Monday, August 31

That's when the lights went out....

I'm seriously considering investing in some solar panels! Seriously, our power goes out once or twice a year and it's never been due to the weather. People driving their vehicles into electric poles and knocking them down is usually what happens. Here's what occurred this time.

It rained on and off all day Friday (and most of last week too). Somewhere around 5 o'clock in the afternoon the lights blinked off and on. I breathed a sigh of relief. An hour later, they went out and stayed out. Crap! I called in the power outage to AEP. The operator I reached (shock! a real person!) claims I was the first to call in the problem. After what I've heard, I'm not so sure about that.

I went outside to see if anything was visible. Several neighbors were gathered by the street looking west. About half a block down there was a huge tree down across the road. It must have taken the power lines out. No storm, no wind, just light rain. What's up with that? (Though I don't know what's up with the fact that two large trees have fallen recently in this area during dry, windless conditions. Both happened as motorcycles passed by. One man was killed, the other just injured.)

Click picture to see the tree down from a local TV channel's website.

Hubby was working late. I called to let him know that the power was out. He wasn't coming home anytime soon because there were major computer problems at work that had to be fixed before classes started on Monday (today). Sigh...

Living out from the city, we have a well and septic system. When there is no power, there is no water. (Not even to flush the toilet.) My stomach was telling me it was past dinner time and there was nothing ready to eat. (I don't buy much in prepared foods due to allergies, preservatives, sodium content, etc. in it.) I had no water for cooking or cleaning up. Couldn't open the refrigerator (and risk having everything spoil if the power was out for too long). Couldn't get the car out of the garage to go somewhere to get something. (I can't reach the release you have to pull to be able to open the garage door when the power is out. It would not be safe to try this standing on a ladder.) I live several miles from the nearest grocery store or restaurant. Suffice it to say I was not a happy camper.

I lit some candles when it got dark. My cats were wondering what was going on. I started knitting a sock by candlelight more by feel than actually being able to see the stitches. (I had to fix a few stitches I split/dropped the next day.)

I was considering eating dry cornflakes by the time hubby finally made it home after 10 pm. He was starved too since he hadn't had time to eat either. We went out to get something to eat before everything closed up for the night. When we got back, I held a flashlight to light the front door while hubby unlocked it so we could go inside. (It really makes you appreciate having power when it's off for awhile.)

The power finally came back on a little after 1:00 am.

On Saturday, a
neighbor south of me complained that his cable TV was out on Friday night. I didn't have anything sympathy for him. Another neighbor filled me in on what happened on Friday night. None of this information was aired on the local TV news. What follows sounds like a comedy routine. I'm not laughing.

1) The tree that fell had been reported to AEP and the county a year and a half ago that it was rotten and in danger of falling. Nothing was done. It fell and luckily no one was hurt.

2) The county police called in V.E.S.T to close the road and wasted no time getting out of the area.

3) The fire department came and stayed to make sure the electric line didn't start a fire.

4) The highway department arrived to clear the tree from the road. They waited for AEP to get the wires out of the tree before they would clear the tree away.

4) AEP wouldn't touch the wires because the wires were in the tree. It was the tree trimming company's job to remove the wires from the tree.

5) The Comcast cable guys were sitting and waiting for everyone else to get done so they could repair the cable. So was the phone company.

All these people and resources and it still took 8 hours to fix this....WOW!!

Yesterday, I received another interesting piece of the puzzle from my next door neighbor. Our power could have been on all Friday night. What???!!

AEP shut off all power about 6:30 pm to over 1500 people in the area. Why?

The last time there was a long power outage in my area, many people got tired of waiting for the power to come back on. (I can sympathize. It was during cold weather. All night with no heat makes you want heat, lights, and to try to save the contents of your refrigerator and freezer.) People bought generators and hooked them up incorrectly. Yikes! Twelve houses had to be totally rewired. As usual, everyone paid the price due to the actions of a few.

Please, if you are going to use a generator, get it hooked up correctly and safely by a professional. If you don't, when the power comes back on, it can back feed from the incorrectly hooked up generator through the power lines; kill any electric workers who are working on the lines; blow up the generator; fill your house with toxic fumes (if not set up outside); blow out the wiring in your house; or start a fire. None of these is something you want to have happen.

Friday, August 21

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers are such a cheerful flower. We have some really tall ones growing in our garden. We didn't plant them. They're volunteers from last year's garden. Hubby posed next to them so you can see how tall they are. (BTW, he's 5' 8".)

After some much needed warmer temperatures, the squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes are finally producing. I have almost enough zucchini in the freezer for the winter. That's good because the squash bugs and vine borers are working on them. Tonight we're having squash fritters for dinner. Yum!! I may bake a couple of batches of zucchini bread to freeze. Tomorrow, we'll harvest the sweet corn. The raccoons have knocked down a couple of ears. We'll eat some of the corn but most of it will go into the freezer for winter meals.

Take a peek at size of this winter squash. That's my camera case sitting next to it for size comparison. Can you believe how large that squash is? It's a cushaw squash which I've heard tastes a lot like pumpkin but sweeter. I've spotted 3 or 4 of these babies in the garden. This may be the first but not last time we grow these!

