on the needles

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hound Time

My adventures in bird keeping have taken over the blog lately - the second set of babies is due to come out of the nest this week - yay!

I haven't posted any pictures of my four legged pals in awhile. So here you go:

Luca is still handsome and wonderful.

And Henry is still... Henry.

My husband and I were joking the other day that Luca is our pet and Henry is Luca's pet. That's pretty much the relationship. Let's just say Henry isn't the brightest penny in the bunch. He wouldn't know how to do anything if he didn't have Luca to follow around.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Big Babies

Some photos I took today of the "big kids". Now that the first two chicks are independent little guys and they have three younger siblings I guess we have to call them the "big kids".

I was able to get a couple of decent pictures of chickie #1. Elvira thinks it is a girl.

The blue chick was much harder to get a photo of - he was moving around too much. So here's a slightly blurry photo. Notice that the yellow chick is tired of getting it's picture taken and is trying to take a nap sitting on one foot with feathers fluffed up.

And here are the terrible two with their daddy Godric. Can you believe that someday the chicks will be as brightly colored as that? Elvira thinks the babies will have red heads since red is dominant to black in Gouldian genetics. If anyone is interested here is a good website that explains a little bit about inheritance of traits in Gouldians. I'm slowly learning but as you can see there are SO many variables!

Current Project...

Here's what I've been working on:

A Log Cabin blanket for my son. It is done in colors to match his room. I'm not too sure I'm totally happy with the way that it is turning out yet. I don't think the colors mesh together quite the way I wanted. Maybe I have too many colors going on at once? As it gets bigger and there are more repeats of the colors I am liking it more - so we'll see. :)

This is in Elann Sonata again.

I know some people have been keeping the stitches live rather than casting off and picking up. I haven't done that because I really like the "put together" effect you get when you bind off and pick up stitches. I think it mimics the feel of a quilted Log Cabin better.

After this one I am planning a Log Cabin of small squares that will be sewn together. It is only going to have three colors so I'm going for a much more minimalist look. That (along with some socks) is what I am going to be knitting on the road.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

This weekend sucks!!

And it's not because of the migraines, PMS or cramps. Nope, despite all of those things at once, the suckiest thing this weekend has been a huge disaster in finchland.

Remember that Sirius and Rowena had five live eggs due to hatch at any time? And remember I was a bit concerned about Sirius and his "casual" attitude towards his parental responsibilities? Well I thought he was a bit of a deadbeat dad but I didn't expect him to turn into an assassin! That's right - the dreaded chick tossing.

I had been lulled into a lovely false sense of security due to Godric and Minerva's super parenting so it was a huge shock when I came downstairs Friday morning to discover two dead chicks on the floor of the cage. I was hoping against hope that somehow they were perhaps just initially startled by the appearance of the babies and this had for some reason caused them to throw out the first chicks - hoping they would settle down and parent the rest of the babies. But nope - later in the day when I checked I found a third chick on the floor. He was very cold but still alive. I did what I could to save him (too long to go into all the detail) but to no avail and he died overnight. And now the last two eggs have been abandoned and will not hatch.

I'm just devastated over the loss of the baby birds. It seems like such a waste to go to all that trouble with the eggs and then ditch the babies. My theory is that Sirius and Rowena have never actually raised their own babies before. I got them from a breeder (this breeder was NOT my friend Elvira, who has beautiful birds and raises them the right way) as an "established pair". But some breeders never allow Gouldian's to raise their own babies. As soon as the Gouldian's lay eggs, the breeder takes the eggs and gives them to Society Finches to foster. This causes the Gouldians to turn around and lay another clutch of eggs right away - thus maximizing the number of Gouldian eggs the breeder can get each season and of course bringing them more money. I think it is a good idea to have Society Finches around to possibly foster Gouldian Finch babies in an emergency situation. (Societies will feed just about any youngling who begs for food.) But the practice of doing this constantly and on purpose is what leads to Gouldians becoming bad parents in the first place.

Needless to say this will be the last clutch for Sirius and Rowena. I don't raise birds to make money. I care about having healthy babies who know how to be Gouldians - like Godric and Minerva.

So that's the bad news. The very very bad news!

The good news is:

These are the three babies from Godric and Minerva's second clutch. Fat and happy and well fed - just look at those crops! They are ten days old today. I took these pictures when I banded them.

Look at those faces! Just adorable. No yellow backed babies in this bunch - but maybe normal, dilute or blue - too soon to really tell.

