Thursday, October 30, 2008

215:365 Amigurumi bear - for real this time.

Anna: Philippe took this photo for me.

I was wrong in my earlier post. Not only did I spell amigurumi wrong, but a pear doesn't count. Amigurumi are creatures - animals, insects, people, that sort of thing. No fruit.

I found a library book called Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts Amigurumi and made this following the instructions from the book. I knew it would be small, but from the photos, I thought it would be larger than this! The arms were a real pain to do - both to crochet, and to stuff. I ended up using a cotton swab to stuff the arms and legs. I mucked up on one of the eyes, too. The French Knot I was making for a pupil got tangled, and I couldn't undo it.

It's a real hit with the kids.

In other news, I had my bronchoscopy today. I was all looking forward to seeing it, since the screen was set up right in front of me. I had been told I'd be under partial anesthesia and might be awake during the proceedure, but I fell asleep rather quickly. The fast was the hardest part to deal with - it ended up being 16 hours, since I had to wait for the freezing of my throat to wear out so I wouldn't choke. I was pretty darn thirsty by the end of it. Right now, there's a bit of irritation in my lungs, but that's no different than when my cough starts into a bad spell, anyhow.

I don't see the specialist for a follow up until the 26th of November, so it'll be a while before I find out the results. By then, he should have the results of all the tests.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

214:365 What do you mean, you need the light?

Anna: I've got a reading spot. To have this spot, I took the desk lamp away from the desk, where it had been used by our older cat for nice warm naps than by us for what it was meant for. The shelf it's now on is rather small.

Small enough to still have room for a kitten.

She has discovered the lamp.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

213:365 animaguri... I think

Anna: I am currently working on a large crochet project - a coat for my elder daughter. Every now and then, I need to stop and do something small that I can finish in one evening - preferably something that's also challenging.

Tonight, I made a pear. It was an attempt at an animaguri - at least that's what I think it might be called. It's not a creature, but it's sculptural, so I'm not sure.

I wasn't intending to make a pear. I was just experimenting with the shape. It's not my first one. My first one ended up looking like a turd. The cats love it. When I saw that this one looked like a pear shape, I made the leaves and sewed them on, just so it wouldn't get mistaken for another turd.

I think the girls will like it when they see it in the morning.

Oh, and the mat under the pear is a filet crochet that reads "TEA," and the rolled up piece the pear is leaning against is the finished back panel of my daughter's coat. I'm working on the first front panel now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

211:365 Plugged in

Anna: That's me, all strapped up, taped up, plugged in and ready to try and sleep with all that attached.

Philippe took these photos. If you want to see the step-by-step of a home sleep apnea test, you can see them here.

I actually went to bed about an hour or more earlier than I normally do. Being a night owl, I found I sleep better if I don't even try to go to sleep until about 1:30-2am, then get up around 9:30 or so. Instead, I went to bed shortly after 12:30am. Unfortunately, I woke up just before 5:30am and, with all the fussing with having to carry the machine and not trip over the wires and hose to and from the bathroom, then needing to turn on the light to plug the machine back in, then having to turn it back on (I was told I wouldn't need to - perhaps it was unplugged for too long) after watching the data on the screen, waiting for it to tell me it was recording, but it only told me it wasn't, I couldn't get back to sleep.

I hope 4 - 4 1/2 hours of data is good enough.

Part of which involved me lying in bed, looking at my red-glowing fingertip in the darkness, with "ET phone home..." running through my head, and trying not to go into giggling fits.

Now, since I'm working tonight and will probably not be home until past 2am (though I might be home before midnight - I won't know until I get there), I'm going to try and get a nap in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

210:365 Upside down

Anna: Back home after a loooonnnnngggg day downtown - finally! As usual, things didn't turn out as originally planned. Because of expected events tomorrow, we moved library day up to today. The girls and I were going to bus it downtown, they'd go to the library, I'd keep going to my appointment, then meet up with them when I was done.

