Sunday, December 24, 2006

Keeping People Warm for Christmas

Every time there's a new Knitty, I love the patterns and love just about the whole issue. But there are so many patterns and ideas, that I tend to kind of set the whole thing aside in my mind to consider later. And then, being the very organised person I am, I forget about the whole thing.

Last week, Maryse wrote that she knitted up Knitty's Calorimetry, which prompted me to take another look. It is a great pattern. I printed out the pattern at work, so that I wouldn't forget again. My friend Jen noticed it, and I explained what it was. She's a non-knitter, and is very patient and polite when I go on about yarn and patterns. But she seemed quite taken with the notion. I mentioned that I planned to knit one for a friend for Christmas if I could finish it in time.

Jen's Christmas gift was the cabled scarf that I started knitting back in October. I presented it to her on Thursday, and then I gave her a Calorimetry on Friday. She was ecstatic.

It was knit following the pattern in Knitty, using Noro Kureyon. I love how it turned out - the colours make it look like some kind of terrain map, like you might find in National Geographic. Jen admitted that she really liked the scarf, but was secretly hoping for one of these as well

Happy to oblige.
Unfortunately, it's also rather too large. I thought so when I tried it on at home, and it was verified when Jen put it on the next morning. I offered to take it back and reknit at a better size, but Jen protested that then she wouldn't be able to wear it, and, while it might be 'a bit' too big, it would still keep her head warm.

I'm hoping that I can steal it back sometime in January.

I've since knitted a second one in the same yarn, but decreasing the starting number of stitches from 120 to 90. The size is better, but might be a little too small now. I'll have to wait to see how well it fits on the gift-ee. And then maybe make another. This is a really fun, fast pattern.

One that isn't fast? My dad's blanket, that I finally finished. It was fairly fun, to start with, I have to admit.

It was knit using one of the Log Cabin variations from Mason Dixon Knitting, and I just used acrylics. But I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. And I found that it does its job very well - it holds a lot of heat, and it's just the right size for lounging on the couch, without being so big that it's bulky or hard to handle.
So, Christmas knitting is officially done.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

End of the Year List

I'm hopping on yet another bandwagon/meme. I present the first line from each month of 2006.

January: Sitting at my desk and looking out the balcony doors, all I can see is a little patch of sky and other apartment buildings.

February: I love that I can bring my laptop home on the weekends.

March: To fight all of the frustrations and sadnesses and all the bad in my little world today, I have my very own gold medal to show my triumph over yarn, compliments of Franklin, via Steph.

April: It's finished!

May: Finally.

June: I don't like going to the movies on my own.

July: But it can!

August: This will not surprise many people who know my cat.

September: Sometimes there’s too much going on to blog about.

October: It's completely normal to say 'be right back' and then not show your face for a couple of weeks. Right?

November: Ever feel like you're setting yourself up for failure?

December: We finally have an answer for the question of why my mother has been so without energy for the past months.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chemo Caps

One of the very few upsides of chemo? Excuse to knit hats! I have discovered in the past week that I really like knitting hats. They're very rewarding in terms of output. A hat a day is definitely do-able.

So far, I've finished three chemo caps. I also learned a little bit about what is important in a chemo cap.
1. Soft.
2. Nothing at all scratchy.
3. Non-allergenic materials if donating to unknown recipient(s).
4. Longer than some hats, since it must cover all the way to the bottom of the head, where it meets the neck.
5. Not ugly. (I'm trying)

First up is a white, lacy hat.
Yarn: Knit in Brown Sheep Company's Cotton Fleece in 'Cotton Ball' colour.
Pattern: The Lace-Edged Women's Hat from Head Huggers.
I don't think I had any variations on this one. Knit lace edge, make it five and a half inches long, start decreasing in the regular way. Try hat on. Try hat on squirmy cat. Done.

Next up was a pretty standard 'hat' hat. Knit using the Standard hat recipe, learned from Crazy Aunt Purl.

Yarn: Patons Bhemian in Artistic Taupes.
Cast on 44 stitches to begin, knitted five and a half stitches on US 10 needles (Denise), then began the decreases. Very soft and cushy. I like this one.

The usual cat model rules were also followed.

And finally, the Blanche hat, pattern found here.
Knit in Zara merino DK weight, can't find the ball band to tell you the colour. Blue of some sort. Even being wool, this yarn is nice and soft, almost silky.
Next up, I may try out the Clapotis cap, to go along with the clapotis I knit for Mum for Christmas.
The cat modelling was bypassed for this hat, as I was in danger of losing my hand at the wrist. And I need that wrist to knit more hats.
For now, though, I'm going to go wrap up some more fudge.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Return of the Fudge

Since high school, every year I used to make fudge. It was my Christmas thing. But every year, I ended up stuck with more and more leftover fudge - pounds of it. So, last year, I decided not to make the fudge, figuring that there are enough sweets around at Christmas that no one would notice or care. So, I was surprised when I mentioned to a friend that I didn't make it last year, and got a very flat, "I noticed" in response.

So, this year, I got all the chocolate and sugar together, and the fudge lives again.

It was also a way to use up some of that 10 lbs of chocolate, that I won in a raffle at work.

