Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.29: Sweltering

Joining Ginny for this week's Yarn Along as I melt in the heat and humidity today.  5.5 hrs in the horse barns this morning, and I was worn out.  Been moving slowly this afternoon, trying to get things done at home.  Too hot to weed the garden--heat index is currently at 99 degrees. . . Too hot to bake a chocolate zucchini cake, although the garden is pumping out zucchini like crazy. . .  Too hot to ride my horse. . .  Too hot for much of anything other than short bursts; 15 minutes outside, then 1/2 hour inside. Cycling back and forth so that I can get the important tasks done, like keeping the chickens, turkeys and cats watered.  And hanging laundry; one good thing about this heat; even jeans are drying quickly on the line! And repairing the hammock, where one of the ropes gave out, so that we can recline outdoors in the shade.  In another hour or so it will be time to light the charcoal in the grill, so that I can cook dinner outside: pork loin and diced potatoes (potatoes cooked in a foil packet). Maybe I'll grill one of those zucchini. . .

I'm afraid that tonight will be too hot even for sleep; DH has been running the fan in the bedroom, and the noise plus the air blowing on my face keeps me awake.  A quirk of mine, I guess, I don't like fans blowing on me (or air conditioning either).  It's just not the same as a breeze coming in the window.  I'm also a light sleeper, so the hum of the fan motor is an irritant rather than a relaxation inducing white noise.   DH doesn't handle heat well, so he needs the fan on. It's one of those Catch 22's of marriage.  I'm beginning to understand how happily married spouses can end up in separate bedrooms.  LOL.

Anyway, it's time to show how far along I am on my Solar sock this week.  Not very far.  Through the heel, and ready to work on the foot.  Had a family reunion to attend last weekend, and did not get any knitting done at all those three days.  I think I managed a dozen rows on Monday night, and maybe another dozen last night.  It's a fast pattern to knit, just not much time spent with the needles lately.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hot Weather, Sweat, and Cotton Clothing

We are in the midst of a heat wave at this little place here.  Temperatures hitting--and exceeding-- the 90 degree mark, and humidity is pretty high  too.  On the radio and on the TV, they are telling people to "stay inside" and that 'cooling stations'--aka places with air conditioning--are open.

What am I doing?  Well, life as usual, pretty much.  Got animals to take care of at this little place here, hauling extra water to them as they drink it faster than normal.  Still have to go to work at the horse farms, clean stalls, and take care of the horses.  Still have household chores and garden chores to do at home.  And my house doesn't have AC.  So right now it's registering an indoor temperature of 88 degrees.  (But there's a nice breeze flowing through from the living room windows, across the length of the house and out the dining room window, taking the hot still air out with it)

There are a few changes as I go about my day:

  • I'm packing water with me everywhere I go.  
  • I'm keeping fruit in stock and making sure I snack on that ( because fruit is mostly water, and fiber too).  
  • I know that my appetite tanks when it's hot, so I'm making sure that I remember to eat, and that I eat things with protein, not just grabbing carbs and eating junk food.  
  • I'm wearing cotton clothing as much as possible.
  • I'm riding my horse in the mornings as early as I can (after finishing the morning chores at the boarding barn I work at, and before starting stall cleaning at the dressage farm where I am keeping the Quarter Horse).
Most of the above items probably make sense as you read them, with no explanation necessary.  But the cotton clothing one, well, I'm amazed at how many people I run into who don't know why I wear cotton in the heat.  Which means they usually aren't wearing cotton, and aren't fairing this hot spell as well as they could be.

Cotton breathes.  It lets air in, and doesn't hold heat next to your skin.  Cotton is also very absorbent.  When I sweat, and I am in no way adverse to sweating, (in fact, I do not wear antiperspirant, only deodorant, because I believe all parts of the body need to be able to sweat when called for,) my cotton shirt absorbs that sweat. 

