And so it is Christmas…

Or I hope it will be. In the middle of the Omicron surge, I feel as if I will be lucky to test negative tomorrow before my immediate family gathers for the first time in two years.

Even though I have had two years, I only started knitting gifts after the this December. 25th, and I’ve been busy. This is just a preview. The rest is a secret.

A new baby was born during these crazy times so I made him a quilt to welcome home to the world.

I revamped my workspace after my worktable had a breakdown. It was formerly my dining table and the first piece of (used) furniture I bought 23 years ago but it isn’t sturdy enough to support my habits – the latest related to a very heavy knitting machine.

Time for it to move on. It will still be fine for dining as long as the meal is not too heavy! I have placed this one in its stead.

Small and sturdy.

Here’s to the next 23 years.

Illusions

It’s winter in the north country. So naturally, we headed further north, for our first trip to Canada, in two years.

Are we moving?

After completing paperwork and Covid testing, we arrived in Lévis, a ferry ride away from Quebec City. The St. Lawrence River still had plenty of commercial and ice traffic to watch and we took a few ferry rides back and forth.

Most of our activities took place outdoors and when we had to venture inside, proof of vaccination was required.

So real

But there was plenty to do outdoors and we were prepared for cold weather. We spent hours walking around the city, visiting the outdoor German Christmas Market and tucking in to warm up periodically.

We visited an interesting exhibit in the Musée de Civilisation about merde, more commonly known as shit! It actually was very informative although we skipped the aroma exhibit. Too much of the world lacks access to clean water and sanitation.

Musée de civilisation

Back in Lévis, there was a light show in a park just next to our AirBNB, complete with ice sculptures.

On our way home we skated in the magical Domain du Foret Perdu, or the lost forest, where there were 15 km of ice skating trails through the woods. They even have a Zamboni, so the ice was smooth.

Not smooth enough for me however. I took a face plant where I truly landed flat on my face, luckily in a snow back. No broken bones.

Once home, we enjoyed a quiet holiday. The evergreens were decorated, inside and out, and the geraniums are blooming, despite the snow outside.

Putting my toe in the water

Just as the Omicron variant arrived, I was packing my bags for a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland, with my daughter. My first real trip since 2019!

Covid tests were scheduled for home and in Iceland. Then the CDC classified Iceland as very high risk for Covid. But I live in a place at very high risk. Our adventures would be focused on outdoor activities, during the six hours of daylight (10:45 to 4:45). We were both fully vaccinated and boosted so there was no time like the present. Off we went. As I wait for my post travel final Covid test, it was totally worth it.

First of all, just to spend this time with my adult daughter was a gift. In my opinion, we are excellent travel companions. She may think otherwise because I do spend an inordinate amount of time searching my pockets for keys, masks, credit cards, etc. But, in my defense, there were too many pockets because we always wore two layers of pants, and a few jackets to be able to enjoy the outdoors.

We took a red eye and our first stop upon arrival was the Blue Lagoon, thermal pools fed with warm water from the nearby geothermal plant. Although this is a popular tourist destination, it was a fun introduction to Iceland. We applied various concoctions to our faces and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco while soaking.

We stayed nearby for a couple of nights and took day trips to lighthouses, volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs while we slept beneath the glow and steam (and sulphuric odor) of the geothermal plant. We soaked in hot springs, including one fed by a geysir behind a fence, nearly every day and had the raisin fingers to show for it.

There were plenty of working lighthouses scattered around the country. This one was on a huge massif with a beautiful view of a stretch of black sand beach. The one below was open and we climbed to the top where a fresnel lens turned.

There is frequent seismic activity in the land of fire and ice, hence the volcanoes and hot springs. This volcano erupted in March 2021 and the lava field has fissures that are still steaming.

We explored a few waterfalls including one we were able to walk under. We also crossed a bridge between two continental plates that are moving apart. We tried to see what would happen to the bridge as that occurs but looks like they will have to dismantle part of it. The movement is a few centimeters a year!

Every village had a church. Sometimes, we couldn’t tell where the congregation would possibly come from.

The real goal of the trip, besides spending time with my daughter and soaking our cares away, was to try to glimpse the northern lights. We had apps with predictions the lights and clear skies. One night, conditions looked good, but not where we were at the moment. So we hopped in the car and drove south to clear skies without ambient light. We saw a faint streak of green in the sky and couldn’t believe our luck. There were the northern lights on our second night. The trip was complete. Hotels offer northern light wakeup calls. We were called once at about 1:30 am but they were gone by the time I got outside and I couldn’t find my glasses anyway. Then we slept in. Easy to do when sunrise is 10:45.

