Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jurrassic Mall

 When I was in Danville, I ran across the type of oddity you can only find in a small town. I decided to  have my hair cut so I would look nice for the Friendship Spinners annual retreat.  I selected a small hair salon in a strip mall, walked in the door, and WHOA!  I was confronted by three enormous dinosaur skeletons!  One of them was a crocodilian beast with jaws at least five feet long and huge teeth.

My hairdresser later told me that these guys are the handiwork of a local dentist, who has his office next door.  He and his son are paleontologists on the side and rent these REAL dinosaur fossils to museums. Before shipping them, each skeleton is assembled to sure all the pieces are there and in good condition.  Likewise, when they're returned they must be assembled and examined for damage.  So, the dentist puts these monsters up in an empty storefront where a tanning salon used to be, right next to the beauty salon.

Talk about unexpected surprises!  Who would have guessed there would be dinosaurs in a strip mall in Danville?  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Delayed but not Denied

We finally got around to eating our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday -- the Saturday after Thanksgiving proper.   A nasty flu laid all of us low in turn and we decided that, discretion being the better part of valor, we should postpone any holidays involving the mass intake of food.  Even so, we had one casualty after the feast but she claimed it was only because she ate her pie too quickly.

Kate does the big hands thing over our feast

Penny smirks (?) at the camera

Jeff and Penny survey the turkey (Ally is taking all these pictures)
So, this Thanksgiving we're thankful that we all eventually felt well enough to celebrate.  We're also thankful that -- for the first time in years -- we had planned to celebrate as a nuclear family and that no one else's celebration was affected by our inability to participate on the proper day.  We're also thankful that we can be flexible and roll with the punches.

Don't believe this lying face -- he got PLENTY of turkey
Most of all, we're thankful that all four of us were together -- even if part of the time we were heaving and miserable and grousing at each other.  We survived the Thanksgiving of 2012!  (I sure hope the Mayans aren't right because I'd like another shot at this next year.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Portraits of America

My husband says that we live in Mayberry and sometimes that seems to be true.  On the 4th of July, in particular, you see that small town spirit. One of the highlights of the day is the 4th of July parade.  This is no high tech spectacle with tarted up floats.  Instead, it's a true celebration of community.  Anyone can participate and most do!  

The "floats" mostly consist of open cars and pickup trucks with signs and bunting attached to them. Every group in the city wants to be represented, including the church, the various teams, and every local politician.  Even the retirement home with its air-conditioned van creeps along the parade route, full of smiling seniors.  Adding to the noise level, all the firetrucks and police cars in the parade blare their sirens. 
This antique fire truck is promoting the local feed store.

Those who aren't actually in the parade, line up along the parade route with blankets, chairs and coolers.  The children bring plastic bags to collect the candy that will be thrown from each of the floats.  Restaurants and other businesses hand out coupons and politicians hand out fliers as they walk the parade route.    
Families grab a piece of shade to watch the parade.
Streets lined with chatting neighbors.

My favorite float!  Go Teaparty!
The local cub scout pack.

Kids love to ride in the parade. 

The end of the parade heads up the street.
When dusk falls everyone comes out to see the fireworks.  I knew my new camera had a special fireworks button and I spent most of my time during the fireworks display looking for it.  Finally, I just took a video and looked it up when I got home.
Brandi, if you read this, many thanks to you, your husband, and your family for the sacrifices you made to keep our little corner of Americana just this way.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

New Stuff

After taking a photography mini-class at the Friendship Spinners retreat, I decided to buy a tiny Canon Elph to supplement my big Canon Rebel.  Anne Littlebird, who taught the class, said that some of these little cameras are very good and have the added advantage that you're likely to actually carry them with you.  She also noted that you don't need all the bells and whistles of the latest model or a huge pixel size to get good photos.  So, I looked around a little and picked up a used Canon Powershot SD780 IS (12 MP and 3X optical zoom) on eBay for $38 ($28 + $10 shipping).

What a deal!  This little red cutie is a little beat up, granted, but I'm loving the pictures it takes.  Moreover, I love macro and this camera has a digital macro setting that goes practically microscopic.  I think I'll really enjoy having it on our upcoming trips and not lugging the big Rebel all over the place.