Then we found out a friend we haven't seen in years was going to be in town for a few hour's layover. Suddenly we needed the car. After much figuring of things out, we left really early to meet Philippe for lunch at a Boston Pizza near his office - timing it well *before* the regular lunch crowd shows up. Then I took the girls in the car to a central parkade. They went to the library. I bused to my appointment, which only took about 10 minutes since she didn't need to explain anything about sleep apnea to me. We already know more about it than most people. She only needed to explain how to work the machine I need to wear tonight. Philippe is threatening to post of photo of me with it for tomorrow. LOL

Then it was back to the library to meet the girls, who were already done and sitting in the coffee shop, waiting for me. They sure didn't need a long time! With our unexpected visit, Philippe left work early and we were all able to meet up with our friend at the bus station.

It's the first time we've ever had 5 passangers in our car. It might have 5 seatbelts, but there's no way it was made to fit 3 people more than 10 years old in the back! No, we didn't make our friend squish in there. LOL

We then went back to the same Boston Pizza we went to for lunch and fed him. Got a few double takes from the staff seeing us again so soon. We even got the same waiter.

After a great couple of hours catching up with our friend, we headed out - and that's when I finally noticed this car.

Yes, that's a classic Mustang hanging upside down from the restaurant ceiling.

I wonder how many times I've walked under that thing without noticing it? We don't go to this restaurant all that often, but often enough that you'd think I'd notice the CAR hanging from the CEILING. *L*

The handy thing is that I had the Canon S3 in my purse. I haven't been wanting to bring the Nikkon D70 along lately. It's just too big to carry around to all the different places I've been running around to. Sometimes, a little point-and-shoot is all I need.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

209:365 Occupied

Anna: No post yesterday. I had the first of a number of tests related to my mystery cough. I had a CT scan done. Very cool! I love modern technology.

Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures, and we ended up going home after, instead of exploring. The scan was actually done in a hospital outside of Edmonton, which I found a bit weird. No complaints, though. Especially with how quickly I got the test. I actually found out about the test monday morning, shortly before we left for park day. Someone called to verify my appointment. That was great, considering I didn't know I had one!

Today I had another test at a local hospital. A methocholine challenge. It actually went quite well, considering all the deep breathing involved. I was coughing a bit more by the end of it, but nothing like when I did the breathing tests in the booth. They had one of those and I almost had flashbacks when I saw it. ;-) The tech was really great and clearly loved his job. He was fantastic about explaining what everything was and what the numbers on the screen meant, and so on. It was really quite nice. Well... except for the fact that I had to breath weird into a machine, inhale stuff, then breath into the machine again, over and over again. *L*

The cool thing was that my lung volume is well within normal parameters. I have this vicious urge to rub the results in the face of the specialist I was referred to when I see him. He's the one that suggested the last two test results done in the booth that showed low lung capacity was because I'm fat, dismissing the fact that I was coughing so much by then, I was coughing *during* the test, and needed long breaks in between tests to get control of the coughing. I mentioned this to the tech that was testing me today. He was rather taken aback by that. He could see no reason why the specialist would come to that conclusion.

Ah, well.

Later this evening, as my elder daughter is about to go to bed, she discovered it was already occupied by a ball of cuteness.

For some reason, Harley really likes my elder daughter's bed. And her paints, but that's another story. ;-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

208:365 pond critter

Anna: We've got a few of these at the park we meet friends at weekly. I'm pretty sure it's a muskrat, but the only close up look I've ever had of one was a pelt being stretched, so I'm not 100% sure.

207:365 Why? That's why.

Anna: The girls and I went for a walk down a nearby ravine. The route back involved going up to street level and walking past this house.

It's on a 50x150 ft lot. Aside from a small area that's mowed, the yard is completely unkept. The house itself is in very rough shape. Whoever buys this lot will have to have it torn down.

