Crocheted Skulls, a new obsession

Red Merino/Silk Shawl 2 by A Dash of Noir
Red Merino/Silk Shawl 2, a photo by A Dash of Noir on Flickr.

Perhaps that title is a little misleading.

Yes, I have been crocheting many, many skulls., but said skulls are parts of crocheted shawls that are all similar patterns. So, yes, lots of them, but not much variety I’m afraid.

Yet.

I have been spending time looking up ideas for adding skulls to various patterns: scarves, bags, blankets. My Ravelry list of favourites is ridiculously long. The projects will come, eventually. Right now I’m in my collector (of patterns)/obsessive (about one single pattern) phase. It changes on a regular basis but this skull shawl obsession seems to have more staying power than most things that capture my attention.

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Crocheters need new toys too!

I have been crocheting for just over a year now. ¬†I have worked with all sorts of yarn and made a number of different patterns…from scarves to amigurumi! But it was only recently that I was introduced to the beauty that is a yarn winder and swift! I got it in my head that after Christmas, I would go on a swift hunt…and I did! ūüėČ

Up until recently, I wound balls of yarn onto my fingers…which didn’t necessarily lend itself to blood fl0w….

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Or I simply worked from the unwound skein…

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We were snowed in over Boxing Day and my mother-in-law suggested a different approach that worked!

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But I still had the idea of a swift and winder in my head….

So today, we drove to Kanata, ON and I bought some new toys!!!

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Now I can wind balls of yarn in minutes…PLUS they pull from the middle which makes this crocheter even MORE happy! ūüėČ

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My first wound ball of yarn!

I can’t wait to get home and organize my¬†enormous bin of yarn!

I’m such a Capricorn!

Autumn in High Park – Discovering Art!

After work the other day, I decided to go out for a walk and enjoy the autumn colours.  Now that B and I live within a 10 minute walk of High Park, I have no excuse.  I have every opportunity to enjoy the largest green space in Toronto.

It was a gorgeous evening and there were dozens of photographers floating around the park trying to capture the changing of the leaves, including me.

I don’t know why I don’t visit more often. The path near our apartment enters the park at the northern tip of Grenadier Pond and it’s a beautiful walk.¬† Paths like the one below always bring to mind Anne of Green Gables…a HUGE part of my childhood…and such landscapes make me want to sit down wherever I happen to be and start writing.

Our entry point to High Park

Saw some interesting ducks that I don’t believe I have seen before. ¬†Cool markings, as though they got into a fight with some liquid paper. ¬†And they all had this haughty attitude…as though they knew it would soon be time to go but “Damnit! Until then, this is OUR pond!”

 

 

There were some awesome fiery coloured trees in the park. ¬†Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned the ins and outs of our new camera so the pictures I end up taking are never exactly what I’m seeing.

Sometimes, I think that’s the trick to photography. ¬†Not only is it catching a moment, but it’s catching the moment as we actually see it…along with all the nuances and processing from our visual cortex that makes a sight so damn beautiful!

Often I find pictures similar to a dull photocopy of a photocopy. ¬†They don’t carry the same impact as our actual experience. ¬†Luckily though, done right, they can pry out a memory that is at times even stronger than the original moment and brings it all back…smells, reflections, thoughts, sensations. ¬†Those are awesome pictures…and they’re few and far between.

Prior to my visit, someone or someones had spent A LOT of time creating an artistic rendering of fallen leaves.  I was walking across a small bridge when I saw this to my left:

Every leaf positioned perfectly and even the colouring chosen to give it a darker, deeper centre.  I spent a long time examining this creation. It was crazy how perfectly all the leaves had been placed and I wondered how long it had taken to create!

Then, I looked to my right:

 

Isn’t that absolutely fabulous! ¬†So beautiful that I couldn’t help but take a dozen pictures! There is such movement in the stream, even though it has dried up and is choked¬†with decaying leaves. ¬†Whoever did this…thank you! It made my day!

I took some other shots on my way home…Grenadier Pond was quite still, offering some lovely reflections….

