Thursday, April 29, 2010

Northern Leopard frog - Rana pipiens

Although the temperature was dropping all day and quite nasty with wind and rain, it was spring. The air was rife with the fragrance of the land drinking in this spring moisture. I was headed to the barn to feed the birds and cats when I walked by this guy and couldn't resist going back for a camera.

I wonder if that hump on his back is an indication of age?

Rosy in the background dutifully turning her back on me when playing wasn't an option.





Bike project

I don't know a more reliable way to get a rise out of my women folk than to suggest even the smallest investment of time and energy in a bike project.

There is some deep hard wiring involved there, but I have some of that going on myself when it comes to bikes. What's bred in the bone and all. More will be revealed.

The tank is filled with scale. I'd say there might be a few centimetres of shrapnel rattling around in there. If it doesn't leak already, it might when there is liquid in there.


One of my favourite colours. Monkey shit brown.


The signal button is very sluggish and only the left side signals show any life. The front right side signal lens is broken. The missing mirrors shouldn't be too difficult to replace.


The seat is in really nice shape and we have all the covers for the ignition and such. I figure we can drop those rear shocks down and Snoot will be able to straddle it.


The carbs are all cleaned up and it runs every so nicely. The exhaust is intact.


The Tach is really sluggish, but the future is bright I'm sure.


Giving Mum's everywhere a reason to tell cautionary tales. Breeding for progress!

Done mitts

Done deal. First mitts are finished. The second one is a lot more attractive than the first, but over all I'm excited to have such a useful skill added to the repertoire. I'm hoping that a touque is next, but I'm not sure. I have a pattern for some felted slippers that I'd like to do too. Then again, as Mum said, it is spring and there are other things to do. Does that mean that I shouldn't be looking at season appropriate yarn? I've found some spectacular options.


Monday, April 26, 2010

New stitch holder

I was really frustrated with my first mitt. The instructions made little sense when I wasn't able to create the image of where they were pointing to in my head. I stumbled through, but the second one is looking much improved.

One of the things I found most frustrating with the first one was using a conventional stitch holder for the thumb while I went on to knit the top of the mitt. The holder was inflexible and really interfered with my ability to pull the first row tightly and properly above the thumb hole. I muddled it through to be passable, but I wasn't happy with the experience. I tried a different tack on the second mitt with some wire harvested from an old computer power supply. In combination with my improved thumb gusset, the new stitch holder is making this second mitt look much better than the first.

The first one I knit inside out, which Mum could not bend her brain around. Apparently there is no end to the possibilities for how a novice knitter will interpret a pattern. We had some good belly laughs over that one.


Here's the first one in the early stages. This is way too much fun.


Pop=1 laptop=0 in the first...

I'm a fan of Monday. Monday is the come down day from whatever hype the weekend had to offer. For instance, yesterday we fed 12 in fine fashion in the square foot challenged butter box we call home. It's much more quiet just now.

That's not to suggest that I wasn't contributing more than my share to the noise, just that variety is the spice, as some say.

What better way to break up the monotony of the Monday maintenance chores than an extreme repair. A tank of a laptop met a bad end with some mixed rum, I think it was. I'm in!


I am easily swayed toward a tempting puzzle of limited profitability. It's just the way I'm wired. I'm of the beleaguered and much maligned SPSEC. For the uninitiated, that stands for "Silk Purse, Sows Ear Club." Let us just accept the notion that entropy is best resisted and that reducing and reusing are the two most potent and least embraced portions of The Environmental Three R's.

I'm a hound for repairs. A solenoid that fails to engage on the lawn tractor carburettor is like a magnet to me. The cheap little cutlery holder on the dish rack has me drawing a pattern to make one from galvanised sheet metal. It turned out to have lasted nearly twenty years. Frankly it doesn't matter. It could be a mechanical toy that has it's engineers planting a firm life expectancy of fifteen minutes into it's soul and I'm in like a dirty shirt to squeeze another half hour out of it.

People bring me prizes. Yesterday a gift of a small 12v geared head motor arrived. My head spins with possibility. It used to turn over the compost in a kitchen appliance. I feel like the crow finding a shiny spoon. I'll likely stash this little prize and do nothing with it, but it literally sings to me of the potential. Fortunately there is a community of like minded souls living on reclaimed spin off mechanical parts and devices that do a booming trade in what others might categorize as useless junk.


Granted, it's a self indulgent sport, like them all, this salvage life. It's a calling, and who can ignore that? Less is more. The element to balance the equation is that we had a full compliment of electronics before we had running water. Tough to pigeon hole us maybe? Strangely, that bit about having computers and video recording capacity long before we could crap inside, really made some visitors angry. I never really figured out why that was.