Any ideas how to use up the remaining nine and a half pounds?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


My mum’s first chemo treatment was on Tuesday. It’s really pretty impressive that she got the diagnosis on Thursday, and had the second opinion/confirmation and was in chemo by Tuesday of the next week. No complaints there. As a matter of fact, a lot of things are looking up now that we have the confirmed diagnosis. But I’ll get to that.

When I spoke to Mum on Monday, she was very nervous about the next day. She’d been told what to expect in general terms, and she’d met all the people who would be involved, but it’s still a new environment, and experience, and she didn’t know how she would take things once she was there, in terms of both her body’s reaction, and her own, emotionally and spiritually.

Once she arrived, she had a brief doctor’s appointment, to speak with her oncologist, and to get the confirmation and information about what was to happen next. She also found out that she was to have a home help nurse who would be visiting her twice a week for as long as she needs to. (It is a sign of my mother’s acceptance of her condition finally that she didn’t protest this.) He (it turned out to be a male nurse – "murse"?) will be coming to check on her condition – temperature, blood pressure, general well being, and to make sure that her PICC line is clear and situated properly. (More House and ER knowledge coming into play - a PICC line is is one type of what they call a "central line". Thank goodness for medical dramas.)

The chemo went well, and mum was amazed by the colour and variety of the vials of chemicals that were going into her. The one she most noticed was bright red.

Mum also learned about the store in the cancer centre, where there are hats and wigs available, and free to those who can’t afford to pay.

I spoke to Mum in the afternoon, after her treatment. The change was remarkable. For probably the first time in seven months, she didn’t feel sick. Whether this was due to the first round of chemo, or to the expensive and effective anti-nauseants (my mum calls them her "$20 pills"), we don’t know, but we talked on the phone for over an hour. Or, more correctly, my mum chittered and gabbed and I made appropriate responsive noises. It was wonderful to hear her feeling better, even if it was drug-induced.

So the first treatment is done, and her next is the day after Boxing Day, which is while I’m down for Christmas, so I will be able to go with her, which makes me happy.

In the meantime, I am furiously knitting. I did one chemo cap yesterday, and I’ll likely finish another today. Pictures will come.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Service

On Friday, my friend Jen and I headed downtown for "a service". That's the way the somewhat husky, slightly accented voice on the confirming voicemail described our appointment. As if we had signed up for something best not discussed in polite company, and the woman on the phone was being deliberately and carefully discreet.

We were bound for the Aveda institute on King Street. For the experience, to help further the careers and educations of the students, and, most of all, for a cheap haircut. The monetary cost of "the service" is just $14. The real payment, however, is the time. We were there for almost three hours. But it was still better than being at work - any reason is a good reason to play hooky on a Friday afternoon.

We arrived about 15 minutes early, as requested by the husky-voiced woman on the phone. We walked in, and confirmed our appointment. We were impressed and reassured by the gleaming expanses of floor and the perfectly coiffed, beautiful people gliding in and out of the shining mirrored surfaces. We were asked to head up to the second floor.

Once there, we signed waivers confirming that we would not sue the company if a student chopped off an ear. The second floor was still very nice, if not as spacious. The hairstylists seemed younger and not quite as 'perfect' than those on the first floor. We were slightly alarmed by the man who seemed to be in charge, as he chose to sashay about the floor in a giant, fuzzy, Russian style hat, making us wonder not only at his unusual fashion choices, but also at the the possible reasons for a hairstylist to be hiding his own hair. After waiting for a little while on the second floor benches, we were led - to the third floor.

This floor was almost crowded with hairstyling stations. Still clean and well-kept, but not nearly as fancy as the lower levels. More alarmingly, the stylists seemed to be very young. While we waited on yet more benches, we warily watched the stylists moving around. Jen noticed one girl who seemed more nervous and uncomfortable than most, as if she weren't sure why she was there, and now that she was, didn't know quite what to do with herself. Jen remarked jokingly that she hoped that she wouldn't get this girl as her stylist, and we were both somewhat relieved when she appeared to be engaged in cleaning and tidying, rather than styling people's hair. I saw Jen's face drop somewhat when this girl came toward us a few minutes later. She introduced herself to me and invited me to her chair. I tried not to look at Jen.

She turned out to be much more able than suspected, however. We consulted with the teacher, a perfectly put-together blonde woman, and we all agreed on something 'a bit different', but 'fairly easy to take care of'.

When Jen and finally left much, much later, trying to straighten out the kinks in our backs caused by the torturous, metal styling chairs, we looked at one another and agreed that we both were leaving with pretty much the same styles we'd gone in with. Mind you, they were much straighter, thanks to the somewhat overzealous application of straight irons.

In any case, it was a nice way to spend a Friday afternoon, with a quick trip through the market for juice on the way back to the car.

Thanks to everyone who's written to wish me and my family well. It's really appreciated. I will continue to update here on my mum's progress. She begins chemo on Tuesday. Fortunately, there's a cancer centre in Windsor, meaning that she doesn't have to travel for treatment. The chemo will be pretty aggressive, with treatments every two weeks. She's having a tough time right now, unable to eat , unable to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time, but without the energy or strength to do anything other than lie on the couch. We're hoping that her first appointment will give her a chance to get some good advice, and maybe get her some medications that can make things a bit better.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Diagnosis.

We finally have an answer for the question of why my mother has been so without energy for the past months. For why she has been unable to eat. For why she has lost over 70 pounds. For why she has night sweats and swollen lymph nodes.

