Monday, October 27, 2008

Hi All!

Wow, I've been absent for quite a while now! The last few months have been busy with camping, kayaking, work, life. Haven't been blogging...shame on me. Blogging seems to come to me "in fits and starts." I've actually thought about just stopping, but came to the conclusion that I'll just post when I can and hopefully you'll still be here to see!

I have recently taught myself to crochet. I have always been drawn to knitting and never really liked the look of crochet. I remember seeing my grandmother crochet afghans, and true to the 'granny' squares she was making, I've always had the idea that crochet looks very granny-ish. But something changed my mind.

I was looking for a pattern for a knit animal to make as a present for a friend. I search online and though there are quite a few, the ones that were the cutest (which was the goal in this case!) were the crocheted Amigurumi. These are small crocheted toys with origins in Japan and tend to have the low, wide set eyes and overly cute features seen in a lot of Japanese pop culture (think Hello Kitty...).

So I taught myself to crochet and it was really just to make some Amigurumi and that's it. I don't think I'll use it for anything else, but I will use it quite a bit for making these cute little toys.

I did end up making a penguin. The pattern was taken from Ana Paula Rimoli's book, "Amigurumi World." (You can see what the penguin looks like in the upper right hand corner of the book cover)

After that I got a little more ambitious and made a bigger toy, an Amineko (toy cat) from a Japanese designer. He is a present for my Mom for her birthday and is winging his way (via the USPS) to her as I type this. I thought I'd share a couple of pics so you could see what I've been up to.

Hope all is well with everyone and I hope to be posting again soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not much knitting...

Well, as the title of this posts suggests, there hasn't been too much knitting going on. The weather here has been pretty warm/hot and we've been spending a lot more time outdoors working in the yard, going hiking, etc. I do have the sock started that I mentioned in my last post, but I haven't gotten a pic of it yet. I'll try to do that soon as I'm quite pleased with the Fair Isle.

So other than the knitting, we have been quite busy. Here are some pics (presented in no real logical order or fashion) to show what we've been up to. This is a shot of our two cats in their new outdoor enclosure.

They used to be outdoor cats but we were worried about them being out near the road and traffic. So we decided to build them a 'pen' that they could access whenever they wanted through a window in our basement. Though I don't have a shot of the whole thing, you can see that they are adapting well to their new outdoor experience.

This is a shot of a butterfly that I took in Newry, Maine which is near the New Hampshire border. It's where we were when we were visiting Grafton Notch State Park (for a second time!) and this little guy was just posing there, waiting for his picture to be taken!

Here is another little creature. He was running around while we were taking a break on Table Rock which is the summit of the mountain we had just climbed. He apparently has quite a racket going on, begging from hikers who stop here for a bite to eat before descending.

Not to mention that this is his view...not too bad, eh?

After the hike, we drove in to Rangeley to take a look around and the town was covered with lupines! To see them covering huge fields, all that deep purple, dotted with pinks and whites is pretty breathtaking! I had to stop and take a couple pictures, of which this is a favorite.

And speaking of flowers, I have recently gotten pretty interested in orchids. I have actually had two orchids for a while now, a phalaenopsis and a dendrobium, both of which I got at Home Depot on clearance. The were marked down because they had both just bloomed and I decided I would take them on and get them to bloom again. Well that was about a year and a half ago. And though they haven't done too awful much during that time, I never gave up hope that they would one day bloom. Well today, all that patience was rewarded with the first sign of a flower spike peaking out from beneath one of the large leaves. I was beyond excited which I know sounds ridiculous if you haven't gone through it yourself, but trust me, it was a big moment! Here is a shot of the new growth, but you'll have to look closely, it's very small. It shows up in the picture as almost white against the green, between the stalk and first leaf on the left side.

I'll surely post more pics of it as it's growing for any other orchid enthusiasts out there. I'll also show you full shots of the two orchids that I mentioned above along with my two latest additions, both Cattleyas. I know I still have a lot to learn about them, but I am enjoying reading about them and (at least for now being good and only) visiting them at the local garden centers.


