Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tomoko's Farewell

We hated to see the day come, when we had to say goodbye. In the months that Tomoko had been coming to the barn, we all got to know her a bit, and came to admire her alot. She was determined — English was not her first language and she was taking dressage lessons, difficult enough for a native speaker! (how would you say 'haunches in' in Japanese, anyway?) — quietly brave, and, as we found out, very funny. Sitting on the deck one morning, we were laughing about some spousal blunder — don't worry, Dave, it wasn't you! — and she said, "Oh yes. Sometimes Japanese wives like it when the husbands are gone a long time."

And, she's a horse person, for sure, married to a non-horse person, for sure. No matter: He got dragged along to the expo — like a true horse husband, someone had to carry the wallet. She had shopping to do! A new saddle, ca-ching.

We couldn't let her go home without marking the occasion. She wanted us to meet for lunch, so we started off tastefully enough one afternoon at Origami for sushi, saki and silliness:

A few days later, on the day before her plane left for home, we had a party at the barn. Happily, it was one of those perfect Minnesota days, so we spent it outside. She rode Niamh, her favorite horse, coming:

... and going:

Then, more fine dining, this time on the Caille Farm veranda:

What better way to digest chips, dip and cheap wine than with a spin on Barb T.'s four-wheeler:

Maybe it was a bit of a hootenanny, but we had a good time -- and I hope she won't forget us.

We'll leave a light on for you, Tomoko. Come on back, you betcha.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Weekend

Well, another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. First weekend up north for many, first weekend of yard work for many others. Count me in that last group — I spent Saturday cleaning up the flower bed at the barn. It had gotten long in the tooth, for sure:

Four feed bags of weeds, 20 bags of mulch and all day later, it was time to pull the yard tractor around to the side of the barn (to return composted dirt to the big pile) and head for home:

I was so tired. I don't know how I was able to lift my fork to my mouth for dinner, but I am very grateful that David cooked that night. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

You can't deny the benefits of a hot shower — between that and a full stomach, I perked up enough to cast on for my Kashmir stole, from Rowan's Classic Alpaca book. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten any further than that, either. It is odd to me that the row ends in the middle of a pattern repeat. Maybe I'm just being thick-headed.

Seems pretty small stuff, considering what happened to those in Hugo who had their lives upended yesterday. Sunday's tornadoes began just across the highway from our house -- quite close enough, thank you -- but the storm gained enough power in the next 15 minutes to decimate a neighborhood and kill a 2-year-old boy, who was blown into a pond in his back yard. Just like that, the funnel was gone, just as quickly as it had appeared.

And that family will never be the same.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Small Keepsake

See this?

It's a momento of a woman I never met, but wish I had. I was given this well-kept little box and its contents the other day by this woman's granddaughter, who sat next to me at work several desk configurations ago. Catherine would occasionally wear a variety of old, but lovely handknit sweaters and greet me by pulling it up so I could examine the backside (it was our joke). Yes, indeed, another treasure from Gran. Of Norwegian descent, of course, Florence Catherine Preus lived a healthy life, passing away a few weeks ago at 99.

Thank you, Catherine, for thinking of me. Now I have a treasure from your Gran, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shepherd's Harvest Festival

It's been several years since I was able to go to Llama Magic and to Shepherd's Harvest, but some things haven't changed. Namely, the weather (cold, windy and rainy — you'd think it was May or something ...) and the date (Mother's Day weekend). While waiting for Astri and JudyA. (with a special guest appearance by Pat!), I made a full pest of myself in the animal barns. Here is my livestock sampler. First, the alpacas and llamas:

And then, one building over, were the sheep and goats. keey-yewt!!

or handsome ...

or unusual ...

or dark and difficult to photograph:

It was as I stood ... and stood ... and stood in the eternal lunch line that the others arrived. Yay! One hot dog and a cup of OK coffee later (no slam intended, I'm just fussy*), we trooped off to the vendors' barn, where I nearly fainted from the opportunities for misbehavior a k a stash enhancement. It was love at first sight and my shopping was done when I found this:

1,440 yards of alpaca and cormo wool from Blue Hills Alpacas & Fiber Mill, of Bruce, Wis. It will be the stole in Rowan's Classic Alpaca book. JudyA., the yarn concierge, found me a nostespinne. It's a splendid, low-tech tool for winding yarn, especially if your other winder is a) buried in the yarn chest or b) you're traveling or c) you simply feel like winding by hand. They make lovely center-pull balls that look like dinosaur eggs.

The perfect ending to a three-day weekend? A wedding on Sunday evening: congratulations, Michael and Linda!

*please act a little surprised

If I Only Had a Brain ...

The scarecrow has nothing on me. It was about two weeks ago when I nearly sprained my elbow patting myself on the back for finishing this:

and for starting the other one right away. At the shop several days ago, I held it up kinda where it will sit and ... it was TOO SHORT! I am 6 feet tall — everything is too short, and I know to add an inch or two. What was I thinking? Thank you, Jean, for ripping it back:

Sigh. I was, of course, annoyed at the sleeve, so it spent several days in time out. It's still there in fact, while I plug away on the other one. I was so annoyed, in fact, that I spent the next night in the basement. Not sulking, really, but turning this (eeee-yew ...):

... back into this:

Much better. God bless Leather Therapy. Pepper might not notice, but the Barbs and I sure will.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday, Playday ...

An extra day off, long anticipated and sorely needed. On the agenda: knitting, a trip to the barn and my seventh-grader's spring band concert. I managed to be three for three by the end of the day, although not necessarily in that order!

I was only a few minutes late for the concert tonight. I missed the first of their five pieces, but I tell you what. You haven't lived until you've folded yourself onto a creaky bleacher and listened as three oboes, Laurel's among them, a handful of other woodwinds, four trombones and three enthusiastic percussionists play "Chopsticks" and "We Will Rock You." God bless the teachers.

I also got to listen in on the girls' piano lessons this evening, which is when I was able to pull out the knitting — that second, interminable sleeve of the seed-stitch sweater. It was only after everyone went to bed that I was able to reach for these:

The vinterblomster mittens, which are insanely popular on Ravelry — the last time I checked, that pattern had been "faved" 405 times! My pair are out of some Finullgarn in my stash. If you log on to Ravelry, check out the color combinations — some are pretty fun.

Before the rain moved in this afternoon, I was at the barn, without a jacket! I think that even Beau, Mr. Bored himself, had a good time. It was our first outdoor ride of the season. After everyone was done, we brought Mama and Baby Taliskar in from the back pasture. Three days old and he's a business:

Hello, Baby!

The phone call came on Saturday night: It looked like Caille, one of the trainer's mares, was going to have her baby -- come as soon as you can. And, a little colt arrived at the barn shortly after I did.

Hello, Taliskar. We've been waiting for you:

Barb T.? You won the pool -- lunch is on you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

At Last, Some Knitting

What is it above sleeves, anyway? It doesn't seem to matter how large the sweater, how many zillions of stitches in the body: Sleeves. Take. Forever. And this one was no exception. It seemed like hours ...

and hours ...

before late this evening, at long last ...

Of course, I can't go to bed without ...

One good thing about staying up a bit too late after work is that I got to finish the first sleeve and begin the second while listening to this:

The first thunderstorm of the season. Maybe it really is spring, after all.
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