Eastern Gray Squirrels

Eastern Gray Squirrels come in a range of colors. Michigan has the “classically” colored Gray Squirrels that are brown with white bellies.  But many of our Grays are of the black (melanistic) color variant. Some are colorfully confused, part brown, part black, part white. Plus we also have the smaller red squirrels. All of them, plus chipmunks, race around the lake house this time of year. They are bulking up for winter and squirreling away acorns and seeds. A long cold winter will soon be upon us all.

This brave Gray Squirrel came onto the deck rail and stared at the corn cob for a bit.  He was alert for predators. Eventually he bellied up to the cob, gripped it with his two forepaws, ripped kernels off and totally pigged out.

Jacques Cousteau Hat

What you see, in knitting, is not always what you get. Lalla Pohjanpalo (Typy on Ravelry) has created a fine example of exactly that. Her Jacques Cousteau Hat looks laughably silly off someone’s head. Really. If you give it to someone, you have to say: “Stop laughing. Stop laughing. I know you don’t have a pointy head. Try it on.” When they refuse just quick stuff their head into it and watch how it (and they) immediately start relaxing. The three shown below, click on the thumbnails to check them out in larger size, are knitted in Garnstudio DROPS Karisma Superwash. It’s a DK weight, knitted here on US size 5 needles. The yarn is a little hard to find in the US, but any DK weight will work well.

Here’s Pohjanpalo’s free pattern to download.

In case the Jacques Cousteau reference escapes you, I should be stubborn, obstinately resist the urge to hyperlink, and make you search your memory banks. OK. OK. He was a Sesame Street character from the 1970’s with scruffy looking red fur and big yellow feet who wore a purple tie with green polka dots.

Peak’s Island Babushka

Ysolda Teague is a fine, young British knitwear designer. A lot of knitters really like her Peaks Island Hood. Here’s how it looks on Ysolda, along with a link to the pattern download. I made some modifications, including substituting Rowan Coccoon for  Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair. It proved a good yarn choice. Green Mountain is a 70/30 wool mohair blend. Coccoon cuts the halo effect down a bit, at 80/20 merino/mohair. I decided that the three buttons and (pardon me) lopsidedness of one side being significantly shorter than the other side were not to my liking. So I added sixty rows of seed stitch to the second side. The lengths of the sides are still uneven, but not to the exaggerated degree of the original pattern.

And now a word about the pattern. Confusing. That’s the word. Needlessly confusing. That’s the two words. Because this is a simple pattern once you figure out what’s going on. But without charts and without stitch by stitch instructions for the shells at the beginning and end, and less so for the ear-height stitch adjustments, everything but the miles and miles of seed stitch leaves too much to the imagination. Of course, some knitters are way better in the imagination department than I am. There’s lots of help from the good knitters on Ravelry, though, including in the Ysolda group.

This knit is for me. My gray-headed 58 years are going to look more babushka than hoody, but it still will feel quite yummy and be very warm. I’ve decided to feed my inner selfish knitter on this one.

Long Lake in Autumn

This was October 10th on Long Lake, paddling back from Ghost Bay in the morning.That’s me near shore in my yellow kayak. I was checking out a tangle of sunken branches at the water’s edge that sometimes shelters schools of rockbass. They weren’t there.

The trees are at peak fall color.

The motor boats are almost all tucked into their shrinkwrap for the winter.  A few diehard fishermen move about. Nick the water skier gets some chilly twists and twirls in as the day progresses. But we own the beautiful quiet October morning on a still Long Lake.

October Adolescence

They made it to October!  There were four eggs in two nests this year. All hatched but one baby was never seen. These twins were born in late June in the south part of the lake. The twins and their parents were the more approachable of the two loon families. Sometimes they swam toward my kayak, as I sat still and quiet. Once they were so close I heard their soft chortling to their parents. The adults left in September. These two were still on the lake as of October 10th. That is the loon way. The parents take off and leave the young ones behind. They should have already practiced flying, though we haven’t seen them have a go at it yet. It was unseasonably warm, in the 70’s, the day Steve took this photo. They weren’t fishing.  They were very busy vocalizing.  Lots of very quiet yodels.

The twins have thrived.

But we are concerned about the lone chick born on Belly Button Island. He seems a bit runty. Hopefully, he’s got the proper feathers to fly. And the necessary stamina because it’s a long trip south. He was doing a lot of fishing and diving this day. Bulking up for the trip? We gave him the wide berth he prefers.

The loon genders look alike, though sometimes the females are smaller.  So, the runt’s gender is unknown. To me, anyway.