I've been a fan of The Cardigans, ever since I first heard "Carnival" from their excellent Life CD. Though they've gone through quite a few changes in direction through the years, showing growth and maturity, they continue to deliver solid melodies and smart lyrics along with Nina's smooth-as-silk vocals. Here is a favorite from their newest album called "I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Grafton Notch

Hi everyone! We had such a fun day today! We decided to go somewhere neither of us had gone before, which in this case was Grafton Notch State Park in western Maine. Ron read about it in the literature we got with our State Park Pass which is what prompted our interest in the first place.

We started the day out with breakfast here at home (veggie omelets!) and then packed up a cooler with food and water. We recently got a GPS while we were on our visit to my parents in PA so we didn't even need a map...just plugged in our destination and away we went! The ride there was nice, very scenic and took about two hours.

The first place we stopped when we got there was Screw Auger Falls. It was basically a picnic area situated along a beautiful stream with cascading waterfalls such as the one below.

After that we headed up the road to Mother Walker Falls where we did some off-path exploring of our own. It was a lot of fun and we probably got to see a lot of things that the average person wouldn't. This is a cool waterfall that ran kinda behind and under some large boulders and this is where it came out.

The next place we stopped at was Moose Cave. There was an actual cave there that had a river (well, creek...) running through it. It was so named for the unfortunate moose that fell into it long ago. You couldn't enter the cave but you could look down into it and see the water. At that same stop they had an area you walked through called the Moss Garden. It featured a couple different kinds of moss including this cool Reindeer Moss which was very stiff and in a way resembled coral.

The last part of our visit was to take a hike though the beautiful forests of Maine. The path that we took started with the Eyebrow Trail. Let me state here that we rather foolishly didn't look into the difficultly level of this trail before starting it. And if we had we might not have done it. But we did do it, and at least in this case, all's well that ends well. It started innocently enough as a level path through the woods, very nice scenery. Then we come to a stone staircase...

...which we head up. The incline was a nice change of pace from the beginning part of the trail. But as we're going along we realize that the incline isn't leveling out. We just keep heading up! And not only that, but it's getting steeper! Here's Ron as we've come to an area so steep that there is a guide wire to grip.

Then there was the next part with the ladder(!)...

..and then the oversized metal staples that someone helpfully pounded into the stone.

At this point we were about an hour into the hike and were were wondering if we had bit off a bit more than we could chew! But we had food and water with us and the weather was beautiful and being two moderately fit young(ish) men, we decided to trudge on.

We're really glad we did, because not too long after that we were rewarded at the top of the mountain with some extraordinary views...

The path then headed back down the mountain and at this point joined the Appalachian Trail! So we got to walk a mile of that which seemed very cool in a historic kinda way.

Here's a shot of Ron crossing one of the foot bridges along the trail...

After all the hiking, which took us two hours, we were pretty hungry. So we headed back to our first stop and made use of the picnicking facilities. And from there made our way back home. Overall it was a great day and we'll surely be heading back again for some more hiking...maybe some easier trails this time, though...

On the knitting front, I am working on a pair of socks from Charlene Schurch's "Sensational Knitted Socks." These are my first big intarsia project and I'll have more info on that including a picture or two in the next post.

LISTENING TO: GOSSIP - "Standing In The Way Of Control"

I was first introduced to Gossip on Charles' blog. This trio from the northwestern US rocks. An awesome mix of punk ideals and soulful vocals...something you might think wouldn't work well together, but they manage to pull it off. Check out the video for the title track.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Skull cap!

Here is a quick picture post...this is a Skull Cap that I made for Ron. I wanted to make something that I could do in one or two sittings, something quick and satisfying after the long process of making the sweater. So I combined two patterns and made this hybrid hat. Not too shabby, eh?!

I haven't had a chance to post any pics from vacation yet, but I'll do that soon, hopefully during this long holiday weekend. More soon!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Sweater...It's Done!!!

As I type, we're in the process of packing for a trip to PA (we leave tomorrow morning for a visit to my Mom and Dad), so I'll keep this one short. But I couldn't help but take a moment to let you know that, at long last, the sweater I was making for Ron is done! I've posted some pics below (of Ron modeling, nonetheless) so you could see how it turned out. See you when we get back on Thursday!

