Texas summertime

Trainer Leslie, who also used to live in Texas, forwarded me this. Considering the week we had (highs of 102, 105, and 106), it was especially appropriate.

Dear Diary
June 1 : Just moved to Texas ! Now this is a state that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. It is beautiful. I've finally found my home. I love it here.
June 14th : Really heating up. Got to 100 today . Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I'm turning into a sun worshipper.
June 30th : Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today . Lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today , but I love it here.
July 10th : The temperature hasn't been below 100 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least, it's kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.
July 15th : Fell asleep by the community pool. (Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body). Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.
July 20th : I missed Lomita (my cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car at noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag, then popped like a water balloon. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol' Mr. Sun strikes again.
July 25th : The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!! And it's hot as fire. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.
July 30th : Been sleeping outside on the patio for 3 nights now, $225,000 house and I can't even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever come here?
Aug. 4th : It's 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today . It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid state.
Aug. 8th : If another wise ass cracks, "Hot enough for you today?" I'm going to strangle him. Lots of heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!
Aug. 9th : Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and when sat on the seats in the car, I thought I was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried a**, and baked cat.
Aug 10th : The weather report might as well be a recording. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. It's been too hot to do anything for 2 long months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn't it ever rain in this state? Water rationing will be next, so my $1700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over. Even the cactus can't live in this heat.
Aug. 14th : Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 today . Cactus are dead. Forgot to crack the window and blew the windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and guess what he asked me??? "Hot enough for you today?" My sister had to spend $1,500 to bail me out of jail. Freaking Texas. What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here?? Will write later to let you know how the trial goes.

Ha! At the barn, we were wailing "Lomita is the lucky one!" at each other all week. The heat wave finally broke yesterday. Tonight Willow wanted to be kinda witchy at first, so I booted her forward in trot and canter for awhile, and then she offered up a super working trot, big and floaty. We have a lesson on Sunday -- maybe trainer Leslie will be impressed!


I got my Rauma books from Denise’s Needleworks last week, and right away decided what to knit first:Damestrompe

Yesterday I went to a LYS’ anniversary sale, and found black and white Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. The pattern calls for a tension of 34-35 stitches over 4 inches in pattern, on a 2mm needle.

I swatched, and…want to see what 12 stitches to the inch looks like?



So I’m going up a few needle sizes – I’ll probably settle somewhere around a 2.75 or 3mm needle. I don’t think the yarn would work well on anything bigger. I might have to change yarns, but I devoutly hope not.

Also bought a Rowan knitting bag (my first ever REAL knitting bag) at the sale – half price at $41.


The inside is gratifyingly large – I could easily put a complete, full-sized sweater project in here, plus a couple of pairs of socks and some carding. Score!


Lastly, my total output on the Shetland so far…


I’m pleased with my progress, though I wish I had spun the white a bit more consistently. I’m not sure what I did differently – I think one of the colours has more twist in the single than the other colour, but I am not totally sure which. I like the feel of the grey much better than the white – the white’s a bit ropy and the plies aren’t hugging together as well as I’d like them to. Maybe I should have added more twist while plying?

Little Artists

My girls have always loved to colour-in and draw (and cut & paste, and paint, and play with play dough, and draw with chalk etc.....) but over the recent school holidays they became extra-prolific. I have chose a few of my favourites to share.

This is Ducky's mermaid drawing inspired by the Barbie movie "Mermaidia". Look closely at the mermaid on the far right of the photo swimming UP the waterfall, just like Elina did in "Mermaidia." She has written "The Flower Mermaids. To MUM, hope your cold stops from Ducky."Mousie was so inspired by Ducky's lovely drawing that she did her own version of a mermaid scene a couple days later. I particularly like the wave splashing up against the rock.Ducky also drew this wonderful picture of Pocahontas in the forest, and wrote "To Mum I hope your cold is a bit better from Ducky." There is a flying duck in this picture too. (Just as well is wasn't hunting season!)
And not to be outdone, Mousie decided to do a Pocahontas drawing too. Hers has lots of little birdies flying around. Cute! She even tried to write "Pocahontas" herself.

