The view from the tiny deck of our cabin. That's Lake Superior, if you cannot tell.
The fire pit.
Why am I showing you a photo of the fire pit in the front yard of the cabin? Because it was the scene of Smokey's latest near-death experience.
One morning he took the dogs out for their beginning-of-the-day pee. Since the benches of the picnic table were damp from dew, he sat on the seat of his walker, which, in addition to a nice padded seat, is on wheels.
Can you see how the ground slopes to the left toward The Lake? Yes, the walker started to roll downhill.
Because he had a dog leash on each wrist, his hands were not as free as they might have been. And, although the walker has brakes, the wheels were damp from the dew and the brakes just slipped. He rolled backward, the wheels hit the cast iron edge of the fire pit, and he tipped backwards at precisely the right angle to strike the back of his head on the downhill edge.
Did he suffer a concussion? Did he fracture his skull? Did his sever his spinal column? Any of those were possible.
He did not even get a lump on his head. And he said that after the initial impact it did not even hurt.
I find it hard to imagine those last two, but I felt for a lump and there was none.
Last week I remembered that, while I knit for charity and I knit for loved ones and I knit to create garments for myself, I knit primarily because I like knitting. Knitting is, or should be, fun. The things currently OTN were not fun. What I really felt like knitting was... socks.
So I cast on a pair of socks.
According to the photo metadata, I bought this sock yarn in June 2010 and, going by the other photos surrounding it on my hard drive, I bought it in Kalispell MT.
Yep, time to knit those puppies.
A couple weeks ago a package arrived in the mail. This was when Smokey was sick with the wound infection that we didn't know about. The package and all the rest of the mail sat in the mailbox at the end of the driveway for several days before Elder Son and I picked it up. I was very surprised to find a package for myself; hadn't done any online shopping in weeks. What could it be?
(Camnesia struck. I have no photos of the package nor of its contents.)
It was a sock kit from Kym, who had surmised from my bulleted blog posts that I was under a bit of stress and needed some love. What a sweetheart! Yarn Hollow merino/bamboo/silk sock yarn and a pattern that I had admired on her blog.
I pondered that yarn for the better part of a week until I figured out a plan. The pattern was written top down using a US#2 needle; I prefer to knit socks toe up, foot on a US#0 and leg on a US#1 or 1-1/2. While we were on the North Shore I figured it out (mostly) and cast on.
Something I have never had before: two different socks OTN.
Both have progressed past turning the heel since I started the post. And both socks are, in a word, delightful.
I needed to wind the hank of Yarn Hollow yarn into two equal cakes before I started the socks, but I had no ball winder, swift, nor scale with me in the mini-mini-motorhome.
LYS to the rescue!
This yarn store was just a few miles up the Shore in Tofte. I had been there before and liked it (photo is from 2010). So I popped in, picked out some souvenir yarn to salve my conscience and earn some brownie points from the clerk, and asked if I could wind some other yarn. The store owner stopped in while I was busy and admired my yarn. Both she and the clerk are very nice people.
At left, some Lambs Pride superwash wool worsted to replace the mortar and pestle holders I made last year and which subsequently disappeared. At right, two skeins of Frog Tree Pediboo to make a pair of fancy stranded socks (photo below kinneared with my iPod). I also got a pattern for a baby set because the sample on display were so cute.
As I was driving home from the North Shore I started counting in my head how much sock yarn I had at home. Not all my fingering weight yarn, mind you, just the yarn specifically destined for socks. I quit when I had counted eighteen (18!) pairs of potential socks at home in the stash. In other words, I really, really, really needed those two skeins of Pediboo ;-)
Step 1. Find two sturdy trees at least ten feet apart but no farther than twenty.
Step 2. Suspend the rain fly between the selected trees. Put it as high as you can reach.
Step 3. Retrieve the hammock from your stuff sacks.
Step 4. Notice that a fellow camper is recording this for posterity. Untether the front side of the rain fly and flip it out of the way in order to reveal to the blogging world the awesomeness that is your bedsite.
Step 5. Attach the hammock support straps to the trees. (Please notice that the rain fly, which has little tension on it, is tied up with thin rope. The hammock, which will have considerable tension, is suspended from much wider straps so as not to damage the support trees.)