This a close up of how the sweater fits together...see how the sleeves carry up over the shoulders and even onto the front and back? Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beautiful Weather

This past week was a gorgeous one here in Maine. Ron had off the whole week (he has tons more vacation time than I do) but I was able to take Friday off for a long weekend. On Friday we spent most of the day working on the small "pond" in the backyard. The pond is a simple round tub of black plastic. Though it's not much to look at on it's own, it was already in place in the ground and we thought we'd see what we could do with it. That basically meant landscaping around it. Though it is not done yet, here is a look at what we have been able to do so far.

This is pretty much the blank slate we started with. However you can see the first part of the rock garden to come behind the pond.

This is a closeup of the first piece that we constructed for the rock garden. It has a mini rhododendron in the middle with some moss fitted into the cracks as well as some 'hens and chicks.'

This shows the same corner, but expanded to include some more plants including a curly-needled mugo pine to the left along with some more moss. There is still some more work to be done, like adding some flowering and/or trailing ground cover. But we'll have to wait until we're sure we're out of frost danger to do that which may be a few weeks yet.

On Saturday, with the sun and blue skies above, we hopped in the convertible and headed a short distance to the nature trails at Bradley Pond. This was the first that either of us had been on these trails even though they are just a few miles from home. It's a nice walk, some of it in the woods, some along hay fields and some along the shores of Bradley Pond itself. Here's a pic I took of Ron resting along the way.

Since it was such an exceptionally nice day and we wanted to get outside a bit more, we headed down to Popham Beach. Well, not to the beach itself, but right 'next door' to Fort Baldwin. The fort, to quote the Wikipedia, is "a coastal defense land battery near the mouth of the Kennebec River" which "was constructed between 1905 and 1912." It was the first time I had been there and it was very cool to see.

Here is the sign that welcomes you to the fort itself. No horses allowed!

Battery Cogan is the first building that you come to after climbing up hill. The room/tower at the top of the structure allowed soldiers to overlook and keep watch on the water below.

Here I am taking a rest. Though the sky was a beautiful blue, the weather was still a little cool, hence the sweater.

Battery Hardman is the third of the buildings that comprise the fort. You can see the chimneys that rise out of the top of the grassed-over roof. Most of the rooms in the fort had a nice brick fireplace.

The tall and imposing looking building below is the Fire Control Tower. While this is usually open to the public, we were there a few weeks before the official open of the site, so we didn't get to climb to the top.

However the picture below was taken from ground level, at the edge of the hill, looking down on the mouth of the Kennebec River and Popham itself.

LISTENING TO: Belly - "Star"

My friend Barb and I played this one to death when it first came out. It compiled most of the three EPs that Tanya Donelly released as Belly after her exit from Throwing Muses. They were all a great indication/teaser for the direction she was taking for the ultimate release of "Star." Despite the consistently high quality of the songwriting and overall catchiness, most people only remember the especially radio-friendly "Feed The Tree."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Looking for Veda Hille

I am sending out a quick post today which is a pleading request for help finding Veda Hille's first two releases. The first is called "Songs about People and Buildings" and was released on cassette. The second is called "Path Of A Body." Both of these are out of print so I am unable to simply purchase them. If anyone happens to have one or both and is willing to do some kind of trade for a copy of one or both, please let me know! Thanks for any help!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Busy Beavers!

Well, it's been well over a week since my last post, but not without reason. We have been very busy with spring cleanup and some light construction on top of all the normal day-to-day stuff.

To start with, the weather has finally turned warmer (high 50s, low 60s) so we've been out cleaning up the yard...picking up some fallen branches that were knocked down by the winter storms, raking up the last of the leaves from last fall that got buried under the early snow, and clearing the salt and sand that got deposited on the edge of the lawn from all the winter storms. With the exception of some "scars" from the plow digging up some sod here and there, things look pretty good! We also made some changes, like moving the compost pile to another area of the back yard and arranging some low stone circles out front to be used as flower beds.