Travel lightly where you can folks. Doing my part one watch and clock at a time.

What's bred in the bone. My Dad and I are cut from very similar cloth and I think he's brilliant!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fairy Shrimp

It took a few days to identify, but I pulled a neat creature out of some pond water across the road last weekend. It turned out to be a Fairy Shrimp which I'd never seen before. A crustacean with some interesting reproductive habits. Aren't they all interesting?

The eggs have to dry out and cab lay dormant for several years and then hatch thirty hours after a rain. They're really well suited to arid conditions where water is only available seasonally if at all. Cool beans.

Those eggs will remain dormant if the wet and dry cycles aren't long enough for reproduction to take place. I wish I was half as well adapted to the evolutionary paces. Extreme temperatures don't seem to slow them up much either.

Laura Reeves provided me with an initial identification. She works with the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie preserve here in Gardenton.

After being stumped I submitted more than one request for identification and got a note back this morning from Daniel Marlos at I see he's added an entry to cover this cool little critter. I've used this sites' resources a few times. Curiosity challenged... not. Given the depth of the site I am pumped to have a submission posted there. Simple minds, simple pleasures.

The youtube entry I made is a very short eight second clip that shows quite well how the animals move in the water. I'm in love with the light and setting of the clip too, but I'm so easily entertained in the spring.

Fairy shrimp - out on a paper towel


Fairy shrimp - poor shot from the top


Fairy shrimp - poor shot in the bucket


Thursday, April 15, 2010

After +four months of no Glee

Last year when the kids were all buzzing about the new "Glee" show on TV I was skeptical, but then was quickly won over with the refreshing content. The show season was split up with by more than a nearly five month lay off. With a lot of hype and a new episode this week we had a little get together here with some of the local choir members in celebration. We all had a great bit of fun singing and playing after the show was done.

I was disappointed in almost every aspect of the show this week. The whole tone of the show shifted to the low road. There had been no foreshadowing of the changes in previous episodes that I saw and that was very discouraging. TV holds so little that isn't aimed at the very lowest common denominator and up until now that was not the case in Glee.

I enjoyed, tremendously, how the various good and bad characters played out their conflicts. Now with Mr. Schu, Emma, Finn and Rachel all headed for the low road, it seems like the story lines are now set up to be much less challenging for the writers.
Emma being catty? Schu acting out? Rachel lying through her teeth? Finn heading for the ditch? Who needs it? Not me. The music has been a pleasure for sure, but that's not going to carry it for me, not with auto-tune so much in the foreground.

It's looking to me like the story lines will now focus on what I'm sick of in TV land. I'm not optimistic about the upcoming Madonna show. She's never appealed to me as anyone concerned with integrity, except in matters of the pursuit of fame and fortune.

More low brow, juvenile bad choices in life and relationships might be a formula for success in TV, but that's why I don't watch as much as some.

Another element that occurred to me, as lame, this week was that the Mercedes character remains simply a token to minorities. She's got enough talent to compete with the best on that stage and there is a lot of potential to explore a culture that's big into music. Fail.

Madonna next week? Glee's on probation in my camp and if they don't show some substance next week, I'll find something else to do with my time.

I'm truly pissed that they dummied it down, but I'm ticked whenever I find culture diving for the bottom of the barrel and maybe this is what's got me unloading on Glee. I saw a glimmer of life there, or thought I did. What's that smell? Rome burning?

After watching all the previous episodes on the weekend, the contrast was stark with this new episode.

No fence too sharp to sit on? Flame on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wooden matches

You know you're married to a real woman when you find strike anywhere wooden matches in her house coat. I chuckled to myself today when I found these matches. She lights a mean fire. What a gal!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Free Ukulele workshop with James Hill

How much fun will this be? I'll be there with bells on. I'm sure Snoot will be in like a dirty shirt. The image is linked to a flyer that has some video available. This is going to be great and as my Dad likes to say, the price is right.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maple sap tea

This morning I had the best tea ever. I worked on a computer for a friend helping her with some Linux issues and she fed me the most amazing tea so far.

The Manitoba Maple (box elder) trees produce a big character syrup for those that care to gather and boil down the sap. There is quite a celebration of this local flavour in St. Pierre just north of us.

I did this one year and the yield was about 50:1. Life is short.

Humus made with apple cider vinegar and some fresh, dense whole grain bread for lunch and the sunshine seemed a perfect reflection of the day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rockin' ukulele

Snoot having a go at Elliott Brood's - The Valley Town. A ukulele is like a side car on a motorcycle. It brings a broad smile to my face. I need to pick up the pace so we can do this together.