…and of course, a self-portrait had to be taken! ūüôā

If you haven’t been to High Park…go! ¬†It’s a getaway…a tiny piece of cottage country in the middle of a large, busy and¬†often-times¬†frustrating city!

Cute ‘n Sad Eeyore Fish

At the Pacific Mall in Toronto, there is an awesome pet store…
well, as awesome as stores dedicated to keeping little wee animals in small cages can be ūüėČ

One of their main attractions is the huge number of aquariums they have on site and the large variety of odd sea life.

We came across glow in the dark crayfish, which were pretty cool!¬† Granted the glow was thanks to a purple light…but still!

I tried to get a picture or two but…have you ever tried to take pictures through glass??? What a pain!

The fish I did manage to capture…sort of…on camera…were the cutest little fish EVER!¬†

Cute, and yet sad.

Sort of like little Eeyore fish!

“Thanks for noticin’ us”
*sigh*

They looked SO morose.
Don’t you just want to give them a hug?
Tell them everything is going to be all right?

I did. 
So I spent a few minutes talking to them…channeling my inner fish whisperer…telling them that soon they would have a new owner and the whole world would open up to them!
And of course, they’d be purchased together!

My encouragement¬†caught their attention…but I think they knew I was lying.

*sigh* “She’s baiting us with false promises.”
“What a biiiiitch!”

I imagined their voices as a high-pitched warble…kind of whiny…sort of like Fran Drescher but with bubbles and a long¬†Eeyore sigh at the end.

 

Slugs are Cute and Disturbing

On my trip out west this summer, I saw some amazing things…mountains, the Pacific Ocean, sea lions…and on a walk one quiet evening in Redmond WA, a large slug.

B loves snails and slugs. Snails I could get behind, but slugs? Really? Even the name suggests the need to take a shower.

But this little guy/girl was, I admit, kinda cute and B took some great pictures of him/her.  I say him/her because slugs are hermaphrodites.  Dependant on their mood and the sexiness of their slug date, they can pull out either sex organ.  Cool!

Awwwww! Look at that face!

I mean really! How cute is that! With his/her eyes at different angles…so CUTE!

He/she was also incredibly emotive!

Curious slug is curious!

Bored slug is bored!

So, I gained a new appreciation for slugs.

They have a keep-them-off-me-cuteness to them.

And then….oh….and then I read up on slugs.

Don’t do that.

I learned new words, like “Apophallation“.

There are some words in the English language that one just doesn’t need to know.

Apophallation is one of them.

When you live with a musician…

I love having a partner who is a musician!

You get to hear awesome music being played on a regular basis.

You sometimes get serenaded by a mandolin or a fiddle while you prep dinner.

And you find instruments in odd places.

Horseback Riding – For the very first time

Riding a horse has been on my life list for quite a while.

Actually, initially it was “Ride a hose” but obviously that was simply a¬†misspelling. Horse was what I meant and when I arrived in Calgary, it seemed like a perfect place to have such an experience! ¬†Riding a horse that is, not a hose. Just to clarify.

And it was awesome!!!

Sarah and I spent some time looking for a good place to book a ride and eventually we came across Moose Mountain Horseback Riding, a place where we could book an hour and a half ride into the foothills of the Rockies.  Not only was their website easy to navigate, but when I called, the woman who answered was incredibly friendly and helpful. After a number of annoying websites and unhelpful contacts, she was exactly what we were looking for and I booked our riding adventure on the spot!

Bragg Creek is a beautiful location! It was raining and quite wet when we arrived but rather than let it bring us down, we decided to embrace the rain!

The main cabin

We were grouped with two other people, a mother and daughter team, whose skill level matched mine pretty well. The mother had ridden before but was a beginner and her daughter was on par with me, the two of us having no previous experience.

Well, except for my ability to point and confidently say “THAT is a horse.” I could do that pretty well.

First thing we had to do? Pick our helmets! ¬†We were already so excited that even helmet picking was fun! Otherwise, we’d come dressed appropriately. I think I reread their list of TO-WEAR a dozen times to ensure that I would be comfortable and ready to ride.

Once we were helmeted up, it was time to meet the horses.   Our guide, Justine, was awesome.  Very open to questions and understanding when we hesitated and needed an extra minute or two to work up our courage.