Here's a tip that some gardeners may not know: When you harvest cabbage to eat, carefully remove the head leaving some large leaves and the roots alone. After a few weeks, it will start to look like this. Let them grow into the fall and you'll have a second harvest of mini cabbages to use.

It's feeling more like fall around here today. I have my fingers crossed that we don't have an early fall. I am so not ready for cold weather to return. Last winter started early and stayed overlong with lots of snow. And this summer has been a cool one.

In honor of the sunflowers blooming, I'm releasing a new free pattern. It's a Sunflower dishcloth (or hotpad) and coasters. You'll need size 7 (4.5 mm) needles and scraps of dishcloth cotton to knit them (about 30 yards for each cloth and 14 yds for each coaster). [Try knitting them with larger needles (maybe 9's) and worsted weight felting wool for felted coasters and hotpads.] Both sunflowers start by knitting a strip of petals. Then you pick up stitches along the straight edge of the petal strip. The cloth is then knit in the round on double points. The coaster's center is knit on straights. Once you're finished you weave the purl bumps together to close the seam. Both are fun and fast projects that will make great gifts.

You can download a free pdf of the patterns on Ravelry. It prints out as a nice little folder printed on the front and back of one sheet of paper. Click HERE to find the link.

Wednesday, August 12

Lotus Blossom Bag -- new pattern!

Here's my newest design --- the Lotus Blossom Bag. This is a joint project with my friend Jamie. She came up with some killer embellishments for this bag.

This felted bag features an unusual construction method. The body of the bag is knit sideways in garter stitch. Short rows add a flare to the bag. The bottom stitches are picked up along the lower edge and knit in the round. The pattern is written for a small (165 yards) and large bag (420 yards). It's knit in worsted weight felting wool yarn on size 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles. The purple and red bags were knit with Patons Classic Wool. The pink bag in Galway Paint.

Knit it plain or add flowers, buds, leaves, and vines. Scraps of several colors are needed for the embellishments. Directions are included to for the embellishments. (Psst...the flower pattern makes a cute coaster too!)

The small bag stands about 8" tall and is 20" around. The larger bag stands about 11" tall and is 31" around.

The pattern sells for $4.00 through my Ravelry pattern store.


Pattern prices subject to change without notice. Check my Ravelry Store for current pattern prices.

Monday, August 10

Weird weather & deer

The month of July here in northern Indiana was the coolest July on record (going back to 1893). Our local TV weatherman said we had only 4 days that were normal or above normal temps. We set 3 record low high temperatures for July and our average daytime temperature was only 67 degrees! You can understand why the warm weather veggies in our garden were sitting there doing nothing. I shouldn't complain about how cool it's been. Other parts of the country have been sweltering in 100+ degree heat.

Turn the calendar to August and watch it change! As our daytime high is going down, the actual temperature has gone up. The last few days we've been in the low 90s or high 80s, much warmer than it has been here since late June. The warm weather crops are making up for lost time. Summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, are finally coming in. The sweet corn is setting ears and we got our first crop of bush beans. (It also may be the last. Covering the bed with Birdx netting has kept the deer out. Sigh...a bunny rabbit has burrowed under the fence and is working on the plants.) The okra plants have grown noticeably bigger every morning. No blossoms yet.

Here's what I spotted out my patio door one day last week---a doe and 3 babies! The pictures aren't as clear as I would like. I was afraid to open the door and scare them away. The deer are getting quite bold. Usually they would come around at dusk or dawn. The deer around here are getting so used to humans that they come out during the day. This photo was taken about 2 pm. One day driving down a road near us, a mother deer and two babies crossed the road. Thank goodness everyone stopped for them!

I've made great progress on reorganizing my craft room. Strike that, my design studio. I feel that is a much better name for that space. My yarn, fabric, and spinning fiber has been sorted into bins and shelves. I love how it looks! I've thought of posting pictures but I'm not sure I want to share how much stash I really have. LOL!

Hubby looked at what I had accomplished and says, "Why don't we paint the walls, put in new flooring, and a ceiling fan?" I groaned. Why didn't he suggest that BEFORE I did all this work? I told him if he finishes some of the projects he has started around the house (baseboards, finishing doorways, cabinet kickplates, patching holes, etc.) I might consider it next year. Hubby has a habit of starting lots of home improvement projects but never quite finishing them. It drives me crazy!

I've sorted out 3 bins full of yarn to swap/sell on Ravelry. Check out my trade/sell folder if you are interested. Still to come is a cleanout of all my sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, and spinning books and magazines. There's a groaning bookcase full in my studio, plus more in the office and the living room. It's definitely time to pare the collection down to more manageable levels.

Lots of designing is going on behind the scenes. I have a bunch of patterns in the works at various stages. I'm hoping to have at least one pattern finished by the end of the week.

I've submitted a few designs to be used by the Holiday Mystery Gift Along group here on Yahoo. You'll have to wait and see what they are. :) The HMG group is a fun one with lots of things to knit (and crochet) for holiday gifts. The 2009 season of patterns begins on September 19th.