Friday, January 28, 2011

After all this time, it happens all in one day!

Today, Friday, January 28, was a red-letter day for me and my little family. 

1.  We officially sold the house in Canada (a bittersweet event).


2.  We had our offer accepted on a lovely home here in Monterey County.

After 3 years, both things happened on the same day.  Ain't life strange?  And wonderful?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Growing your vegetables and Roadside art continued

Here are a few images of the newly sown crops in the fields just outside our subdivision:
I think these guys were working on the irrigation pump.

Just sprouting.

Can't tell what they are yet, but there sure are a lot of them!

This one is six rows wide between the rows where water will flow.  Maybe a different crop?

Roadside Art Continued
And, I have been trying to get some good pictures of the only examples of female field workers painted by John Cerney.  I showed you other photos here.

These ladies are working in the field near Highway 68 along with several of the men.  But they are in a really difficult area to photograph.  These will have to do:

Sorry about the tilted horizon; no earthquakes were occurring at the time of this photo.

If you click on this one to enlarge it, you will see that she has FFA printed on her
jacket - Future Farmers of America.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two-ply handspun cotton

Yesterday I spun up two spindles of the natural brown cotton on the charkha and plied them on my Ashford Joy spinning wheel.  I made a lazy kate from another plastic food storage container to hold the two spindles.  I did not bring a niddy noddy with me, so used the back of a chair to make my skein.

After plying, I simmered the yarn for 1/2 hour to darken the colour.  At first, after taking the yarn out of the water, I thought it was really dark.  But, of  course, it was wet.  When I looked in the morning, the difference was not so great.  And, most yarn looks a bit darker than the roving from which it was spun.

Anyway, here is the two-ply yarn and the roving.  What you can't tell from the photo is how soft the yarn is!

This photo was taken in natural light for the best colour rendering I could get.  Of course your monitor will have an effect as well.

When I got the balls of natural coloured cotton roving/sliver, I thought I had a lot.  But as you can see, the brown cotton is going fast.  Since I want to use this colour for the handspun portion of the weft for the Hippari coat, I will have to order more. I will get it from Cotton Clouds.  They have some lovely brown from Sally Fox, the woman who has made naturally coloured cotton available to us spinners.

I am still sampling on the loom to find just the right pattern and sett.  I have done a sample of plain weave.  Now I will re-sley the reed at a closer sett for a twill sample.  I will have it for you soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dogs across the border

My friend Susan asked if I could describe the process of taking a dog from/into/between the US and Canada.  She and her husband lost their lovely old boy, Connor, recently.  They are going to get a new puppy from a breeder in the US.

I rescued Daphne from a shelter in Washington State when she was about a year old.  After the woman in charge of the shelter checked me out thoroughly - references and everything - we arranged for me to pick up Daphne.  Because they are a small shelter in a small town in eastern Washington, they sometimes have volunteers take dogs over to Seattle where the dogs are more likely to get adopted.  So they arranged to have Daphne brought to Seattle for me.

I was told to meet the driver in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen outside of Seattle.  Daphne would have all of her health and vaccination records with her.  So, when a grey pickup drove into the parking lot, I went over to see if they had my dog.  She was in a crate in the back.  They gave me her papers, we opened the crate.  I put a leash on her and said "Hi Daphne; let's go for a walk!"

And that's how I met my dog.

Every time I take Daphne across the border, I bring her vet records to prove that her shots are up to date and that she is healthy.  That is a requirement, I am told.  But no officer at the border has ever asked to see them.  Still, I would be sure to have them.

Susan, as you are getting your dog from a reputable breeder, I am sure they will give you copies of your puppy's records and anything else that you might need at the border.  And you can begin your adventures with your new puppy!  Connor can watch you from doggie heaven and be glad that you are happy.


Yesterday B suggested that I call the police about the fireworks as there were more of the loud bangs, putting Daphne back into high anxiety.

Apparently what we are hearing is not fireworks.  It is the field workers using some kind of pop gun (or blanks - I didn't get details) to scare away the birds from the newly planted fields just outside the subdivision.