She introduce me to Emile, while Sarah got to meet Fury.

When we heard the names of our partnered horses, I think Sarah said something like, “Um, pardon? Fury?”

I would have said the same thing! Justine was very encouraging, however, and told us that Fury was a very understanding, experienced and docile horse.

Sarah and Fury became fast friends…had some good times, some laughs….

Sarah and Fury, two peas in a pod!

My partner, Emile, was laid back and cool.

Emile, just chilling ūüôā

Unlike me.
I found myself much more hesitant than I expected.
When I tried taking a “Whee! About to ride a horse!” picture…I got this instead….

Um..yaay horseback riding?

Lucky for me, Emile¬†was very experienced dealing with newbies such as myself and didn’t seem to mind my awkwardness as I fumbled with the saddle and tried to tell my feet where to go.

I’m sure at this point Emile was thinking, “Just get up there already!”

 

He also obviously was used to dealing with silly laugh-out-loud Fury!

 

I love how Emile is just standing there, practically rolling his eyes! Hehe!

We headed out into the foothills after a short introduction to riding: how to direct our horse, how to sit, how to speed up, slow down…the usual stuff.
Of course, our horses were very much used to following each other in a line, as this is pretty much what they do all the time, so hard braking wasn’t really needed.

Emile and I were last in the line-up. ¬†I found my groove soon after we set out…relaxing my body, loosening my hips as I had been instructed and allowing myself to move with the horse. It was the most amazing feeling to be moving in tandem with such a large animal who seemed to respect that I was on his back and didn’t necessarily know what the hell I was doing.

He also took advantage of that fact, stopping to eat….often. ūüėČ
Justine would look back to see us and instruct me to “Let him know who’s boss.” “Don’t let him eat…hold the reins and be in control.” I tried. I really did. I’d prep myself for his next snack and grasp the reins well. Then Emile would see a nice patch of greens, lean down to eat and practically pull me up on to his neck as I tried to stop him.

I was the boss? Suuuuuure. Tell Emile that. ūüėČ

Riding a horse through the woods was one of the most amazing experiences. I felt at one with the rolling hills and meadows.  Rather than traipsing through the trees, cracking branches and making typical obnoxious human noises, we practically glided through the woods. We belonged there. The forest  welcomed us.

I really began to feel this way when we walked across a meadow and passed three young bucks and a doe. They watched us, we watched them, and then we both went about our business.

A blurry picture of the deer in question.

The most amazing experience for me, however, was when Emile spotted something in the woods and stopped in his tracks. He pricked his ears forward and gazed intently to the left. Everyone else continued on, unaware that we had paused.

I followed Emile’s gaze and saw a large brown, hairy butt half hidden behind some undergrowth . It moved. I immediately thought “Bear!” Or it might have been “Bear butt!”
I lightly tried calling Sarah, who was a little ways ahead and at that moment, the animal turned and looked at us. A young moose, as curious as Emile, stared at us for a moment, decided that our presence was acceptable and headed off into the bush.

Wow. Amazing. Mind-blowing. Holy shit! What do you say when you meet an inhabitant in whose world you are the trespasser? I gave him a silent nod of respect and we continued on our way.

 

It was an amazing ride that was over much too soon! It whet my appetite for riding , however, and I look forward to going again.  Now I just have to find some place close to Toronto where I can gain experience points.
Moose Mountain offers all sorts of riding adventures, including an 8-day ride that I would LOVE to do one day! When we arrived, there was a group of about 8 people heading out with a guide. They had necessities with them and a vehicle with camping equipment etc was going to meet them at each stopping point during their week-long adventure. So jealous!

Upon arrival back at the ranch, we were given as much time as we wanted to say goodbye to our horses, so Sarah and I spent some time just hanging out with them and taking pictures.

Emile and I saying goodbye

Then we changed out of our wet clothes and ran through the rain to the car!

Asshats!

So, how do you finish off a lovely afternoon of horseback riding? You go to a pub in Bragg Creek that has swinging saloon doors!

I’ll be back Bragg Creek. Count on it!