Back on the Ranch

Home now, unpacked and getting back into the swing of things. I slept over 14 hours on our return on Saturday, almost unable to wake up on Sunday morning.  Headed to the shop and sat in the sunshine and knitted.  Tash is off on her travels around Europe – I hope she made it okay onto the plane this morning.  Early morning flight from Gatwick meant possibly sleeping in the airport. Suck.

DH made a great Thai beef salad last night, though a bit heavy on the onions.  Perhaps from all the stored up sleep, or maybe all those onions, didn’t get to sleep until well past 2 am last night.  I ended up downstairs with a bowl of cereal around midnight, DH joined me not long after.  He made us some ovaltine (warm milk is supposed to make you sleepy).  I finished Maggie O’Farrell’s After you’d gone while he read his new book. I can’t remember who lent me the O’Farrell book (thank you! er please can you remind me so I can return it?) – it took me a few tries to get into it, and then I whizzed through it. It was interesting – a non-linear narrative from different perspectives, though the love stories were mostly all tragic.  I must learn not to read books that are described as ‘devastating’or ‘tender and tragic’.  Sad stories that could be real resonate too much with me, and I find myself thinking them through more than I would like.  Having said that, I do still want to see Time Traveller’s Wife though again that one is a ‘tragic love story’. At least I know the ending so it won’t be a surprise!  Finished the book and went upstairs, finally falling asleep past two.

Deuce has something wrong with his eye again -I’m hoping he has a hair or something caught in it, it doesn’t look like he has any punctures, but it’s a bit swollen and weepy.  Fingers crossed it isn’t something that requires a trip to Cambridge again.

Slowly crossing items off my list today, just one last thing to do.  Time for lunch and a little knitting.  Scum Bubbles in STR Heavy Weight.  Misknits made a february lady sweater in this and I completely fell in love with the colour. I really don’t look good in the sweater, the shape just doesn’t suit me, so I’m going to use the same gull lace stitch and raglan sleeve shaping to make a differnt cardi. I guess I could call it the August Grrl Sweater, cuz I feel more a grrl than a laydee!

Over & Out Cowtown

Again sitting at the airport, YYC this time, listening to the muffled announcements (seriously, can anyone understand them?) and waiting to board our flight back to Heathrow.

DH sitting next to me reading his new book, Guns Germs & Steel, and me with my last bag of Old Dutch ketchup chips and swedish berries for the plane.  Oh and my trashy mag indulgence -something called Life & City. Hmmm. I figure I feel a bit blue and need a little cheer me up.  I’m really feeling the goodbye today – I’d like to stay longer.  My mom mentioned she heard something about dogs being allowed in cabin – bigger dogs in kennels – and I want to look into it.  Maybe we could stay a little longer with Deuce next time…

Our last couple days were really nice, Thursday we hung out at home, I worked a bit, we went to T&T and checked out Restoration Hardware at Southcentre – the home furnishing in Calgary just gets better and better. I saw a Crate & Barrel opening at Southcentre. Jealous (1)!  we got another crab and made dinner for mom & Alice – my favourite crab linguine. It’s really different with dungeness crab – really light and fluffy. 

I also finished my Shawl That Jazz shawl design by Sam Roshak.  It’s gorgeous and warm tho’ a little too heavy for today’s 32 degree weather, but i think it will be perfect for london this fall.
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This morning we did some household things, taking advantage of my mom’s top loader & dryer, washing all our clothes and drying them. Mom took us to a little japanese place called Big Sushi in Marda Loop then headed to Inglewood to a bead shop.  We coudn’t turn into the parking lot since there was a truck and car in the way, so my mom drove up the street a little and in true 4×4 fashion, drove up the curb. Love them SUVs!

Taking off soon, so roger out.

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Albertasaurus

Wednesday we headed out to Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum – a great place for budding and actual paleontologists. We made a breakfast stop at Tim Hortons, then Lake Chestermere to visit an old uni friend, who is now a Calgary cop.

Headed north east to Drumheller, home of Alberta’s Badlands.  We had glorious weather and my dear missed Alberta blue sky. 