That's the clarification/correction.  Now for the apology.  I woke up this morning hearing what I had written about a certain group of people and fireworks.  I apologize for any offence I might have caused.  I doubt that I offended many people, because there are probably less than 10 people who read this blog.  Nevertheless, I feel better now that I have omitted the offending statement from the previous blog.  My bad!

"How did she get out?"

Well, Bruce and I were gone for a good part of the day, from about 10:30 until I got home about 3pm.  I drove Bruce to pick up his car from the shop.  But our story starts before I actually arrive in our driveway.  As I am approaching the road to our house, my phone rings - in my purse in the back seat.  Bruce was in the passenger seat earlier, so I had put my purse in the back.

So I pull over and get my phone.  I click to call back the last number, assuming it is Bruce.  But it is a young man who says "Is this Daphne?"  I say "You must have the wrong number."  He says "I have this dog here..."  I say "You have my dog?  Where are you?"

When we left the house, Daphne was inside.  How could she now be with someone else?

The young man guides me toward where he is, about 5 blocks from the house.  I drive around the corner and there he is, holding Daphne by the collar.  She is wet (it has been sprinkling) and her legs are muddy.  As I get out and open the door for Daph to get in, I am still repeating to myself "How did she get out of the house?"

As we park on the street in front of our house, I see my neighbors on both sides out and talking to each other.  The gentleman who lives to the left, the grandfather of the little dog who barks at us, tries to explain what had happened, but I can't understand him.  I ask the woman who lives on the right.  She say that he saw Daphne out and tried to put her back in the yard, but she just got out again.  She then says something that clears up a lot for me "Some boys were throwing firecrackers."

We have had trouble with Daphne's fear of unusual noises ever since I arrived here.  In Canada, she was terrified of thunder and lightning, but fireworks were rare. 
We got her a Thundershirt (learn more here) which does help to calm her.  I have had to put the shirt on many nights (it usually happens at night, maybe because the house is so quiet) because of the alarm system going off or sounds from the outside, sometimes something I can't even hear.  Once the shirt is on, Daphne will calm down and sleep if I sleep on the couch near her.

Daphne in her Thundershirt, very tired after all the excitement.

OK, now I go inside to answer that question: "How did she get out?"  We have a folding screen just inside the front door because there is no real entry.  That is on the floor.  The old, brittle venetian blinds in the spare room and Bruce's office are mangled and twisted.

The one in the guest room is on the floor.  While it doesn't appear that any computers have been damaged, the cactus plant is knocked over and some small stuff is on the floor.

I still haven't answered the question.  I go back into the living room and notice that the little cat opening in the window there is wide open now.  (Bruce made a little cat enclosure outside that the cats access through the window.)  OK, so she got into the "catio"; then what?

She tore her way through the door into the "catio".  That is how she got into the back yard.  After checking to see if both cats are still in the house: "Thank God!"  I close the window and walk around to the other side yard and see where she dug at the gate until it came unlatched.

So, she pushed away the board closing off most of the window opening, climbed up and out the window, jumping down about 5 feet.  Then she frantically clawed at the wood frame of the door and the chicken wire covering the door until the wood broke and she could push her way out.  She ran around the house and began clawing and jumping up on the gate until she got it unlatched.

But things were probably no better when she got out.  Don't know if she was close to the boys with the firecrackers.  I sure hope they didn't throw any at her!

The good news: 
1)  The cats are home and fine.
2)  Daphne is home and more calm now that she has her Thundershirt on.  She is not injured - amazing!
3)  None of Bruce's computers are damaged.  One of the little legs on my keyboard is broken - that's ok.
4)  My camera is fine (as you can see from the pictures above) even though it was knocked from the table to the floor and the lens cap came off.

The bad news:
1)  This experience can only have made Daphne's fears worse.
2)  Husband is put out - feels that there is something very wrong with such a dog.  This is a shame as they had been bonding so well...

1)  I have made an appointment with Dr Kocher, my favorite vet from when I lived here before, for the day after tomorrow to consult with him about options (doggie valium?,  doggie antidepressants?, crate her? or what?)

Other possible outcomes - we shall see.  I wouldn't be surprised if I spent another night on the couch...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Placemats are Finally Finished!

