Yes, I am a weather geek.

I saw a guy on the Weather Network who self identified as a ‘Weather Hobbyist’. I’m not sure where on the ladder that is, but I have a feeling it may be for those more dedicated to all things weather than we mere weather geeks. Technically we live in a temperate rainforest, but you wouldn’t get the rainforest thing right now. In fact, because we are in the shadow of the Olympic mountains, the Victoria area gets a lot less rain than areas near to us. And in the summer we get very little rain. The grass pretty much dries up and turns yellow, waiting for the fall rain. Our ‘city of gardens’ tends to look a wee bit ratty around the edges by mid-summer.

One thing we don’t usually have to deal with is heat and humidity. I say usually because – holy cow! We’re getting it this year. The jet stream has soared way up north, which is pulling hot air from places like Phoenix and sending it our way. At the same time there is a big strong high stalled off the west coast of the island, which is doing two things. All that hot air comes zooming in from the east and piles up against the high, piling heat on heat. The high also prevents lovely cool Pacific breezes from reaching us. And to add to the fun the prevailing wind is blowing from the east instead of the usual western flow.

We’re actually getting humidex readings, and temperature records are falling left right and centre. Last Saturday was when the humidity began to build. It built so much that we actually had a thunderstorm. And probably the most magnificent sunset I’ve ever seen. The storm blew in from the east, and as the sky filled with clouds (and smoke haze from forest fires in the interior) the setting sun filled the entire sky with amazing colours, reflecting back to the east. All while the rain came down. It was quite a sight, changing minute by minute.

The apricot to orange phase:

summer-sky

Followed by the violet phase:

lilac-summer-sky

Every day since has been hotter and hotter. In normal weather we can count on cool night breezes and an nice outflow of cool air from the forest behind us. We’re not seeing big drops in night time temps, which means the house isn’t cooling off. By late afternoon it is 33 or more degrees C outside, and at least that inside. Because our our renovation we’re sleeping downstairs, where it is slightly cooler, which helps.

In honour of all this hot weather we did something the other day. It was a first in our nine years of living on the coast. We actually entered the ocean. Oh yes we did! We drove over to Chalet Beach on the Saanich Inlet. We figured after two weeks of above normal temps and several days of over 30C temps that the water would have warmed up. And sure enough it had.

swimming

Wilf is battling a cold, so he just waded a bit and took pictures. I actually did duck in for a swim, but it was a blink and you’ll miss it kind of thing!

swimming-2

That was Monday, now its Wednesday and I’m thinking a return visit might be in order for a little cooling off!

Reno underway

Wilf and I decided that it was time to do something about the master bathroom. It is a nice big room, with lots of light. Those two big windows do mean that it is pretty chilly in the winter, though. And the tub is too big, the shower too small. We spent the spring researching and interviewing contractors. Just before we went to Montana we signed the contract with MAC renovations. 

The Monday after we returned from Montana they began and we went from:

shower-before

the shower as it was. And after the first day:

shower-during

The tub as it was:

tub-before

and after the first day:

tub-during

Wilf provides a little comic relief:

comic-relief

We’re now at the end of the second week – plumbing roughed in, drywall done, tub enclosure built, electrical roughed in. I think the work begins on the heated floor next week.

Back in the saddle again…

Oops – sorry about that. I stepped away for a bit and forgot to come back. But I do feel like I’ve got my mojo back. I completed the ‘Isotaupe’ quilt top that I was working on in Montana. I’m still thinking about the quilting of it. I swore I was never going to machine quilt another queen sized quilt. But……

I guess all that sewing and time in my sewing room helped me get over that ‘them bones, them bones, them dry dry bones’ feeling. I pulled out a smallish piece that I put together in the spring – it is ready to be quilted and I’m ready to get stitching. I plan to enter it in the Sidney Fine Art show. And other ideas are flowing.

 

Yeah!

Oh, brother

My brother Bill has a Facebook account, but he never uses it, hasn’t even put in a profile picture. Maybe he’s really busy, but I think he’s just shy. In my role as big sister I though I’d help out. I therefore present to you a picture of my youngest brother Bill:

bill

Well, the back end of him, at least. This is from last summer when there was a project under way to get the pumps under the Bigfork house sorted out. He spent a lot of time under the house, for which he should get a gold star (you know, spiders and things) and now things are working as they should.

Now, I wouldn’t want my other brother Mike to feel left out, so I have a picture of him, too:

mike-wilf

This is also from last summer – Wilf on the left, Mike on the right. And, no, they are not trying out for a Captain Morgan’s rum ad. They are building a little inushtuk  I mean inukshuk by the side of the walk. As fast as they build them other people knock them over (why, people) but there is an unlimited supply of building material, so they persevere.

And yes, I recognize that posting pictures of other people’s butts on the Internet leaves me open to retaliatory measures. I have a classic picture of myself back at home – I’ll post it when I get back there – I promise!

Spiffy Biffy!

Last week I told about the latest addition to the river walk above Bigfork – a new outhouse. Much posher than the previous blue porta-potty. What I didn’t know at the time was just how spiffy the new facility is – check this out:

spiffy-biff

Okay – a detail shot –

spiffy-biff-detail

After all – why shouldn’t you be able to stop and work on a crossword along the way?