Kitcat always present her drawings to me with the words "Now you have to close your eyes Mummy."
Which I do.
Then she whips out her drawing from behind her back and says "Da-da! Open!"
So I open my mouth, and she giggles and says "NO Mummy!! Open your EYES."
So I open my eyes and exclaim over whatever wonderful masterpiece she is currently holding so close to my face that I can't focus on it properly.

This day she told me she had drawn a picture of her toy cat - I'm sure you can see the resemblance ...... well, it definitely has a tail at least! And two eyes.And what do you think Kitcat has drawn in this picture? Well, it's a fairy of course - can't you see all the fairy dust floating around in the air?

And last - it was such a nice surprise to walk outside one day, after the girls had been drawing on the cement with chalk, and find this lovely message by Ducky.
"I love my mum. She is nice."


There's an old joke that goes something like this ....

When Mary, Kate, Sue and Pam go out together for dinner and a movie they call each other Mary, Kate, Sue and Pam. When John, Fred, Bill and Sam go out together for dinner and a movie they call each other Loops, Buzz, Rocky and Gismo. It's a bloke thing.

Dragon has a large group of school friends. Over the course of the past few weeks I decided to jot down their names as he mentions them.

King Damo

And what do you think his friends call him?

Juicebox, or Juice for short. Even the teachers call him this. No one knows why. When I asked him where the nicknames came from he shrugged and mumbled something about they just decided to make them up one lunchtime, for no particular reason. (Except Shorty who is actually quite short.)

And don't you like Dragon's artistic efforts? I was impressed, especially seeing as he usually insists that he does not enjoy art at school. This was the work of a few of those 'enforced creativeness' sessions.

I wanna be a derby girl

Saturday night I went to my first-ever roller derby. It was fantastic! I knew nothing about roller derby beforehand except vague memories of watching Xanadu when I was little. And I'm not even sure that was roller derby. Anyway, luckily for me they explained the rules beforehand. Basically there's a pack of eight skaters, four from each team, and one jammer from each team coming up behind. The jammers try to get through the pack to earn points. The pack tries to hinder the opposing team's jammer and help their own team's jammer. They all go really fast, slam into each other a lot, and fall down violently every so often.

The teams each have a theme. Here are the Andromedolls during introductions, shooting the crowd with their laser guns:

Derby girls get to have rockin' derby girl names, like Reign of Tara, Assista Suicide, Rex Havoc, and Turnin' Trixie. I think my derby girl name would be Auntie Maim. I'd probably need to get some tattoos.

It's really, really, really hot. 100 degrees every day this week, maybe cooling down on Friday. I think I'm going to reschedule my Thursday lesson. I waited until late last night to ride, and it was still over 90. Living in Oregon, the horses aren't really conditioned for this kind of heat (not to mention the riders), so I don't want to overdo it.

So, I've been really happy that Willow is mostly off my hand. But something still seemed to be missing, and I finally figured out that she's still holding the bit, which means she still has tension in the jaw. So I've been working on getting her to let go. At least now it's a lot easier to play and twiddle with my fingers -- it wasn't easy when I had fifty pounds in my hands! The last few rides I've gotten her to start to chew. It's more nervous chomping at the moment, but it's a start.

El Fruitablo

Elizabeth, at the end of this post I respond to your question about the Easter dress.
And another one's gone
and another one's down...

Weeks just keep flowing by and I barely notice.

Work continues on the Shetland project: I have finished all the washing and am carding and spinning. I've done two skeins of grey (showed you that before) and two skeins of white.

The white fleece, which I have the most of, was the dirtiest one of all. In the words of my shepherd boy, "She's a real pig." This ewe rolls in anything she finds, and the day before she was shorn, got into the woodchip pile and wriggled down deep. Have a gander at her fleece, soaking in the tub:

and this is what the water looked like afterwards (three washes like this, then two rinses, gets most of it out):

The dirt isn't the problem though - the woodchips and grass seed are the problem. There's only one way to remove that: card, card, and then card again. When you're done carding, card it a few more times. Couple more times through the carders for good measure, keeping your tweezers handy to pick out more grass seed, and then give up and roll it into a rolag. What you didn't get out in the washing and carding, you have to pick out as you spin the singles.

