Thursday, September 27, 2007

Great Place to Go

The Swatchys and their Swatchites are going lots of great places on my behalf! And I think more posts are on their way (Milan? Oregon? Rhinebeck?).

I found another fascinating place that I wish I could go: John C. Campbell Folk School. This school is located in rural North Carolina and offers both weekend and week-long sessions. Classes are offered in knitting, quilting, pottery, beads, weaving, woodwork, glass enameling, and so much more!

Just imagine spending a week in the mountains, studying the craft of your choice and enjoying walks in the woods. Sounds heavenly!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bye-bye Bialystok!

Howdy Knittah!

Somehow it's already time to get packed to leave. Tomorrow we're taking a train to Warsaw, where we'll spend the next day and a half wandering around the city, exploring the Old Town and looking for yarn shops. The weather is supposed to stay nice until Friday, when we fly back home.

The other day, we took a bus out to the end of the line, and went mushroom picking in the forest. My first mushroom was edible, but the worms had gotten to it first.

It turns out that what I'm best at is finding lots of tiny little mushrooms, the sort that you shouldn't eat if you feel like avoiding digestive problems later.

I did manage to find a few more good ones, but we weren't the only ones out in the woods that day. The mosquitoes were fierce, and any time we stopped walking they attacked. We braved the mosquitoes and stopped to take one more picture, with my last good mushroom. No worms either!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Oh, Canada!

Here I am waiting at Newark Airport, passport at the ready!Hi Knittah! Well, Devon and I are here in beautiful Toronto...
That's in Canada!
Yes, Devon, she knows where Toronto is. Anyway, today we went to the CN Tower.
This Canadian money looks so funny -- it's all different colors!
Yes, it is. Can I finish telling Knittah about Toronto now?
Oh yeah, sorry.
So the CN Tower is the second tallest building in the whole world.
And they have $1 and $2 COINS instead of bills!
But I want to tell her they're called loonies and twonies.
Are you done now?
Yes. Zip it, lock it, put it in my pocket.

So the view from the observation deck is incredible! You can see for miles -- all of Toronto and out Lake Ontario. We had a drink and a snack at the cafe and sat right next to the wall of windows. I have made great friends with Melanie's 4 year old daughter. She loves carrying me around.
Last night I had sweet potato fries with BLUEBERRY DIJONAISE!
So that's all for today! Good night all! Tomorrow we're going to the Royal Ontario Museum!
WAIT!! Tell her about the black squirrels!!

Drinking some delicious iced tea...
A view of the CN Tower from below -- Whoa!On the observation deck -- there's also a glass floor you can step out on -- it's wild!

TOOOOOO-Ronto! Toronto! I love ya, Toronto. You're only a--

Go to bed, Devon.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Early Morning Call

I had the great pleasure of an early morning call from - wait for it - MILAN! Swatchy Mama is with escort Kathy in Milan, Italy. Thing 1 was invited to a youth soccer program at AC Milan. They are having a great time. I can't wait to see the pictures, especially because Thing 1 is taking lots of pictures of food and pigeons (not in the same picture, I hope).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Papierosy... spirytus...

Howdy Knittah!

It's been fairly quiet around here - I've been exploring Bialystok, but it's a small city, so it doesn't take too long to get around.

We've been doing some shopping around town, and I've been to most of the bazaars already. You can buy all kinds of stuff here - all sorts of foods, clothing, fabrics.. I haven't seen any yarn, but there has been string and twine.

On Friday it's supposed to be busier, so we'll be heading back to see what else is there. A few years ago, there used to be quite a few people coming in from Belarus, and they had interesting (though not necessarily high-quality goods) to sell. Nowadays there are mostly just Polish folk selling their wares, and random men and women muttering "papierosy... spirytus... papierosy" under their breath. I think it's illegal to buy cigarettes and pure alcohol outside of a proper store here.

Speaking of alcohol, we haven't been going out to pubs much, but we did go to the beer store. I wasn't drunk though, I was just tired and felt like having a nap.

Tomorrow we're going to a large French chain store called Auchan, maybe we'll find something fun?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Arts

Dear Knittah,

How are you? Tonight Noricum and I went out to the art club. Since she had finished her acrylic painting last week, she didn't know what to paint... so she started painting me:
Art Club
What do you think? She hasn't gotten very far yet... it took her a while to get started (looking at the art class schedule, thinking about what to paint, getting up the nerve to "mess up" a clean sheet of paper), and then we had to leave early so that her mom could send out an e-mail. (Noricum's mom is on the club executive, and they had a meeting tonight.) She'll probably manage to finish my portrait next week.

Last Friday was pretty exciting around here too. There was filming going on in the neighbourhood for next year's "The Haunting in Connecticut". How exciting! While things were being set up, I snuck in and stole a minute in the spotlight:
Don't I look spooky? Here's some random photos Noricum took:
Later on we got to watch a segment of the movie being filmed. It was where the son was running away from a psych ward to get back to his family. Noricum didn't try taking any photos or movies then... she was worried the film crews wouldn't like it. This seems to have the best information on the movie.

