather on this lake, like the stormy.....
And the blissfully sunny and warm.
Doesn't it invite you to dive in...?
My father in his kayak, and my husband and son in the yellow paddle boat, enjoying the same summer sun.
Gratuitous moon shot, as best a zoom as I can manage with my camera.
I managed, after several shots, to capture this little lovely hummingbird.
The Lodge Hotel, in Whitefish, Montana, where my sister was married.
The pavilion where the actual ceremony took place, right next to Whitefish Lake.  Sadly, the weather on the Sunday wasn't as lovely as it was here, on the Saturday.
My father, (half)sister (in Vera Wang bridal), and step-mother (Japanese Canadian).
On the road heading home - through Montana to Alberta, and then flying home to B.C.

I have heaps more photos, but that a highlight for y'all.  Sorry I've been so delayed in posting all this. 

Our boys seem to have grown accustom to our new routine of school, especially my oldest, who, now in Grade 1, has three years already of the Montessori school environment.  My youngest is dealing really well with the full days of pre-school and afternoon care, though since he is not fully potty-trained, we have to pack extra pants and underwear for the damp accidents.  Ah dear....

And just to give us a little extra fun, we have our first collective cold from the school - happens every September!

This week on the needles, September 19th

I know, I've missed two weeks of the "This week" feature, but I did warn that I might be late.  Not this late perhaps, but still...

First off, I have now completed my green Diamond Gansey socks, and will have pictures up shortly.  They feel and fit wonderfully!

Then the lace scarf that never ends is still plodding along - lovely, but ugh.

I'm also working on a new shawl.  Yes, I didn't plan on starting anything new until I finished all my WIPs but I couldn't help myself with this.  I really wanted to knit this Pogona shawl by Stephen West, with some colourful, variegated Bugga! yarn by The Sanguine Gryphon.  Have I mentioned Bugga! yarn before?  If not, it's a wonderful 70/20/10 SW Merino/Cashmere/Nylon heavy fingering yarn.  They also dye a "Skinny Bugga!" too, that is a more slender fingering, with 10% Cashmere instead of the 20% in regular or "Fat" Bugga!  I intend to knit some socks with the Skinny Bugga! sometime in the new few months, after I finish my other sock projects.

But I digress.  The Pogona shawl is a new release from Stephen West, in a cresent shape, with section of triangles in stockinette and reverse stockinette, worked from the centre of the neck out.  I started it just before I left for Montana, and I'm getting close to being finished.  It looks great, and I'll get a decent photo of it once completed and blocked.

Lastly, I'm bringing out an UFO (unfinished object) from a year or so ago - a drop-stitch stockinette scarf/shawl, knit in Sundara's hand-dyed Aran Silky Merino.  It's a gift for someone (shh).

Now, off to bed, as I've landed a cold, thanks to my children getting sick from school - happens every fall...

Goodnight!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Me, podcast?

I bought a new laptop yesterday, a MacBook Pro, 13 inch.  Oh my, I am in love.  It was quite an investment, admittedly, as any Mac computer is (they ain't cheap!), but worth it.  The last time I invested in a Mac computer was five years ago, and it's getting a bit slow and out of date, sadly.  I've loved and used it muchly, but as it was beyond upgrading, it had to find a new home (which I'm still trying to do).

This new laptop has the much talked-of "Garage Band", and after playing around with it in my bits of spare time today, I've figured out how some podcasters come up with really decent, simply-made podcasts.  Garage Band does make it pretty simple.

This begs the question then, could I start my own podcast?  And if so, what to I call it, or theme it?  Will it be about knitting, or crafting or dyeing, or bits of my own life, or....?  Or all of the above?  Kind of like this blog - many things that I am exploring daily.  Could be.  Would anyone listen to it though - that's the other question...?

Thoughts?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Over-saturation

This is what can happen to a dyer sometimes - the yarn or fibre takes on more colour that you want it to, and ends up too dark.  Not good.  Perhaps still sellable, but generally not good.

The same can be said of over-saturation in other areas of life.  I think I'm in the middle of that right now.  That feeling of over-saturation with a situation.