I borrowed this little sweetie from the guild the other day: it's not as helpful as I thought it would be though. Turns out wool is like bread: if you want it done right, you have to finish by hand.

Spinning outside is lovely nowadays, but I have to get out there early - by 10:30 the shade is mostly gone from the back garden, and I need shade: it is hot. 42 today (109.4). Hot enough, as Auntie Bina says, to make the tongue of a crow hang out.

The garden has bloomed


and gone to seed

These pictures will get bigger if you click on them.

As hot as it is, though, these little dudes don't seem bothered by it. They're the only ones hard at it, in the scorching sun. Talk about a work ethic.
Notice that the children have stripped my lavandula angustifolia Hidcote - they were making potions last week and had to use the better part of six lavender plants' worth of blooms, to create an effective curse. I didn't ask what they were cursing - it sounded like the answer might be "The neighbour's house" and I wanted to be sure of plausible deniability, later. In the event that they turn out to be unexpectedly good at hexes, though, with that much lavender I imagine the effect won't be anything more ominous than a sudden lassitude followed by fits of remarkably soothing narcolepsy.

And maybe softer skin.

The shade garden is doing fairly well - thanks Rona for the Lady's Mantle. The best part about alchemilla vulgaris is the way it looks after you've watered. Not that you can tell - in this weather the water is mostly gone within minutes.

Lastly, here's my beautiful, chilled dinner - isn't it lovely?

I have no idea what the other people who live here will be eating: I suspect I'll have to turn a burner on at some point, but only when I'm forced to.


In response to Elizabeth's question on the Easter Dress post:

I suspect the pattern piece you're trying to lay out is supposed to be cut on a single layer. Double-check that, and if it still doesn't fit, cut two and seam them together. The skirt is just a huge square (rectangle?) anyway, so it won't affect the fit. Just try to make sure the seam lands on a side, and matches with the side seam of the bodice when sewn. It IS possible that the dress is designed for 60" fabric only, and that your one particular piece won't fit on a 44" fabric, if that's what you have. Sometimes that happens - it just means you seam the piece and have to buy a little extra. Good luck! If you have any questions, ask me again. Maybe email me at the address in the sidebar, so I know how to get in touch.

Random Photos

This post is a collection of random photos from the past 2 months.

First, a couple action shots - Dragon playing basketball.Kitcat swinging - she can swing herself really well (and really high!) now.Nano and Grandpap came for a weekend visit mid-July. Kitcat made sure she got her share of Grandpap's cuddles.This mother kangaroo hopped up our street. She was carrying a large joey in her pouch. We were trying to be quiet and take photos when a car came down the hill and scared her. She hopped away at top speed. It was painful to watch her jump with that load. Reminded me of the last stages of pregnancy (not that I did any jumping or hopping when I was that huge!)Ducky set up Bird School at our kitchen table one morning - three ducks, a pelican and a penguin. See, they all have their work to do. (Not sure how they will hold their pencils though.)Kitcat was very proud of this colouring-in which she took her time and completed very carefully. Lately she has been more interested in drawing pictures, but this was from her colouring era.All the girls had fun decorating gingerbread cookies one Sunday afternoon, but Kitcat took a lot of extra time to make hers look really special. (I think Possum took the 'after' photos and will post them on her blog one day.) They were really too pretty to eat, but we ate them anyway.All the children were watching a DVD one cold, windy afternoon. Must have been a pretty boring movie.Mousie put her special flower tiara on Possum one day while she was doing homework at the computer. Doesn't she look pretty?Teddy was interested in HB's trombone music one afternoon (you can see her black eye in this photo if you look hard). This was when HB was going over the alto part for the Berlioz symphony which the CSO performed a while ago.Would you believe that just a week after that black eye healed she suffered an injury to the other eye!?! She walked behind the swing, which wouldn't have been so bad if Kitcat hadn't been swinging very high on it (like on the second photo of this post!). The edge of the swing caught her right across her left eye.And here's a fun school holiday activity which kept my Half-dozen + friends busy for a whole half an hour (and quiet too!)Give them all two milk arrowroot biscuits, some leftover chocolate icing from Possum's Birthday cake, and let them loose with some fancy sprinkles .... biscuit decorating is fun! (Even Dragon got in on the act - there was no way he was going to miss out on some sugar!) If you look closely at the top middle picture you can see I did have some healthy fruit on the table too, and they did eat it all! These children are like a swarm of hungry locusts during school holidays!