Just out of curiosity, the last time we went past this house, I looked it up on the MLS listings when I got home. The asking price for this house is...

Half a million dollars. Yup. The current owners expect someone to shell out $500,000 for it.

Why, you might ask?

Check it out.

This is just part of the view across the street from the house. There's only a narrow strip of grass, trees and shrubs before things drop almost straight down into the valley. The listing didn't even have a photo of the house or lot. It just had a photo of the view.

Nearby is a set of stairs down into a ravine park, where you can see a few more pictures I took here.

With the housing market finally cooling down, I doubt the owners will get their asking price, but who knows?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

206:365 - Almost Devonian - updated: Because there's an emergancy, dangit!

Philippe: We tried for the Devonian gardens today, but neglected to check on it's status before going, so got there and found it closed.. Ah well. Still got some shots of the flowers *just outside* the gardens ;)

Anna: I uploaded the photos I took at Devonian here, if you want to see them. I thought this photo Philippe took of me to be more postworthy, though. ;-) On the way back from the Devonian Gardens, we swung by an Indigo bookstore. As I was purchasing an educational book for my daughter, Philippe tosses in this red package.

Well... I thought it was funny. ;-)

The front of the package reads:

For immediate relief of: Chocolate Cravings, Lovesickness, Exam Pressure, Mild Anxiety and Extreme Hunger.
Directions for use: Tear open wrapper; break off desired dosage and consume. Alternatively massage into the affected area. Repeat dosage as required until finished. If any symptoms persist consult your local confectioner.

On the back, it reads:

Since its creation in New Zealand, Bloomsberry & Co.'s premium all natural chocolate has been tantalizing tastebuds and seducing senses. Now this exotic designer chocolate, infused with a delectable sense of humor and superior ingredients, has come to America.

Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to the hype. As far as chocolate goes, I found it rather icky. Kinda like the cheap, waxy chocolate Easter bunnies.

Perhaps this is why. The ingredients are: sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), vanilla.

At $5.99 a bar, sugar shouldn't be the first ingredient, and soy anything shouldn't even be in the same manufacturing plant. *shudder*

But it *is* funny.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

205:365 - Cloudy moon

Philippe: Timing is everything: When I first saw the moon, it was big, orange, and just hanging there.. By the time I got my camera and tripod, it was headed into the clouds and no longer anything but blue.. Ah well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

204:365 Democracy at work

Anna: To all my fellow Canadians, I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. :-D :-D

For us, today is voting day. I just got back from casting my ballot. We've got four parties to choose from (five for those who live in Quebec). There's the Conservative Party of Canada, which is currently in office, the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP in opposition, and the Green Party, which has no elected members, though a Liberal MP recently switched parties, so they do have one MP in parliament right now.

It's been a difficult choice. How do you choose who to vote for, when you don't like any of the parties?

And the talking heads wonder why voter apathy is so high.

Meanwhile, you folks in the US have another month to put up with. I don't know how you all deal with 2 years of campaigning. We have a month, and that's more than enough for me!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

203:365 The final verdict

Anna: I didn't get around to taking photos of these until quite a bit later than I expected. My husband has been mucking about inside our computer since yesterday. We got two 1gig cards of RAM for our computer - and they didn't work. After fussing some more with it today, he had to take them back. While he and our elder daughter were gone, my younger daughter and I re-arranged the living room in preparation for Thanksgiving (for us Canadians, Thanksgiving is the second Monday of October). We actually found a way to put a table into our living room! We still can't sit at it, but that's ok. *L*

So here are the two test swatches. The one on the left was pinned, then steamed; the one on the right was soaked, then pinned. As you can see, there's quite a difference!

The steamed swatch leaves the pattern very open and visible - but there's NO side-to-side give at the solid rows. Since the body is made up of rows of double crochet, this is really important. The wet-pinned swatch kept some of the yarn's elasticity.