It's not a good answer. But it is an answer.

Yesterday, my mother was finally and somewhat unsurprisingly diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Yesterday was a bad day.

So far, I have been entirely unimpressed with the quality of her care in this hospital. The nurses have been fine - have been good, in fact. But the doctors have been horrid. Her current doctor, who was the one who got the last (and most important) biopsy done, didn't even visit my mother himself to deliver the news, instead sending one of his students. My mum was told she had cancer, and that someone would call the cancer centre, and that was it. No "next steps", no reassurances. Made me say some very bad words.

Yesterday, my mother was scared and sad, and feeling very unsupported by my father, who can be very uncommunicative and astoundingly unemotional. They ended up having a fight, and my mum ordered him out of the room. I called and yelled at my father, realising later that this was not helpful at all, and I only did it because I couldn't yell at the doctor. Or the cancer. So then I felt bad. And I did apologise at the time, but I'm sure it didn't sound all that sincere.

"You need to be there for Mum, and talk to her when she needs you to, and you need to listen to her and be supportive! I'm sorry I'm yelling! How are you doing?!" (still yelling.)

But things seem a lot brighter today. It is a good thing to finally have a diagnosis. To finally know what we can do, and there is a treatment. My mum visited the cancer centre today, and met the staff who will give her her primary care for her next six months of outpatient chemo. She said everyone seems very nice, and they were helpful and knowledgeable, and sympathetic, and straightforward. The doctor spoke to both my mother and my father at length, and my dad was much better about expressing support and being there for my mum, even going so far as to ask questions and seek out ways he can help. All of which is making my mum feel much better.

Ever since she checked into the hospital, I've been calling her two and three times a day. I don't want her to feel out of touch or forgotten, and it helps me to hear her voice and know how she's feeling and what she's thinking, so that I can try to find ways that I can help. Yesterday, I heard sadness and despair and fear, and while these are terrifying things to hear in your mother's voice, at the same time I was glad to know that she could share these things with me, and know that she's not alone, and she won't be alone.

My mum has been the strong one in the family for a very long time. Doing the things that are hard to do, saying the things that must be said. And now she needs a break. I only hope that I'm strong enough and have enough wisdom to be the strong one for a while.

I do know that I have a lot of friends who are there for me, thinking and praying for me and my family. I know that when I falter, I won't be alone. I know that now, and hope that I can keep remembering that when it's another horrid day.

In the meantime, I'm going to find a good pattern for a chemo cap, and hunt for the softest, warmest yarn in southwestern Ontario. And learn to cook a turkey dinner.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I Made It

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. And I made it through, successfully - if not thoroughly - posting every day of November.

It's been an interesting time. I'm glad that I signed up for this. It's been a challenge to find something to say, something to comment on every day. And some days I just plain didn't have or take the time to find something meaningful, or pertinent. And I think that that was okay. I know that not many people read this, and that's perfectly fine by me. I appreciate the people who do visit, and like to share and be a part of the larger community of bloggers and knitters and readers, but I like to keep this as a journal of sorts for myself, more than anything. A place to tell stories and show pictures and give me a way to remember the little things in my life - including who I am, who I was, and who I am becoming. Because I know that as much as I can't change many things about myself, I also know that other things are changing all the time.

I like to occasionally click back to a random time and take in the words and pictures the way I would inhale a scent, and try to remember where I was and how I felt the same way the smell of dry, dead leaves evokes autumn and apples and crisp fall air.

I don't think that I will continue to post every day. But I think that I will post more often than I sometimes do.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Never One to Let a Bandwagon Pass On By

Okay, so there's a guy who's apparently measuring the speed of a meme. So he's asking/begging/cajoling people to link to this post and then ping Technorati.

Sounds like an interesting experiment, so I'm in.

Go, meme, go!

Another Little Personality Test

How You Life Your Life

You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.
You're laid back and chill, but sometimes you care too much about what others think.
You prefer a variety of friends and tend to change friends quickly.
You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.

I'm headed downtown shortly to see Wicked at the Canon Theatre with Rachel, so I'm being all responsible and posting well in advance of midnight - this time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mugging for the Camera

My favourite gifts to give often involve pictures. And one particular favourite has involved the personalize-able mug from Starbucks.

The first time I gave it as a gift, it was for John. I had a bunch of his pictures from his travels in Europe, and I scanned them in and made a funky, orange, stripey collage.
I also took an excellent shot that he took of the ceiling of the Arc de Triomphe.
Next, I gave it to an impossible Secret Santa recipient for whom I had no good ideas. It was mostly pictures from work, so it wasn't as fun as the others were.

Then I made one for my dad. This one involved a deal of geeky sneak. My dad is in the midst of a multi-year project to get all of his slides from the 60's and 70's scanned into his computer. I conspired with my brother to get the pictures that had been scanned in so far and made a very retro collage full of pictures of first cars and first dates. I wish I could find that one, but it must be on one of many back up cd's that I am far too lazy to search through.

Last year, I made one for a friend at work who loves to Photoshop. For this one, I used images from Worth1000. I love these pictures. If you haven't visited Worth1000, you really must.
Recently, I realised that I wanted one of these mugs for myself. So tonight, I finally put together a collage of my own favourite pictures, printed, cut, and made my very own travel mug.
I am going to really enjoy my coffee tomorrow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More Clues, Still No Answers

Well, the doctors have finally found something.

