Saturday 29 April 2023

Spring joys

Spring has truly sprung! We've had decent weather, if a little below normal temps, with rain overnight a couple of nights. The snow from last week had mostly disappeared with just a few stubborn spots where the sun didn't reach it, until Friday when our temperature reached 18C (64F). It will be a few weeks before I'll be able to plant anything doors, so for the moment I'm enjoying watching my seedlings grow. As it is still too cool to leave them in the unheated sunroom, I keep them in the kitchen window, until the sun warms up the room and move them back and forth as the temperatures allow. I darn near forgot them one evening, oops!  There are tomatoes, marigolds, a cucumber, and peppers in these pots. I added a couple of the bottoms of green onions this week, as a test to see if they will really grow. 

It's been a busy week, with a few outings. I had to run out to do some errands for my daughter on Monday, so took the opportunity to drop by Value Village while I was nearby. I bought a few items guesed it more yarn! There were four cakes of Loops and Threads cotton yarn in a navy color, for a mere $5.99. The same yarn costs about $10 per cake at the Michaels store. I could not resist picking it up. I'm not entirely certain what I will use it for, but I will, someday.

A few weeks ago, a friend contacted me to ask if I'd like to join the book club she belongs to. I thought it would be good for me, and said yes. The get-together was held on Tuesday evening, at a lovely Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious, though I was less enamoured with the book we read. The Stranger in the Lifeboat, by Mitch Albom was the choice of one of the group. It was a very odd story and I was happy it wasn't a long read. I even read it twice, thinking it might grow on didn't. I would give it a 2/10 at best. Others in the group quite enjoyed it though, so it must have some redeeming qualities. I found the event interesting, it was more about the meal and visiting, with very little discussion of the book, beyond whether we enjoyed it or not. Another book (Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult) was chosen and we'll meet again in about 6 weeks. 

Wednesday was stitch and chat, the first meeting I've attended for a couple of weeks. There were only three of us there, S, R, and myself. Sadly, I's husband isn't doing well; he was hospitalized last week but has since been discharged, however his family flew home to visit so it must have been thought to be quite serious. He was recently diagnosed with recurring cancer and the prognosis is not good. 

I've spent the rest of the week at home, working on various projects and tackling some spring cleaning. It amazes me how much dust accumulates, even when the weather is cold. While I vaccum and dust the furnitured regularly, it's the tops of windows, doors, and picture frames that need a wipe down. The sun room doesn't generally get much of a clean over winter, and it desperately needed a good vaccuming. In that room I found far too many maple bugs. I'm uncertain how they've found their way in - I'll have to check around the outside to see if I can find any access point. The front patio and parking pad were swept and the debris filled a large garbage bag. Lots of pine needles, leaves, and the inevitable rabbit poop. I set up the patio set, and hope to spend some time out there in the next few days.

I also went for a walk on Friday morning, and captured some of the wildlife. It always amazes me the variety that we see here in the midst of the city.

Not as many hares in the park as usual. Bet that won't last too much longer.

Over at the creek, it was pretty quiet though I did spot a pair of robins getting water and feeding on the bank.

At the other end of the creek I found a few mallards and a pair of geese.

Over at the pond, I spotted three red-winged blackbirds. They seemed to be calling to each other. I love how their tail feathers spread when they sing.

Most of the geese were skittish and would head for the water as I walked along the path. This one, however, could have cared less. I do hope it was merely sunning itself and not nesting as it is far too close to the path.

I need to remember to put my camera on sports mode as this photo is blurry. But I like it anyway. There were several (7 or 8) cormorants on the water, and this group flew off as I went to take the photos. I've never seen a group this large at the pond. While there seem to be a pair who nest here most years, I suspect they are in transit.

Finally another group of mallards. They seemed to be following one another around the pond, with some calling back and forth.