Prairies – road, and sky.
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Fields, and sky.
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Er, truck, and sky.
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We stopped off at Horseshoe Canyon, a mini Grand Canyon.

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We climbed into the valley and had an ice cream each at the top.

Then into Drumheller.
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It’s a small town, peppered with dinosaurs. Yup, you read right. See that blue thing in front of the shop? It really is a dinosaur.
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And here are some more I snapped here and there around town
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These are precursors to the real thing…

a little closer to how they might have been in their day
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And finally the real McCoy inside the Tyrell Museum. 

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Woolly Mammoth!
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We wandered around these fossils, feeling rather small and inconsequential.

This is the right hind limb of a camarasaurus.  I come up to its prehistoric knee.  Yikes. Very very big.

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And even real dino-poop. I thought this was hilarious – DH less so.
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The museum is also home to lab technicians working on field finds and uncovering fossils.
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The giant prehistoric ameoba like sea carnivores were really disturbing – I couldn’t even look at them.  But the massive dinosaurs were awesome. Seriously, it was an amazing place.

We headed out to the hoodoos afterwards, and wandered about a small cluster of them.

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Me(R) DH (middle) & the Chanster (L)
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We drove by the new Crossirons Mall that opened that day – these are all the cars queuing to get into the mall
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And that huge structure spanning the photo from left to right, that is the mall. Massive.  Would give those dinosaurs a run for the money, I reckon.
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And finally a little panorama of Calgary. Not the most beautiful perspective, but it does a good job at showing how flat and wide the city is. The tall cluster of buildings is downtown, about 20k from where we were.
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Thanks Chanster for driving us around all day! 🙂

Ogopogo

Friday morning, my mom, David & I trundled into my mom’s SUV (of course, she’s in Alberta. Where everyone and their nan drives an SUV) and drove off into the Rockies.  We drove past Canmore, into Banff then across through Yoho National Park then Mount Revelstoke National Park where we stayed at David’s boss’s gorgeous log house for a bit of R&R.
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The house was like a hobbit’s country home – all cozy, big logs and gorgeous views of the surrounds mountains and fields.  We went to a local restaurant for dinner, which was completely lovely.  My dinner had a little cray fish on it – first time I’ve knowingly eaten one.  Somehow I felt that I ought to have schnapps and song to sing with it!  😉
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I didn’t know what to expect from Revelstoke, and was very pleasantly surprised. It is a small town, no doubt, but full of charm and a laid back west coast vibe. The house sits at the base of Revelstoke Mountain, a new ski resort that looks set to give the other local ski resorts (Fernie, Kicking Horse) a run for their money. Looking forward to finding some time to get back out there during ski season.

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Saturday morning was the local farmer’s market. The peaches were enormous, and we were lucky enough to snag a basket.  We got some fixings for a bbq dinner that evening, and then headed over to Modern Bakery, the town spot for a java jolt, and as far as I could tell, where everyone in town seems to hang out. We got a nanaimo bar (my favourite) which david called a ‘namino bar’ and proceeded to gobble it all up.

Very relaxing stay – mom & I watched Becoming Jane with James McAvoy (yummy!) and David professed to find it too soppy to watch but of course sat down and became engrossed anyways.  He made us a lovely BBQ dinner with the tenderest corn I’ve ever had. Man I love the Okanagon Valley.  We watched Ocean’s 13 after dinner since we couldn’t agree on any other film and Quantum of Solace wouldn’t play for us.
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Sunday we got up, got coffee from Modern, and then drove on to Kelowna to do a little wine tasting. We headed over to Quail’s Estate for lunch. Amazing. Delicious. The oysters were fab, and the chenin blanc was a great pairing. The added zip of sauvignon blanc kept it from going overly sweet.  And it was kind of exciting to discover it was the same wine that was served to Obama when he visited S Harper!
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After lunch we headed over to Summerhill, my favourite hippy/crunchy vineyard.  Totally organic, and all wines stored in the 8% exact replica of the Pyramid at Giza.