We still don't know if this is good news or bad, but at this point, it's good to have news of some sort. My mum's been getting weaker and weaker, and thinner and thinner, for months, and every test has been negative. She's had dozens of blood tests, scans, probes, and biopsies. But the doctors hadn't found anything to explain the weakness, the loss of appetite, the degradation that's caused my mum to drop over 70 pounds since mid-summer.

Finally, the CT scan on Thursday showed that there are enlarged lymph nodes, which, if House, ER, and Grey's Anatomy have taught me anything, mean that there is most likely either an infection, or cancer. (And I confirmed this with WebMD) And, apparently, the most recent biopsy, which was a bone marrow biopsy, rules out cancer. But enlarged lymph nodes aren't a cause - they're just another symptom. Which means that we still don't know why my mum is sick.

Today is my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. My mum had initially, stubbornly, refused to go to the hospital today, of all days, putting it off until tomorrow, which is not my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. But she was feeling too ill today to put it off any longer, and so, right now, is sitting in the emergency room, where she's been since mid-afternoon. She's been told she will be admitted, and was told by - someone - that an enlarged lymph node near her heart is causing trouble with her mitral valve. This might not normally be an issue (though I have no idea), but my mum has (among many other ailments caused by genetics, growing up post-war with poor nutrition and many childhood diseases, and smoking) mitral valve stenosis.

At this point, we don't know if this is what's causing everything else. But it's the start of an answer. And sometime tonight, my mum will finally be in a hospital bed, getting nutrition through an IV tube to make up for the food she can't eat, and away from the house with dirty floors, and bills to pay.

I'll be taking this Friday off work so that I can go down and clean and set up Christmas with my dad and brother.

Here's to hoping that my mum's home from the hospital by then, on the way to recovery - and to hoping that my dad, my brother and I can successfully get the tree up and decorated without bloodshed.

That's hard to get out of the carpet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quick and Dirty

Tonight's post is somewhat experimental. I'm sending it from my cellphone. I'm downtown and don't know if I'll make it home in time to post. Good night!

ETA: Home just in time! And it was a good night - saw a movie, met up with an old, old friend, had comfort food. More tomorrow!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Succumbing to Pressure

While I do maintain that it is still too early to put up a tree, I do acknowledge that the Christmas season is starting. So I stole this little meme from another NaBloPoMo blog.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate. Egg nog is one of those things that I think I like - every year, I visit home in December, and, when I see the carton of egg nog in the fridge, I pour myself a glass, eagerly anticipating the spicy, rich sweetness that means Christmas. Then? I take a sip and remember that I don't so much like the egg nog.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I'm pretty bad at wrapping gifts. In order to make the presents look as if they weren't wrapped by a toddler as likely to eat the paste as glue on the glitter, I've taken to using gift bags and ribbons in recent years. But, no matter what - gifts must be wrapped. All the bettter to be unwrapped.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
For the house, it depends on the style of the house. White lights can look nicer on colder, fancier houses, but a home-y, warm house needs the chaos of the coloured lights. I think the same goes for the tree. I want not only the shiny, new metallic balls on my tree, but also the little clay ornaments and the construction paper stars that I've been given.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. No poisonous ceiling decor for me.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
The first weekend in December. It used to be the second, but there comes a time when it's just not worth fighting the malls.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
The stuffing. Mmm. With mushrooms.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
I don't really have a specific, one-time favourite memory. It's more a jumble of Christmas mornings and stockings and dinners. Every Christmas morning, we'd both wake up unreasonably, ridiculously early, and rush to the living room to see what was there that hadn't been there when we went to sleep. (And it had taken a long time to fall asleep, too, I tell ya) The house rules were that we could only wake the parents after 7 am, and to keep us from dying of pent-up excitment and frustration, we were allowed to open our stockings in the meantime. Our stockings were actually pretty complex affairs - a ginormous stocking, full to the brim with socks and candy and, of course, an apple and a clementine stuffed into the toe. There was always a bag of chocolate coins, a tube of smarties, and, most years, a Lifesavers sweet story book. And a loonie at the very bottom. (The best, though, was the year my mum didn't have a loonie, so I got four quarters. That made me laugh. And gently mock my mother. In a Christmassy fashion.)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yes. One gift. And it took me lots of years to finally realise that that one gift was always a new set of pyjamas. I'm not always so swift.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Now? Kind of sadly. But back home, putting up the tree was always the worst part of Christmas. Yes, that's right - the worst. There was something about my dad, my brother and I trying to work together to assemble the plastic tree, unfolding the stiffy and scratchy branches and trying to find all the little leafy pieces in the bottom of the box; deciding how to wrap the lights around the tree and how to make the tree stand up straight - that incited impatience and yelling and near-violence. Several years ago, my mother banned the lot of us from having anything to do with tree decoration. Christmas is a lot more peaceful now.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it - at first. Love the first snowfall, and that heavy, feathery, comforting silence overlaid with the gentle hiss of falling snow. Soon, though, hate the slush and the cold and the ice.