Here, my younger daughter is holding the swatches up to show the drape a bit. There really isn't too much difference between the two. The steamed one is a bit more floppy, but it's not any softer.

So I'll be wet-blocking my sweater. Which is good, since it'll be a LOT easier than steaming it!

I'll just have to take over the living room floor overnight with a futon mattress to be able to do it. *L*

Oh, and, with our seeming inability to upgrade our computer, it's starting to look like we'll have to get a new one. *sigh* There was a time when you could buy a computer and upgrade it as needed. Most new ones are not upgradeable at all, so I guess I should be happy we've been able to do as much as we already have.

Maybe this time, we should just buy parts and build one ourselves?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

202:365 Step by step

Anna: I managed to cobble together leftover bits of yarn to make 2 test swatches of my sweater. This evening, I tried blocking them.

There are three recommended methods to block crochet. The yarn I chose for my sweater is 100% acrylic - I picked it partly because it's machine washable and drier safe. When I blocked the panels before putting them together, I used the method recommended for acrylic. The dry pieces were pinned out, then I sprayed them with water and left them overnight to dry. I rarely need to block things, and this is not the method I normally use.

Before: Here are the two swatches, ready and waiting to be blocked. I didn't bother sewing in the yarn ends, so you can see some of the places where I joined new ends. I had to use 5 left over pieces to make these. *L*

Method one: Maiming - this is my usual method of blocking. I completely soaked the piece, squeezed it dry in a towel, then pinned it out, stretching the swatch out to the shape I wanted (the middle wants to pull inwards, making an hourglass shape, unless it's pinned out).

Method two: Killing - after pinning the dry swatch to the surface, I used my iron at highest heat and steamed the heck out of the swatch, while being careful not to actually touch it. This method is NOT normally recommended for acrylics.

(And since I was blocking things anyways, I pinned out a round doily-type mat I'd made, too. For that, I wet it and pinned it down, like the previous swatch.)

After: Both swatches look pretty much the same at this point. Steaming didn't get it as soaking wet as the previous swatch, of course. Now, they sit overnight to dry.

Based on what I've read, the steam method leaves acrylic fibers with a lot more drape than the other methods. Since all methods the methods permanently effect the yarn, I don't want to take any chances.

I do wonder, though, how I'd go about steaming the entire sweater. It's quite large. Whichever method I end up using, I'll have to use one of our futons to pin it to. Holding a steaming iron over all that surface until it's wet will be a challenge! *L*

While I'm figuring all this out, I've started on my daughter's coat.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

201:365 What are you doing over there?

Anna: I'm busily working at the computer when my monitor starts wiggling and this head pops up.

Keeping my camera on top of the scanner comes in handy sometimes. :-D

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

200:365 Yesterday's photo: Disappointed

Anna: This is the photo I meant to post yesterday, but I was so eager to actually finish the sweater, I never got around to it. These are the finished panels, pinned, dampened and left overnight for blocking. I specifically want to block the decorative panel stretched lengthwise, so that the details would be more visible.

Alas, once it was done, things weren't quite what I expected.

The first surprise problem was that the sleeves were too tight. At the elbow. Which is kind of weird. It was tight enough, however, that I would not be able to comfortably wear it.

The other problem was the side slits. I was very careful to follow the instructions on where to place these. I even read the instructions out to the family and they understood them the same way. The end result, however, left me with side slits up to my waist. There's no way the sweater modeled with the instructions has this, as no slit was even visible in the photos. Going over the instructions several times, the only way I can see it working is if the distance was counted from the arm pit, not the bottom.

And finally, there was the finishing edge of the slits. Following the instructions left me with a sort of overlap, which made the top of the slits stick out funny.

The good news is, I did have enough yarn to finish it, and even had a bit left over.

So this afternoon, I've undone the edging on the side slits and am sewing the side seams down to start the slit much lower. Then I'm going to do the edging again, with a slight modification that I hope will reduce the sticky-outy effect from before.

