Sunday, December 20, 2009

As Christmassy as it can be.

The snow has come! We've had a couple of snowfalls by now, and the last one has stuck - literally. We're so sheltered here that it has stayed on the tiniest twigs, as well as the largest trees. We tried to move this seat indoors yesterday but it was firmly attached to the earth. Ah well, we'll have a thaw sometime, and in the interim it can serve the cats. I saw paw prints.

The tree on the far left in this picture (below) is now - partially - resting on the porch. We're waiting for the thaw to bring it in, but I think it has to be done today. Time's getting short.

Have I mentioned how much I HATE Blogger?? It won't let me place pictures where I want, it won't let me load more than two, and when I try to insist, it hides the cursor so I don't know where the next line will show up. This is NOT very Christmassy, you guys.

Much to do, so I'll leave this frustration behind and go put up a tree, and maybe bake bread. That'll fix ME.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November is more like September, this year.

I do feel badly for my family in Vancouver, enduring rain and gales day after day, and those in the British Isles and Ireland, too. We have been very, very fortunate and I am thankful. We had our almost traditional Guy Fawkes bonfire last weekend, you can see the balloons marking the way to the site of the fire, beyond the vegetable garden. The balloons had electric tea lights inside, so after dark they were illuminated and showed the way back to the house. Only one burn from a sparkler, and the gingerbread Guys were mostly eaten rather than being tossed on the fire. I found some glow lanterns at the $$ store and they were pretty terrific after dark as well.
Must remember to pick up more as I see them throughout the year. Wonderful music and some dancing afterward at the house. We put up the folding table for the buffet, and afterward just folded it and put it away in the garage, so there was room for music and dance.

I planted bags of pink daffodils yesterday - yes, I know, sucked in again! I believe the pretty pictures on the box, and then in spring have glorious displays of King Alfred yellow ones everywhere. And haul them out in frustration, and move them down to the roadside where their bright yellows will look cheerful and won't clash horribly with my bordeaux-coloured house. Perhaps this year will be different!! Maybe they really will be pink and white, and I'll be able to leave them in the flower beds. Yes, and pigs make wonderful birds, too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A fall-ish kind of day

It's one of those glorious fall days - clear sky everywhere and bright leaves reflecting the light. It's going to get warmer later, and I plan to get out for a stroll at lunchtime. They're giving the H1N1 shots here in my building, and the cries of bored children in the queue are making my head ache - as well as making me feel false flu symptoms. Heavens, they aren't even sick!
There's been heavy frost the last few days, so nothing much going on garden-wise. I'm glad I got the carrots in earlier - and now I'm wondering if I'll lose them in the garage. We really need a root cellar. There are a few leeks left in the ground, and I started a bed for garlic last week - I understand that it's important to put them in late enough that they don't sprout, but early enough that they get roots established before freeze-up. I know that I've planted bulbs after Hallowe'en before now, so I think I still have time. I picked off all the tiny bulbs from the sides of the cloves I harvested just a week ago or so, and have them drying in the porch for the exactly right planting day.
In knitting, I'm almost finished the middle brown skein of that onion-dyed Kroy sock yarn. It came out in three shades, so I'm making Clark's "Shetland Triangle" shawl with the three colours - first and lightest colour the beginning, which I knit solid, them the second lace chart in medium, and the edge in the darkest colour. I'm pretty pleased so far - the lace is really easy and the colours go well. There's quite a demarcation between the light and the medium, so I knit one row of lace with the light, so the change will come within the lace part. I may do the same with the darkest - do one repeat of the main lace then go on to the edge. I am trying to use up all of the yarn, of course, and get the biggest possible shawl.
I wanted to mention that, around the time of the new moon this month, we had some unusually high tides - I'm sure I've never seen anything higher even when storm-assisted. Naturally it's in the middle of the day so it's more noticeable, but these were huge. I wish I could move pictures about in this program, because it will probably go where it wishes, not beside this part of the post. Anyway, this is the same view of the brook in a wintertime post, but this time with the water well up in the field. Evidence for global warming? time to look for land higher up?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm Thankful

In an update to the pickling news, cooking the mustard pickles quickly on the stove, rather than slowly in the slow cooker, is a much greater success. I was ready to blame the recipe, but it's defo the method. The stove-top ones are bright yellow, crisp and thick. The slow-cooked ones are mushy, brownish and runny. I have learned my lesson!

Excitement of an Irish dancing nature: We have tickets to Riverdance for tomorrow night - this stop in Charlottetown - for 18 performances - is their last performance in Canada. We all thought they were crazy to have so many shows in such a small place - and they've sold out! So much for *my* understanding of theatre and such!

Anyway, one of the principal dancers got in touch with Helen, our set dance teacher (through Bill Lynch's Set Dancing News, presumably) and offered to hold lessons for local folks. Seemed like a great opportunity for local step dancers and such; so, with some misgivings, Helen took it on - notifying all the dancing teachers and getting the word out. She has had a great response, and there are four classes set up. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced step, and a set/ceili dance workshop for us old folks. I'm not sure what we'll get out of it - it will either be far too simple for us (with 12 years' experience!) or well over our heads with stepping and high kicks, etc. Should be an adventure in any case.

All the parents who came in to register kids are very excited, and most have already seen the show. Wouldn't it be great if someone were to capitalize on the interest in Irish step by becoming qualified, and starting to teach Irish step on a regular basis?

We're having a week or torrential rain and wind - potato farmers are in despair, as their heavy machinery can't work in wet fields, and the fields are really wet... standing water in many cases. My consolation is that at least it's not frosty, so my remaining veg are getting more ripe - Marjorie Williston, the CBC garden guru, says ripening is a matter of time, not sun.

I'm struggling to finish the sulphur yellow socks - a mystery pattern by Nancy Bush in Ravelry's Sock Knitters' Anonymous group, and the September challenge. I have until the end of this month to post a picture - have done of the heels on both, and progressing slowly on the feet. My problem is that I'm not being true to my socks as I've started a jacket with some lovely heathery Briggs & Little Heritage 2-ply and it's claiming my heart at the moment. The socks are at the stage when they are good car knitting, but as I'm driving mostly when I'm in the car that doesn't work very well.

