The long melt

This post pretty much speaks for itself. It just details the long, slow melt of this year’s snow from our back deck from the first day of spring until the 18th of April, when it was finally all gone.  It has been a long, cold spring and even as  I’m writing this (on April 25th) – it seems as if winter still doesn’t want to let go (it snowed yesterday!). — well I took a while to get this posted.  It now being May 13!  We’ve had a week of summer even (that likely explains the lack of blogging).  The garden is coming along nicely. I’ll add a current photo to the end if I can.

February 27th (ish) - the snow is up to the top of the table.

February 27th (ish) – the snow is up to the top of the table and filling in most of the deck.

On the first day of spring, the snow is still up to the top of the table... and then the slow melt starts.

On the first day of spring, the snow is still up to the top of the table… and then the slow melt starts.

Easter Weekend.  Very snowy.

Easter Weekend. Very snowy.

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oh - we were so close on April 10th and then on the 11th we had another snow storm.

Oh – we were so close on April 11th (previous photos)  and then on the 12th we had another snow storm!

Luckily that snow did not stick around for long.

Luckily that snow did not stick around for long.

April 20th - we finally have a snow free back yard.

April 20th – we finally have a snow free back yard.

Adventures with a two year old.

We spent a week at my parent’s place because the Man is going to a conference nearby.  It was a good chance to visit friends in this part of the province as well as have a little holiday.  One morning, the Boy and I went for an “adventure” out at our cottage.  He enjoys the outdoors and we want to encourage that.  In the city we don’t get out to the forest as often as we might, so I thought we’d try going for a little hike. I wasn’t sure if the Boy would want to walk as far as I thought he should (and really hoped that I wouldn’t end up carrying him home) – but we was a great little hiker.  Hopefully we can encourage him to walk some more and slowly be able to stop having to use the stroller.

Every adventure should start with a good collection of sticks.  Luckily there were lots to be found as we started out on our walk.

Every adventure should start with a good collection of sticks. Luckily there were lots to be found as we started out on our walk.

Mommy - look at my sticks, look at my sticks mommy.  It is very important that mommy sees all the sticks and acknowledges how many are being carried.

“Mommy – look at my sticks, look at my sticks mommy.”  It is very important that mommy sees all the sticks and acknowledges how many are being carried.

Oh look - Canada's Economic Action Plan is hard at work out here in the middle of the woods.  Thank goodness for this useful sign, otherwise, I might not have known all the great things my government is doing.

Oh look – Canada’s Economic Action Plan is hard at work out here in the middle of the woods. Thank goodness for this useful sign, otherwise, I might not have known all the great things my government is doing.

We arrived at the other side of the lake and traded the sticks (which we threw into the lake) for rocks (which we threw into the lake).

We arrived at the other side of the lake (where my cousins have a cottage) and traded the sticks (which we threw into the lake) for rocks (which we threw into the lake).

Bloop!

Bloop!

Someone had carefully set stones on the top of all the posts.  I hope they weren't important because we threw them all into the water.

One of my cousins had carefully set stones on the top of all the posts. I hope they weren’t important because we threw them all into the water.

After a while we went back.  At the top of the hill there was a patch of snow.  Still.

After a while we went back. At the top of the hill there was a patch of snow. Still.

We very carefully walked around the snow. We didn't want to get our feet too wet, and it was pretty slippery.

We very carefully walked around the snow. It was pretty slippery.

Then we walked back down the other side of the "Mountain"...

Then we very carefully walked back down the other side of the “Mountain” through the tree tunnel…

And threw sticks off of all the docks between there and our cottage.  The water is pretty high right now.  Some of the docks were just about underwater.

…And threw sticks off of all the docks between there and our cottage. The water is pretty high right now. Some of the docks were just about underwater.  I had to keep a close eye on the Boy to make sure that he didn’t charge into the water in order to go to the very end of the dock. That would have ended very badly.

Last dock back at home.  Time to throw our last few sticks and then...

Last dock – back at Mom and Dad’s cottage. Time to throw our last few sticks and then…

...go and have a snack on the deck.

…go and have a rest and a snack on the deck.

It was a perfect adventure for a two year old and a fun way to spend the morning with the Boy. I should look for some short walks around home and check them out when we get back.  As long as there are sticks and something to poke with them, I think that we’d have a pretty good time.

