September 27, 2013

To the Sea

In about ten days, I will, once again, be off to Nova Scotia, so I thought I'd try posting on my iPad to see how it works. I'm not sure how good the pics will be, but from a few places I should have a chance to post.

It's hard to know what to pack. The weather can be so fickle this time of year. I know I'll need a light jacket, but I may need a heavier one too. Usually, I forget something or other, so this time around I'll make a list, although I prefer using my memory. Besides, if I forget something, I will live without it, or run to the nearest store, since, regrettably, I won't be in the hinterland.

I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends. And O, yes, and who can forget the woods and the sea!  While I'm flying over the woods, long before the flight touches down, I can always smell the sea. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

September 24, 2013

Wool ~ A Natural Wonder

Over the past few years, I've been re-discovering wool. That's not to say, because I was only knitting sporadically over several years, that wool wasn't a part of my everyday life. There's always been, thankfully, a wool coat in the closet along with a few wool sweaters some now (who knows what happens to cause this) too itchy--but too beautiful to part with, and from the Precambrian era, my knitted Fair Isle sweater.

Flame-resistant, breathable, acclimatizing, insulating, durable, will absorb nearly half its weight in moisture without feeling wet, natural, renewable, and biodegradable are some of the qualities of wool. In other words, if you knit a garment that you can't stand, are too stubborn to frog, or, better yet, have worn it until it's threadbare, you can grab a shovel, therapeutically rip it to shreds and dig it into the garden. As an added bonus, the wool might also fertilize your prize tomatoes.

These days I have a few knitting projects on the needles. Are serial projects a personality trait, or a necessity? Consider if you will a yarn shortage, or a simple project to carry about, or the epic gauge fail that I suffered last week.(How? The swatch was perfect. A gremlin in the mix--perhaps.) Also, languishing in the dark my mini fox. I've tried a few times to make its face, but it always turns out a little askew. (A tiny bit of white yarn in a sport weight will do.) Since we do not have a yarn shop in town, it`s either mail order or a trip to the city. (I've forgotten it a few times.) Given these variables, in my case, serial projects are a necessity.

Also on the needles: socks, a purse ( gauge fail I spoke about earlier), and fingerless mitts.

I rarely sit down to knit without first making a cup of tea. On the needles, the Darjeeling shawl. Unfortunately, the cup isn't full of Darjeeling tea. 
In an earlier post, someone asked what substance was used to dye the wool to the right. Since I was recently in the village for a walk, I found out that it's Brazilwood with tin and oxalic acid. The hank to the far right would, I've been told, be from a second/or third dipping ~ really?

Original post
Short a few yards.
I made this Fair Isle sweater years ago. I didn't have a clue about colour work. I've filed it under beginner's luck. The great news: it still fits!

September 17, 2013

One for the Show

I went to see The Butler on Sunday and to my surprise I was the only one in the theater. Spooky? Yes and no. The good news: I chose the best seat in the house--smack dab in the middle. I settled down, but soon felt the grip of unease. Was there a  severe weather warning in effect that I had inadvertently missed? For a moment, I considered running out of there and heading for the hills.

Just when I was falling into a grandiose reverie about a private viewing, a young woman walked in, looked up at me with a puzzled look, sat down and pulled out an ipad, which, thankfully, she kept, because of its brash light, hidden from view. Later, a man stumbled in, looked around like the newly forlorn, and took a seat a few rows up from the young woman. I remained alone in my lofty perch.

Presently, the young lady got up and sauntered out, clearly distressed by the subject matter. Later, the man also succumbed, so I was, once again, left alone to ponder my fate.

 In the movie, Oprah portrayed the wife of the butler. She, apparently, can act, and act she did. In her role as wife and mother she covered a range of emotions that were flawlessly rendered. It was a great performance!

The movie was difficult to watch. It's based on a turbulent historical time that needs airing. My hope is that this movie will promote unity and re-ignite compassion and a sense of justice that makes the world a better place in which to live.

(For the record, it was a strange day--cold and wet and the streets were almost deserted.)

September 10, 2013

Barking Up the Right Tree

Two of my favourite things: old houses and old trees--huge deciduous trees that is, although evergreens are beautiful too, especially blue spruce. Old houses usually sport unique features--perhaps a large play room with a small door entrance, or cellar walls packed with huge hand wrought rolled stone, or a separate dressing room for the lady of the house. And if you are lucky, you might be able to explore an attic filled to the brim with treasures such as a round cylinder phonograph, or record player, complete with purple records that I once found.

After moving back to the "south" from northern Canada--above the Arctic Circle, that is, where black spruce, stunted willows, and tundra reign [ the tundra is beautiful], although I've always admired deciduous trees, that admiration, has intensified.

Over the past few weeks, I noticed that the tops of many of the trees have been kissed by the blush of autumn. There's an oak tree about two miles from here that turns a gorgeous yellow orange in the fall. I don't have a picture of it, but it`s still ripe in my mind's eye. Last year, the rains got to it before I could. Hopefully, this year I will be successful.

Onward for a small tour..

One of the oldest houses in Ontario. The Sir John Johnson House. 

The view from the back door of the old house. I think this is a butternut tree. If you know for sure, please let me know. To the left there was once a sawmill.

A bird's eye view of the Butternut Tree--well almost. It's stunningly beautiful! Soon it will be vividly dressed in autumn's "black tie."
Today it's stone counter tops, but I bet, back then, an ice house like this one was an item that  householders coveted. 
I thought Robert Frost said, ``Good fences make good neighbors.``

The blush in the top of the trees that I spoke about earlier. I took this picture the second week in August, so early indeed.

September 05, 2013

Spotlight on Brodsky

 There are several great Russian poets, and although his life was short, Joseph Brodsky ranks among them. For many years, Brodsky lived under the scrutiny of the Soviet regime; a force that kept a keen eye on writers with a mind of their own, and although the regime did everything in their power to silence him, he would not be silent. Under the gun of public opinion, and in a final attempt to break his spirit, the regime expelled Brodsky from the country in 1972.

 One can only begin to imagine what it would be like to live under such intensive scrutiny, to be bullied, oppressed and jailed for your thoughts and words in the bleakest of environments and endure hard labour only to be expelled, at a later date, from home and country. What would it be like to be disenfranchised-- landless, like a great albatross always on the wing? What is left behind? What can be taken? These are not easy ideas or questions to ponder, but if you have read or are considering reading Brodsky's poetry and essays you know, or will soon discover, that much is given.
This series of essays was the beginning of my love affair with Joseph Brodsky. It has traveled with me across Canada a few times.
From the picture, you can sense Joseph Brodsky's resolve and strength of character. These collected poems [I'll read a few each night before turning out the light] are the candle that will, once again, light my way through a dark winter...
The book--blown glass in whose reflection the reader is given a glimpse of the man who wrote it, and, in no small way, the book also reflects the light and beauty of Venice.

It's interesting that I could only frame the book of poetry. The other two books bent out of shape when I tried to frame them much like Joseph Brodsky who refused to be manipulated, silenced, or suppressed, and who, subject to totalitarianism, continued to risk all to ignite the spark of justice. 

 "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." Joseph Brodsky

I wish I could speak Russian; it sounds, especially in  Brodsky's poetical voice, so beautiful....

Brodsky's English speaking voice also sings from the well of his soul.  In the following interview, Brodsky reads a few of his poems in English.

Enjoy the weekend...
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