ETA: I have planted the Samuel Holland climbing rose at the south end of the deck - there should be plenty of sun, especially as I have cut down the old lilac which has been such an eyesore the past three years. I'm also planning an expansion of the flower bed in front of the lilac hedge by plastic-mulching - I hope that next year the area will be easy to dig, with the grass all killed off underneath. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home and Garden

I've been clearing up in the garden and have come up with amazing numbers of tomatoes - naturally all the fresh eating ones are close to being finished, but the Roma ones are just getting going in earnest. Of course, we have already had frost episodes, so they don't have much time to ripen.
I went out on Saturday and collected a big green pickle bucket full of ripe and (mostly) not ripe ones, which I washed and separated into hopeful (for sitting around and turning red indoors) and hopeless. There were a LOT of green ones, so I looked up recipes and decided on green tomato chow.
The recipe called for a peck of green tomatoes. Now, I don't know how to measure a peck, but Fred found references on t'internet - one said a peck is 10.5 pounds and another said 12 pounds. I had just enough to come up the middle at 11.25 pounds. Sliced, salted and covered with water, and left them to sit overnight.
Next day, I chopped 5 pounds of onions (my hands still smell) and cooked them up. It made 11 of the big canning jars. Fred said we have to eat fish three times a week to use it all up.
I also found quite a few cucumbers - I had planted them next to the pumpkins, which of course took over, so I had no idea that any cucumbers had survived. I found a total of 11, and, as I had a recipe for mustard pickles which called for 12, I bought two and we chopped and readied the batch last night.
Since it's been so long since I've pickled, I made the classic mistake of putting the sauce on the vegetables, and, combined with high heat, the sauce promptly burned to the bottom of the pot! Dumped them out quite quickly, and, as the pot was BADLY burned, determined to try again tomorrow. Just as I was closing the fridge, I thought of the slow cooker - large capacity, boils liquids slowly - decided to give it a try. The whole batch didn't fit, but I put in what would, and turned it on to low. Got up at 4 and shut it off, and bottled this morning. They're dark, and quite runny - typical of slow cooking, no liquid gets boiled off.
I hope they're edible, and I still have some uncooked in the smaller pot to try in the traditional way tonight. The slow cooker made six large canning jars, and a sampler of about half a cup.
I'd like to try cucumber relish, but I wish that the recipes didn't make such a huge batch - if they don't turn out, you've invested a LOT of time and materials. The recipe I found called for celery, as well as cucumber, and I'm not sure that was a feature of the relish I had at Henry's. Didn't notice it, anyway.
The whole house smells of boiling vinegar, so perhaps I should take a break from all of this and clear up - we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday so some major cleaning is in order. And then salsa!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September Joys

I'm resting from struggling with dividing perennials, hermerocallis to be precise. They have a name I've forgotten, are the fleshy-coloured ones and are incredibly prolific. I've moved a big bunch down to the edge of the property beside the driveway, and now I have the rest of that bunch plus three others to find homes for. I'm hoping my flower-loving neighbor wants some!

Yesterday we went to the 70 Mile Yard Sale, which is all over Southern Kings County, and in my first two stops I found bargains to make the rest of the day wholly worthwhile. First, at the Caledonia Presbyterian church, 10 bags of sock yarn, for a total of over 28 balls. Each bag was marked 25 cents. It's all three-ply, a very light weight, and there are several pairs which will be enough for a pair of socks. The rest will be an opportunity for me to be creative with colourwork.
Next, at the organic vegetable place, a purple smoke bush for $5.00. I had just decided I have to have one, as it's JUST the colour of the house paint - and there it was, the answer to my prayers. Everything else, believe me, was gravy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The compensation of tomatoes

Summer is on the wane - the tradition of its being over after Old Home Week has held true for this year again. The fact that we had a bit of Hurricane Bill on the weekend helped it on its way as well. No damage to my garden (but for a few phlox with heavy heads) or anything major anywhere on the Island - but spectacular surf on the North shore on Sunday. We remained obedient to the posted signage and stayed on shore, but Anne got some great photos. I, unfortunately, had left my camera at home.

Our old electric mower has bitten the dust, so we are relying on the reel mower exclusively now. Luckily it's almost the end of the season - and perhaps we'll find an end-of-season bargain mower somewhere. I'm just hoping the grass doesn't take on a new lease of life with the many millimetres of rain it received from Bill.

The vegetable garden is doing its very best for us at the moment - every time I go near it I come back laden with sweet million tomatoes (as well as lemon boy and early girl). Nothing is ripe yet from the many, many Roma plants - I hope they manage to pull through to ripen, as my winter salsa supply depends on them! Also beans have been very prolific, and lettuce and spinach enough to meet all needs. There are beets, and there will be carrots soon. The big surprise is the zucchini - there are a few each time I go out, but none of the overabundance one usually finds at this time of year. We have just four plants, and they are amazingly healthy, just not producing much.

Flower news: I bought a "Bonica", at last, at Cool Breeze farms in Summerside. I planted it next to the "Celestial" on the mound. Anne bought me a "Samuel Holland" which is a climber, I haven't placed him yet because of his special needs. The unknown white rambler on the poplar stump is making amazing progress; I expect there will be bloom next year. The three rugosas have all survived, two much better than one but they aren't as amazingly prolific as the abovementioned white rambler. I hope I don't live to regret putting it in, it seems to be mightily encouraged by having some decent soil and light.

Otherwise the daylilies are done and the more interesting colours of phlox are out everywhere, the white and the deep pink/magenta. Roses are still holding well, the "Alba Meidiland" and the two "Fairy" are just finishing up their first flush of bloom, but are growing new branches with buds for later. The rugosas are almost finished, and are producing hips in abundance. I may try some rose-hip jelly this year.

It's been hot for knitting, but I have finished the mohair scarf and an organic merino hat for K. - she was here on the weekend and tried it on - it fits! This was yarn from Mahone Bay as well. I'm making a pair of green heather socks and trying to finish up the lace shawl in Knit Picks Shimmer I started in the spring. I'm working on the second half - it's done in two halves and grafted, so I have that to look forward to.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Travels to gardens