Another recent and cheap pleasure has been the discovery of Spotify.  I loved Pandora because I could make my own radio station and teach it -- through my selections -- to play the types of music I prefer.  Spotify is even better.  With Spotify, you actually get to select your songs and create personal playlists.  I can't believe it's free!  It's amazing!  So far, I've got a playlist for my  "girl power" favorites from Katy Perry and Pink, a playlist of old torch songs from the 30s and 40s, and a playlist of Celtic music.

Last, but not least, I finally got my new drivers license -- about six weeks late.  Oops.  It had, by definition, been four years since my last driver's license photo and the lady at the DMV pointed out the difference in the photos and cut out the old one for me to keep.  Cool, huh?  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Back on the Horse?

This morning the prodigal returned to the gym.  There was no fatted calf, but I do feel better for doing it.  I was so good for about nine months ... I went faithfully three times a week.  Then Christmas and vacations knocked me off the horse and I never got back up again.  So, today I'm back on the horse.  Send good enabling thoughts my way -- especially in the morning when I really want to stay in bed. 

I'm almost done with my first project from the yarn I sent to the mill.  It's 50% Andy and Genny's wool and, as I work with the yarn, it's developing a beautiful bloom.  It's got such a halo, in fact, that I'm sure I would never want yarn that's more than 50% angora except for trimmings or other specialty uses.  The pattern is The Emperor's New Scarf by the very clever Lucy Neatby.  Isn't it gorgeous?  I think the best description was that it looks like an art deco tree (upside down in this picture). 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Stuff

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I've been fooling around with my blog design and I created a new blog for Canterbury Tails Rabbitry that will focus on the bunnies.  Everyone's welcome to check it out. 

This morning I took my breakfast out to the patio to have breakfast with the bunnies and enjoy the outdoors before it got too hot -- or, as it turned out, too rainy.  My hardy geranium self-seeding may have been a disappointment, but these lovely bellflowers were a welcome surprise.  I planted some several years ago, but this year I seem to have quite a few volunteers -- maybe because I finally figured out what the baby plants look like and didn't pull them up as weeds this year.
  My hybrid tea rose is blooming.  When I labeled it, I thought it was yellow.  So much for my memory ... 
My heirloom magnolia's little leaf has grown a little bigger.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Things are Growing

Left to right:  Andy, Genny, and Charlie
Yesterday, Kate and I put together a new hutch for the new bunny -- whose name turned out to be Charlie, after all.  I decided that, albeit small, my rabbitry needed a name, so I'm going to call it "Canterbury Tails Rabbitry."  My husband and I became friends in a Chaucer class in college, so medieval literature has always been special to us.  Despite his allergies, he's been very accomodating of my love for angora rabbits and I thought it would be nice to tip a hat to him by naming the rabbitry after Canterbury Tales.    

Two new chairs and a planter make a restful spot.

Parsley, one bought at the store and three seedlings I grew.

Kentucky Wonder Beans and volunteer tomatoes fight it out in the planter.

A miniature rose getting ready to bloom.

Tiny green shoot in the middle of the picture.  This saucer magnolia is a fighter!
Darned if the heirloom saucer magnolia hasn't put forth a little green shoot.  Wow.  I would have sworn it was dead for sure!  We'll see if it can truly recover or not. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Bunny Explores

Here's a short video showing Sam and the new bunny getting to know each other.  The new bunny is now nameless.  The girls decided they didn't want to call him Charlie after all.  We continue to seek out and reject names.  The name of the day is "Teddy," because he sort of looks like a Panda bear. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kentucky Sheep & Fiber AND Surprises

Kerry, Mary Ann, and Lynne
 Yesterday, Lynne and Kerry and Mary Ann and I took our third annual trip to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington. 
It was a beautiful day, albeit a little on the warm side for May.  The festival is in its third year and it seems to grow a little every year.  This year they added another tent to the two other buildings and they seemed to have more classes to offer. 

Of course, there was meltingly beautiful fiber and yarn in a kaleidoscope of colors. 

And lots of nice people to talk to, like this lady who was spinning angora on her Ashford wheel and was admiring my Canon camera.  She was a true soul sister. 
I also ran into a whole slew of my fiber buddies:  Lorain, Karen, Linda, Norma, Rachel, and Barb.
 We watched a chef prepare a delicious lamb dish and got samples and recipes too! 
And, of course, there were the animals.

Lynne feeding an alpaca

This llama has a totally goofy smile
Last, but not least, I came home with a new family member.  Meet Cookies and Cream from Fiber Crazy Rabbitry in West Virginia.  I just couldn't walk away.