Today is another beautiful day, already 7C (45F) mid-morning. There is a baseball game later this morning, and then I plan to head back outside. The decks need to be cleared of debris and washed down - lots of bird poop has accumulated, and the plastic Adirondack chairs and the tables need to be washed as well. The forecast is for temperatures over 20C (68F), which means time on the deck or patio reading! The book for the book club is in at the library so that will be top on the list.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Friday 28 April 2023

Saturday 22 April 2023

False spring, last blast of winter

The photos I shared on Wednesday were from my walk on Sunday. It was the first time I'd walked outdoors for more than a few minutes, and boy did I feel it in my shins the following day. Sadly, the reasonably decent weather did not last. A blizzard blew through starting Tuesday night, through the following two days. We had approximately 20 cms. (8 in.) of snow over 48 hours, though it was far heavier in other parts of the city and southern Saskatchewan. It was heavy, wet snow and made clearing the driveway not a whole lot of fun.

I should mention, I never tested positive for Covid and my son C tested negative on Monday so was able to return to work the following day (5 day quarantine).  As I feeling a little bit of cabin fever, I did get out on Monday as I had an errand to run for my daughter. Since this took me in the proximity of Value Village, I stopped in for a look around. I found a few clothing items for Eli and some scrapbooking paper for D.  From there I stopped at Salvation Army and found a very pretty dress for myself, and a couple of books to read. I made a stop at Walmart on the way home, where I got bird seed, yarn for the flower afghan edging, and a few fresh vegetables. I did try to stop it at the tailor shop to have the zipper placed in Eli's sweater but the business wasn't open that morning. Then it was home to stay for the rest of the week. 

That meant no stitch and chat this week, nor the planned coffee visit with my travel agent. The snow was enough to keep me home for most of the week. This is another reason I'm grateful to be retired, as there is no need for me to go out, and I can plan around the weather or illness, as the case may be. With time to spend on my creations, I've been blocking the flowers for the afghan and started two more projects. Because...why not? The first is an over-sized sweater for my daughter. I pulled some yarn from the stash - it is being crocheted using four different colors for a color block affect. The second is a sweater for a toddler using some stash yarn. There isn't enough to make an adult sized version, and Eli's sweater is complete. I have no idea what I will do with it at this point but I wanted to knit something. My stitching project has been set aside for the moment but I'll pick it up in a week or two. It's meant to be a Christmas gift for a friend so I have time. 

The birds have been ravenous, and spending lots of time digging in the snow below the feeder where seeds have fallen. Mostly grackles and juncos, with a few sparrows. The robin doesn't eat bird seed, but I've seen it picking something off the trees in back and the evergreen out front. I'm sure they are all wishing they had waited a week or two for their trip north.

This morning, I ran out again to pick up a few more groceries, and to drop the sweater off at the tailor's shop. Phew, this is going to be the most expensive sweater I've ever made for the child. Oh well, he's worth it. It has started to warm up and is already freezing so there is melting happening, hurray! 

There is a baseball game this morning (Go Jays!) so I'll sit and crochet or knit while I watch, and then this afternoon I'm meeting with my niece and nephew, and likely their parents, to get the tax returns completed. We were supposed to do this a week ago, but with C with Covid, we decided to wait a week. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 15 April 2023

Spring baseball

Life sure has a way of throwing curve balls. This week was no exception. It all started on Monday morning, when my kitchen faucets gave up the ghost. I had noticed some water on the floor when washing dishes the night prior, and after mopping it up had put a bucket under the sink. Everything seemed dry in the morning, but when I turned on the faucet I could hear and see dripping coming from the connection where the faucet is attached to the plumbing lines. I'd been putting up with a slow drip from the drinking water faucet and decided it was time to replace the entire set. The house was built back in 1987, and I'm pretty certain these are the originals.