I'm well and truly on vacation now, with a bit of harvesting and preserving on the side (raspberries are waiting for nothing. They are ripe now!). We went to the south shore of Nova Scotia for the weekend, and saw how the gardeners there have embraced the hardy roses. There were rugosas lining the sea walls everywhere you looked (imagine what they must have looked like in July!) and this wonderful wall of ramblers in Lunenburg. Congratulations, whoever conceived this and then put it into practice. It was a lot of work but I am sure it has given many people a lot of pleasure over the years.
Mahone Bay was where we set up out home-from-home base, and what a lovely little town - the architecture is simply amazing, and so well kept. I'd love to see the town plan - they must have stringent rules about what you can and can't do - and the result is a place that is almost universally a pleasure to see. The Town Hall, interestingly, looks to have ignored the rules!
There's a lovely little yarn shop there too - Have a Yarn on Main Street - it seems small at first but it goes on and on for three rooms and is simply stuffed with treasure. I was so pleased to see Drops yarns there - I have enjoyed the patterns online but never got to feel the yarn. The alpaca is gorgeous! The lady behind the counter was lovely too, and offered me free patterns for the yarns I chose - I have one mohair scarf started and it's coming out well. I really like this kind of souvenir.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Maintenance Time

All the garden work is settled for now - I am weeding and deadheading, and simply enjoying what comes out every day. This week it's the first of the daylilies: it's a peachy-coloured one the name of which I have forgotten. It's quite prolific, however; having been split up and replanted a few years ago, it's grown into huge bunches. There is one of the burgundy ones from Red Lane Gardens out today as well. Must go get a photo.

I've begun painting the south side of the house - we have scraped it all and removed most of the loose caulking. Since replacing that's Fred's job, I started painting one shingle away from the caulking areas, and when he's done it I'll go back and paint. The caulking has to cure for 72 hours before painting, so I thought I had better get the main part painted so there will just be the edge bits to do. The weather has continued rainy by times, so I squeak in time to paint between showers! The colour is bordeaux, a gorgeous dark burgundy (Behr stain, actually), but oddly enough it goes on a pretty bright purple. Dries quickly to the right shade, though. And it's easy to see where to put more! The shingles on the south are in quite bad shape, partially because they are so baked by the sun on that side - in other, hotter, years, I mean. So there is much filling in of cracks between shingles with a tiny paintbrush - they get worn out pretty quickly in this work. However, with the dark colour, the unpainted bits betweek shingles, shingle edges, etc., show up ghastly against the colour. And the regular brush just doesn't get IN there.

The big pot of sweet peas have begun to bloom! And they are just as fragrant as memory made them. I've only picked one to bring in to the house, so far, but I DO stop and smell them on the deck each time I go by. Mmm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stick a tail on it and call it a Weasel

On Saturday I had a Cunning Plan! And I started to execute it at once.

We have a big eyesore on the lawn - a stump of an enormous Theves poplar tree which we had professionally removed two years ago. It's not very high - less than 30 centimetres - but it has five or six enormous roots which run out into the grass and, because they stick up, are hard to mow around. I tried to make it rot by piling sods on it, but all this did was to prevent the stump from burning when we twice (once last fall for Guy Fawkes, and once again this June) tried to burn it out by piling on slash and stuff and having a bonfire. So, I was cleaning up after the most recent fire (there were slices of poplar which didn't burn completely) and as I worked, I wondered what I could do to shield this eyesore from view. I'm still looking for the perfect spot for a new philidelphus (this will make the third time I've tried to grow one which blooms and does not die) and first I thought I'd stick IT in.

Then I thought it would be better to use roses, several of them - and try to ring the problem. I considered buying the three Roseraie de l'Hay I saw at VanK's. And then, thinking further, I realized that using roses I already HAVE in plenty (Rosa rugosa and some others) I could surround it and have it hidden quite quickly, and really cheaply.

I made holes where I could get the shovel in between the roots, and ended up with six holes. Then, I hied me to the Secret Garden and dug three suckers (they are going to take OVER the Secret Garden if we don't mow them or otherwise take them out) of Rosa rugosa and popped them in, in alternate holes. I had pulled up a couple of those "wild" roses from The Back Road and had been keeping them in a water bucket - as usual with roses, they have almost NO roots, and the wonder is that they live at all. Anyway, I dug out a very rich spot closer to the stump, and put the biggest bit in there. IF IT LIVES it will throw up those 3 metre canes and be a great background for the rugosas and others. I've covered the three rugosas with pots to keep them from drying out in the wind, and I've been watering generously several times a day.

I don't usually have much luck with moving them after they have leafed out, so if these don't survive I can do it all again in the spring. However, I have been recently heartened to have successfully moved one - from the new peony bed to a pot, and thence to the edge of the property below the vegetable garden, where it thrives.

I'll wait to see how the rugosas do before I attempt to dig three white suckers out of the rose mound to place in the alternating positions. They won't be all the same - I have one or two Blanc de Coubert, and maybe one Rosa rugosa Alba and a Snow Pavement. I think it will be glorious - if all survive - in a couple of years. And bye, bye, eyesore. I tell you, it's a weasel*.

*Thanks to Sir Edmund.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Awaiting Better Weather...

We've just had a siege of terrible wet stuff for over a week - cloudy, warm and drizzly. There were a couple of downpours as well, so the garden was well watered. But it's been drizzly-dreadful since my b'day, and I hadn't had a chance to use my new present, an eating-outdoors table and 4 chairs. However, we had a short window of opportunity last night and gave eating out a try. It was quite cool - both for the eaters and the "eats" - (man I hate that word...). But I can say I've done it, a week after my birthday, at last.

The garden continues apace, even without the sun. There are many roses out, and the Henry Kelsey on the rose trellis is a sight to behold. He's quite visible from the house, given that he's such a bright red. This morning the Dublin Bay was blooming as well...they are really quite alike in bloom, so I doubt that anyone will notice that there are two different roses on the trellis - though their foliage varies quite a bit.

And, news flash! I had moved my first Henry Kelsey from the rose mound to the hedgerow on the east of the vegetable garden, the year before last, and he struggled a bit and then croaked. However, I've been keeping watch, because he started to sucker up from the rootstock late last year. And today it was blooming (or rather, budding) and it looks like it's a very similar rose's root - maybe even ownroot (though there *did* seem to be a bud union) - in any case, it's a brilliant red, and single-looking. I'm so pleased. Now I have to get it a climbing apparatus of some sort.

I finally gave up on finding potato seed and filled up the vegetable garden with my own tomato seedlings - all Roma, so look out! There will be much salsa made. And perhaps even tomato sauce. There must be 5 dozen plants in all - one Duchess, 6 Lemon Boy, 6 Sweet Million, 6 Early Girl and the rest Roma.

The John Thompson by the front door is blooming beautifully - he is such a good repeater, and quite early, thanks to his rugosa heritage. I am kept busy deadheading, but this is not a big duty when he's producing so well. Of course the dreadful wet weather has made the blooms a bit of a sticky mess, but SOON this will be over (dry for at least the coming week, although cooler until Thursday or Friday).