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Kelowna has grown – it used to be a very small little sleepy town. No more.  We drove by Taco Bell, The Bay, Starbucks, and a whole slew of little shops and businesses.   What an idyllic life – the fabulous Okanagon lake for watersports, the wineries, the fruit orchards and the incredible seafood.  Sigh. Oh and of course the famous Ogopogo, Canadian cousin to Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

Monday we headed back to Calgary after a visit to the local train museum (very cool – a great place to visit with some trains to board and a great history of the transcanada railway line, and a very appropriate commemoration to all the workers who made it possible).

Lastly we stopped at Emerald Lake, where my cousin was married a few years ago. I can’t believe I’ve never been. Just beautiful. 

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The lodge looks like the most amazing place to stay. Cabins with their own fireplaces (and chopped firewood on each balcony).  Uniquely Canadian!

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Pampered Tootsies & Sock Summit Photos

Good day today – mom & I went and treated ourselves to a lovely paraffin pedi. 

Before:
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During:
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And after:
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Am very pleased with my now lovely and soft footsies!

And as an extra treat, we went to Gravity Pope and picked me up some Fluevogs:
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We rounded up the evening with a fabulous sushi meal at Zen 8. Yummmmy!
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Some late photos of Sock Summit for your viewing pleasure:

Susan – the chicken is for you cause I know how much you’d love one! 😉

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Chris & Stephen with gorgeous Janie Sparkles!
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Team Rav at the Ravelry party set up,

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Dear Joan
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Registration excitement
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The wonderful Tina Newton & Robia
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Alice in the Heartland, Tapmouse & me in the corner
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My BFF Susan – she made me laugh and laugh and laugh!  Susan showing of her new Daneskos and Queen of Beads. 
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The incredible Judith MM
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Knitters at the Rav party
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Er, well… indeed.
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Voodoo Donut and decor, and of course the donuts. Yes that says Gay Bars. I didn’t take a photo of the cock and balls, wish I had now!
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The start of my sock hop Twinkie socks and the end of Susan’s sock hop socks, some Peet’s coffee and 2 mimosas at Cafe Milo on our last day in Portland.
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And finally, Mt Rainier taken from the plane as we were descending into Seattle. 
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Sitting with a wheat beer and a beef dip at Sea-tac airport.  The beer around here is crazy good – am in love with Black Butte Porter. Yummy.

Anyways, you’re probably dying to know how  it’s been.  The Summit has been a crazy wonderful few days.  Took a class with Clara Parkes, knelt (literally!) at the feet of Judith Mackenzie McCuin, spun with cashmere for socks (a fabulous fibre for it we learned from Judith), hung out with Ron Miskin of Buffalo Gold (he is a darling), stroked the most delicious fibre…it’s all a jumble in my head.  Am tired, but so thrilled to have been part of it.

On Thursday I had my first class with Clara Parkes.  It was just amazing how knowledgeable she is from a scientific and technical standpoint about fibre and its structure.  What makes a great sock yarn? Something elastic, absorbant, and strong.  A tightly spun, high angled 3 ply yarn is a great start (and that is why STR is top in my books!).  She is funny, warm and sassy.  Wonderful lady.  We got a sneak peak at her new book – very very exciting. This is a reference must have for serious fibrephiles.  I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Thursday night was opening night reception – Stephanie and Tina held court, and all the teachers, veritable luminaries in the knitting world, were in attendance. There were tears, giggles and somewhat sleep deprived hysterical laughter.  

It was just amazing – all the sock camp faces were there – MJ and her hubby with the new baby in tow, Leslie, Marisol, Lisa, Irishgirlie, Sam, Susan, Joan, Cecelia, Stephen – a warm and fuzzy reunion of sorts. Barbara Walker received a standing ovation.  Familiar faces – JC Briar, Cookie A, Marjan (Yarnissima), Cat Bordhi, and new faces -Nancy Bush, Judith MM, Anna Zilboorg, Barbara Walker, Janel Laidman, Amy Singer… the list goes on. I feel giddy just reeling off the list. All these amazing women, who have contributed so much. Seriously awesome.