I think the guy said that the other movie we saw being filmed is called Full Of It.

I still have more to tell you about the cabin, and some even older things... I'll try to catch up soon!


Not So Swatchy in Poland

Howdy Knittah! I made it to Poland early Saturday morning. There wasn't much room on the plane, as it was nearly full, but at least I had a window seat. The skies cleared as we approached Warsaw, and I got to see the surrounding countryside.

Vicki's cousin picked us up at the airport, and drove us straight to Bialystok to her grandparent's house. After a quick lunch, we went to a soccer game. The final score was 0-0, and I had more fun watching the fans than the actual game. Apparently they like to fight the fans of the opposing team, and the police were ready and waiting with a firetruck to hose them down.

I don't think I'm too sure of how all the rules work, but it was easy to tell what was going on - when the fans were happy, there was singing and dancing. When the ref made a bad call.. well, let's just say I learned a few new swear words.

The next day, we walked around town a bit. Here's the street we're staying on, it's called ul. Przygodna - Adventure Street.

We took a walk to the park, then came back by walking through town, past the museum.

That's all for today - the time change is still messing with our internal clocks a bit, and we're sleeping at odd hours. If I take a nap right now, I might be okay later in the evening. Bye!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Swatchy Hugz, meet Swatchy Prep!

Here we are! We're back!

Swatchy Hugz has been having a hard time keeping up with his keeper lately, but this Sunday, Celeste and Devon got to meet, with Swatchies in tow!

We were all four so sad that we couldn't relocate the visit to Knittah's place, but we knew that she was recovering from some big time travel... So here are the photos, just for you, Knittah!

Swatchy Prep and Swatchy Hugs

Bonding before the mountain of exquisite yarn Devon's leaving in Celeste's care while she travels the world. You can see how enthusiastic Swatchy Hugz was feeling upon meeting one of his own kind...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Walking The Trails

Dear Knittah,

Noricum's family maintains a network of trails near the cabin. I thought you might enjoy some of the sights.

Near the cabin there's an abandoned gravel pit. The city of Flin Flon used to dig gravel there in the winter time... the gravel could only be dug in the winter because they had to drive across the ice to get to the gravel pit. Recently a family of foxes has been living in the gravel pit. On our walk, we went to check out the various dens:
Fox Den
However, it looks like they haven't been used for some time. Perhaps they were used earlier in the spring and summer, and the family moved out when the kits were older?

Here's a view of the gravel pit from the top, looking down:
Gravel Pit
You can tell from the size of the trees just how long it's been since the city dug there. (Also, remember that this is northern Manitoba... we counted rings in a tree that was cut down... it's only 4" in diameter, but there were over 100 rings!)

This is the view from the top of "Lookout Mountain":
It's not actually a mountain, but it is the highest point near the cabin, and it has a nice view. If you look closely, you can see one downside of the location of the cabin: Flin Flon is a mining town, and has a smelter operation. When the wind is from the wrong direction, we get to breathe the smelter smoke. Yuck!

This tree at the top of Lookout Mountain is the climbing tree:
Climbing Tree
Noricum's grandfather carved some of the branches to make it easy to climb higher for a better view. However, the tree is quite old, and the carved branches are now quite brittle. No one climbs it any more.

One of the good things about the location of the cabin is the wild blueberries!
Sadly, our trip was *after* blueberry season. *sigh*

More to come!


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Swatchy Prep is safe and sound!

Hey Knittah!

Whew, what a wild ride I had in that Post Office truck! I guess it was preparation for all those crazy tuk-tuks we'll be taking in Thailand. I made it to New Jersey safe and sound, and Devon and I have already become the best of friends. She's really excited to play with my hair, and she ADORES my pink and green shirt and pink and purple scarf. We've been talking about our travel plans... first, we're off to Toronto Canada, then Portland OR, where we'll meet up with Celeste, and then bum around Cali for a little while. I'm especially excited about the road trip to Vegas -- I just love Cirque du Soleil! Here's a picture of Devon and me -- girlfriends! Note that we both have green eyes - so cool!The next few weeks will be spent packing and reading about backpacking... I can't wait to get started! (Devon is already starting to lose her cool -- hope I'll be able to keep her from freaking out TOO much!) See ya soon!

Swatchy Prep

P.S. Enclosed is a letter from Devon to the Swatchy readership. I'll let her tell you about herself!

Hello Swatchy World!

My name is Devon. I am a 26 year old former schoolteacher, knitter, yoga devotee, and aspiring amateur photographer from the Jersey Shore. I grew up here, went to college here (Rutgers rah!), and have never been anywhere else for any significant amount of time. I decided in the spring that the public school system was not for me, and I'm spending the money I saved up for a house on a trip around the world!
After our month in Cali, Swatchy and I will probably travel via the Pacific islands to Thailand and spend some time bumming around Asia. Stopping back home around January, we will then live in the DR for a few months and hit up Europe when it gets nice and warm. (This plan is subject to change, of course, based on weather, beach conditions, employment, and cute Australians.) Anyway, I am just hoping to find something that's missing in my life. No, that's not it... just trying to live to my maximum potential and do only things that make me happy! I am looking forward to traveling with Swatchy and Knittah instead of alone... I think they'll be the perfect travel companions-- someone to keep me company, but I still get to make all the decisions!
I will try to update as often as possible, though internet access may get patchy at times.
Talk to you soon!