Deua River

On the afternoon of Sunday 12th July HB decided we needed to go for a drive. We ended up here - Deua River National Park. To get to the river you have to walk down these very steep rocky steps.Here it is, or at least a small, picturesque section of it. HB, Possum, Dragon and Ducky camped here back in 2006. HB said the water was much higher then.As always, trying to keep the children dry was a challenge. They are all attracted to water especially Teddy. We did manage to get away with nothing worse than some soggy toes and splashed clothes.Here's Dragon continuing his modelling career.But throwing rocks and skimming stones is much more his style. One of his stones skimmed 9 times. Another one skipped so far on it's first jump that it hit a tree on the opposite bank.Ducky found this log covered with an interesting type of fungus.Here it is up close. It was furry.We started to walk back to the car. These ferns and saplings were growing abundantly on the steep hill.And then I had to walk back up those steep rocky steps.

Do as I do.

Dear Mum and Dad:

Forty years ago you made promises to each other that you didn't know the meaning of. Marriages are made too early in a life: people make vows too young, and they move into life together with the glittery dust of youthful love in their eyes. A lot of the time, when the hardships of life together have wiped most of it away, there are plenty of excuses to forsake those promises.

You, together, have chosen to stand by your word. In spite of every little - and not so little - reason you might have found not to, you decided to keep your vows.

We, your children, have had before us an example of excellence, of perseverence, of love and determined joy, found in all the years we have watched you live, work, fight, love and endure, together.

Thank you for showing us what you have shown, for equipping us for our own marriages and the raising of our children.

We love you, as you love us and each other.

Happy anniversary.

Teddy's Strange Little Ways

Most of the time my little Teddy appears to be a very ordinary little girl who does all the normal things little girls do.Okay, maybe submerging as much of her body as possible in a bubble bath isn't an entirely normal 'little girl' activity, but jumping up high on the trampoline certainly is.
Hanging her toys from the base of the top bunk is rather typical Teddy behaviour, see here and here for some examples.Even Angel Teddy is not spared - Teddy hung her up by her wings!There are times, though, when I wonder what's going on in that little mind of hers. Such as when I asked her to put away all her shoes. Her answer was "Okay, but Laurie-Bear has to help me."Laurie-Bear obviously has as much understanding of the words 'put away' as Teddy does. They both must think 'put away' is some sort of code for 'fashion parade.'Teddy's interest in dressing all the dolls and soft toys has not diminished. Mousie's special Yellow Mouse was found to be wearing one of Baby Fred's outfits.And Kitcat's Miow-Miow was fitted out in swimwear. I think it would be interesting to watch the swimming technique of a blankie. But notice a new trend in Teddy's fashion style - the hairclip. (On Miow-Miow's ear.) Teddy is also becoming more obsessed with creating hair-dos.Ever wondered how you would do a puppy's 'hair'? Now you know..... But then there are the really strange things Teddy does. I was bathing Kitcat one evening. I opened the door and found a herd of inquisitive Little Ponies standing on the threshold. Why were they there? Teddy had set them up "...because they were waiting for their bath." Well, of course! Who wouldn't be expecting a herd of ponies to show up at bathtime?Then there was the time we were playing with the percussion instruments. Teddy's Baby Jo and Puppy had to have a tambourine each, but after a few songs Teddy commented that she didn't think her toys were having fun with the instruments because they weren't playing. I have to admit they don't look terribly excited.And when big sister leaves her skates in the family room what would you do? Wouldn't you let your baby doll have a go? Well, Teddy obviously would. (Make sure she has a helmet next time, Teddy.)I think my all-time favourite excuse that any of my children have ever given me was this:-

Mum - Teddy, why haven't you packed away all your toys yet?
Teddy - The horsie is taking a long time to climb into the toy box.Teddy, you are a very special, unique little girl and we love you!