Absorbs it until the shirt is soaking wet (as evidenced by the photo below, which I took at 9:30 this morning, after just a 30 minute pretty low-key ride on the Quarter Horse).  And then that wet shirt does a lovely thing called evaporative cooling, actually keeping me cooler than if I changed out of it and wore a dry shirt, or a non-cotton shirt that did not absorb and hold moisture (as in, sweat).

Evaporative cooling is very simple.  As a liquid evaporates from a solid surface it removes heat during the process of going from a liquid to a gas (um, evaporating), and the temperature of that solid surface is then lowered.

That is the reason why our bodies were designed to sweat.  The heated body secretes liquid (sweat) from it's pores, the liquid (sweat) evaporates, and in doing so lowers the ambient temperature of the body.  If we keep ourselves from sweating, our internal body temperature will continue to rise, rather than be able to stabilize itself.  If we wear clothing that keeps us dry, we will not have the evaporative process cooling our skin.  Which will also make us continue to feel hotter and hotter.

So, when it's hot outside, sweat!  And make sure you wear cotton so that it can soak up all that lovely sweat and become a natural air conditioner.  You'll be able to stay cooler, and still productive in the heat.

And in case you are wondering, no I don't stink.  Just because I don't wear antiperspirant, and I let myself sweat, I don't smell.  I don't smell flowery or perfumey or baby powdery or whatever scent your antiperpirant is laden with to mask body odor.  I might smell like whatever environment I've been in, like sawdust if I've been bedding stalls, or horse if I've been riding, or tomato plants if I've been brushing up against them weeding the garden, but I don't stink as in third world county never heard of deodorant and can't access fresh water very often kind of funk.  A daily rinse off in hot weather and a fresh layer of deodorant in the mornings keeps me non-offensive.  ;0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.28: It's Bright!

Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along today.  It's a hot, sunny day with almost no breeze and a temperature of 86 F currently at this little place here.  At least the humidity has dropped from the 90% it was when I went to work this morning to 'only' 41%  right now.  But it is one of those still days that feels like a dog day of summer.

I can't really complain about the sun, though.  I love sunny days.  Even if they are scorching, I'd still rather see the sun than be under thick cloud cover.

Plus, the abundant sunlight allowed me to get an pretty honest picture of the color of the yarn I am currently knitting with. The only thing the camera didn't capture is the 'glow', the neon-ness of this color.  I really love how obnoxiously bright it is.  Just right for making socks for a grandma.  If that grandma is me, that is.

I made the leg of my Solar sock quite a bit longer than the pattern called for.  The original length just seemed awkward on my leg when I held it up for sizing, kind of in between anklet and 'normal' sock length; so I decided to go longer and closer to the length I like my socks to be. Right now it's roughly 1.5x the length of the instructions, and I'm debating whether to make it 2x the length or just go ahead and start on the heel flap now.

I suspect I will start on the heel.  Partly because I'm anxious to get this pair of socks done and wearable while it's still summer (not that I'm wearing socks much these days, other than in my work and riding boots at the horse barn. . .)  And partly because I have an idea for a pair of socks I'd like to make my Dad for his birthday--in October.  I wouldn't want to not finish Dad's socks in time.

This past week I haven't knit much at all.  DH and I have been working on staining our wrap around front porch as well as the back deck which runs the length of the house. I don't even know how many hours we've spent on that project lately, all weekend plus some evenings and an afternoon.  But it looks really nice, and we are 95% done now.  Hoping to wrap it up this evening.