12. Can you ice skate?
I used to be able to skate. I actually used to take skating lessons. I remember my parents dropping me off at the rink one morning. I lined up with my best friend, Moe, on one side of the rink. It wasn't until my parents came into the arena half way through the lesson that it was discovered that I was in the wrong lesson - I was supposed to be on the other side of the rink, learning figure eights and how to use the toe pick. Instead, I'd quite naturally joined in with the boys, learning the proper way to fall and how to do the hockey stop.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I tend to remember the gifts I give more than the ones I get. Favourites include an autographed book for my mum, some very geeky t-shirts for my brother, and wireless headphones for my dad. Not all were gifts I gave on my own, but it makes me really happy to know that I'm giving someone I love something they really want.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Spending time with family and friends - even if we don't always get along all of the time, it's nice to have that time to catch up and touch base with loved ones.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Cheesecake. Always cheesecake. But it wouldn't be Christmas without my mum's trifle, even if it isn't my first choice.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Opening gifts with my family, all around the tree, together.

17. What tops your tree?
A little angel. Christmas makes me all traditional-like.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Giving. I love my presents, and appreciate them, but I like giving the perfect gift even more.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
O Holy Night. By far.

20. Candy Canes.

And for a break from the untimely holiday merriment, you have to go here and click on the margarita.

You're welcome.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Me and My Shadow

Me and my shadow

Man, I miss driving out in the middle of nowhere.

Sure, it was boring and the early morning hours made me worry about deer and raccoons jumping out in front of me. But, you know - I'd much rather deal with those fears than the daily, draining drag of driving in Toronto on the 400 series.

Mind you, it's not worth moving back to Dunnville.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Movies and Bears and Iced Tea

This summer, I had a goal of watching as many movies as possible, in an attempt to catch up with popular culture and try to keep my trivia muscles from withering. I have been meaning to do a summary of final tally for some time.

My mission began at the end of May, when tv went away for the summer, and ended when tv came back, some time after September the tenth. The final tally? 53 movies. You can find the whole list there in that link back to my June 5th post, which I updated each time I saw a movie that was new to me.

This was a pretty good way to spend the summer. I saw the movies that I should have seen a long time ago, like Steel Magnolias, and ones that maybe no one should see, like Sky High. I saw movies that disturbed me and kept me up at night, like Monster, and movies that left me feeling warm and fuzzy, like In Her Shoes. I laughed, I cried, I killed some remote batteries.

Oh, and before I forget, by request - the bear. He wasn't dressed up today, but was helpfully holding offering an empty iced tea bottle to passersby.

I have to apologise for the fuzzy, left-handed, drive-by shot. But, hey - consider the hooded buddy a bonus.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Head of the Class

It only takes one day back in a classroom to feel like I'm a student again.

Of course, it helps that it's on my old campus.

I spent the day in the food science building at Guelph, learning about ingredient labelling. Woot.

We had the usual retinue of students, with some grown-up variety thrown in. We had the overeager question asker. The latecomer who asks questions about stuff we covered before she got there. The know-it-all who compared Every. Single. Regulation. to the equivalent American reg. The one who answered her cell phone with an, "Oh, that's okay - I'm just in a class." The noisy halls, the uncomfortable chairs, and the powerpoint. Oh, the powerpoint.

But it was a good course overall, and I'm headed back to Guelph tomorrow for another. I think I'll have more coffee tomorrow - I don't know how many more times I can stab myself in the leg with a pen until I start to bleed out.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fair November Weekend

As always, Fair November weekend was a good weekend.

It all began Friday night, when Jodi came to meet me for dinner in Burlington. We had originally intended to go to Jack Astor's in Ancaster, but a big accident on the 403 made that seem like a really bad idea, so we changed our plans and met up at Milestone's. It was great seeing Jodi and getting a chance to catch up, even if it was just a flying visit. And Jodi liked the presentation of our garlic-heavy appetizer that she wanted a digital record of it.

It was very yummy. I regretted the copious amounts of garlic later, but that's another story. And that's the end of that story.

The next morning, Rosalie, Marissa and Jen met me at Ikea in Burlington, and we headed down to Fair November in Guelph, for our annual pilgrimage for crafts and campus memories.

It was as we were hopping out of the car that I noticed my wardrobe malfunction. One of the buttons on my (new!) shirt had come off, leaving me with a very inconvenient gap, where no gap can be. Marissa and I struggled with the remaining thread, and ended up with a somewhat successful, if precarious, solution, that relied heavily on the placement of my purse strap.

We headed into the fair, and stashed our coats in an out-of-the-way desk drawer when we discovered that the coat check wasn't around this year. When we came to a knitwear booth for A B Originals Designs, Marissa noticed some buttons for sale and made a joke about how I should have the lady at the booth sew my button on for me. She overheard, and ... did. While it was a bit awkward standing in a busy public fair while a woman I don't know sewed a button on my shirt while I was still wearing it, she was a real lifesaver. I'm only sorry I didn't introduce myself - I tink I was just feeling too awkward. But she's going to be at the One of a Kind Show next weekend, so if you're headed out, you should definitely include her booth - A34. She's great. And has a sewing kit. And is great with buttons.

We made sure to make our usual stop at the chocolate covered fruit-on-a-stick booth. (so good) Then headed back to Burlingon to Ikea. By this point, we were kind of running low on energy, so we particularly enjoyed the furniture displays.

Comfy chairs.

Finally, we headed out to dinner. At... Milestone's. Again. But it was good.

Especially the Bellinis.