Step 6 - 12. Adjust the straps.
Step 13. When the hammock is suspended just right, unfurl it from its nylon sheath.
Step 14. Announce to the audience that the bedsite is now ready.
Step 15. Unzip the access opening in the hammock and demonstrate how to get into it.
The view from my knitting chair at our campsite on Lake Superior.
He said, "I'll spot you."
"Wait. I'm not sure about this."
What you may not have been able to tell from the previous series of photographs is that the young woman was doing her handstand right where that gull is perched in the last photo. I suspected she was a bit of a gymnist when she was standing on the railing, feet tight together, not wavering nor adjusting, just perfectly in balance as she stood there chatting with her friends.
We had an unexpected pet that came along with us on our camping trip to the North Shore last month. A mouse had taken up residence within the back door of the mini-mini-motorhome.
Smokey first met Mr. Mouse (or Miss or Ms. or Mrs.; we never knew) the first afternoon we were at the campground. He (Smokey) was lying on the bed in the back of the mini-mini-motorhome playing Solitaire on his netbook -- yes, we are THAT exciting -- when he saw this cute little mousie face peeking out at him from an opening in the inner panel of the back door.
Let me explain: Smokey likes mice. He sees them as cute and furry little critters that could be a fun pets, never mind hantavirus or any other nastiness they might carry. Happily, he does not care to share his bed or his kitchen with them. He may be easy, but he is not crazy.
We saw Mr. Mouse a number of times in the van. Once he even ran across Smokey's leg while he was napping. Eventually, however, Mr. Mouse appeared in the right place at the right time -- when a door was open -- and he was evicted. We wished him well, figuring that he could easily adapt to his new MN, as opposed to WI, woodsy home.
The next day I picked up Lucy The Wonder Dog's water dish from the ground by the picnic table to give her fresh water. Guess who was hiding next to it? Apparently Mr. Mouse felt the need to stay close to something that smelled, even vaguely, like home.
I saw him again a couple times in that same part of the campsite, but he never made it back into the van. I hope he enjoys his new home on the North Shore. Lots of people would give their left arm to live there, and he even got a free ride.
So what is that, you ask? I'll give you a hint: it's a flock of birds on Lake Superior in August.
Let's zoom in a little.
That is a flock of... loons.
Loons do not flock. Loons are territorial in the extreme. They are completely family-focused. Unless a lake is pretty good-sized, say larger than 500 acres, a pair of loons will take it over and drive off any other loons -- or geese or ducks -- that are looking for a nice little cottage with picket fence and a place for the kids to play. They will permit their own little feathered progeny hang around the home lake for their first summer but probably no longer.
"Look, guys, a mini shark fin! Oh, wait, that's just Virgil practicing the backstroke. Virgil, you stop that right now, you here? You almost gave me a heart attack with your shenanigans. Honestly, the young 'uns these days..."
Loons do, however, migrate. And according to Teh Google, they often form groups, aka, "flocks", to make the long journey south. And that is what we have here.
This site tracks the migrations of loons from two groups, one that nests in central Minnesota, and the other that nests in north central Wisconsin just south of Lake Superior. Certain of the birds have radio transmitters that enable the tracking.
I decided to do my own Ten on Tuesday list this week.
Ten Reasons to Vote Today.
Nifty sticker to wear on your lapel. "I voted!"
Cute election judges... if you are a 70+ year old male.
Free coffee and cookies.
Opportunity to see your local community center / fire hall / village hall / elementary school full of people with good intentions.
A chance to knit (while standing in line).
The only time you will see some of these names in print. County coroner? County assessor? Who are these people?
Polling place just might be near your LYS. Everyone who votes deserves a yarn treat.
Easiest way in the world to be a patriot.
Chance to do something that millions would [and have] die[d] for the right to do.
And finally, the very best reason of all...
If you don't vote you lose the right to complain about your government.
* * * * *
I'm sick of campaign ads, junk mail, the media buzz, and especially the recorded phone calls. Campaign signs, though, are kinda fun. I first noticed them when we were in Wyoming in June. There were campaign signs everywhere. Didn't notice [m]any in Montana, though. Later in the summer I saw them on the North Shore, plus they started to crop up here at home.