Graphic Design – Tulips on Two Wheels

Last year, the cycling advocacy group I’m a part of (Citizens for Safe Cycling – http://www.safecycling.ca), decided to organize a spring event called “tulips on two wheels”. As part of the event, we decided to order t-shirts for the volunteers. I had an idea for the shirts that, with the help of a graphic designer at “the SAM group” in Ottawa (http://www.thesamgroup.ca/), we were able to turn into a neat logo for the event. (I recommend the SAM group for this. I gave them a very rough sketch (see below) and for $35.00 (plus we had to order a certain number of shirts) they created this great logo for us.  When I asked for a copy of the digital file this year they were happy to give it to us to use as we wanted.  We ordered more shirts for our event this year and I’m sure we will continue to give them our business, while we continue to run this event.)

Original design used on t-shirts last year. Created from my very rough sketch by Robert at the SAM Group.

Original design used on t-shirts last year. Created by Robert at the SAM Group.

This was my idea for the shirts that I sent to the SAM group.  (I really am not an artist)

This was my idea for the shirts.  I literally sent this rough sketch to the SAM group and they turned it into the T-shirt that you see above. (I really am not an artist)

I loved the logo, but didn’t entirely like the way it looks in only two colours, to this year I started fooling around in GIMP and figured out how to add the colour to the tulips.  I think it’s a big improvement.

Modified design with no words and no logo

Modified design with no words and no logo – and bright colourful tulips!

I’m really pleased with the design now,  and I think we’ll use this logo for various purposes for several years.  I like that it is obvious that we’re from Ottawa as soon as you see it.

Logo used in promotional material for Tulips on Two Wheels 2013.

Logo used in promotional material for Tulips on Two Wheels 2013.

And now we’re using it on promotional material not just related to “Tulips on Two Wheels” – but for all Citizens for Safe Cycling promotion.  Here’s the banner, in print, that got me working on the logo again this year.

Our new "professional" looking banner.

Our new “professional” looking banner.

We also need to give a shout out to Stephen Cretney at “http://theforest.ca/” for helping us with the final file conversion to CMYK before we printed the banner.  We didn’t have software to do this conversion and it was necessary to do it prior to sending the banner to the printer. Stephen, you’re awesome! Keep your eye out for this logo to show up on other CfSC promotional material in the near future.

Knitting, the retrospective – (Part V)

I’m going to start going for consistency in these headlines – really, I am a person who likes to pay attention to detail!
Ever since I knit the big intarsia bicycles I wanted to find a way to knit a smaller, easier bicycle.  I looked and looked on the internet and it seemed that no one but me was interested in knitting small bikes into knitting patterns (I will note that I hadn’t discovered Ravelry at this point… I’m not always an early adopter – if I had been, I might have saved myself a lot of trouble!).  I’m also not excellent at drawing – and so I was a bit stuck as to how I could create the bike that I wanted for my knitting patterns.
Then, when my next close friend got pregnant I had to find a way to knit an easier bike or else go back to the big ones.  These friends are bike fanatics. They have never owned a car and the husband doesn’t drive.  What they do have is a fleet of bikes in their garage, and- they met each other while teaching bicycle safety courses and -they took their honeymoon by bike.  These friends are also public transport experts and know everything about putting bikes on trains and busses – they even own folding bikes to make this task a little bit easier.
I knew that if I knit them a sweater it had to have a bike on it somewhere – so I finally sat down and drew one out.  In the end I was quite pleased with the result. It’s a nice small bike  and it can be added easily to a variety of different patterns.  In this case, I decided that the perfect design for this couple would be a train, with bikes on it.  I found a train pattern* and modified it to fit onto my sweater pattern.  I added the flatbed cars and the bikes to the cars.  The wife of this couple works for a transportation authority here in Canada that is in charge of urban trains – so it seemed fitting on many levels.
The happy bike train.

The happy bike train.

And so, the bike train was born.  I had to laugh at myself when I finished this project.  It was also quite challenging to knit – not so much because of the intarisa – but because the train involved two colours and with the background that made three.  Three strands of different coloured yarn is tricky to manage.  If you are carrying along two strands along the back, the work gets quite thick and bunchy if you aren’t careful.  And as usual – sooooo much twisting.  I finished the bike train and I had the same experience as when I finished the big bikes.  “I’m never knitting this again!” – I was very pleased with the end result – but I also learned that two colours at the same time is about all that anyone is ever going to want to knit.   Each time I design a sweater I learn a bit more about what is practical as a knitting pattern and what isn’t.  Just because you can turn it into a chart doesn’t mean that it’s going to be very easy to translate the chart into a finished garment .
Back of the Bike Train

Back of the Bike Train

Front of the bike train

Front of the bike train

*(here’s a link to the train pattern that I started with: http://www.knittinganyway.com/freethings/Charts/trucksandtrains.htm)
Sweater in action.

Sweater in action.

