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Sun 30 Apr 2006

a big week... in a small way

imageimage another chapter of the cell phone saga: the parents have an old phone that has been forced onto the cingular network that isn't really a network at all any more. in light of the troubles that they've had since easter (the bloody phone has been stuck on roaming for two weeks now so they've been unable to make or receive calls from their home area), they've switched providers. even though, a few months ago, i was thoroughly enraged at verizon wireless, i've recently been relatively happy with their service. i've had no dropped calls from my home; i've noticed more signal strength; i've had more range with strong signal. so take all these points and add the fact that i was qualified to get three phones for free, we did a full upgrade for the whole family. if cingular hadn't placed their corporate heads firmly up their corporate butt and stopped providing analog and standard digital signal, we'd probably still be on their networkóhell, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? in this case, it was completely broke, so we fixed it with a switch to a decent network and camera phones for everyone in the family. on wednesday, mum and i went out to the daffodil farm where there were actually a lot of flowers still, surprisingly. we wanted to make sure we had good signal on the mobile phone before we did the full upgrade and service switch. there is something truly amazing about driving down a narrow unkempt road through huge old trees and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) bushes along a small creek. the brilliant pink of the salmonberry flowers stands out brightly among the greens of the spring foliage. in spite of the allergies that this area causes me almost all year round, i do love it out here.

image there's another chapter in the animal saga, as well. the bull who kept getting out of the field and generally raising hell is now in the freezer. well, technically he's still at the butcher's, but he'll be in the freezer within a couple weeks, and i can't wait! i'm looking forward to the summer ritual of barbecueÖ there's nothing quite like eating meat that's been cooked over hot coals. almost anything is better when cooked over fire, just like almost anything is better with chocolate or wasabi. note the "almost" anything thereói don't know if barbecued steak would be any good with chocolate and wasabi, and i'm not sure that i want to try it! the day after the bull went away, one of the young bulls broke through the fence and gave the dog a run for his money, but nobody's escaped in a few days now. luckily the dog has learned a small amount of basic herding skills and understands many voice commands, so we can direct him a little when dealing with the cattle. i wonder what he'd do if we had sheep since sheep are the only animals he's worked with in a training capacity. the first time he saw sheep, he got really excited. it must be an instinctual reaction. he's always very interested in my wool when i'm knitting, especially if it's not processed wool. image

talking about knitting, the local knit shop, fiber nooks & crannys was having a yarn sale this week, so i bought enough ribbon yarn to make a shawl for my mom's birthday. her birthday was friday, arbor day, and the shawl is a little late. i started it on wednesday, and it's now saturdayÖ i have three skeins left out of nine, so i'm nearly finished. she's already seen it, and she likes it. it's always been hard for us (referring here to my whole family, actually) to keep gifts secret until the special day. we tend to give each other gifts all year round which takes the stress off birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays. i'm still working on the socks i started for my sister, but they're approaching the end. we just sent off her new mobile phone along with all the little handwarmer critters i'd made for her. i can't think of what special day they were forÖ maybe they're for arbor day!

in the meantime, i've been trying to maintain my sanity by cooking some spanish dishes. the gazpacho i made a couple weeks ago was excellent; even my dad liked it which is saying something! the other day i made fideua which is a variation on the typically spanish dish of paella made with noodles. (the link is automatically run through the google translator, so it may be a little hard to understand. computer translations never quite get it right, but this recipe was one of the better ones i found online.) it turned out perfectly, so i bought more ingredients today to make some more! i'm also still looking for a full-time job in this area. it doesn't look real positive, though, because i have friends who are also highly qualified and are still unemployed after about six months. it's disheartening to say the leastÖ and the government says the economy is growing. yeah, right, maybe the economy in the oil business is growingÖ but that's something for another day. i'm still considering taking the course for the tefl certification so i can leave the country and get a job teaching english. one way or another, wish me luck, eh?

posted by: mock turtle on 30 Apr, 06 | 01:24

Wed 19 Apr 2006

easter, taxes, earth day... what a week!

imagethe weather has been flip-flopping like a politician over the last week. one day itís so cold i canít go outside without two extra layers, and the next day itís so hot i have to wear shorts! it was beginning to finally look like spring, and the snow had been melting on the surrounding mountains, when suddenly a huge cold front comes in and dumps more snow. once again the snow is melting, and weíre back to relatively normal temperatures for this time of year, but if the spring in oregon is anything, itís unpredictable! there is an inherent beauty to the budding green of spring that infuses everything with a feeling of satisfaction. enter the first flower of spring, the daffodil.image well, there are a few wildflowers that bloom before the daffodil, but the first commercial flower is usually the daffodil followed closely by the tulip. my parents have a daffodil farm, so we generally have flowers throughout the spring season. to tell the truth, i like the way daffodils look, but i canít stand their smell. theyíre not as bad as some flowers, but i generally donít have daffodils in my house.