Today was mainly recovery. After a morning at the gym, learning what all the machines do and how they can hurt me in many different ways, that is.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Filler

Today was a good day. And I am very tired. So, another Saturday, another cheat-post. But tomorrow will have pictures and stories - including a stranger with her hands inside my shirt.

For now:
Your Element Is Air

You dislike conflict, and you've been able to rise above the angst of the world.
And when things don't go your way, you know they'll blow over quickly.

Easygoing, you tend to find joy from the simple things in life.
You roll with the punches, and as a result, your life is light and cheerful.

You find it easy to adapt to most situations, and you're an open person.
With you, what you see is what you get... and people love that!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sometimes You Get What You Need

So yesterday, I was all down in the dumps about not only my mother’s continuing health problems, but about being alone in this, and having no one to talk to and no one in my life who can help me through things like this.

So what happens?

I hear from two different friends on the same night. Friends who will be in Toronto and want to take the time to meet up and catch up. Friends who are wonderful friends and can be counted on, even when I’m being stupid and blind and self-pitying.

And? Tomorrow is Fair November day! Ever year, a group of friends from my old workplace in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Ontario gets together and head down for the annual craft/art show at the University of Guelph. We shop and talk and laugh and eat together, and it’s a great day. And that’s tomorrow.

So even though the skies are still gloomy, and my mum is still sick, and all the problems at work are still around, I can feel the heavy weight of sadness lifting from my chest – not because I’m rationalizing it away, or even because I’m escaping it, but just because it’s another day and there are friends in it.

In other news, I have finished the cable scarf. I also told the friend for whom it was originally intended that it exists, and that I had planned to give it to her for Christmas – before she started in on how she has far too many scarves and not enough necks. She said that this ‘is different’ and sheepishly said that she would still like to get it, because (she has not seen it) it sounds wonderful and warm. And it is. I didn’t tell her to shame her into accepting it, but only because I already have another project lined up for her in lieu of the scarf, and thought I should share the frustration. We’ll see how this all plays out – if the other project is finished in time, she may get both.

Other Christmas knitting is boring the snot out of me. It’s a log cabin blanket done in neutral colours, for my dad. Blankets are big and square and even the appeal of the log cabin wears off when the rows get longer and longer and more and more garter-y, if that’s possible.

But I have some more interesting ideas for a few other gifts – getting a start on those will hopefully help me to get over my little patch of log cabin boredom.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Avert Your Eyes From the Self Pity

Why is there so much sadness all around right now? Even the sky weeps today with torrents of rain. My morning ritual of blog-stalking and my discussion group alike are filled with sadness and bad news - sickness and death and mourning. And yet the little things that mean living, and working and moving through life continue to happen and that just seems unfair.

I know that the situation right now isn't as horrible as it could be - and yet it kind of is, because of all the possibilities it holds.

So many times in my life - particularly when I'm going through something that is hard for me to take - I feel like I have no right to burden people around me with the knowledge that I am not doing okay. Not today. Too often, I laugh off my worry, my confusion, my hurt, to prove that I am strong and above this and don't need to have other people help me, because, all too often, I feel like there is no one there with whom I have a close enough relationship to ask that sort of thing of them. Juno's entry today today made me think about all this again, and she says it all so much more eloquently than I can, and without the heavy sad thing that's happening here. So go there.

I promise to have something less self-pitiful here soon. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We Don't Know and That's Not Okay

I hate when the world seems to mock me when I'm sad.

I hate when I'm doing just fine with my avoidance and cheeriness and someone sincerely asks me how I'm doing and tells me they're thinking about me and then I have to stop avoiding thinking about the thing I must not think about.

I hate that the thing that is causing all this is "nothing".

How can a negative, the absence of a problem, cause such ...? I have no words.

So, sucky as it is, this will have to do for today's post, because my mum is very sick, but the tests are all negative and I want to be sad and worried for a bit.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Look Who's Stalking

The woman at work who decided that I am Shady continues to provide us with amusement and consternation. Her conversational skills may as well be interrogation tactics, in that they hit you like a snowball in the face, leaving you confused and directionless.

Some recent conversations: (see if you can pick out the hard left turn)

"So I went to Subway to pick up our dinner one night and ran into our pizza guy! I felt so guilty I tried to pretend I didn't see him."
"Ha! Did he recognise you?"
"Was he getting a sub?"
"What do you like on your pizzas?"

"It looks like this thing's going to go pretty late this afternoon. I think it's going to be quite busy over there."
"That's too bad - I hope things go well."
"Do you like Starbucks?"

"I live about twenty minutes away from work. The commute's not too bad."
"Yeah, that's not bad - the QEW can be brutal."
"Hm. What is your last name?"

"They're planning to repaint the walls and put down new carpet."
"Hm. Who is the most senior person here?"

We've started trying to anticipate the kinds of questions we'll get in upcoming conversations.

"We met people from Company A and they offered to help us with that problem."
"Hm. What colour were their shoes?"

We're trying to decide if this makes her a wee bit um... eccentric, or whether she is in fact gathering information about us for some nefarious scheme.