So that's life huh? The good and the bad. I'm just so happy to have the good and not just the bad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Too Darn Hot!

Gah!!! It's too hot - too hot - too hot!!!

Okay - now that I have that out of my system. Just a little update as I sit in my semi-cool room trying to move about as little as possible whilst I slurp the absolutely indispensable coke Slurpee...

Godric and Minerva's second set of chicks have hatched. There were four eggs and three hatched. I have only check on the chicks a few times and so far I don't think they look as "different" as the first set. Maybe we will get some more normal colored Gouldians out of this bunch.

The first pair of chicks is doing really well. They fly all over the place and eat regular birdy food. They don't bother to beg from Mom and Dad anymore. Now I'm just waiting for them to start their moult so I can see the beautiful colors spring to life - at the moment they are both dull echoes of what they will become. They are much harder to take photos of now that they can fly - hence the lack of pictures. I tried to take some but they all came out blurry. I will get some though when they begin their moult.

After the second clutch leaves the nest I will take it away and that will be the end of breeding season this year for Godric and Minerva. If I didn't take it away they would probably go on laying eggs forever. You have to force them to take a rest.

Sirius and Rowena are sitting on a clutch of five eggs - all live! They are due to hatch any day now. I'll be interested to see how they deal with such a big bunch of babies. Sirius seems to be a slightly less fanatical Dad then Godric. Good old Godric helped out a lot with the brooding and feeding. He started sleeping (with Minerva) on his eggs at night the minute Minerva stopped laying. Sirius is more casual about the whole thing. He takes his turn but doesn't seem to see the need for doing double duty. In fact, he sleeps at night on the perch outside Godric & Minerva's nest. I couldn't believe that when I saw it! I was amazed that Godric would tolerate Sirius so close to his babies.

I'm working on a second Log Cabin blanket - this time for my son. This one is sort of the traditional bullseye type where you start at the center and then endlessly add logs around and around until you just can't stand it anymore - or the blanket is big enough - whichever comes first.

I decided NOT to put a border on the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. I think the lack of a border is more - "moderne".

I am also getting together supplies for my road trip log cabin blanket. I think it's pretty much perfect on the road knitting. I'm only planning on taking the one project, thus ensuring that I will just HAVE to go check out the LYS in So. Cal.!

And - really exciting - looks like I will get to meet some of you guys on the way!!

I'm hoping to meet Jenn from Knit 'n Lit on my way through Texas. That will enable us to skip Dallas (which my hubby doesn't like for personal reasons) and will really help break up the endless monotony of driving across the Texas panhandle. Believe me - I've driven this stretch of road at least ten times - no offense anyone, it just goes on FOREVER!

I may also - not sure yet - get to meet Scout in ABQ. I really LOVE New Mexico and ABQ is so very similar to Tucson - where I lived for 8 years. Those two towns are definitely cousins.

And when I get to So. Cal. I'm hoping to meet up with Karen from NoeysMommyKnits. I nay not recognize Karen but I'm sure I will know Noey when I see her. She can't fool me - even though she just lost some of her front teeth. Karen happens to be visiting the same area at the same time as me so I'm hoping that our dates will line up and we will get a chance to get together. The kids will have a great time with Noey and hopefully we can sneak off to a great LYS my Mom keeps telling me about.

It looks like I'm going to have to plan a trip to the Pacific Northwest and to New England to meet the rest of you guys. Now that we have an RV anything is possible!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hey You Guys!

Do any of my blog friends out there live in the path between Maryland and California? We're going on a road trip later on and I thought I'd see if I had a chance to actually meet some of you in real life. We're going the southern route by way of Texas and the southwest. Email me if you think you might be along the route - there is a link right at the top of my sidebar. (I found it Carrie!) ;)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Log Cabin Goodness!

My first Log Cabin Blanket! And you all thought I had forgotten how to knit. ;)

This isn't the best photo - garter stitch always seems to mess with my camera, as if it doesn't really know what to focus on - but I figured if I didn't post any knitting photos soon I would have a mass exodus of blog readers on my hands. :)

I'm still trying to decide if I should crochet a single line of border. If I did I think I would use the dark wine color or maybe the lightest bluish one - the one that isn't on any of the edge strips. What do you guys think? Border or no?