I started to scrape the paint on the South end of the house -it is its turn to be painted this year - and, thanks to all this wet weather, the stuff is coming off most easily. I think it will need at least a week of dry and sunny before I would dare to put on any stain, though. The shingles feel like sponges.

Friday, June 19, 2009

All Tree Peonies are in - at last.

Took off the day yesterday and worked in the garden - I think most of the major stuff is done now. Finished the right-hand bed and placed the final tree peony - the pink one (though the pot said 'blue'), and then put in some annuals to fill up the space until I have perennials to go in, probably in the fall. I have a few more rocks to excavate from the end of that bed, and probably some Rugosas - they're invading from the lower bed. There should probably be a barrier of some sort or they'll take over the new bed! Anyway, I rooted out a bunch of phlox from the lower beds on either side of the rock stair, so I can put some lower-growing stuff in there and keep it open to traffic, so to speak. I put a lavender plant on either side - in hopes of nice smells! And a couple of white alyssum on either side of the top step - I have more growing from seed which I'll place on either side of the lower steps, to serve as guides after dark. It is still so amazing to me how white flowers show up after dark - when all of the other colours disappear!
I put some zucchini in the vegetable garden, and now I'll have to seek out some potatoes. It's a source of some chagrin to me that both today and yesterday a giant potato truck went by my gate, heaped up with seed potatoes, when I can't seem to find seed anywhere.
So, what remains is edging, on almost all of the beds (I've done some spotty stuff but it all needs doing), and of course weeding, and when some perennials are finished blooming, some renewal - there's one bunch of iris which are VERY weedy, so when they are done I'm hoicking them out and clearing and fertilizing their spot.
Piece o'cake. Almost ready to sit and drink iced tea all day. Yeah.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Injuries won't prevent me.

I've injured my pointer finger! I think it could be knitting, although it could also be a mixture of knitting and computer. Anyway, I've been being careful and it's getting better. On Sunday I could hardly move my hand. And it's too bad if I can't knit, because (as usual) I have approximately a zillion projects on the go at once. I think I should work on the lace, since it is so loose that there's no strain at all. According to web info on RSI, I have to develop some better habits in posture for knitting, and do warm-ups immersed in hot water. Must try it!

Got more of the vegetable garden in last night - potatoes, more tomatoes, and zucchini are prominent hangers-back. I'm missing seed for the first and last, and the tomatoes I planted from seed are still a bit wee for the garden yet. I bought some more cleome and alyssum as well as a white geranium and a purple sweet-potato vine to fill up another pot - I found an identical pot to one I'd just planted, and felt I should make it match. The geranium is one I saved from last year, and it still isn't blooming, but I fear it's pink and not white. Ah well. Almost matching.

The First Rose was about three days ago - it's the rugosa at the end of the snowball hedge, as usual. It gets the morning sun, and then lots of sun for the rest of the day as well. There are some blooms coming up fast on the Philemon Cochet and the David Thompson as well. I have some dreadful bug attacking the roses on the rose mound - all of them , even the rugosas. It chews the tip of the branch just as the bud is forming, and kills it - or it is so mis-shapen that it doesn't bloom. I don't know if the bug's still there but I do squish the tips - I HOPE I'm killing it. I must look at my rose books for info. There's no sign of anything when I look closely, so I suspect it's munched and gone. And there's none on the roses elsewhere which makes me think the mound is infected with something. Merde.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dancing and gardening, gardening and dancing

That's how I spent the weekend. One more tree peony in the ground - it's a lot of work when you have to dig a whole new bed for it! And move a small ton of rocks as well. I hope they appreciate the work, and show their gratitude by growing beautifully. Now that I have the new bed, of course, I need other things to go in it - I guess I should stick to annuals this year, as I'm sure there are perennials which would love the new digs after they bloom for this year and are ready for a change. I must look for spiderflowers - cleome - and plant some stocks and cosmos seeds.
Dancing at The Old Triangle has now become a habit - every Sunday for three weeks in a row. We still only have half sets, but we get in lots of dancing. Dave and Helen joined us for a couple so that made it better. After, we went downtown and visited the Cox-Trainer-Hodder Gallery and talked to Gail Hodder, who is the jeweller. She has made a little spot for Anne in the studio - actually they all have studio space there as well, so it should be quite popular with the visitors.
Afterward we just had time to grab burgers for a quick supper in the park and then off to ballroom class. We had been to Mike and Colleen's for a BBQ on Saturday and they invited us specially. We learned the dreaded 3/8 waltz. Rather we started to learn it. I think it could take some time to get it down. And the other new thing was the Rumba, which is just like the Cha Cha except slower and to a slightly different rhythm. The moves from the Cha Cha can be used in the Rumba, though, so it's like getting a dance for free! We have to get some ballroom CD's so we can practice at home. Gary said he and Helen practiced in the driveway, as there's not enough room in the house. I think we might have that problem too.
Talked to Katie, she's planning to come over for the weekend on my birthday, that will be nice! Fred's planning to take off the weekend after Canada Day, so maybe we'll go over and take her bike to her, one of those days.
It should be a busy week, and my AGM is on Saturday, and then I'll have a bit more time for gardening!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's the love, love, loveliest time of the year

Gardening is gearing up. Lilacs are out, vegetable garden is half-planted (more tender things go in this weekend). Grass is growing, mosquitoes and black flies breeding - summer on The Island!

I have one of the tree peonies planted, in the bed by the driveway. Fred suggested the perfect spots for the other two: on the lawn to the south of the house, above the rock wall which is the backdrop for the flower beds below. I think I'll have to dig right across, and place them in the middle of each bed. Then fill up the rest with the plants we have in abundance - phlox, shasta daisies, geraniums.

This will result in slightly less lawn to cut - yes, I did see his cunning plan to eliminate even more grass cutting from his agenda. However, they will be ideally placed there, with lots of south exposure. And it's been hard to mow by the rock wall without inadvertently dulling the mower's blades. It's hard digging, though, as this area has been lawn since 1977 or so. And before that it was the Connors' "patio" - a big pile of dirt with railway ties on top. It will need much amendment before the peonies go in. They seem perfectly happy on the deck in their pots, for now.