I am almost halfway through the third of the three books I had gotten from the library to take on vacation with me earlier this month.  With all the staining going on, it's taken me quite a while to get going on this one.  In fact, I had to renew it from the library yesterday.  So far, I am enjoying it.  Plain Murder by Emma Miller is an Amish murder mystery.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Cat Teaches Me Rodent Identification

The Yarn Thief not only likes to be involved in my knitting endeavors, but she also loves to hunt.  If the weather is nice--as in not a deluge of rain, not below zero temperatures, and not more than six inches of snow on the ground--she desires to be outside as much as possible.  For a little orphaned kitten who was bottle fed, I am amazed at how strong her hunter instinct is.  She hunts just about anything that moves: bugs, birds, mice, frogs, etc.  She will jump 5 feet off the floor to 'catch' your fingers if you hold them out and wiggle them.  She will run herself into tongue-out panting mode (and cats typically don't pant) playing with the laser pointer on a 'bad weather day'.

This summer, she has taken to bringing me her rodent kills.  I've found their little bodies just outside the laundry room door, the front door, the people door on the garage, the sliding door that goes to the deck on back of the house, and this morning there was one on the cement below the drivers side door of the suburban (of which I am the primary driver).  Apparently my cat loves me.  A lot.

Or else she's trying to teach me rodent identification.  So far, I've seen  the customary field (deer) mice,  meadow voles,  and a few house mice.  As a bonus, lately she's brought me some 'new' species that I didn't know lived at this little place here. Namely, shrews and woodland jumping mice.

Unfortunately, I didn't think of writing this post when the most recent shrew was gifted to me by the Yarn Thief, and so I don't have a picture to show.  But, I did try to put in links, above, to each of the varmints I mentioned in case you want to check them out and learn a bit too.  Shrews, with their long flexible noses, are kind of funky looking.

I do, however, have pictures of a vole and a woodland jumping mouse, mainly because they both were 'delivered' in the night, and so I had to dispose of them today.  Discreetly, of course, so as to not discourage the Yarn Thief from more rodent control efforts around the property.

A vole
Voles are mid-sized, with round thick bodies and short tails.
I provided my foot in the photo for size reference.  :0)

A woodland jumping mouse
Relatively small and thin-bodied, 
these mice have incredibly long tails 
(at least 2x the length of the body)
 and big powerful hind feet.
My shoe (women's size 8) provided for size reference.

I have to admit, I kind of like the woodland jumping mouse.  I'd love to see one in action, leaping about.  Apparently they can jump a distance of more than nine feet with those strong hind feet and long tails.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.27: I Missed a Week!

Due to last week's vacation with the grandkids, I missed the Yarn Along!

But now that I'm back, and getting back on track, here is my post for this week's Yarn Along.  I have lots to show (although not much knitting got done so far this month).

First up, is the finished Chill Out dish cloth that I was making for DD2's birthday package.

Next photo is all the finished hand-made items in her gift this year.  The Dottie Socks II, the ZickZack dishcloth from April, the Penguin and Chill Out dish cloths, and a trivet I made from bottle caps and fabric (I am planning to do a post on how I made this later in July.)

Not pictured, but also in her birthday package were a covered roasting pan, a homegrown frozen chicken (for roasting in the pan) and a 4-pack of penguin shaped ice packs.  I think I mentioned in an earlier yarn along post that she really likes penguins.  I know I mentioned that she loves the color purple.

So, that was what I was going to show you last week, had I actually been around to do a yarn along post.  Now, for this week's stuff:

  • A firefly dish cloth.  I like the pattern, but not the size (which I was a little suspicious of when instructed to use a size 5 needle and only cast on 37 stitches. . .).  Next time I think I will go up a needle size (or maybe even 2!), cast on more stitches for a wider border (plan to do in seed stitch) and do at least another repeat of the 12 row pattern.  But for now, this one will do.  This was my on vacation knitting project, so the small size worked well for getting it done while having not much time to knit (busy chasing grandkids, LOL).

  • A new pair of socks!  Or, at least, the cuff of the first sock.  This will be a pair for me, done in yarn I got a while ago during a Knit Picks sale.  It is Stroll in the sour apple color.  The pattern I picked to make is called Solar.  I don't know about you, but to me, neon green just kind of says "solar", so I think it is a fitting pattern for this yarn which is even brighter in person.