The Stats:
The Pattern: Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting
The Yarn: Elann Endless Summer Collection Sonata
2 skeins of 2138 Mauve (color A)
3 skeins of 6399 Lilac (color B)
4 skeins of 6319 Soft Periwinkle (color C)
3 skeins of 6960 Victorian Grape (color D)
The Needles: Addi Turbo Circs #5 47"
I didn't need needles that long until the last strip of the blanket though. 32" might have worked.

What I learned: I LOVE LOG CABIN BLANKETS!!! The possibilities are endless as will be the number of Log Cabin blankets you will be seeing on this blog. :) Ever since I started this blanket I have been envisioning others - different colors, different blocks, different materials. I could hardly wait to finish this one so I could get on to the next one.

I based the color scheme of this blanket on my daughter's favorite toy. This morning when I told her it was finished she grabbed it and loved on it saying "Blankie, blankie!". I have some adorable photos of that. :)

My time on this from start to finish was about two weeks. I've already started another one in a different style and color scheme.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My 4th of July Weekend

This Fourth of July we are still a country at war.

Lately it has been disturbing to me how blase everyone seems to be about this fact. At least here in my part of the country, we all seem to go about our lives as usual and the war has very little impact on our daily routines. Other than an occasional report on the news it barely even seems to register that over in Iraq and Afghanistan many people are dying everyday. I am not trying to condemm anyone for this attitude, I am guilty of this myself. Truth is, I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who is actively involved in the war(s). I know some bloggers who have loved ones in the military but that is it.

I may as well say it right off - I'm totally, 100% against the war in Iraq and our present government which got our country into this situation. But I believe that the men and women fighting there on behalf of our country deserve our full support (and I don't think they have gotten it!).

It also bothers me that I live in an area so rich with history but I have explored so very little of it. You probably know by now that I'm a mega Anglophile but still, it's pretty disgraceful IMHO not to know the history of your own country.

And, I want my kids to grow up smart - to know the shared history of their country and to understand the meaning of sacrifice and what war is really about.

So, over the weekend I went with my family to Antietam Battlefield. The battle there on September 17th, 1862 was the bloodiest day of the entire Civil War, resulting in 23,000 Confederate and Union (Federals) dead. Antietam is also notable in that it was the first battlefield to be photographed before the dead were buried. Alexander Gardner (working for Matthew Brady) took his historic photos only two days after the battle. The photographs were later shown at Brady's New York studio - to the shock and horror of the public.

I took several photographs of the Sunken Road, also known as Bloody Lane.

It was here, for a period of about four hours, that the Union army, advancing across the cornfield on the right of the photo, attempted to break through the lines of the Confederate army on the other side of the fence.

The history of the Sunken Road is really horrific. Standing in the road, you get an immediate sense of how absolutely terrifying that day must have been. The Union soldiers had to march across a field which rises gently until you are within about a hundred yards of the road. They could undoubtedly see the men on the other side, waiting to get a shot at them. Artillery fire would have been exploding all around. Suddenly, the field dips down sharply and the Union soldiers line of sight was cut off. Pressing forward, they had to scramble uphill, emerging right in front of the fence line - a clear and instant target for the Confederates. The Union soldiers then had to struggle over a fence, then back downhill into the Sunken Road. From there, it was uphill again and, if they were lucky, over the second fence and straight into Confederate lines. Five thousand men were killed in the Sunken Road. There were literally piles of bodies - even two days later when Gardner arrived to photograph the battlefield.

Today the site of the battle at Antietam is strangely peaceful. It is very well preserved, most of the site is still intact and there is little modern encroachment. It's green and quiet and covered in placid, unemotional stone monuments. It is hard to believe what really took place there so long ago.

Antietam is a bit of boring trip for younger kids like mine are. We started to listen to the audio tour but had to turn it off before we even left stop #1 (the Dunker Church) because it was just too gruesome! I want them to understand about this stuff but not have nightmares! We tried to liven the day up for them by doing the scavenger hunt the park has set up (you have to track down and photograph certain monuments) and we got them started on their National Park Passport Books which they thought was cool. Although the depth of meaning behind Antietam was probably lost on the kids, I know from the questions they asked that they understood the main points. And I know that they will remember what they saw and think about it later.

Today we watched the fireworks and I enjoyed them on a simple level. They were pretty. I like the different colors and shapes, the loud boom! and the ones that sizzle and leave long streaks of light in the air. I thought about how lucky I was, to be sitting on the grass, my kids dancing in front of me, with free entertainment and hardly a care in the world.

Two totally different days with my family that I will never forget.

If you want to learn more, here's a link to a good Washington Post article about Antietam.