We have had our share of car troubles this year. I won't bore you with all of them right now, just the one that led to some knitting.
When Smokey and I were driving home from our Temperance River camping trip in August, we had a slight problem when he was turning the mini-mini-motorhome around in a driveway on a side road off Highway 61 a bit north of Duluth. It was dusk and too dim for me to get a photo, so I'll have to paint you a word picture.
Imagine the mini-etc. backed into a driveway just a leetle bit too far, so that the left back wheel is off the edge of the driveway. This driveway spans a ditch and the edges of it drop off quickly. With that wheel over the edge there was no way we could drive out of the predicament.
We walked down the driveway through the woods to find the house and see if we could use their phone to call a tow truck (cell phone = dead battery; car charger = broken). We found the homeowner working on an outboard motor in his pole shed/workshop/garage. When Smokey asked about using the phone and described our plight, the guy, name of Harley, said he could pull us out, no problem.
"Which would be better to pull you out, do you think?" he asked. "My tractor or my dump truck?"
Moral: if you are going to get your car into a non-drivable state, do so in the driveway of a man with a tractor AND a dump truck.
Harley pulled us back up onto the road with his dump truck and refused any sort of payment.
We continued on our way.
But I had noted his head and foot sizes, thinking idly that I could knit him a pair of socks or a hat in gratitude. Socks seemed to have too many variables -- size, fit, fiber, color, preferred thickness -- so I went for the hat. Because he lives on the North Shore, land of the voyageur, I thought a tuque would be the thing.
Dale-Harriet came to my aid with an authentic tuque pattern, plus some history. I used the DK superwash wool left over from my multicolor striped raglan.
Yarn: Phildar Pure Laine 3-1/2 (apparently discontinued), DK weight, colorway 'Corsair', 3+ skeins (350 - 400 yds.). Needles: Addi Turbo US#6 (I think; might have been 5s). Pattern: (I'm not telling; Dale-Harriet said she is veeerrrrryyyy particular about who she shares her patterns with.)
Here's what I told Harley about the hat in the note we enclosed with it.
p.s. The hat pattern is from a friend in Madison who is a re-enactor in French fur trading-era stuff. Here is what she told me about it:
Regarding the Toque Pattern (as I sees it)
A sailing vessel, the Machaud, went down in the mid-18th century in icy Canadian waters. Among the artifacts found on her (and we have a book with photos of the lot) they found a toque precisely the same construction as mine. We re-enactors call that “provenance” and it makes my toques valuable to the voyageurs! Now, in those days most knitting was done on steel “knitting pins” – but a dear friend examined the original and said that he thought it looked like it was done on what we’d call maybe #7 DPNs! (His wife knits; he knows whereof he’s looking). The voyageurs (being French or Canuck and therefore vain) generally go for “rouge” – I use something between a brick or burgundy or darker red, or something with an orange off-cast. The other favorite is “French bleu”, a sort of grey-blue. [like yours!]
But you’re not bound by Authenticity Hounds and so can use whatever strikes your fancy.
We went camping on the North Shore twice this year, once in August with just the dogs and once a few weeks later with the dogs and #1 Son. Back in June when he told us that he planned to come home for his four-week break between his surgery and medicine rotations he had requested that we take him on a camping excursion. Apparently six+ years in Manhattan have allowed him to appreciate the great outdoors more than when he lived here.
Naps happen a lot during vacations.
"Don't try this at home, folks. We are professionals."
"I'm awake! I'm alert! I'm on guard duty! I was just resting my ey-... zzzzzz..."
"If Bear is gonna flake out on her guard duty, I'll just have to pick up the slack. A [good] dog's work is never done."
Hunting activity happens, too.
"That is something that really, really, really needs my personal attention."
"Okay, here I go -- oops! Curses, foiled again by that damned cable tie-out!"
"Tra la, tra la, nice seeds here. Never mind that white fur over there that smells of dog. Tra la la..." :: crunch, crunch::
"I'm serious this time! You are history, you little varmint!"
"Yep, I'm history. I'm also faster than you, Dog!"
* * * * *
One of the shortcomings of traveling with humans is that they seem to like to go places that I cannot, and I have to stay in the car.