A Trip to the Sugar Bush

For the second year in a row we joined my sister and her husband and two other families for a trip to Beantown Ranch (http://www.beantownranch.com/) for the Cabane A Sucre experience. (This was now a couple weekends ago… I’m getting slow on my posts.  I seem to be doing other things than writing with my free time.)

Growing up in southern Ontario, “sugaring off” was always something that was noted in the spring.  There were sugar bushes to visit – I think the nearest one to us was in Paisley, as well as Maple Syrup Festivals.  And while I was certainly aware of where Maple Syrup came from and when it came when I was young, we didn’t really take part in any of the festivals.

It was a very cold afternoon - but we did see a little bit of sun.

It was a very cold afternoon – but we did see a little bit of sun.

The Cabane a Sucre experience is a little bit different than the Maple Syrup Festivals of my youth.  It is more centred around a meal. A meal in which you get many traditional breakfast foods.  A meal which can be happily called the “plate O’ brown” as, other than pickles, there are no vegetables in sight (unless you count the home fries!).  There are also many different variations on pork products including ham, sausage, and the best – pork rinds – which, I think, are just a VERY crispy form of bacon (deep fried bacon?!), eggs and of course, pancakes, on which you can pour your maple syrup. If this isn’t enough, there’s sugar pie for dessert. It’s all a very yummy and decadent meal, not haute cuisine – but good, nonetheless.  As a lover of brunch you don’t have to ask me twice.

The "Plate O' Brown"

The “Plate O’ Brown”

After the meal they offer rides on a horse drawn wagon through a loop through the forest, past some trees tapped in the traditional way, with spigots and buckets which ends with a maple taffy treat, spread out on ice and then rolled up with a stick.

For the two year olds in the crowd (of which we had three) – the horse ride is AMAZING.  It was so fun to see their eyes light up at the sight of the horses.  The entire process of riding on the wagon was just fascinating to them.  It’s funny, because it’s not like I ride on a wagon pulled by horses very often either (like once a year, at the sugar bush!) – but it’s just so lovely to see these things through their eyes. It is definitely one of the big joys of having children!

HORSEY!

HORSEY!

 

The best moment of all came when we got into the shack for the maple taffy. It was being given out by an older gentleman with a white beard and a ‘coon skin hat. He had on pants with suspenders and a red shirt.  The Boy looked at him with big eyes and asked “IS THAT SANTA?”  He couldn’t believe it.  He’s been looking for Santa ever since Christmas and couldn’t believe that he had finally found him!  We told him that he would have to ask him if he was Santa when it was our turn.  When we finally got to the front of the line the Boy was watching the man’s every move.  We gave him a prompt – “ask the man your question”  And he did – “Are you Santa?”  The man just nodded and we said – “wow!  it IS Santa” – and his day was made.  So there you have it.   Santa moonlights making maple taffy in the off season.

So, Cabane a Sucre – a fun eastern Ontario/Quebec tradition.  I know that we’ll be taking our kid for many years to come.

 

Little Boys Walking in the Mud. - One of the joys of Spring.

Little Boys Walking in the Mud. – One of the joys of Spring.

 

Knitting, the retrospective – (Part IV)

I just noticed that each knitting post has had a similar title, with very different punctuation.  No consistency here folks.

For the next sweater I went back to intarsia, where I said I wouldn’t go again.  I get a little carried away with the design and never really think about how hard it will be to knit.  This one wasn’t so bad.  There weren’t that many strands to carry at the same time.  I used a very random selection of yarn for this sweater – so had a few tension problems.

This sweater was for friends who’d spent time working as naturalists on a sailboat on the west coast of British Columbia. They had even had their wedding on a sailboat and I was lucky enough to attend.  It was beautiful.  They were ahead of the curve in childbearing and their first daughter was born before I started making custom sweaters – that meant that # 2 deserved a sweater.  Inspired by their wedding and summers on the boat, I came up with the idea of a sail boat with big fish jumping on it.  Some of the whale photos they brought back from their rips were simply amazing.  I don’t actually have a photo of this kid wearing the sweater – so we’ll have to use our imagination.  If I knit this again I would likely use more consistent yarn types and change the colours a bit, I’d also try to move the sun out from under the collar.  It’s not the most amazing sweater I’ve ever knit, but like all of them, it was knit with love.

Sail Boat Sweater

Sail Boat Sweater

Big jumping fish!

Big jumping fish!

The sailboat wedding was in 2005. I knit the sweater in 2010. Happy memories all around!

This really happened while on the boats for our friends sailboat wedding.

This really happened while on the boats for our friends’ sailboat wedding.  Perfect!

Every sailboat wedding needs welly boots!

Every sailboat wedding needs welly boots!