Here’s a picture of the house:

house

The house faces onto a canal. There is a spit of land, then Flathead Lake itself. We have a nice shady patio beside the house with a great view down the lake:

canal-view

Since I took the picture many more boats have arrived. Ours will arrive later this week to take up its position on the seawall.

Til later!

I’m not ignoring you!

I’m just sewing like a madwoman. I have a quilt laid out on the family room floor – had to move the furniture to make room. My parents arrive Tuesday afternoon. I need to get the blocks assembled and all the chaos put back to order before then. Finished the blocks tonight (made 100 yesterday and today) and began assembling the rows.

Details and pictures to follow. And other adventures to report!

Sock Architecture

I was asked recently about knitting socks, especially about sock knitting a la Cat Bordhi, knitting genius. Her book New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One is full of new ways to knit socks. Yeah, who’d have thought that sock knitting was a subject that merited such thought, scrutiny and discussion. Yet, in Ms Bordhi’s hands socks take all kinds of interesting twists and turns.

Cat presents eight different architectures for knitting socks.Now, socks have toes, and heels and cuffs. And there are lots of ways to make those components. In this book Cat is playing around with how the tube shape of a sock is widened out to allow for the fact that the human foot makes a right angle at the heel. Rather than positioning the increases at the side of the ankles, like most traditional sock designs, she moves the required increases all over the place, allowing for all kinds of tricky and clever designs.
Three of the architectures are for socks constructed from the cuff down, five are for toe up construction. In addition to the eight architectures she throws in an assortment of toe, heel and cuff construction techniques. The book is also full of all kinds of other technical details – increases, short rows, casting on, joining in the round – lots of good stuff.

Well, cute and clever is great, but the real question is – do they fit? I’ve been very pleased with the fit of the socks that I’ve made.

I made one pair, called Ocean Toes (cedar architecture) which is knitted from the cuff down. It is a lace pattern sock. I knit it to pattern specs – it is a bit snug getting it on over the heel, but the snug fit means that the lace opens up nicely when it is worn.

The other socks are all knit from the toes up. The ones I knit for myself are plain stockinette stitch, the ones for Wilf use knit 3, purl 1 rib, which makes them more elastic. One of the advantages of knitting from the toe up is that I can try the sock on once the heel is complete and decide if I need to decrease slightly to narrow the ankles slightly. And then I can try them on again to decide if I need to increase again to allow for – shall we say- curvy calves….

One thing I learned is that both row gauge and stitch gauge are critical to the fit of these socks. I had knit one pair of socks with a stitch gauge of 9 stitches to the inch and a row gauge of 10 rows to the inch. When I went to knit that pattern again with a different yarn I assumed that because I was getting a stitch gauge of 9 stitches to the inch I could just follow my original pattern. Yeah, not so much. Turns out the row gauge for the second yarn was 14 rows to the inch – enough to make a big difference. Row gauge determines where the increases for the foot shaping begin, and ultimately controls the length of the sock. By following a pattern created at 10 rows per inch I was on course to make Wilf a pair of foot binding socks. And he’s a good sport about the sock thing, but even he allowed as they were a little tight. The other clue was the fact that his toes were all curled up. I fixed that!

Okay – enough for now with the sock architecture. Any questions? I’ll answer if I can. And next time around I’ll have pictures from here in Bigfork.

Sunday on the Riverwalk

Once upon a time in Bigfork the road east to the Swan Valley ran along the north side of the Swan River. It was a narrow twisty thing, barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass, and given the drop to the river, there wasn’t much room for error. Eventually a bigger road was built on the south side of the river, and the old road fell into disrepair and was eventually closed. People in the area decided that the road would make a great walking trail, and through time and co-operation of various people, organizations and corporations the trail came to be.

riverwalk-wal

The path begins just above Bigfork and follows the river, which rushes far below. Its a nice, wide, level path, great for people, bikes, horses and dogs. The sound of the river rushing below makes a great backdrop. It is early in the season and there is a lot of water coming down the river – this year’s whitewater festival in May must have been a good one.

riverwalk

Wilf’s spiffy camera with the zoom takes great pictures, but you don’t get an idea of how far below us the water actually is in this shot.

Walking east we eventually come to the dam. The osprey nest by the dam is occupied this year and in this picture you can just see the head of the chick peeping over the sticks. The parents must have been out on food duty – we could hear the chick calling quite away before we got to the nest.

osprey

A new addition this year is a really spiffy new outhouse. It is a great improvement over the bright blue porta-potty that was there in previous years. Stenciled on the door of the ladies side it says ’Charlotte’s Roost’ – perhaps Charlotte is the benefactoress of the new Necessary House?

outhouse

We stopped for a bit beside the lake behind the dam to look for fish. Didn’t see any sign of them, although we saw what might have been a beaver on the other shore. There was an insect hatch going on and Wilf was able to pick several specimens from the branches of the trees, where they were resting after hatching.

hatch

Until later!