I should premise this with stating that I really like my alone time.  I crave and need it the same way some crave and need to be with others.  If I don't get a certain amount of me-time/space, I can get really, ahem, crabby.

So this past week, as I have mentioned, being here in Montana with a large gaggle of family, including my own small family of a husband and two small sons, has been great, but also trying.  They are a really wonderful family - don't get me wrong - and the family that I was raised with.  Regardless, if I get put into a situation where there is almost constant family time and activities, with many of us sharing houses, and I don't get that needed solo time, it becomes difficult for me to be nice around them.  I get snappish.

And this is where I find myself, as of yesterday (Saturday), having reached that point of over-saturation.  I'm friendly to the various family and friends of family, but inside I'm tired and want to be left alone.  And the only people who I can (and end up with) venting at, is my poor husband and sons.

Do you have that happen - where you hear yourself being grumpy and/or mean to those close to you, and you know you are doing it, and you don't like that you are doing it, but you just can't be any other way sometimes?  Yes, I dislike being grumpy and/or mean, but at this point it's very difficult to be any other way.

However, on the up side, I suggested the my husband and sons go on a hike without me, pleading the excuse (although true) that I need to tend to the tidying and ironing of their dress shirts, and to get ready for the wedding myself.  So here I have some brief me-time.  And then my sister gets married this afternoon, and the evening of food and family and merriment stretch ahead.

Yes, my sister is getting married today.  And I couldn't be more pleased for her!  I do want to blog about her later on, and include a wedding pic or two.

For now, I'm going to knit and iron and listen to podcasts.  Oh, I'm so glad to be going home tomorrow!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Regretsy

Through the Electric Sheep podcast, I've discovered the wonky world of Regretsy.com.  This amusing website (and book!) comb through the wonderful and weird world of Etsy.com to bring you the odd and sometimes disturbing hand-made products that people make and sell.  Regretsy's tagline is "Where DIY meets WTF", and it appears to be very much the case.  Just looking at the current front page has me shaking my head and laughing.  Case in point - the first picture under the heading of "Baby Jones Locker", of a fish-bowl "Welcome Baby" jelly candle with a baby doll suspended in the "watery" depths.  The caption below says "Nothing says 'Sorry your baby drowned in a boating accident' like a forever candle.  Eep!

Check it out - you'll see what I mean!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On recycling, wheat, and pride in Montana

I've been in Montana about 48 hours now.  From what I can see so far, there isn't a heavy stressing on recycling around here.  In fact, I have had this confirmed by one of my Aunts, who sympathised with me upon my complaining on the lack of recycling.
  "There is some, but you have to know where to look.  We often take ours home."  She told me.  Apparently there is a drop-off near a local pub, so we'll bag up our stuff to take there tonight.  I has made me cringe at having to throw out anything that is remotely recyclable (and don't even get me started on things compostable).  I know I am a bit spoiled back in Victoria for the abundance of great recycling opportunities, and that we have an efficient, useful system set up in our house and know what companies will pick-up what.  We recycle almost everything.  One or two garbage bags are put out on our garbage pick-up take, which, for a family of four, isn't bad.  It's mostly non-compostable food stuffs, non-compostable "pull-up" diapers for my three-year-old, and the odd other bit.  Everything is recycled or composted.

But back to recycling in Montana.  It does make me wonder if the rest of the state, and indeed, the rest of the United States, is like this?  Or does it vary from state to state and urban to rural communities?  Is one state more progressive in it's organised recycling, like, say, Oregon, or Washington, than another, say Texas or Kentucky?  Do the political leanings of a state tend to dictate the emphasise on proper recycling facilities?  And could the same be asked of the Canadian provinces?  Is B.C more recycling-friendly than Alberta?  Or can one generalise the province as a whole?  Does it need to be more specific, more local, to cities and towns and the rural areas?  I get the sense that there would be a lot of variation, and that generalisations would likely be rash, and/or, incorrect.