Wouldn't be the first.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Green Means Go

From my window, I can see across the street to where a little, green light is flashing. On off on off on off on off on

That light flashes all day and all night, and it makes me anxious. It makes me feel like I'm being told that it's time to 'go ahead' but I don't know what it is that I'm supposed to do, where it is I'm supposed to go. If this is a sign in my life, then someone needs to tell me where to find the accelerator, and the steering wheel. Then I can get started, get on my way... to wherever it is I'm supposed to be headed.

On off on off on off on off on

Later in the afternoons, as the light fades from the sky, earlier and earlier every day, the small, green, flashing light gets brighter and more insistent, telegraphing an urgency, a panic. As if whatever it is I need to do, I need to do it soon, or it will be too late.
On off on off on off on off on

I close the blinds.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

You know, this day really hasn't helped me to feel more significant in the world. First, I stupidly ventured out into what is now apparently the insane shopping Sunday of Doom, packed with people so thick you can body-surf to the back of the store. I didn't even try to park in front of the grocery store, choosing instead to go the more expensive, but less freakishly busy one in Port Credit.

But the one thing that really made me feel unimportant and overlooked?

The automatic doors didn't open for me at Michael's. Hmmph.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nationality Confirmed

Well, this is reassuring.
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Quiz stolen from Maryse at Monster Yarn. Steal and steal alike.

Some Days Are Worse Than Others

There is something about Saturday that drains all inspiration out of me. Here's today's filler.

What Your Soul Really Looks Like
You are a wanderer. You constantly long for a new adventure, challenge, or eve a completely different life.
You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.
You believe that people see you as a bit small and insignificant. People pay more attention to you than you think.
Your near future is still unknown, and a little scary. You'll get through wild times - and you'll textually enjoy it.
For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.
Inside the Room of Your Soul

I'd say some bits here hit the mark - I definitely feel pretty insignificant most of the time. But I feel justified in that opinion, based on the proof that people generally have to 'meet' me three or four times before they remember me. It's really quite odd, as if I have no distinguishing features strong enough to warrant a memory. Maybe I should start wearing a flower tucked behind my ear, or a very ugly hat. All the time.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be feeling more write-y. In the meantime, go read a few recaps.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rediscovering Knowledge

Near the end of the last series of Cast On, Brenda Dayne talked about starting a grand project - a project to get the sum total of all knitting knowledge together in one place on the internet. What a great idea - and it begins here. (I haven't listened to today's podcast yet, so if there is credit to go to someone other than Brenda, I don't know about it yet.)

Even though I've bought a few knitting books by this point in my yarny adventures - and they're some good books - I still rely mainly on the internet for my knitting knowledge and trawling for patterns. I rely on all the other knitgeeks out there and what they've learned, both good and bad, to make my small steps forward. I also rely on all the terribly creative people and the patterns they so generously share.

I bookmark patterns and tips everywhere I go. My real challenge is remembering to go back and use those links.

Here are just a few of the bookmarked patterns and resources that I've come across in my travels:

Sodera Socks (I don't know why I bookmark socks - I don't really knit them yet. My only sock so far was a misshapen tube of multicoloured acrylic.
Knitting Tote (I'm still trying to decide if I think this is fun-looking, or frumpy)
Tiny Purse (I'm pretty sure I think this is ugly, but I like the idea)
Hello Yarn (So many fun patterns, including my WIP Irish Hiking Scarf. Highlights include pirate mittens and an anime hat)
La's (of JenLa) sock post (a blog post chock-full of resource links for learning how to knit socks. See above re: socks)
Knitting Pattern Central (lots of really good stuff here, but you have to dig through some not-so-good stuff sometimes. Ooh! I just found a bunch of stitches here. I need a stitch dictionary...)
Reid Cardigan from Knitty (Knitty. Of course, Knitty. Love it. This is a baby cardigan I thought about trying out a while back)
MagKnits (another online knitting magazine - I don't like it as much as I like Knitty, but there are some fun patterns in here, too)
Witterings (a fun, floppy sunhat)
The Clapotis Cap (a hat made in a pattern similar to the Clapotis. Still trying to decide if I like it.)
Pinwheel Baby Blanket (I forgot about this pattern. I may have to try this out.)
Slipper Boots (I like this pattern - it's very geeky, with places to fill in measurements to get a custom fit)
Felted Pumpkins (I love these little things. Why, oh, why didn't I discover felting when I had a washer and dryer all to myself? Now I have to wait until I move again. Bleh.)
Wool Works (another little gathering of knit resources)

It's good to go through my bookmarks once in a while - I tend to just click it and forget about it. It'll be nice to get that wiki filled up by people who know more by me and then I can get my lists cut down a bit.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Glorious Food

I love it when I come home and my crock pot has cooked dinner for me.
By some trick of air movement, I could smell the roast, rich with onions and garlic, as I climbed the stairs up to my apartment. Every time I use the slow cooker, I wonder why I don't pull it out and use it more often.

Part of it's probably my horrible cooking preparation abilities. I need to start planning meals in advance, to the point where I can pick up all the things I'll need during my weekly grocery trip. It's when I'm poorly prepared that I end up eating macaroni and cheese more than once a week, or succumbing to the temptation of the drawer full of take out menus. The people who developed the internet ordering for Pizza Pizza and Swiss Chalet had me in mind. A few clicks, and someone brings you chicken? Brilliant!