I've been working on the Meandering Vines shawl in Knit Picks Shimmer, in fennel colour. I got season 2 of Lost from the library and have been trying to see as much of it as I can before it goes back - tomorrow! It's fine to knit to, because there's not much to have to look at, in order to follow the story. And the knitting is pretty straight-forward too - I've been adding beads, but I think I'll stop now and save the rest of the beads for the other end. I don't know if I'll bother trying to see any of the other seasons of Lost. TV series viewing seems to be more of a winter activity; however, when I'm aching from digging it's good for breaks!

Another garden project almost completed is mulching the rose berm - as usual, it's hard to get enough newspapers for the project. I put layers of newspapers under the cedar mulch to keep the weeds down a bit. I bought 26 bags of mulch, and have - I think - 5 left. And about 1/8 th of the berm to go. Some of the roses are looking rough - William Baffin had a poor showing last year, and doesn't look great yet - very slow to come out. And the Grootendoorst is not showing much progress at all. I cut Sir Thomas Lipton down to the ground; there are a few new shoots coming from the roots now. The berm looks quite different without his looming presence! However, Blanc de Coubert was rehabilitated last year and did wonderfully well, so I have hopes of Sir T. The rose in the bed by the driveway (forget its name at the moment), which was gnawed by mice, is sprouting up from the root. I hope it's own root! The two reds climbers on the rose trellis are growing, the Henry Kelsey especially well.

I've been having fun with my little reel mower - it is just ideal for small areas like the south lawn, or the triangle below the spruce hedge - even Fred likes it. I ordered a sharpening kit for it from Lee Valley last night as the local repair guy didn't know how to sharpen it - and I understand that they probably need sharpening fairly regularly. I noticed that even when new, it couldn't cope with dandelion stems. But it loves cutting the grass!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I think I'm in love.

Yesterday I trolled all of the local greenhouses, looking for medium height hardy roses - the top of my rose mound is a bit sparse at the moment, as I have lost a few roses there and, I guess, never really had a clear plan for that area. Anyway, I was looking for something in the 3x3 size. I have been reading up and Frau Dagmar Hartroop looks nice, and of course for sweetness Dart's Dash. I have just one pavement and I think they are lovely too. I was keeping an eye out for Roseraie de l'Hay, which is NOT for the rose mound at all, as she is a huge seven footer, and bushy. I thought I'd seen some at Wally Mart, but if I did they're all gone. Anyway I did get a George Vancouver there, it's a medium pink and grows the exact size I wanted. And it was $6.97.

Tried VanKampens in the afternoon, and they did have Roseraie, but at $22.99 I thought twice. Even with a buy two get one free sale on, it's over $50! But on my way out I had a closer look at the tree peonies - the sale was the same, and the base price was $9.99! So I bought three: white, pink and maroon/deep red. I've been doing research on them online. These seem to have Japanese names, and I have a short list of those. They apparently need quite a deep hole and lots of compost and such. Also alkilinity, which doesn't come natural to PEI! And they'll need full sun. I had a bit of a dig around in the bed along the driveway last night, and I think I could excavate a big enough hole in the middle of it for one or two of them. Because they're so tall, it will add quite a bit of height to that bed. I would like to put the maroon/dark red one near the house, but I am not sure there's room or enough sun - because it faces East, when the sun goes over there's deep shade there in the afternoons. Ah well. It's a glorious problem to have.

The lovely man who digs up my vegetable garden was over on Monday, and bless him, dug out all the dandelions before cultivating. I put them into the compost cart and they'll be gone when I get home today. (I love Waste Watch too.) So no seeds from them, at least. I went to Vesey's on Tuesday and bought $60 worth of vegetable seeds. Apparently it will rain on the weekend, but I may plant some of it anyway. Can't wait for green onions and leaf lettuce, and so on!

The next big job is to buy a lot of composted manure and mulch, as the rose mound needs badly to be re-done this year. I've started to save newspapers to put underneath the mulch. It will be so great to not have to mow or weed up there any more.

It's been cool, but that's fine with me - it means the heavy work in the garden can get done without heat-stroke. Things are slow to come out, and slow to fade as well. It's an exciting time, garden-wise, as the lilacs, spirea and honeysuckles are about to pop. Today I could smell the poplars - even though most of them have died, there must be one or two left. The smell is the best part of them, of course!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gardens are Grand Things

    Spent Friday and part of Saturday out-of-doors, raking out the flower beds (I don't do the lawns, unless there are big sticks. I do pick them up, but otherwise they can sort themselves out). There were a number of surprises hiding under the sticks and leaves of last year. And what a great time for digging - before the cooch grass takes hold for the season. I finally finished putting the railway-tie separators behind the perennial bed in front of the lilacs (this is to prevent the lilacs from moving next door). Now I have some room to move things, and I put in a few foxgloves and a big Shasta daisy which was much too big for its place in the front of another bed. The two roses on the wrought-iron trellis are both alive, thanks be, and I have big hopes for roses on it this summer.

I had to weed under the pink mini rose in that perennial bed - and I discovered that it is not one, but three roses. Probably they were like that in the pot I bought them in. I separated them, anyway, so they're not competing for nutrients and room.

It's a perfect time for transplanting, too, so I hope to move some more roses to the roadside to brighten up the view for passers-by and save the trees from salt damage at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the realignment of the road has somewhat removed the problem of salt damage at the corner - the road is much farther away and so will the salt be - maybe we've had the problem solved for us! I still plan to plant rugosa roses there, though - they will be tough and beautiful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's here at last, and I'm too busy to enjoy it!

Yes, double-digit temperatures and rain today to wash away all that remaining
snow. The garden needs work, but I'm working nights this week, doing training, so I have no free time. I'll take Friday off in lieu, and it looks to be a lovely working-outdoors day. So, no more excuses. The small glimpses I've managed to take show progress from that mass of bulbs planted last fall, and of course there are crocus out, so it should be exciting from now on, garden-wise. I'll have to dig out my garden journal and find out what's what and where!

I'm trying to sneak in a little sock knitting betimes - finished Round 2 of Sock Madness 3 and didn't make the cut, so I can make the new patterns at my leisure from here out. The new pattern is called Talia's Wings, and I'm making it in Sisu Fantasy, from LK Yarns in Halifax. It's a lovely yarn, and I suspect I'm using a slightly too large needle for it, but I'm not going to change now. They'll just be a little less hardy, and I'll have to give them to someone who will take care of them.

We're in the thick of planning for the May long-weekend Irish event. Fred's doing the actual planning, and I'm trying to get some accommodations settled for the crew who will stay at ours. There's the bedroom to be painted, and I think a new bed is needed as well. It needs decent light to see where the plaster is required - and when it's smooth enough to paint - so it's a daytime job as well. This working just eats into my free time something chronic!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter in Halifax!