"Can I come along? Huh, can I, can I?"
However, there are compensations for A Good Dog Who Is Patient.
Srsly, how can a human turn down a dog that does this on a routine basis?
* * * * *
Apparently we were not the only ones on the North Shore enamored of the canine species. Observed in Two Harbors:
Observed at the campground:
Where were these guys when we needed them at that campground in Montana?
Andrew requested that we go camping somewhere while he is home for his four-week break, so here we are again on the North Shore. Yeah, it's a tough life.
Before we left I decided to be A Good Mom and bake some cookies to bring along. For the record, I hardly ever bake cookies; brownies, lemon bars, the occasional birthday cake, yes, but cookies are too putzy. This time I decided to go all out -- oatmeal chocolate chip (oatmeal = healthy, right?), and while I was at it, a double batch.
A double batch made a lot of dough.
Really a lot of dough.
In an unusual turn of events, this vacation did NOT start the day after Smokey had finished up a string of night shifts. This meant we could get up on Monday morning, pack the mini-mini-motorhome, and actually leave during daylight. What a concept!
On the road, Smokey driving, me riding shotgun and knitting, and Andrew riding in the back of the van and doing what he does best.
The weather forecast for this week on the North Shore was, in a word, chilly -- highest high was predicted to be 57°. Happily, that was way conservative. Tuesday was warm enough to sit reading and knitting in the sun in jeans and sweater. One of us was even foolhardy enough to venture into Lake Superior, although he did admit he came out pretty darned quickly. Wednesday had a 30% chance of showers but was also the day I needed to teleconference to the county finance committee meeting. So we spent the afternoon in Grand Marais.
The chipmunks are still populating the campground. The are still bold aand still highly annoyed at all the people in their campground.
I attempted to get a photo of the chipmunk that kept trying to climb my pants leg to get at whatever I happened to be eating at a given moment.
It is always a good thing to bring all one's knitting tools along on vacation...
...because one never knows when a delightful yarn shop -- or two! -- may appear on the horizon*.
Before we left I had read Erika's post about her Red Scarf. I had already decided that I was not going to participate in the Red Scarf Project this year (forgive me, Norma!) because I had declared 2010 to be The Year Of Knitting For Me.
But that post kept lurking in the back of my mind.
First, I ventured into That Little Red House, a lovely yarn shop in Grand Marais that does not have a website and of which I tragically did not take a photo. The owner was friendly and chatty and I found the perfect yarn for a red scarf.
The yarn is a 2-ply blend of wool, superkid mohair, and angora -- lovely cottony soft. How handy that I had brought along my nostepinne and all my needles! I immediately cast on for the scarf, using La Harlot's One-Row Scarf pattern (I knit two scarves and several afghan squares from that pattern last year, so it is pretty well embedded in my brain).
Tra la la, a day or two later we found anotheryarn shop! This is the one whose sign is pictured above and is in Tofte, right across Hwy. 61 (yes, that Hwy. 61) from Blue Fin Bay resort. Guess what, that shop had some very nice red yarn**, too!
Now I have two red scarves OTN and my conscience is a happy camper.
I finished the pair of socks that was in progress when we left and wore them. That means they are currently in the laundry pile so I'm not gonna model them for you right now. As soon as that pair was done I cast on for another pair from a skein of Trekking I bought last year.
See that hole in the ground beyond my foot? That is a chipmunk burrow, and the chipmunks kept me constant company while I knit by the lake. Mostly they scurried about and scolded me for being in their territory. Eventually I had the clever idea of keeping a bag of trail mix handy and tossing them the occasional raisin. That kept them quiet.
* It may have helped that I did some serious googling for yarn shops in the area before we left. I even took screen shots of the Google maps showing the location of each one and loaded them onto my iPod. Always prepared, that's my motto!
** In case you cannot read the labels, this red yarn is Lamb's Pride Nature Spun worsted, and a more delightful and affordable 100% wool worsted I have never encountered. How come none of you told me about it? Keeping it all for yourself, eh? Well, now I know about it and it will be every knitter for herself. This yarn is soft and fluffy and knits wonderfully and was $6.95 (or $7.95, don't remember) for >200 yards. The skein on the right is a true bright red, the one on the left dark red. We all know how difficult it is to photograph anything red.