That's all for now.  Hoping to show a mostly finished sock next week, as it seems like it will knit up pretty quick.  I just cast on last night, and got the cuff finished while baking a pan of brownies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Little Trip With the Grandkids

Last week, DH and I took K3 and Toad on a short vacation. Not very far, and not as long as we'd originally intended (our eight days got cut to barely four, due to their other grandparents making an unplanned visit from South Carolina during most of what was supposed to be our vacation).  We cut several options from the Take Grandkids Here List (lots of Michigan attractions if you are so inclined to visit our state, such as the Detroit Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, John Ball Zoo, Greenfield Village, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island, Huckleberry Railroad at Crossroads Village. . . ) and ended up just  heading to the family cabin near where Mother-in-Law lives.  Definitely not my first choice of destinations: tons of in-laws who like to just drop in and hang around no matter what you had planned for the day. . .

But, anyway, last week we took the grandkids on a mini-vacation.  We hung out at the family cabin the first afternoon/evening we were there, with the requisite visit from multiple family members who stayed way past time for the kids to go to sleep (and so they didn't, until nearly eleven p.m.)  Mother-in-Law did get out her old Farmall H tractor and give the kids rides; they go absolutely nuts over tractors.

One of the days, we took them to the beach at Negwegon State Park, which is on Lake Huron. They had a blast playing in the water, and on the beach itself.  Negwegon is a great place to go, mainly because it is so remote there is usually hardly anyone else on the beach.  Peaceful, quiet, and lots of elbow room.

Back at the cabin for a dinner of hot dogs and Polish sausage grilled over the fire, we were joined (unexpectedly) by a relative with a dog.  A dog who kept trying to eat K3 and Toad's hot dogs right off their plates. . .

The third day we went canoeing and kayaking (with a few relatives who invited themselves) on a section of the Au Sable river, and got back to the parking area just ahead of a hellacious thunderstorm.  The kids and I sheltered in the nearby pit toilet (which was a nice sturdy building, even if the 'plumbing' was primitive) while DH loaded the boats and gear and drove right to 'our' door so the kids wouldn't get soaked while getting into the truck. As a bonus, Toad, who is potty training, just had to try out the toilet.  Apparently he isn't as afraid of outhouses as his sister seems to be. . .

By the time we returned to the cabin, the rain had stopped.  So, taking a page from our own childhood summer times spent with our grandparents, we let the kids run and play in the mud and the puddles.  They had a great time and got absolutely filthy.  They also figured out how to play on the rope swing.

When it was time for bed, we washed them off under the outdoor hand pump.  They didn't even mind the frigid right-from-the-ground water; they were too intent on taking turns helping DH pump while I scrubbed down their sibling.  And, of course, true to the nature of my inlaws, several showed up (unplanned, uninvited, unannounced) with their dogs just as I was drying very sleepy kids off and putting them into their pajamas.   *sigh*  (Have I ever mentioned that I am just not a naturally social person?  I'm very introverted and like order and quiet, plus lots of personal space.  And I don't consider hanging out with relatives a vacation. . . )  It ended up being another late night, over tired kids, dogs under foot.

DH decided that instead of spending our final day at the family cabin, we should just drive home and enjoy a peaceful evening (and a proper bedtime) at this little place here.  So that is what we did, right after breakfast the next morning, and before any relatives could arrive.

The kids didn't seem to mind the garden walk we did once home, checking on my veggie plants, or the 4-wheeler and tractor rides DH gave them.  They liked the nice long soak in the bathtub I gave them, and then I was able to sing them to sleep, camped out on the living room floor.  DH and I enjoyed having an uninterrupted meal with just the grandkids, and a nice quiet evening sans relatives and their accompanying canines.

Not sure what we will do next summer on our vacation with the grandkids.  But most likely it won't be located at the family cabin, and relatives will not be involved.  We'll have to dust off the Take Grandkids Here List and go to some of those places instead.