Friday morning I had class with Judith – and we played with yak, cashmere, alpaca, silk, merino, bfl… and she taught with humour, warmth, and graciousness. She passed around 175 year old stockings that she was gifted, and had only recently stopped wearing. Cotton thread knitting lace (seriously, this was like cobweb laceweight) but the stockings were elastic, and beautifully made. Judith told us they were incredibly comfortable. Just beautiful! 

Friday afternoon we went to Voodoo Donut, a local destination, whose motto is ‘The magic is in the hole’, a somewhat dubious moniker IMHO.  They are famous for their “voodoo donut” – a red jelly filled chocolate glazed man shaped donut with a pretzel stick stake stuck in its heart.  Funny and kind of gross. They had cock & balls, old cock & balls – and er, they are donuts as you imagine they would be.  They had a Gay Bar filled with cream… and other donuts in a similar vein.  I was boring and had a cruller.

The place has a really funky decor – a windblown chandelier, obits on the walls and skulls and zombies and a ouija board.   The area was a little skanky – lots of young beggars, some looking the worse for wear (the young woman by Voodoo Donut had open sores all over her face. Really sad).   Apparently around that area there are a lot of food banks and shelters. 

That evening we skipped the Sock Hop as we were tired and hungry, and needing something a little more substantial and better for you than burger king.  We went out for a nice dinner at Rock Bottom.

The days zipped by – Saturday morning I volunteered from 7 to 11 in the morning again, though the jet lag meant getting up was no problem.  Registration was a little slower, so I was lucky enough to bag 8 skeins of Bugga that morning. Bugga is Sanguine Gryphon’s gorgeous new yarn – 20% cashmere, 70% merino and 10% nylon. Very similar to Casbah with that smidgeon more cashmere.  Divine.

Met up with Cookie and Susan for lunch, and then back to volunteer that night for team Rav, the set up for the Ravelry party.  It was great to Casey & Jess and Mary Heather again, and to meet Sarah their new team member. We hung lights, opened boxes, met and greeted over 500 Ravellers, as well as one definite gate crasher (when asked what he thought Ravelry was, he said ‘it means knitting, right?’.  Still he seemed to enjoy himself as I spied him later that evening hanging out and enjoying the crowd.  We headed back to the hotel and joined Cookie & Anne for a little knitting which was really nice and low key.

This morning we actually got to sleep in a little, packed and went to enjoy a nice breakfast. Crabcake Benedict. Yummmy. We chanced upon a Peet’s Coffee which was awesome – but  not as awesome as the Stumptown latte Stephen brought me on Saturday morning. Oh! I got to meet Janie Sparkles – Stephen’s adorable french bulldog. I got alot of kisses and cuddles to help me deal better with Deuce withdrawal!

Now time to head home – I’m sad to be leaving my Sockstar friends again, but looking forward to seeing David tomorrow night, and also to see my mom and dad again.  Somehow knowing I’m on the same (or close enough) time zone makes it feel like I’m that much closer to everyone on this side of the pond.  It’s been more than lovely being able to spend time with Susan Joan and Sam. 

Looking forward to Rhinebeck where it is a little less hectic and there is a little more quality time to hang out!

Rule Brittania!

First day of Sock Summit and it was awesome! Took a class with Clara Parkes who was amazing. She had socks knit by Cat Bordhi in Natural Dye Studio! It was all I could do not to jump and shriek ‘I know her! I know her!’. Lots of nodding and agreeing all around the classroom on how wonderful the NDS Dazzle (BFL) sock yarn is.

Saw Cookie and met Judith Mackenzie McCuin (be still my beating heart!) and Nancy Bush – just amazing and wonderful and so inspiring. Tomorrow class with Judith, can’t wait. We’re in a hotel a stone’s throw from the convention centre so getting around is super easy. And all the familiar faces – from sock camp and Rhinebeck- and all the knitters. It’s so nice to see the area inundated!

The marketplace was wonderful, but I was too tired to shop. Better tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.

Off to knit my Shawl That Jazz shawl. Need something big and warm!