Just back from Easter with Pat Murphy in Halifax - what a wonderful time! Great dancing and a bit of knitting - I worked a bit on my Tokena socks from SM III but didn't manage to finish - when I got home and could check the web there were 18 finished in my division, and 20 by the morning. Had I been TRULY dedicated, I would have sat up all night finishing, but I was very tired after dancing all weekend. I knit quite successfully in the car on the way over, and on the way home, at least until it got too dark to follow the pattern any more.

We had snow again on the journey. It started at the Cobequid Pass as before. I'm beginning to think that snow will not be out of the question for June - perhaps even July this year! And the ground was covered this morning again. However, from the glimpse I had last night, it looked as though some of the last January stuff had gone over the weekend. It's chilly all week, however, according to prognostications.

The dancing and socializing was grand! We learned a new set called The Boyne set, as well as a couple of others, including one from Inis Oirr. We bought the new book (Apples in Winter) so I am sure that they are in there, and I could look up the names if I had the time. Painting is calling to me - I have to paint K's bedroom. I started before Christmas but got distracted by painting the living room.

While in Halifax, H. and I had a flying visit to LK Yarns - I got some Fleece Artist sock yarn, as well as some Sisu ( recommended by Colleen at the dance workshop, she was making some lovely picot-edged socks in mauve). Fondled lots of other stuff. Forgot to ask about the First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, which I've been seeking. Oh well, I got the owner's card, so I could email her and ask about it. The library has the second one, and I've reserved it. I got a note that it's in, so I must go pick it up. The First has a GORGEOUS lace curtain pattern that I must make. It's very Arts & Crafts - looking, and is called the Rose Leaf design.

Off to get into grubbies and assemble the painting kit! Who cares if it's not gardening weather yet!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Little by little, spring is creeping in.

We had a glorious weekend, weather-wise, and visited friends & had friends visit us, so it was great socially as well. Much rain and sun meant some flooding on Saturday, but it was a complete surprise to return Sunday evening to find the first of the flowerbeds out from under the snow, with exciting green sprigs appearing - muscari, narcissi, and even some of the perennials are peeping up. No sign of the new bulbs yet, but the bed at the corner of the house is almost bare, so there may be shoots soon.
Because of all of the snow cover, we will probably see lots of mice damage - already I spotted a rose which has had all its bark gnawed off. It's not well-protected with spines on the stems (like the Rugosa hybrids) so it was probably a lovely snack. I am hopeful that it will come back from the roots - they often get pruned pretty severely. Fingers crossed.

Because I was away from home, I didn't get the second Sock Madness pattern until Sunday. I got the cuff on the first one done last night (late, as we had some friends over to play music in the evening). It's a colourwork sock, and I usually find them quite fast, so I hope to have some progress to show soon. My version is in dark green and off-white. The pattern is Tokena, based on Maori basketwork, apparently.

About 7 pm, we were outside and there was a huge flight of Canada geese - we think there were literally hundreds. They all landed by the Creek, making a LOT of noise. I took pictures, but they were very far away in order to take in the vast numbers. Inspiring anyway, as well as spring-like. I don't think I've ever seen so many as I have this year.

On Sunday we visited the "hydrogen village", which is really a plant to make hydrogen from wind power (to allow the power to be stored for the future, thus evening out the load). It's being built in North Cape, and we have photos, but it's "technical. Pretty though".* Well, not pretty but really interesting!

*Homage to Local Hero, the best movie EVER.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh to be in England...

EVITA was an acknowledged triumph. Everyone had really good things to say about the music, the dancing, the acting...a spectacular indeed! Those who missed it are asking will it be presented again. Ha! This is live theatre, folks, not a DVD you can stick in the player again and again!

I am quite glad it's over, however, as it was a bit of a strain to go to work all day and then spend four hours in the theatre each night. But who am I to complain? The actors worked on this EVERY WEEKEND since September! They must be truly glad. I'm sure that they are missing it quite a bit, too.

My Sock Madness sock is done and its photo is posted. They go really easy in the first round, I think - 40 people (in each group of 50) go on to the next round. I really couldn't knit at the theatre (despite having a lot of free time) because I had to follow a chart. However, I did finish up a toe backstage one night, and the second sock was much quicker. The afterthought heel was a challenge, but it's good to know one, in case heels have to be replaced again. Grafting 32 stitches at the sole was - interesting. I had lots of time for the second one because - guess? - we had yet another snowstorm, on Monday. Anyway, done and now I'm awaiting the second round pattern, which comes out on Saturday apparently. Because one gets pretty keyed-up, knitting-wise, I had to keep going even after the socks were done, so I finished up Fred's hat and the scarf grew another few centimetres. Winter continues!

No, apparently it's sunny and beautiful out. I may have to go and observe this meterological phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can

This is busy week. I foolishly signed up for Sock Madness III on Ravelry, and the pattern came out on March 19. It has a few curves, and a pattern that has to be watched constantly. The cast-on was OK (German twisted) and then there's an afterthought heel, which is good to know, but hard to do for the first time. I've posted my beginning photo, but I doubt the pair will be done by the end of the week. And many people are done ALREADY. What was I thinking?

And this is Evita week. Rehearsals every night from 5 to 10-ish, then Dress on Wednesday and Opening on Thursday and then Friday and Saturday. It's pretty exciting for everyone, the show moved to the Confederation Centre yesterday, so the run-through (without costumes) was last night, which gave us all a chance to work in the space. There's a LOT of chatting and giggling off-stage, it will be interesting to see how it is tonight. We had lights backstage last night! But none henceforth. Must remember to get my stuff in place early. I also can't speak to Evita backstage because she'll be miked.

We have been continuing with the ballroom dance lessons (with new teachers) and have been having a good time with it. I feel much more like we are actually dancing most of the time - a combo of more experience, better music with a stronger beat, and good teachers. We're waltzing, foxtrotting, jiving and have done a bit of quick-stepping. No tango or Latin yet.

The previously predicted St. Patrick's Day storm has arrived a week late. Schools cancelled, whiteouts, slippery roads and quite a bit of snow. Will it never end?

Friday, March 20, 2009

What I CAN'T do....