imageanimals. the cows are having their spring fling, and theyíve been escaping from their field almost every day. mumís glad to have the dog to help herd the cows back into the field, but the dog usually spends his days sitting on the porch in his chair or begging for someone to play catch with him. his standing chore has been to keep the cows off the fence, and he would do a better job if the cows were escaping through the fence nearest the porch! the cat that lives at my house comes out to meet me every time i come home. she even runs alongside the truck as i pull into my parking space then she sits outside my sliding-glass door pawing and meowing if her food dish isnít full. image if only she would do something about the blue jays that come to steal her food while she sits about a metre away! iíve had several troubles with critters stealing cat food, but thereís only so much i can do about it living in the middle of nowhere. i suppose iím lucky that i have only raccoons and possums and not larger animals like cougars or bears on my porch.

middle of nowhere. all in all, iím glad that i donít live in the suburbs. given a choice between the middle of nowhere and some random middle-class suburb, iíll choose the middle of nowhere every time. however, if i could afford the rent, iíd probably be living downtown in some mid-size city riding my bike to work instead of commuting on the road less traveled.image i must say, though, that the poem by robert frost, the road not taken, illustrates some of the events in my life quite nicely. if my parents hadnít taken the road less traveled, i wouldnít be here, and i donít think iíd have the appreciation of nature that i have. i canít imagine growing up in the city, but i can certainly imagine living in one now! it would be nice to live closer to everything instead of having to drive at least 40 kilometres (25 miles) to go to the grocery store.

image knitting. the socks are still works in progress. iíve been working on more little hand warming critters. i now have a total of three hand warmers ready to send to my sister. iíve also done a couple more chemo caps. i do, however, need to sit down and finish the socks i started over a month ago! iíve bought a couple more skeins of sock yarn, and theyíre calling to me. i either have to finish the four socks (yeah, thereís another pair thatís in progress) iíve got going, or i need to buy more needles! iÖ willÖ notÖ buyÖ moreÖ needlesÖ i have to keep telling myself this. if i had a full-time job with a decent income, it may be a different story, but as it is i really canít justify spending money on more needles when i already have two sets of circulars and two sets of double-pointed for socks.

right, wish me luck in finding a full-time job so i can afford my knitting addiction. happy late easter, happy late tax day (now thereís an oxymoron! not to mention a topic for a rant another dayÖ), and happy earth day this saturday.

posted by: mock turtle on 19 Apr, 06 | 20:30

Wed 12 Apr 2006

itís been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time

right, so iím not really much of a led zeppelin fan, but the lyrics from ďrock and rollĒ seemed to be very fitting. it has been a long time since i posted here, but i guess it hasnít really been very lonely. iíve been keeping busy looking for full-time work and part-time teaching english as a foreign language.

image image barcelona: iíve been missing the mediterranean. on my computer i have a calendar of artwork by salvador dalŪ and this monthís painting is ďthe weaning of furniture-nutritionĒ which reminds me of a picture i took while in barcelona. is there anything more quintessentially mediterranean than the fishing boats drawn up on the shore and the fishermen mending their nets? so here i am, on the pacific coast in a terribly small town where there are no opportunities, making gazpacho and patatas bravas (chips [potato cubes or wedges] with spicy tomato sauce) in hopes of bringing at least a taste of the spanish mediterranean coast to home. one more thing thatís missing from my taste of the mediterranean are the chermioya (xirimoia) fruits. i took a picture of them when i was in barcelona in hopes of finding them here, but apparently iíd have to drive to southern california to buy themÖ and theyíre prohibitively expensive. in barcelona i could buy a cherimoya fruit for less than one euro (0,70Ä), but here it would cost between $4 and $8 for one fruit. itís a sad world.

imageimage and home again. i do, however, love the countryside here where i live, and itís great to see the creatures that my mom makes out of moss and places around the property. this one here is sitting in a tree over the creek next to our bridge. heís got a few well-placed ferns, and i just had to take this picture on one of our first sunny spring days. a few years back, mom made me a moss monster to put in my flower gardenóit looks like a sea snake or a lake monster like the one found in lake okanagan (ogopogo). alas i donít have a photo of it, so youíll have to settle for the mossman picture here.

knitting. iím still working on the pair of socks that i wrote about a month ago in my last post. iíve finished the heels, and now iíve started on the leg of the socks. i know it seems like i must be a terribly slow knitter, and i have to admit that iíve been reading a lot more lately thanks to the new library theyíve built in my small town, but iíve also been working on some other projects. fiber nooks and crannys (my local knit shop) has an ongoing community project in which michele (the owner of the shop) gives knitters a skein of berroco brand chinchilla yarn (really soft rayon yarn), and we make a hat for a cancer patient. image each skein makes one hat, and it comes in great colours. it only takes a couple hours to make a hat, so itís a great break from larger projects. iím also working on a shirt that iíve been working on for about a year now on and off. hopefully iíll have it finished by next summer because itís almost certainly not going to be finished by this summer!

so thereís my update, and iíll try to keep up on it better in the future even if itís just a weekly weather report or something mundane like that.

posted by: mock turtle on 12 Apr, 06 | 15:48

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