As for the sizing... I think I'm going to have to kill the sweater. Or at least maim it. I'd borrowed a book from the library that described the process. I just don't know how I'm going to do it without blocking wires. If it works, I'll be able to wear the sweater after all. If not...

Well then, my daughters have a new sweater. :-/

Monday, October 6, 2008

199:365 I'm not peeking...

Anna: We haven't been out and about to take photos, so the kitten will have to do.

It helps that she hid her face and got all adorable on us. As I type this, Philippe is setting up his camera and tripod to get his own version. :-D

Saturday, October 4, 2008

198:365 Paradise

Anna: The Citadel Theatre had an open house today. My elder daughter and I were able to take in a behind the scenes tour. No photos in the background areas, but the complex has plenty of other opportunities. Three levels of tropical plants and giant cacti near the main entrance, waterfalls, paths and quiet benches, all under greenhouse like glass. We were skirting around a wedding photo group when I spotted a single Bird of Paradise blossom and grabbed a quick photo.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

197:365 - Habits, old and new.

Philippe: First, the old habits.. I have to admit to a slight case of obsessive-compulsiveness on my part. These shoes are approximately eight years old and I still get a great satisfaction in shining them up.. I also have to stop myself from going "you know, I could do better" and trying.

Then the new ones; playing with light is something I'm trying to get a lot more into these days. :)

While both shots are essentially the same idea, the results are fairly different. I like the lower shot over the upper one for the simple fact that the lighting seems nicer. Both are soft focus (when seen at full size) but short of buying a *really* expensive lens (or learning to keep still, of course) I'm not sure how to get around that and still keep the soft light.

196:365 My mistake - Updated: Harley in repose

Anna: I am now working on the last sleeve of my sweater. Once this is done, I can put the pieces together, finish the edges, and then it's done.

When I started this project, I calculated how many balls I'd need of the type of yarn I was using, which is different from what was recommended in the pattern. Same size and weight of yarn, but different brand and larger balls. Based on my calculations, I should have had a generous amount of yarn left over.

As I worked on the panels, I began to have doubts. I was counting on 2 balls for each front and back panel, and one ball for each sleeve. When I finished the second body panel, I was well into a third ball of yarn.

Part of the reason was the yarn itself. The threads making of the yarn was twisted quite loosely in a couple of the balls. You can actually see and feel the difference, though that will disappear after a wash or two. Because I'd gone into a third ball in the panel, I had to start a second ball of yarn to finish the first sleeve. I am somewhat concerned that I won't have enough yarn to do the decorative edging on the neck when it's done.

Today, while working on the second sleeve at the dr.'s office, I suddenly realized my mistake. Take a look at this photo.
Can you see the difference?

Look specifically at the bobbles - the bundled up groups of stitches with a single post in between. There's two rows of them at the top, two at the middle, and one near the bottom. Click on the photo to see it larger.

Can you see the difference now?

Don't worry if you can't. The difference is very slight.

The bobbles are made by doing 3 double crochet together. For those that don't know crochet, a double crochet is the post that you see in between the bobbles. To make the bobble, I make three of those in one spot in such a way that all their tops are together as one stitch.

My mistake?

I was doing 4 of them, not three.

When I got home, I took out all the finished pieces and lay them out, trying to see when I started making the mistake. From the looks of it, I've been doing this from the start.

Each body panel has 6 rows of 32 bobbles. Each sleeve has 6 rows of 18 bobbles.

Each of those has an extra stitch. Except for the last two rows at the top in this photo, which have the 3 they're supposed to, and the one row I'll need to do before this decorative section is finished.

That's a LOT of extra yarn being used that shouldn't be.

Well, now I know why I'm so much shorter in yarn than I expected.

Of course, I can't find any more in this shade of red.

Philippe: Positive proof that Harley *does* in fact slow down to 'non-blurry' speed every once in a while.