P.S. Ignore my bra strap and greasy hair in above pic. Please.

Not So Swatchy

Howdy Knittah!

I arrived safe and sound in Buffalo today. It's pretty hot out, but luckily it's already sweater weather in Poland! In just over a week, we'll be on our way. Vicki is busy getting everything ready for our trip, but was pleased to see that we already have matching footwear.

I'm going to go brush up on my Polish now - do zobaczenia!

Monday, September 03, 2007

iSwatchy Lives!

It's been a long and crazy summer, but iSwatchy is alive and well after unexpectedly ending up in Vancouver.

iSwatchy is in Vancouver

He had a great time staying in Coquitlam in a very comfortable room with a lovely host.

iSwatchy knows how to live in Vancouver

Once we were back in Winnipeg, however, iSwatchy helped me set up my new Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle.

iSwatchy chills with his homies

After that, iSwatchy spent a little time kicking it oldschool.

iSwatchy kicks it old-school

Then iSwatchy showed off some of his unicycling skills. I don't know how he rides it so well, considering he can't reach the pedals.

iSwatchy can't ride very well yet, but is making progress

iSwatchy seems to be pretty handy with technology, so I let him give me a hand setting up father's new Xerox colour laser printer.

iSwatchy prints in colour

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Cabin

Dear Knittah,

This is Noricum's family's cabin:
When Noricum's grandfather bought the cabin, all that was there was the stone foundation and an outhouse. The rest of the cabin was built and added-on to by him and the family.

One recent addition is what Noricum's mother christened the "$1000 Per Night Suite"... because at a resort, that's the kind of money you'd have to pay for it! It's a screened in porch... and when the weather is warm enough, it's the *ideal* sleeping spot! There's a breeze, you can hear the waves lapping and the loons... heavenly!

Anyway, the $1000/night suite is the addition on the right of the cabin in the photo. Here's the view over the bay from it:
"$1000 Per Night" Suite
Noricum often came out here to escape from the ticking clocks. (Her and her family have a difference of opinion about clocks at the lake... especially the ticking kind!) This was her favourite knitting/reading spot:
"$1000 Per Night" Suite
(The view from that spot is what's shown in the previous photo.) On colder days (we had a bit of a cold snap when we were up there) she'd sit here with a fire in the stove:
"$1000 Per Night" Suite

On warm, sunny days, these chairs on the deck were even better:
Deck Chairs
(This pair is newer than the chair Noricum painted... they're more curvy, and thus more comfortable to sit in.) This is the view from the deck:
View From Deck

Here's the dock where we keep the boats:
Dock and Boats
When Noricum's uncle installed running water, Noricum was sad that the pump was gone. So her uncle added a fish-cleaning station on the dock, with the pump to wash it down:
Fish Cleaning Station

This is the swimming dock:
Swimming Dock
It's nice to have for jumping off of (but too shallow for diving), leaving towels on, and sunbathing. Mmmmm! What a great way to warm up after swimming! (This trip was really too cold for swimming, but Noricum went in for a few minutes anyway... brrrr! the air was 15 C!)

Here's another "view" of the cabin, this time from the swimming dock:
Cabin from Swimming Dock
If you look closely at the little beach, you can see some purple sand:
Beach with Purple Sand
There's a bunch of rocks with garnets (not very good ones) that get ground down... and since they're lighter than the other sand, they settle on top after a storm. Isn't it pretty? I wonder how many places have purple sand?

Now, although you might be looking at the beach and saying that it's not much of a beach... but it's actually really nice for the area. There are very few cabins on the lake with a beach, and most of them had to truck in their sand. The one here is natural... although Noricum's family did dig the shore back a bit, and moved lots of rocks. In fact, the cabin's foundation stones are probably originally from the beach!

Look at how clear the water is!
Clear Water

There are a bunch of flowers planted around the cabin. Noricum's aunt likes gardening and making the place look pretty. She planted all of them.

One time when Noricum's uncle from BC was visiting, he made a horse swing from a tire:
Horse Swing

Quite a number of years ago... back when Noricum was in grade school, her and her family built a new outhouse. This is the wall that Noricum painted:
They still have the old one too, but it's getting quite decrepit. There wasn't any point in tearing it down, and people can use it if there's more than one person that needs to "go" at a time. However, Noricum doesn't like how the floor is rather... um... "spongey"... she's worried about falling through! (It is older than her mother, after all!) The new outhouse also has the feature of a screen door to keep the mosquitoes out, while still having a view. Yes... with no neighbours, you don't need doors for privacy! (Some visitors get a bit nervous, though.)

One more photo for this post... here's the back of the cabin:
Back of Cabin
The addition on the back is called the "summer kitchen". It has the propane fridge and stove, plus a shower. The fridge was moved out there to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. (Thankfully we've never had that problem, but it's better to be safe than sorry.)

More posts later!