Knitting was primarily of a stealth nature, but did include scientific swatching and the F'ing of a couple of O's that had been OTN for nearly, and over a year, respectively. (I am rather proud of that sentence -- and its punctuation -- awkward though it may be.)
June was for knitting and vacation and celebrating that brief magical time that is summer in the north woods.
Lots of knitting.
July was for more vacation -- the rest of the one in Wyoming and another on the North Shore.
I learned the difference between eagles and turkey vultures, and I had surgery to remove some extra/unneeded bits and pieces and repair that torn cartilage in my knee.
In September I had lots of catsontheblog, it was my turn to give the prayer at the beginning of the monthly county board meeting, the county budget process blew up, and the most gloriously gorgeous month of the year was here.
Thirty-five years ago, on a beautiful sunny October day, The Kat™ and The Bear™ were united in marriage.
omg, we were so young! (Not really, 26 and 25, but still.)
The reception was held in the lodge at Timberlane, a resort on the same lake -- sort of -- that my parents lived on. They lived on a bay that had been separated years before from the main lake by a highway; it was connected by a culvert under the highway that would periodically get plugged by floating bogs that the beavers had chewed loose. Either the highway department or my dad would then have to blast it open with dynamite. The level of the bay would fluctuate significantly, depending on how the culvert was running. This raised havoc with the fishing... and hence my dad's temper.
My favorite part of the whole day, aside from the actually getting married part, was the food at the reception.
The bride and groom get to go through the line first :-)
To commemorate this momentous occasion (who'd'a thunk it would last this long?) we spent a few days in a quaint little log cabin in a quaint little mom'n'pop resort on the North Shore overlooking Lake Superior.
The cabins were built in the 1920s and 1930s by Horace Stickney, an ancestor (I think) of the present owners.
I was entranced to discover that the spaces between the logs were chinked with moss, just like the pioneers did it.
Closer inspection revealed that the *moss* was in fact bits of yellow fiberglass insulation that had turned brown over the years.
My disillusionment was tempered by finding evidence of former cabin guests.
The dogs came with us, of course.
The autumn colors were at their peak.
The four of us went for a walk along the shore, where I noticed the similarities between these two profiles.
This building on the resort property was obviously very, very old.
I brought along a couple knitting projects but didn't really get a lot done. Too many naps, too much playing with the dogs, too many games of Boggle with Smokey.
We ate once at the Blue Fin Grille -- good burgers, great dessert, right on the water -- and once at the Nakomis (the name is spelled wrong in the linked review), where Smokey had the walleye poor boy and it was indeed excellent. I had a grilled tuna sandwich, also excellent but not as good as his. Both were accompanied by truffle [french] fries. Now I know why people like truffles so much. Mmm, earthy yumminess.
On the way home we stopped at Playing with Yarn, a yarn store along old Highway 61. It may have been tiny, but it was packed to the ceiling(s) with great yarns. I purchased this skein of Misti Alpaca hand-dyed sock yarn.
It has occurred to me that I ask things of you, my readers; you deliver; and I go on my merry way. So today I sat myself down here with the reminder that my mother raised me better than that.
...for your many ideas to improve the rules for county fair knitting.
...for providing me with the link to the hats for homeless men project in Minneapolis.
...for knitting ideas.
...for knitting solutions.
...for music new to me.
...for all your good wishes and sympathy during my ankle/surgery/wheel chair/knee/surgery travails in the past year.
...for the good advice on how to have my morning latte while camping w/o electricity ("Thanks a latte!")
...and for a thousand other things, including reading and commenting. You guys are the best!
* * * * *
Sad day here.
* * * * *
Answers to yesterday's quiz. Many of you knew that the second was one of the Great Lakes and several recognized the waters and shore of Lake Superior. But only one reader got even close on the first photo.
1. South Atlantic coast, a few miles north of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Alida, who lives in East London, South Africa, got the first one almost right. She knew it was South Africa but guessed the Indian Ocean coast. So close and yet so far...
2. The North Shore of Lake Superior.
Sparrowgrass, who used to live in northern Minnesota, not only knew that the second photo was Lake Superior but also correctly identified Father Baraga's cross on the hill in the background.