The plot thickened when US international guidelines were tightened mid-week. Luckily we had our departure test within a day anyway. Free, painless with rapid results. And done in a circle of 10 strangers.

The worst weather came on our last day as we explored Reykavik, as much as we could with 70 mph wind gusts and walkways of sheer ice. We checked out the flea market and one of the most unusual museums in the world. Nuf said.

It was such a beautiful country and an easy place to visit even though I never learned a word of the language other than thank you. Takk fryir Iceland for reintroducing me to adventure.

Labor

It is nice to be home for a while and to get reacquainted with my tools (toys). I wove a baby blanket on my floor loom and added a cute little octopus for fun. I miscalculated and had to order more yarn but it’s a win.

A friend needed some help getting a knitting machine working and it reignited my interest. I made a few hats and a vest for myself (which was not a win). Then my daughter requested some baby gifts for friends.

A few years ago, I made a heap of crab slippers for her frisbee friends. Now the clan was expanding and I used the same motif to make a baby crab vest.

Nothing beats hand knit though. I made a little aran sweater – but the hood is a little wonky.

I couldn’t resist knitting another Forest Path Stole. It’s a fun and interesting knit.

My she-shed bee-shed is doing its job well. All my bee boxes are stored, along with Sparky’s boat gear and my underused telescope.

But here was my latest challenge. My daughter’s friend was expecting her first child. Her labor was induced because the baby was expected to be large. She was in for the long haul. I had “received” a new to me knitting machine and wanted to give it a go.

I decided to try to knit her a baby sweater contemporaneous with her time in labor. I hoped she would deliver before I finished the sweater. But alas, it was not to be. I took breaks to sleep, swim, eat, and relax and I still finished before she ultimately delivered – after two days of labor, 4 hours of pushing, and ultimately a c-section, the trifecta of labor and delivery.

Her final product was more beautiful than mine but she can keep the sweater as a memento of her time in labor – or not.

How do you queue?

I do best on country roads where I may see another car every five minutes or so.

This thought came to me as I drove downstate in increasingly heavy traffic. I knew I had to get off the Cross Island Parkway onto the Long Island Expressway. I used to commute here in my earlier days and was accustomed to the road and its traffic patterns.

Like a good doobie, I got into the right lane early so I would be well positioned for the exit. Then I became annoyed, and even a little angry, as more and more cars pulled into the right lane at the last minute. This made me look up queue theory and traffic patterns.

Apparently it is predictable and even preferred that you wait until close to the last minute to merge. If everyone got into the right lane early, there would be a crawling lane of traffic for miles. By pulling in late, traffic is allowed to flow more smoothly. And here I was chalking it up to entitlement and all sorts of negative things.

So please don’t honk at me the next time I cut you off in a merge. I’m just keeping traffic flowing. Or as Tim likes to say, zapping you.

In the meantime, I will stick to the country, where the biggest problems are deer, turkeys, and even bears crossing the road.

Past peak but not too bad

This could relate to many things, including me, but today I am talking about deciduous trees.

Fall in the Adirondacks is glorious and brief. Catch it while you can. Cold fronts with high winds blow the remaining leaves off the trees, which happened again this year.

There’s often a rainbow after rainy weather and stormy skies.

And sunsets from the cabin are stunning. It’s nice to be home to enjoy these views.

Home just in time

High peaks color

We returned home and were greeted by the trees just starting to change color. We peep while going about our regular activities, often at high speed.

Used to be an iconic red barn here here
Pretty even at 55 mph
Headed downhill to Cascade Mountain
My “fishing hole” where I have never caught a fish
Fire Island Lighthouse

And finally, a lighthouse. I joined my daughter on Long Island and we walked the barrier beach to this beauty. Tim and I spent one winter on Fire Island (heaven) and this was our backyard view!

Why island life?

Not just any island, offshore please. Ideally with only two occupants. Yesterday made it perfectly clear to me why I love these opportunities. In between putting up window grates and storing the multitude of benches that now reside here, I stared in awe at the sky as it constantly changed. Black clouds brought a little rain and then moved to the north.

From the vantage point of a hill atop an offshore island, and safely onshore, clouds, gloomy skies and rain are spectacular.

And you need clouds and rain to form rainbows. As we got ready for dinner, Tim saw a rainbow out front. I went out back to see it and watched it with the current, resident peregrine falcon.

Until he found something to hunt and flew off.

This is the view I wake up to from our bed looking south to mile buoy. There is also the sound of the wind, bell buoys flag halyards.

We have not seen any whales but the boat traffic is interesting. With a Marine Traffic app, many times we can identify the boats and ships we see offshore. It makes them less anonymous as they drift or cruise by.

And of course it helps that Tim and I usually enjoy each other’s company and work well together. I couldn’t do this without such an excellent partner.