Friday, October 28, 2011



I have a metaphorical coronary.

Cappuccino is totally unhurt and unfazed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guerilla Harvest

Autumn is here. The rain has already started for the season, early enough that long-time Northcoasters are saying: "Rain sure is EARLY this year."

I have two apple trees in my backyard. They are old trees, and I have no idea what varieties they are--some Gravenstein-y looking types. The tend to ripen sequentially (which is good when processing fruit tree produce, believe me!). The first is ripe. Not a huge harvest because my pole pruner broke last Winter halfway through Winter tree topping. The places I pruned produced some nice sized fruit. The upper unpruned areas have small apples, but they are way too high for me to get. I might catch some droppage. Note to self--GET A NEW POLE PRUNER...

I have just gone out and scooped up the reachable apples before the next rain comes. The way the clouds rolled in this morning, that will be soon. Ugh. Guess I need to make some pies for freezing tonight and tomorrow...

I really had incentive this year to get the fruit off the tree. We had a party in our backyard recently. Not one we arranged and not one we wanted. I am talking a Procyon lotor party. That would be "common raccoon" to us normal folks. And that gathering wasn't just some casual get-together; it was a full-on frat party. My neighbor next door said they had him up all all night while the stomped around on his roof. I heard nothing, myself, but I noticed the next morning that the cat food was gone, the water was all full of mushy kibble and that the open back had been gotten into. "Strange", I thought. "The girls don't eat like that! And that was a new bag. Why is so much gone?" Well, a check in the back corner of the yard showed me. I found a pile of poop. It looked like dog poop at first and I thought "How the HELL did a dog get into our yard?!" The I noticed what looked like blackberries in the poop. The I found another pile. And another. and another. And another. I stopped counting at nine piles of feces, went inside and googled "racoon scat". I got a barrage of images that looked suspiciously like the piles in my backyard.


My cats are getting up there--15 years old and are quite cream-puffy to begin with. No tough tabbies here! I also didn't want my expensive designer cat food becoming the neighborhood smorgasbord. (I use Wysong feline vitality, primarily because it is well rated, the girls like it and even more important, Cappuccino doesn't barf when she eats it. Nothing like groggily stepping barefoot in a pile of cold cat puke early in the morning!)

Jekyll and Hyde: That cute face is not so cute when challenged!

The best way, I think to roll up the welcome mat in my yard is to remove the food sources. I do have a compost bin along the back fence, and I need to dump some grass on top of the contents--a task I will do in a bit. I don't want to trap the animals at this point. A lot of county animal control agencies will take the beasties and euthanize them. I also don't want to handle them myself. Adult racoons can be BIG and are quite adept at defending themselves.
For now, we will try that, along with pruning out the foliage so they have less cover. Nothing like pest control incentive!

UPDATE: I just chatted with my neighbor and his duck Guiseppe had a near miss. My neighbor went mano a mano with Rocky Raccoon, armed with a beer bottle. The duck is OK, but the raccoon was not only unfazed, but unafraid. The pack later lined up on his fence and peered at him through his bedroom window. This is getting a little too Stephen King, here!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Merrily We Knit-a Long...

After a long blog dry spell, at last a post. I have not posted much due to a dead camera. I never much care for all text blog posts. Still, this can be done with swiped images.

I have a couple of firsts-- two-fer, in fact. I am FINALLY doing my first Knit-a-Long and Mystery shawl. The shawl is Koi Rama by Kitman Figueroa. Kitman Figeroa is a knitting designer, primarily of shawls, and I have admired her work for quite while now. I have meant to make one of her designs for at least a year and a half, but have been distracted. My Ravelry queue has several of her designs and I even have yarn in my stash.
The picture from the Ravelry design page is this of a carp and a butterfly and is supposed to represent the spirit of the piece. There are no other indicators of what the finished shawl will look like. She gave no clues or swatches, but I have little doubt, based on her other work, that the end result will be pleasing. Kitman also has asked participants to use this image and not post progress pics until the shawl is finished. This project is, indeed, to be a mystery shawl. She announced her KAL a couple weeks ago, and the price to join was discounted for early birds, and being and eternal bargain-hunter, I bit. I am a sucker for a sale and honestly I have wanted to participate in a KAL. Ihave had several false starts, but I have already prepped everything and will cast on after I post this on my blog.

I was fairly certain that I had to have something in my stash that I could use for this and I was right. I bought a skein of Sanguine Gryphon Sappho I laceweight in a colorway called "All Can Be Endured". It was an impulse purchase and I am pleased that I found something I can use it for. I have had a naughty tendency to buy yarn in appealing hand-dyed yarns without having a project lately; this tendency is a really bad habit to fall into, given the current indie dyer choices out there. The skein has 850 yards, so I have a generous amount based on the yarn requirements, although the pattern does suggest that extra yardage might be needed for loose gauge knitters. That would be me.
The colors are all greens and teals with a hint of gold. The knitted swatch is more representative of what my skein looks like. I was wooed by the skein image when I bought the yarn, think the goldy-orange would be more prominent. I must cop to being a tad disappointed when the yarn arrived because my skein had no real orange. It was more gold than orange and the gold was very subtle. For this project, though, I think the colors will work well. It looks like a pond under trees with flashes of gold sunlight and golden koi carp moving in the shadows.

There are optional beads and I chose #8 seed beads in golden topaz to match the color of the yarn. The beads are transparent so the greenish yarn shows through. The beads are strung on, rather than slipped on while knitting via crochet hook while knitting. The shawl doesn't call for a lot of beads. The first clue came Friday and only calls for 204 beads, so they will give a quiet flash rather than drive the piece.

Well, I am excited to start and this shawl will not knit itself. Hopefully, I will have a camera by the time I am done and I will post finished pics. Knit on, baby!