I did some research on the websites of various hardware stores (including big box stores) nearby. It was astounding to me to find that the big box stores keep nothing in stock - at one there were only two faucets available, and both were ridiculously priced and far too large for my current set-up. The local hardware store is a little further away, but appeared to have multiple items in stock. Off I went, photos in hand, to see what I could find. I was in and out in about 20 minutes with the appropriate replacements. The service was great AND they gave me the contractors' pricing which saved me about 10% overall. They still weren't cheap. I contacted the plumber we used last year during the basement renovations and he was able to fit me in that day (after a cancellation), and by mid-afternoon I had a new set of faucets that function properly. One thing I notice is they are much lighter weight than the old ones so likely won't last 30 plus years but I won't be here then.

I did my grocery shopping that morning too, as the fridge was looking pretty bare. The pocketbook took a hit as a result, but I did get most everything on sale. I am starting to see prices drop with some products to a more reasonable level. An 18 pack of eggs was $4.99 and I got a head of lettuce for $1.99 at the Co-op store. Walmart was over $5 for the eggs and $3.97 for lettuce. I'm so fortunate that I live within a 10 minute drive of five grocery stores (includes Walmart). I check my grocery list against the Flipp (flyers) app, and can price-check between stores as well. 

Wednesday brought another problem. The darned water heater's pilot light had again gone out. This was the third time I've requested service in about 6-8 weeks. Of course, the only time they could give me was between 1-5 p.m., which meant I had to miss out on my Stitch and Chat. The tech showed up about 1:30 and left at 2:57 p.m. I know, because I checked the clock! When he arrived I told him this was the third call, and although he was able to re-light the pilot light easily, I asked him to explain why it was happening. He suggested some part needed to be replaced (don't ask me - coupler something or other I think he said). He told me it shouldn't take long to replace and he would have expected the last guy to do it. I said, there was no way he had, he'd only been here for about 10 minutes and took longer to do his paperwork than to do what he did with the water heater. Just to be certain the tech called the previous tech and confirmed that no, he hadn't changed out this piece.  The current tech's optimism at the length of time required to make the replacement was way off! This water heater was installed in Dec. 2006, and apparently they were made differently than they are now which made replacing the part tricky. At one point, it sounded as if he was rebuilding the darn thing.

It's a good thing I did my shopping early in the week and perhaps even missing the Stitch and Chat was a good thing as my son tested positive for Covid on Thursday morning. He had been feeling off for a couple of days, but had gone to work both Wednesday and Thursday. The positive result was almost immediate and the lines were bold. He's off work until next Tuesday, and I'll stay at home too. I tested last night, and so far I am negative. 

Our weather made a big upswing this week, with temperatures staying above the freezing mark, even over night a couple of nights. There was/is snow in the forecast for the weekend and it has cooled off a bit, but the snow has rapidly melted. I have a small pond in my back yard. There was a welcome visitor in the back yard this week too. 

I haven't seen any others, yet, but the wee nuthatch is back, and the sparrows, chickadees, and juncos continue to eat heartily at the feeder. 

We had snow overnight into Friday, but just a skiff or so on the ground. It was melting when I went out to feed the birds and my small pond was closer to a small lake. It's frozen over this morning but we're supposed to reach 7C (45F) this afternoon. I moved a bit of snow from the larger pile in the back yard with the hope that it will disappear faster.

Today is more Grand Slam curling - there are three draws today, tiebreakers, quarter-finals and semi-finals. The women's and men's finals will be held separately tomorrow. This is the second to last event for this year that will be televised. The final Grand Slam is being held here in the city at the beginning of May. I've bought tickets in the past, but this year I'm planning to watch from home.

I'm continuing to work on my flowers (just two more to complete before I start blocking). I got Eli's sweater blocked and picked up a zipper - I need to get a real tailor to put it in for me. In the meantime I made a toque to go with it. When I'm bored with the flowers I do a few stitches on the small cross stitch project. I've made a mistake early on, but I doubt anyone but I will ever know it so I'm soldiering on.