Cookies and Cream meets Kate for the first time

 Ben Randolph had about a dozen gorgeous rabbits for sale at the festival.  I went over to take a look and said "You don't have any Satins, do you?"  Yes he did.  "You don't have any Satin bucks, do you?"  Yes, he did.  Not only that, but he had a broken black satin buck.

 I've always wanted white angora fiber, but the red eyes just creep me out.  So, I've always thought it would be ideal to have a broken or an ermine.  What really clinched the deal was that the buck's mother was Tatiana from Somerhill, and his father's line came from Joan Hasting's stock.  It didn't hurt that when I put him on the table to admire him, he came right to me and put his paws on my chest.  :)

So, he came home with me in Lynne's car.  (Lynne was very sweet about letting him come home with us, even though she's allergic).  He sat quietly on my lap all the way home and seemed to settle in pretty well.  He dove into his food and ate two big handfuls of hay besides.  He was born Feb. 1, so he's about four months old. 

Although his official name is Cookies and Cream, I think we're going to call him Charlie, after Charlie Chaplin.  He has black on his face like a black moustache and he's black and white, like old movies.  We'll see when we get to know him better what we want to call him.  After all, Andy was named Merlin for about a week before it became clear that he was really an Andy. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Ultimate Question

Today, I have serious questions about when life ends and death begins.  Specifically, when is a plant definitively dead?  Kathryn and I have been trying to root an heirloom saucer magnolia for about a year.  I started out with 13 cuttings and ended up with one plant that survived the winter indoors with about a dozen healthy green leaves.  About a week ago, I noticed that it was droopy and covered with webs.  I took it outside and sprayed it with plant insecticide and removed all the leaves showing infestation, but slowly each remaining leaf crumpled and turned brown.  So, I gave up and took it out of the pot and threw it away.  When I removed it from the pot, though, I could see that the roots were well developed and didn't look moldy or otherwise distressed.  I cut the stem and it was still pliable and green.  So, I retrieved it from the trash, thoroughly washed the pot, filled it with new soil, rinsed the roots thoroughly and replanted the poor thing.  I guess we'll just wait and see -- but I wonder how long to keep hoping.    

This is my new hat and mitts made from the wool I bought in Ireland, Studio Donegal's "Donegal Irish Tweed."  The hat is in the Double Crossed pattern and the mitts are called One Cable Mitts.  I had just exactly enough yarn to make both of them out of three skeins.

As for my new angora/merino blend yarn, last night I started on one of Lucy Neatby's cool patterns for a short scarf called The Emperor's New Scarf.  I'll post some pictures as I move along, but I'm barely past the cast on at this point.  The angora is starting to fluff up already very beautifully and the yarn feels like butter. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beautiful Things

Last week I received an amazing box in the mail.  It was full of softness. 

Several weeks ago, I finally got off my butt and gathered together all the angora fur in the house.  It totalled a little less than 3 pounds -- which is quite a lot of angora.  Much more than I would ever spin on my own, considering that I don't spin all that much.  So, I decided to send it to a mill for processing.  Annette had sent her angora fiber to Stone Hedge Fiber Mill   in Michigan and recommended them.  So, I contacted Deb and sent her my angora plus about  3 pounds of washed but uncarded white alpaca I had sitting around in my basement. I figured she could blend the alpaca with the angora and add some merino for bounce. Fortunately,  Deb took the initiative to save me from myself.  She called and said the alpaca would be lovely on its own and would be wasted in an angora blend -- so we made it 50/50 angora/ merino and spun the alpaca on its own.  

Grey angora/merino
The end result was 5 pounds of three-ply sport weight angora/merino blend yarn and 3 pounds of three-ply sport weight white alpaca yarn.  The angora blend turned out to be a soft grey color.  I was really pleased with the results.  I can't wait to knit with it!!!

White alpaca

After scouring the Internet, I was able to order and add an Apothecary Rose to my collection.  This is one of the most ancient of roses and has been documented prior to the 7th century.  It was carried to Europe from Persia with the returning crusaders and became the symbol for the English house of Lancaster.  It was the red rose in the War of the Roses.  It's called Apothecary Rose due to its medicinal uses and a bush planted outside a shop indicated that a druggist's services could be obtained there.  For example, dried rose petals in wine were supposed to be a cure for hangovers.  With my love of history, I thought this rose would be perfect addition to my garden and it's already had two blooms!