I got very disappointed in the stitch quality of the Canadian Singer machine I brought with me.  It clearly needs a full tune-up.  So I didn't do any more quilting on the placemats I started earlier until I got my lovely little Singer Featherweight.

So now I can show you the results:

Each of the sewing machines has strong points.  The Canadian Singer has the ablity to drop the feed dogs so you can do free motion quilting.   However, as I mentioned, the stitch regulator is not working well on that machine.

The Featherweight is, as the name implies, much lighter and more portable.  But it does not have the capacity to drop the feed dogs.  The generic walking foot and free motion foot that I bought fit both machines.  Hooray!  One can do free motion by putting a piece of plastic over the feed dogs, but I have never done that.  And my free motion experience is limited and rusty from lack of practice.

So I decided, for this project, to stick to the walking foot and straight lines.  Here are some close ups of different stitching patterns.  In some you may be able to see some awful stitching in the ditch with varying stitch lengths (mostly very tiny) that happened when I tried to use the Canadian machine - no slight against that machine - it just needs a tune up.

Stitching around the star.  Even my stitch-in-the-ditch needs lots of work!

Just a thread-stitched star.

I like this one and it was very easy!

All in all, I am glad I made them.  But now I think I have put too much work into them to use as placemats!  I definitely want to do more with this idea of liberated quilting.  It definitely fits my style.  And I need to do lots of practice with free motion quilting, maybe on my more modern machine.  I am still lusting after a new Bernina, but that will have to wait until we are in just one house, with just one mortgage.

I need to get lots of practice with free motion to see if I really want to spend almost $1,000 on the Bernina stitch regulator feature!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Boy do I wish I had a real action photo to go with this post!  But it all happened too fast.  (Never fear; all is well.)

Since we have been here, Daphne has been giving in to the urge to chase cats.  I have had to wrestle her away from yards with a cat in them.  I will have to do the same "proofing" with her that I did for the rabbits in Cobble Hill.  She is always on leash when we walk through neighborhoods, so the cats always get away.  Then I have to get Daphne calmed down again so we can continue our walk.

Well, we went walking in a new (to us) neighborhood here in Gonzales this morning.  She did see two cats in a yard before I did, but as usual, the cats ran away hissing and puffed up.

Later in the walk, Daph did what she so often does and stuck her nose in a bush (with no indication that this was any different than any other bush).  Suddenly she backed out with a yellow cat stuck to her face!  At first I thought she was biting the cat.  Quite the contrary, the cat was wrapped around her muzzle and holding on for dear life.

In the blink of an eye the cat was gone and I was giving Daph a real scolding - still reacting to the attack that I thought she had made on the cat.  She had no injuries, not even a tiny scratch.  I believe that the cat was unharmed as well.  I don't know whether this will teach her any kind of lesson:

I shouldn't chase cats; they cling like velcro to my face.
Boy!  Chasing cats is more fun than ever.
Bushes just got a lot more dangerous!  This is a really strange neighborhood.

She is now sleeping on the futon like nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Roadside Art

In my drives up and down the west coast, I have encountered several different examples of roadside art.  My favorite is the larger than life "giant cut-out art" of John Cerney around the Salinas Valley.  Today I took pictures of several examples.

This is one of the newest, I think.  It is on Highway 101 north of Gonzales.
Click to enlarge, use back button to return.
This is the only one I have seen with an animal in it.  And this one has a clear owner - Dole.

It is not easy to get good photos of these, as they are meant to be viewed from your car as you are driving by.  I pulled off to the side of the highway to get these photos.  101 is a very busy highway and the cars go well over 60 miles (100 K) per hour. 

The rest that I took photos of today are at the south end of Salinas, near the intersection of Highway 68 (which leads from Salinas to Monterey) and River Road.  Here I got a few honks and stares as I parked along the off ramp.

Isn't this guy lovely?  He is really tall, like most of them.  The fence is 5 or 6 feet tall.  I was able to pull off the road right next to him.

The background to all of the figures is the fields of the Salinas Valley. 
This one was taken from inside my car.

To learn more about John Cerney and to see him working on the figures in this last photo, visit