I've discovered that I can't knit at the movies. I am in the middle of correcting an amazing number of mistakes in the Palindrome hat I'm making to go with the scarf (photo below). I finished the last of three crossing rows while the lights were on, and then it was nothing but K2 P2 rib for as long as I could go on. It's on a 40 cm. circular needle, so it's just around, and around, and around. Sounds simple.

However, I went adrift at an early point - I kept stopping at particularly gripping points in the action - and then forgetting if I was K-ing or P-ing. It was rarely bright enough to use the screen for illumination, and while I did consider getting out the tiny book light in my bag, I thought it might cause trouble with the other movie patrons, so I resisted.

So now I have many many instances of P1 K2 P2 ribs - even one spot where it looks as though I actually did a M1 or a crossover - or SOMETHING - because there were definitely two stitches where there had been one.

The movie was Watchmen - my sister worked on it, and we usually try to see those ones. It's always a thrill to see her name in the credits - bright yellow on black, this time, and really big on the big screen.

I'm sure the hat will survive. And I think I've learned a lesson.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Time's Marching On and Evita's coming soon!

...but the weather continues dreadful. Minus 14 this morning, and once again the car was reluctant to start - and go - and I was full of fellow-feeling. At least the sun is shining, and the house is always warm when we get home - thanks to those westward-facing windows.

So, all the excitement of March is approaching - St. Pat's of course, with several opportunities for dancing and playing music. There's a parade, too, but it's held on Sunday. We don't usually go, as it ends at St. Dunstan's for Mass. Not exactly non-denominational. And Evita is on at the end of March - the 26, 27 and 28 (She's above there, with Peron, in her "ugly pyjamas"). I picked up tickets yesterday for Fred, he wants to go on Saturday night (as well as Thursday) and there were very few tickets left. Looks like full houses!

And of course March Break! Doesn't mean as much when there aren't any children to plan trips with, but it's still a change in the daily fabric, and usually we can plan - or hope - for an improvement in the weather, once the traditional St. Pat's/March Break snowstorm is over.

I've been having fun with word-play books lately. Cat's Eye Corner is a kids' book, one I would have loved when I was one. I've been reading Percy Jackson books too, but finding them a bit - juvenile and talk-down (I'm reading them because my sister's working on the film version).

And on the adult front, The Stories of English. It's a survey of where the amazing variety comes from in the language, and gives much more credence than is usual to regional dialects (I find myself discussing this a bit with tutors who are determined to eliminate such from the vocabularies of people who have been speaking this way for 50 years!).

I've been knitting too - but also frogging. I made a sock that was just un-wearable, and decided to take it back and re-use the yarn for something else. I got a big batch of Briggs & LIttle yarn and am making Fred a new winter scarf 'n' hat set using the Palindrome pattern - amazing designer figured out how to have cables on both sides. I am also hoping that determinedly continuing with the wool knitting will fool the weather into thinking I actually LIKE all this wintry continuation. But we know differently, don't we?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brrr! It's Freezing!

We've just had a big dose of freezing rain, and now the temperature has dropped, so there's no chance that the ice on the trees will be melting off them anytime soon. It's bad for power lines and the like as well, but I am worried about the trees. We have a young white pine that looks pretty sad at the moment.

I'm at home with the mother of all colds in the head, and looking out at all this ice isn't doing anything for my recovery.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Heritage, Valentines, and Fantasy

We had a splendid time at the Private Lives Ball. The Prince of Wales Ballroom (built 1933) looked surprisingly good, given it's now used as a gym. Plenty of swathed fabric, and lots of minilights over the windows. White tulips in big bowls on the tables, as well as beads and candles. They had put clip-on lights, like little book lights, on the edge of the bowls of tulips so the water was lighted up. I should have taken a picture of that.
There were many pictures taken, however. Here we are dancing. It's a bit dark! We actually won a prize for "Most Improved Dancers". There was lovely free champagne(-like drink), crepes and a chocolate fountain. They pulled it off really well, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We will have to do more of this ballroom stuff, and quickly, before we forget what we know.

As it's Heritage Week, Fred is busy almost every night. We both went to the Heritage Awards on Monday - best award: Chuck and Albert for preserving Acadien culture. They were a hoot. Hugged everyone on the platform, got everyone into the photo, and Chuck wondered aloud: "where his Ipod was?" [two students, winners of the poster contest, were presented with Ipods. Unfortunately the adults had to make do with certificates.] Then last night it was certificates for designated heritage buildings in Summerside. Fred wasn't home until 11:30.

Tonight's just dance class, with maybe a trip to the gym beforehand. It will be nice to dance to straightforward jigs, reels, hornpipes and so on, rather than wondering just what tempo this tune is and what one should dance to it. There were some very good dancers at the ball, of course, so we just watched them when we were unsure!

The rest of Heritage Week in Summerside includes a bean supper tomorrow night (but we're expecting a big snowstorm so that may be cancelled) and the Mayor's Heritage Tea on Friday, I think. I've been to that before now, and it's always a big deal, with folks in costume and everything.

I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately (Judith Marillier's stories of Irish myth and magic) and watching "Doctor Who" as I knit in the evenings. Very strange combo, I know. I am also reading another of Nuala O'Faolain's books, this one the autobiography. So, it's her for the bike at the gym, Marillier's Dark Mirror on CD in the car, and her Child of the Prophecy in book form otherwise. It's just like my knitting - I'm all over the place.

Speaking of which, I'm finally working on Fred's Durrow sweater - I've frogged and ripped the first sleeve a number of times, and I think I'm better off just LOOKING at the photo of the cable than trying to read the chart. I seem to go terribly wrong when I'm following that - I can be absolutely correct, every stitch in the right place, etc., and then on the very next pattern row I have too many stitches in one spot and not enough in another. But K's teal beaded socks are done, and now I must pull up MY socks and get a few things finished - My Teach is still on the first front, E's first kilt hose still in mid-calf, and the Durrow has to be finished before it gets too warm to wear it!

I've been awfully tempted by various vests, however. I have two different sorts of lilac-coloured yarn, one Briggs & Little (2 skeins of Regal, I think), and one Shetland DK (VV find, 4 skeins, 50 g. each). I'm terrified that neither is enough for a vest, though. After all, vests are just like sweaters without sleeves, and sweaters take a LOT of yarn. I have several skirts which would be greatly enhanced with a lilac-coloured vest. How about THAT! Thinking that far ahead is very unusual for me. I usually just choose fabric or yarn I like because of the content or the colour, and worry later about what to wear with!