Something else I've noticed while here, is a rather strong stressing, or presence, of Montana-sourced foods (wheat, huckleberries, cherries, etc.), businesses (named after local towns, mountains, rivers, lakes, etc.), and a general strong sense of pride in all-things-Montana.  I'm guessing many areas like to do this, but as a tourist, looking at an area with new eyes, I think these things are more glaring, more noticed.  I'm trying to recall if I noticed such a strong sense of local pride of city/area/state, when I was in Oregon or Washington state.  There may be, and likely is, but nothing jumps out at me in the same way as this.  It could be, perhaps, seeing the smaller town (like Kalispell) and other more rural areas, that really make these stand out or be more likely.

I was surprised to find out that large amounts of wheat is grown around here, even with such a large presence of mountainous land.  There is a local chain store called "Wheat Montana", where you can buy breakfast, lunch and bakery goods, plus sacks of local flour.  You can even grind your own bag of flour, very like grinding your beans at the grocery store.  If we weren't flying to get back home, I would have totally purchased a bag of flour to use for baking bread this fall.  They have more than the common two wheat types called "Hard Red Winter wheat" and "Soft White Spring Wheat".  They also have "Bronze Chief wheat" and "Prairie Gold Wheat".  Even better, I've just discovered that their wheat and flour products can be ordered online!!  Guess what I'll be ordering mail-order to Victoria later this month?

It's been quite fun playing tourist, in an area I haven't been in for a very long time - since my mid-teen years.  And being on Flathead Lake, in a smaller town setting, has been great.  My boys got to go out on a kayak and paddle boat this morning, as the weather has turned sunny and clear.  Last night, too, we were at my other Aunt's large house, where their front lawn meet their dock and the lake, roasting marshmallows on an open fire.  Oh, and I got to be the fire-starter.  It's been a while since I had to build a fire from scratch, but I was successful, and we got sticky fingers and over-dosed on corn syrup sweetness.

Off to the pub for a family dinner in an hour.  May have time to post again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Writing by the lakeside

Didn't think I'd have internet access, but we brought the laptop just in case, and voila!  Wireless internet!  So here I am!

I'm at Lakeside, Montana, quiet literally on the side of Flathead lake.  It is a vast expanse of water, near Kalispell, in north-west Montana.  I have photos already, but alas, forgot to bring my cable to plug in my camera to the computer.  Will update this post once I get home to insert the photos.

I tell ya, this hanging by the lapping shores of a lake is rough!  I wish you could all see what I see.  We are on the west side of Flathead lake, with an eastern view of a long row of mountains (will have to look up the name), mostly fir-covered, some smooth and brown.  No snow on them, that I can see.  Perhaps they aren't tall enough?  We certainly saw many snow-peaked mountains on the long drive from Calgary, Alberta (where we flew into) down across the US border and to Lakeside.  Just north of the border, there were many rolling hills - grazing land for cattle, horses and bison.  The weather was a mix of sun and cloud, and I could see the light and dark swatches sweeping across the grassy fields, which rippled with wind.  Past these hills loomed a large stretch of mountains.  The most prominent of these was a towering square-topped mountain, called "Chief", if I recall rightly.  It is a Native reserve around that area, though I'm not sure on the particular tribe.

After the border, there was a very long stretch of open country, away from the mountains, that my father called "cowboy country".  Lots of ranching there, and a road that stretched straight for many miles.  I had to put on my podcasts at this point, as my family were all sleeping, and I needed company for the drive.  We were following my father, as he was our guide, in his Jetta.  Both vehicles had to go a bit slower, as he had two kayaks strapped to his car.  My husband was mildly worried that one of the boats would break free and launch itself at our front windshield.  Nothing untoward occurred, however.

Once through the ranching lands, we entered mountain and forest again, full-on.  It was like being back in our coastal B.C., with fir trees and snow-capped peaks.  I took rather a lot of photos during this time, as I was back to being a passenger.  It reminded me of the drive near Port Alberni, with lots of looming mountains.  There was a long stretch of train tracks as well, that followed the road for a good while, sometimes running along the steep sides of mountains.

The drive was long, but had some amazing scenery - such a variety of landscapes.  And we get to take it again, next Monday.  Hopefully it won't lose too much of it's charm on the return, as my impatience to get home to Victoria will likely be taking me over.....