If I'm not watching curling, I've been watching baseball. The Blue Jays broke the Tampa Rays win streak last night in an exciting game. I checked on the game in between ends so missed some of the excitement but did catch enough to enjoy the win.

Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!

Saturday 8 April 2023

A lesson learned

As you saw, we had more snow this week. It was very pretty Monday morning when I went out to feed the birds (when I took the photo), but it's April! Time for the snow to take off, eh? It was cool for part of the week, but the warm'ish weather is supposed to arrive AND stay this weekend. I'll believe it when I see it.

I learned an expensive lesson this week with a traffic ticket. I haven't gotten a ticket in close to 40 years, and it was my fault. I failed to come to a complete stop before I made a right turn on a red light. I know I did slow down, as I drive a standard and had shifted down but I had to agree with the officer that I hadn't stopped. Knowing I deserved the ticket - he just happened to be there and immediately pulled me over - I was shocked when he told me the ticket was for $230! You can bet I'll be stopping at every red light and doing the count to three thing I learned in driver training, fifty years ago. In fact, later that day I did just that and the vehicle behind blared their horn at me for stopping that long. Hey, I don't want another ticket.

I was heading out to Costco to pick up some items for my daughter. They need police officers in the store to direct traffic. It was stupidly busy - my pet peeve is the folks who stop their carts adjacent to one another to chat so that no one else can get by them. Even with the conjection, I knew what I needed, and was in and out of the store in less than 30 minutes. I use the self-checkout because the line is almost always shorter and I have fewer items than most in the lines.

Wednesday was stitch and chat. We had a nice group, with a new member and a returning member. S is from India and is visiting her son here in the city for a few months. She was working on a crocheted blanket but was very interested in my flowers, so I helped her with the pattern - though I did tell I'd bring a written copy next week. Our other S, has returned from her winter in Arizona. Along with R, I, and myself, we all had a good afternoon visiting and working on our projects.

I was excited on Thursday afternoon to see the juncos are back! It means spring is definitely on its way. I like them too because they clean up the seeds the chickadees, sparrows, and finches drop from the feeder. My friendly Hungarian partridges also enjoy the overflow.

I captured a photo of the pair that seem to be spending a good deal in the back yard. They were huddled together (it was cold that day) and sitting in the sun.

No photo of the visitors, but it appears I have a pair of rabbits roaming through the yard too. This isn't the only evidence they leave behind. I did see one across the street, and it is mostly brown.

The curling has been very good this week, though our Canadian team had their ups and downs. They will be playing today in a must-win game. If they lose, they'll be going home. Last night's game against Niklas Edin was probably one of their best. Speaking of Niklas, he had a shot this week that has never been attempted in competition. I've linked the video here if you'd like to see it for yourself. While curlers do put rotation (in-turns or out-turns) on their rocks, this was a spinner that I don't believe anyone truly knew how it would react. There is already discssion that this may change the progression of the game. Already, one of our Canadian curlers, Mike McEwen has posted video of his attempt at the same shot...and he made it. However, Niklas did try the spinner again in the game against Canada last night and it didn't work as well as the team had hoped.

Beyond that, it's been a generally quiet week. Besides watching curling and baseball, I've been working on the flower afghan/blanket. I've pretty much run out of the yarn I've been using to create the flowers so now I'm putting the larger flowers together. I laid them out on my queen bed to get an idea of the size. It's not quite as big as I'd like but I'll put a row together this week of four or five of the flowers to get a measurement. I need to block the pieces first and that will take some time. 

I don't really celebrate Easter so we won't be having a big meal. The weather is supposed to really improve, so I plan to pull some burgers from the freezer and will use the grill for the first time this season. Today I'l make potato salad to go with the burgers. The only Easter bunny will be the rabbit that has been spotted across the street and it won't be bringing chocolate. 

Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy your Easter, however you spend the time. 