One of the downers about getting a Mac was the stunning lack of free apps.
Mah Jongg? Sorry.
The Cleaner (a little program I downloaded in the 90s that cleans up cut-and-pasted emails by eliminating extraneous line breaks and ">" at the beginning of quoted text)? Only for Windoze.
I did eventually find an inexpensive games for the Mac -- Kitty Spangles Solitaire has been my official play-while-on-hold game for a couple years. I have tried some free Mah Jongg games, both downloadable and online, but I didn't like any of them as well as the one I used to have for Windows.
And of course, now that I have complained that there are no free games for Mac I have discovered a bunch of online games that I can play. (And hope that there is no malicious code on the sites.)
But the biggest disappointment was that our version of Boggle didn't play on the Mac. We got the CD free in a box of cereal years ago. I have installed it on every PC and laptop we have had in that time, including the ones I had for work, plus copied and shared it with other people, and over the years Smokey and I have played it together for hours. Since 2006, however, when I went Mac, we have been limited to playing it on his laptop, mostly when we are on vacation.
Last week Crazy Aunt Purl mentioned online Boggle and the light bulb flashed above my head.
We have become addicted all over again.
* * * * *
Last Friday night we were playing online Boggle (yes, it's an exciting life here at Chez Kat™) when a message window popped up from Elder Son. Who informed us he had nearly been killed recently.
This is the same kid who emailed me from South Africa a few years back when he was studying there to say he had been held up at knife point and was feeling really bad that he had lost his cell phone and $60. I had to go lie down for a bit after reading that email.
Anyway, the most recent expiration of one his nine lives happened when the car in which he was a passenger made an inadvisable left turn and was T-boned on the passenger side by a big SUV. The car he was in was totaled because the entire side was caved in, but he suffered only a little scrape on his shin.
Kids. They make your heart sing and they make it fall through the floor.
* * * * *
This was the scene on the first morning of our most recent camping trip.
It was at this point that I got so excited to have coffee that I forgot all about the camera.
First, let's get the medical details out of the way. Many people are bored by medical details; if you are one, just skip ahead to the part after the * * * * *. I find such details fascinating, even when they are not mine own.
Results of the MRI: yes, there is indeed a floater/foreign body in my knee. The nurse practitioner didn't say so, but I am assuming it is a bone chip caused by the second fall, the one directly onto my kneecap.
There is also a bit of torn cartilage. That's probably from the first fall, the face plant onto concrete in front of 100+ people.
And I have prepatellar bursitis, which the link calls "housemaid's knee." That would account for the swelling in the front of my knee and the numbness of that skin. Nurse said it might just be blood from the bruising, and if so, it will be reabsorbed by my body. If not, I may have to have an incision on the front of my knee to drain *it*, whatever *it* is.
In the meantime, I will have arthroscopic surgery to remove the floater and repair/remove the torn cartilage. The staff are working to schedule it the same day as when my ortho doc will remove the screws and bolt and plate from my ankle; that means just one 100-mile round trip and one anesthesia, yay. It will happen on Friday, August 28. Mark your calendars.
The nurse also had me get an ultrasound of that leg from the groin to the ankle to be sure I didn't have any blood clots. Results = no clots. Afterward I asked the tech what would have happened if there had been clots.
"Oh, usually they put you in the hospital and give you blood thinners."
Yikes. I hadn't realized that part could be so serious, although upon reflection I realize of course it is.
Oh, and I seem to have some infection in that knee and shin (the link above mentions that the bursa can get infected when injured). Hot packs and antibiotics are in progress.
All this because I couldn't keep track of my feet...
* * * * *
Now for the more interesting stuff.
The week after the fall we went camping again, this time on the North Shore (of Lake Superior). Weather was a bit damp and cool, but that really didn't bother us -- we tend to nap/read/eat/knit/snuggle dogs when camping. All that can be done in the camper if necessary.
We had dinner one night with Smokey's old boss, who is now retired and who has a cabin near Grand Marais. We ate at the Cascade Restaurant:
The views from our table by the window:
Even though the weather was not 100% cooperative while we were camping, I think I got some very nice photos, one or two perhaps worthy of entry at the fair next year.