Last Sunday was especially nice (considering the time of the year anyway...) so we decided on the spur of the moment to tackle a project that we've been thinking of for some time which is adding stairs to the back porch. Well, it already had some, but we removed some things, added others and generally improved everything! Below is a picture tour of what we did on Sunday.

This is the first picture I took, but before it was taken the railing was removed from the edge opposite the door and a set of steps was removed from where Ron is standing.

Here goes the addition of the first set of stairs, the width of the whole porch...

Here they are, complete. Notice the empty ground where Ron is kneeling...

...which will soon have this unfinished extension of the deck on it...

Here it is in place with the new and improved stairs on the narrow edge of the porch.

And here you can see where we ended. All the stairs are done including the diagonal edge which was a pain. Today we put the final touches on the stairs by adding kick boards so you can't see through to the space underneath. Our next warm day off, we'll be power washing the whole deck and giving it a fresh coat of paint. We're very happy with how it turned out and know that we'll get a lot of use out of it...not only for its intended use, but also as extra seating when company visits this summer as well as spots for plants and flowers!

As for the sweater, it's coming along, a little slow but sure. I am probably 80-85 percent done at this point. My goal is to have it done before our trip to visit my parents in PA in three weeks. We'll see how I do!

LISTENING TO: Jill Sobule - "Underdog Victorious"

A great little album from Jill. More of her fantastic melodies mixed with her tradmark wit and melancholy. I love what she does with Chicago's "Saturday in the Park" to make her own song "Cinnamon Park."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday Workday

Today is Saturday, one of the Saturdays that falls into my every other week rotation of having to work. I actually don't mind this and Ron happens to have the same Saturday-On, Saturday-Off schedule. On the weeks where I work Saturday I get a day off during the week which has it's own charms. This has it's advantages and gives me time to pay bills and do errands with businesses that are closed on the weekend. It is also a nice day to go for groceries instead of during the weekend rush.

Then tonight we have been invited to our friend's house for a bonfire. They own a campground on the coast of Maine and during the spring they clean up brush and fallen branches from the campsites for the upcoming camping season. Then in order to get rid of it all, they have a bonfire or two. While it's still a little crisp, it'll be fun to hang around the fire and catch up with friends, maybe have a treat (er...drink) or two...

LISTENING TO: Paul McCartney - "McCartney II"

My friend and co-worker Sandi is a big music fan like myself, but she is especially and without a doubt a huuuuge Paul McCartney fan. She has loved him since she was a wee lass and The Beatles hit it big. She's even gotten to see him live three times! Over the months that we're worked together we've gotten to indulge in lots of great music talk and music sharing. So it was inevitible that I would eventually give Paul a try. She recommended I try listening to a couple of his solo albums. So I started with "Ram" and "McCartney II," two of her favorites. I'll be honest with you, I wasn't sure I was going to like them as I usually tend to steer away from anything overtly commercial (with a few exceptions, of course...). Plus I have tried listening to The Beatles many times and have never gotten into them. I certainly appreciate their undeniable impact on music as a whole, but sitting down and listening to a Beatles album isn't for me. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I'm enjoying these two albums. They both feature a lot of experimental and just plain odd tracks which is right up my alley. I imagine songs like "Temporary Secretary" and "Check My Machine" annoying the hell out of the general public (which is always an endearing quality for me when it comes to music. Hence my fascination with music that would generally be considered Uneasy Listening and would send your average Joe running from the room...artists like Diamanda Galas, Melt-Banana, Happy Flowers, Droop, and God Is My Co-Pilot are long-time favorites in this category!).

Friday, April 4, 2008


Kylie did not show up on Ellen yesterday, but I've heard that she will be on April 7th instead...we'll see... And she is apparently going to be on American Idol on the 9th! Her appearance on Craig Ferguson by the way was great. She and Craig bantered playfully and "All I See" sounded much better (and she looked more comfortable) than she did on "Dancing With The Stars."