Saturday 1 April 2023

Another week and no spring yet

To start, the photo of the deer wasn't from my yard but from my daughter's. She's had a few deer roaming through her yard for a good part of the winter, and they've decimated the cedars that were planted by the former owner. She had her handyman over doing some work in the house this week, and asked if he would cut down what the deer had left. He did, so I suspect the visits will end now. It's sad they were ever there in the first place, and because they are very nearly becoming domesticated - D says they even look both ways before crossing the street! 

I'm just as happy not to see a deer in my backyard. Several years ago, one of my co-workers had a deer find it's way into his yard, and it crashed through a bedroom window and bled to death on his daughter's bed. It was quite the mess to clean up. Large animals like these don't belong in the towns and cities but with the deep snow, it becomes difficult for them to find food in the rural areas. That's part of the reason my brother leaves bird seed in the yard for them.

It's been a pretty quiet and routine week again this week. I did my grocery shopping on Tuesday, and stopped in at the thrift stores. I found two tee shirts at the Salvation Army thrift store, one for me, one for D, and a pair of lightweight pj's for me at Value Village. Total spend for all four pieces was about $15. Groceries were much more expensive than that. 

I'm continuing to work on the flowers for my large afghan. I should finish these this weekend and will start putting pieces together. I'm not entirely sure how many of the small flowers I'll need, so once I have the larger flowers put together, I should have a better idea. Not looking forward to this part of the process, but I knew what I was getting into when I started it. For a break from crocheting I've started another small cross stitch project. 

I've also spent several hours working on Ancestry. It's interesting to see where the branches of the tree take me. My favorite part is finding information that no one else has added - especially those where there is simply a birthdate and little else to go on. It doesn't happen often, but when it does I get a real sense of accomplishment. Sometimes it is a simple as reading through several wedding/obituary notices to identify family members and occasionally locations to input that one piece of info that solves the mystery. Yesterday, from an obituary, I found a  deceased spouse of a distant cousin, which led to a daughter that I didn't know he had. Her marriage information allowed me to to more searching and I discovered she and her husband had moved to the Domincan Republic in 1941 to work as missionaries. They had two children and the family returned to the USA twice, once in 1947 and again in 1960. That is when the trail goes cold, as I can't locate any of the four family members, though I did find a newspaper article that may include the youngest child.

Our weather has been stupid again this week. Tuesday morning was bitterly cold. At that moment I was ready to book a flight to anywhere warm, except my wallet wouldn't allow it. 

Since then we've had some afternoon melting, though the temperature hasn't reached above freezing. The sun feels warm now even if the air temperature isn't. The ground is still frozen so my back yard is mostly underwater - it faces south. With the warmth of the sun, I've been able to open the sunroom. Saku, the cat, has been enjoying his afternoon naps out there, and the furnace only cuts in once or twice in the afternoon. You don't want to be in the basement those days - it's pretty darn chilly! We're supposed to reach a high of 3C (37F) this afternoon, but Sunday is supposed to bring a "wintry mix". Do I sound excited? I'm not.

The seedlings are starting to appear, though I've given up on the petunia seeds I thought I saved last fall. So far, four tomatoes and two marigolds have been transplanted to larger pots, while the peppers (red and green), more tomatoes and marigolds continue to sprout. This week I added cucumbers to the mix - I'm going to try to grow these in containers as well this year. I'll do potatoes as well, but those will wait until the third week of May. I'm not sure why but I'll probably do lettuce as well - the rabbits tend to enjoy what grows before I do. 

Curling starts again today, this time the Men's World curling. The event is being held in Ottawa, which means no middle of the night games! I expect our Canadian team will be in the mix throughout the event. They are very strong, as are the teams from Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Scotland, and even the team from Italy. The latter won the gold in the Olympics last time so they cannot be counted out. Neither China nor Russia are participating, so there are teams from New Zealand and Turkiye in their place. 

I'm off to do a few chores before the curling starts. Then I'll plant myself on the couch with my crocheting and a cup of tea. Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!