So, waiting for the next snowstorm (we're actually down to one every two weeks now, instead of one per week.). The piles of snow are unbelieveable! It just hasn't melted since before Christmas. You risk an accident at every corner because visibility is so bad, due to the enormous piles of snow. I usually scorn the idea of "going South" but this looks attractive!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of cutting rugs and dress rehearsals

It was our last ballroom dance class last night. I don't know if we're ready! But we did some dancing around the hall and I actually felt like we were dancing - not just counting out steps and trying to end up on the right spot. My dress is done, and Fred's outfit is ready (we ended up getting a formal at Froggies, complete with another formal shirt). He thinks we should do a dress rehearsal. It's probably a good idea - we need to know if we can actually dance in these outfits. And we need to work out some dance routines for the night of the Ball!

Speaking of dress rehearsals, I've volunteered to be the dresser for Evita when the community theatre group puts it on at the end of March. She has 12 costume changes, and she's on stage almost all the time, so she really needs the help. Apparently she changes in different places in the wings, too, so I need to be in different locations depending on where she comes off, etc. Should be fun.

Knitting content: Working away on the feet of the beaded teal socks. Katie was over for the weekend and was wearing a sweater in the identical teal colour, so it seems like she will be getting the socks. Unfortunately they weren't finished for the return trip.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

I was pleased that the news this morning referenced the movie, as it's always been one of my favourites (despite the presence of Andie MacDowell, which I have always thought was a perfect name for her). I love the double Irish chain quilt, and even have one partly made using similar fabrics from my stash. So, the weather prognostication indeed is calling for 6 more weeks of winter, and I'll be pleased if it's only 6 weeks! It's time I got busy planting some seeds for the garden, to get the spring feeling started for the year, as there's a new storm predicted for tomorrow.

We're busy preparing for the Valentine's Day ball, and I have my dress all but completed - it needs hems (4 in all, underdress, 2 sleeves, and quite yards of it on the bias circle skirt). And we've been dancing, dancing: went to the Ballroom Barn on Saturday night for a lesson in foxtrot - apparently there is more than one kind; and the one we're learning in class isn't the same. Had fun anyway. The teachers seem quite addicted to a sort of line dancing so I don't want to have anything to do with that. Dancing is for dancing together, not in a line, for goodness' sake!

I'm competing with the Sock Knitters' Anonymous on Ravelry in the January Mystery Sock. It's a lovely pattern, and now that I'm past the beaded part, it should go quite quickly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quick Visit followed by a Slow Return

We travelled to Halifax this past weekend to help our daughter move, and while there took the chance to drop in to the Old Triangle Ale House and do a spot of set dancing on Sunday afternoon. It was lovely to dance at speed to Kevin Roach's fiddling, and we did the Clare, the Mazurka and hmmm...the Plain.

Fred did another more obscure one too - the one we learned last Easter, I think, with the squares in it, maybe the Newport Meserts. No, it wasn't - I asked and it was the Antrim Square. It looked lovely. I was at that time sitting with a group of newish knitters who had decided to visit the Triangle with their needles and yarn for a S'n'B. One had knitted a hat for her boyfriend (he thanked her for the yalmulka, so I guess it was a bit small) and was starting a scarf. The others were even more beginner.

They were all very impressed with my diamond sock, and the 1.5 mm bamboo needles it is on. I raved about The Loop yarn shop, just down Barrington St. from us. They had visited, but decided that The Loop was away above them as yet - the beginner patterns they were recommended looked really hard! They were school teachers, and were hoping for a snow day on the morrow.

I think they got it, too - we set out at 5 pm in a flurry and quite a brisk wind, and, after dropping off our daughter, set out for home. Lovely Alister and Cathy, our Halifax hosts, had put up a packed lunch for us, and so we ate and travelled at the same time. Well, we got to the Cobequid Pass fairly easily, but it was white-outs and quite a bit of snow on the roads all the way after that. Was predicted to change to rain but no sign of that while we were on the road.

Luckily we encountered a bunch of homeward-bound Islanders at the Port Elgin rotary and followed them to the Bridge. There was a scary bit when we came upon a group of cars by the side of the road - they were assisting the driver of a snow plough, which had gone off the road and was lying on its side in the field, about 4 metres below the road level.

Once on the Island we debated which route to take to get home - we live on a secondary road, which might not have been plowed - so we took the main route - which still wasn't plowed in spite of it's main-ness - and literally plowed through. As we got nearer we started saying, "well, we could walk from here", and that became more true the farther we got! As it happened we did get to drive all the way, but it was 11 pm when we got home. 6 hours for a 3.5 hour drive.

It was a lovely time anyway, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Try to remember this in July

Man, is it cold! We've gone a couple of years without the -36 windchill and I'd forgotten what it's like - the car was sluggish this morning (at -22) and I thought I would never get the gearshift into neutral so it could sit, idling, for a bit before I had to get in and drive for 20 minutes. However, it was more willing to shift gears later on the drive in.

We are caught up in the excitement of a costume ball! A local theatre is doing a Valentine's Day period ball from the era of the Noel Coward play "Private Lives", set in 1929/30. In addition to the ball, our tickets provide for 6 ballroom dance lessons (in the six weeks leading up to the ball) and assistance with making a ballgown of the period. I've a huge stash of fabric, with 9 different chiffons with glitz, entirely appropriate to the 1929 period. I have just to choose! The 30's bias-cut satins aren't going to do it for me, so I've plumped (pun intended) for the no-waist late flapper look, with a shift in something shiny (I have silver satiny stuff and a red/burgundy taffeta) and some glitzy chiffon to drape over it. I may have to do a couple before I decide.

Fred has his black suit, fresh from the cleaners, and a new formal shirt and black silk bow-tie. Won't we look splendid!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year!

Christmas always lasts and lasts at my house because there are two post-Christmas birthdays (the 10th and the 31st of January) to celebrate. So, even though the Christmas goodies are still not all gone, I made a birthday cake on Saturday. The usual Maritimer's Mint Chocolate Cake, without the mint as Fred's not crazy about it. Good cake, even without - the secret Maritimer's ingredient ensures amazing moistness. No. If you're a Maritimer you'll know what it is. If you're not, you can't know. It's not allowed.

This holiday season's jigsaw puzzle, a 1500-piece Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" (aka: Venus on the Half-Shell), has been hanging on as well - it is a *big* monster. However, we did quite a bit after dinner last night and now only the boring bits are left - mostly water around the shell, and the shell itself. That should be easy, though, because it's very geometric and directional. It should be good to get the dining room table back again.