Ron and I made a trip to Bangor yesterday to go to the dentist. For those of you unfamiliar with Maine, that's almost two hours from where we live. But when you find a good dentist, one that has a great demeanor and staff, you're willing to travel! All went well, and from there we had lunch at Bagel Central and did a little shopping before heading home. Then we took a nice walk in the sun(!), did yoga and settled in for a movie, "Monster House." A nice day off!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Kylie all over the place!

(the above picture, from the Homecoming tour, is not a great shot of Kylie per se...however it does show off some of her scantily clad male dancers, and was therefore chosen as a nod to Sean...if you frequent his site, Wool Gatherer, you'll get why...hehehee)

Well, this is a big week for Kylie fans as she is in the states promoting the US release of her tenth album "X". For those fellow fans out there, I've done a little research and found the following shows that she'll be appearing on.

3/31: The Today Show: This one's a little late, but Kylie was interviewed this morning by Matt Lauer. Why she didn't sing we may never know...

4/01: Kylie performs on tonight's "elimination" episode of Dancing With The Stars. I don't regularly tune in to the show, but from what I hear the musical guests get to do two songs? If that's the case I'm betting on the first US single, "All I See," and hopefully "Wow."

04/02: In what seems to be her only Late-Night appearance, Ms. Minogue will be on The Late-Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Yeah, it's on late-late, but he's funny and she's worth it!

04/03: On Thursday Kylie shows up on The Ellen Degeneres Show! Should be big fun!

If you know of any other places she'll be showing up, please leave us a note in the comments!

LISTENING TO: The B-52's - "Funplex"

In other music news, I picked up the new B-52's album, "Funplex". It's a nice return to form for the B's, and as a long-time fan, it's SOOO nice to hear Cindy back in the mix, harmonizing with Kate!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Has it been two weeks? Wow, time has certainly flown by.

So what all has been going on since then? All kinds of things...from the usual work-sleep-eat routine which takes up most of our appointments, visiting friends and relatives, projects around the house including cleaning out the basement (and it's a big basement!), making old furniture new again (more to come on that soon...) and our favorite cold weather activity, movie watching!

Though we are not TV watchers at all, it does seem like during the winter months we both really enjoy sitting down after dinner and watching a movie, either from our collection or a rental. Over the past two weeks, we've watched quite a few. Here a couple of the most recent.

I AM LEGEND: This one we saw in the movie theater when it was first released. We had both read Richard Matheson's short novel on which it was based and the book was better...surprise!...but that being said, they did a pretty decent job of making a movie that for 80% of the running time has one character and almost no dialog. We just watched it again with the "controversial" new ending which Ron liked better. I guess I just saw it as a different end to the story, not better or worse.

AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION: We were shopping at Bull Moose Music in Brunswick and came across this one. We are both big zombie fans so this was an easy choice. It was heralded as "One Of The Best Zombie Movies In Decades" across the front, had a disturbingly creepy cover and was hyped as being a truly disturbing zombie experience, so how could we lose? Well, we lost because we spent $13.00 on a dumb movie that looks like it was made by a bunch of high schoolers that we'll never watch again. Ughhh!

INTO THE WILD: This is another adaptation from book to film and another one that Ron and I both read before seeing. I actually thought they did a great job with this one, capturing the feel of the book and therefore the life of the young man on which it was based. Even the soundtrack which features Eddie Vedder on vocals was the perfect backdrop for the spirit of the movie. I'd definitely recommend this one.

We've also been watching episodes of DRAWN TOGETHER. This show is terribly wrong in so many ways and yet also incredibly smart and funny. If you're not familiar with it, it is a cartoon version of a Big Brother type show, bringing together different types of cartoon characters to live in a house and be "on camera" all the time. There is an egotistical Superman-type character called Captain Hero, a Josie and the Pussycats-type character called Foxxy Love, and a Disney-type Princess named Clara among others. The show tackles all kinds of jaw-droppingly, politically incorrect topics and frequently has us rolling with laughter. Thanks Royce for the recommendation!

And though we've been having a lot of fun with the video watching, we are both definitely ready for warmer weather so we can get out and hike, bike, go four-wheeling, etc... Here's to no more snow!