And the slow cooker dinner is perfect for Thursday nights, when my hectic television watching schedule reaches its weekly peak. Before work this morning, I stuck the roast in the bottom, covered it with sliced potatoes and onions, added some garlic, pepper, some onion soup mix, and a little bit of water. The roast turned out pretty good, too. Better than the insta-meal I more often fall back on.
Today was a good food day overall, really. We made up a shrimp and vermicelli dish for lunch at work (love working in a place with test kitchens) and ended the day with a mini-doughnut throwing contest, into the garbage can across the room.
Food isn't always just for eating.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fun Fur

I have some blogs that I have in my bloglines feeds that are there just to make me smile. Not even to laugh, or to make me think, but just to give me that moment of silliness that makes the gloomy sky seem a bit brighter.

And every now and then, I hit one that hits me juuuuust right, and makes me laugh out loud. It's not usually the funniest picture, but the one that triggers a giggle for whatever reason.

This is one of those.
Gimme some CANDY!!!

See? Not the funniest picture ever. Maybe not even the funniest picture on Stuff on my Cat today. Maybe it's the expression. Or it could be the beady little Frankenstein eyes. The caption was definitely part of it. Whatever it is, it just made me laugh out loud in my apartment all alone. As pathetic as that may sound.

Another place I check daily just for giggles is Cute Overload. Nothing like piles of fuzzy, furry cute things to coax a smile out of a day of spreadsheet frustration and emails full of capital letters.

I feel like I need to trim my bloglines a little bit. When getting through my list becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, it's no longer a treat. In the meantime, I'll just keep enjoying other people's creativity and pictures and stories.

Maybe it is still a treat.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You Don't Want to Know

As Christmas rapidly approaches (54 days ... sorry), the subject of gift exchanges came up today at work. What works, and what doesn't.

As a concept, the Secret Santa system is a good one. Instead of buying for ten people, you only have to buy for one, meaning it not only costs less, but you can take the time and make the effort to find something meaningful, that you know your person will like. Sure, there is the downside - people paired up with people they don't know well, or people who can't be bothered to get a good present, leaving their recipient feeling uncared for and maybe a little bitter about the whole thing.

Then there's the 'present stealing' system. In this system, everyone at the party brings a wrapped present, worth an agreed-upon amount. One by one, the people at the party are chosen, by drawing names, or by dealing cards, or by whatever other method. The first person chooses a present and opens it. The next person has a choice: they can either choose another wrapped present, or choose to take the already opened present from person number one, who then takes and opens another wrapped gift. The third person can choose either of these opened presents, or open a new one of their own. And so on until all the presents have been opened and claimed. This can go terribly wrong. The last time I took part in one of these, a bottle of wine was in the mix, making all other carefully chosen and purchased presents unwanted and their purchasers feeling insulted and unappreciated. Thanks to a few jerks who ended up as the final 'choosers'.

The best Christmas gift exchange I've taken part in in a while, aside from my yearly exchange with friends in Windsor, was an 'unwanted' gift exchange. Everyone was invited to bring something from home - nothing bought. It wasn't to be garbage, but rather items that you were maybe regifting, or that you'd bought for yourself and never ended up using - something that you just didn't want, for whatever reason. Then we went through the gift stealing scenario above. The items were all decent, but none were so much better than the others that there was a struggle to get them.

However the gifts are going to be handed out, it's about time to start gathering them together. Not to mention getting the needles clacking a bit faster.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seasons of Discontent

It was lovely to feel the warm air again today.

There's a particular sweetness to the last breaths of warm air before winter truly sets in. Especially when we've already tasted some of the chill.

Autumn is definitely my favourite time of the year, with its crispness, its apples, its colours, its smells. But it seems to get shorter every year. I feel like I was cheated out of this year's autumn almost entirely. It wasn't long after the leaves started to change colour that we were treated to snow. And even though we're getting the warmer weather again now, it's now after Thanksgiving, after the leaves are all on the ground and swept away to wherever they go before the long, cold months.

But these days, it's not just the autumn we're getting cheated out of. We haven't had a crisp, white winter in years. Summers are sticky and unbearable, or cool and rainy every weekend. Spring has always been too short, and too wet. We've gone from having months full of each season, but I have no idea what's filling in all the leftover space.

Maybe I'm filling it with whining.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Filler

I made it back home, barely surviving the perilously boring stretch of the 401 between Windsor and London. I then celebrated my triumphant return by wrestling with a couch slipcover that no longer fits the couch, tearing it badly in the process, then topped it off with some reheated meatloaf and instant mashed potatoes.

Clearly, I have neitehr the energy nor the creativity right now to contribute anything of worth. In lieu of, here's my Celtic horoscope.

You Are A Hazelnut Tree
You're a charmer with a killer sense of humor.You are very demanding, but you can also be very understanding.No matter what, you always make a lasting impression - you're quite popular.Passionate, you are an active fighter for social causes and politics.In general, you are moody, honest, a perfectionist, and very sexual.

Here's to a caffeinated Monday.

Be They For Good or For Evil

I have decided that my brother has supernatural powers. Well, he may not. He may, rather, emit some kind of radiation not yet studied or understood by man. I only hope that these powers, or this radiation, is limited in scope as well as by geography, and God help mankind should it ever be harnessed by evil-doers – or should my brother ever develop a desire to go into sales.

What is this power? I have no name for it, and it defies logical description. All I can do to try to explain it to you is to demonstrate to you the effects it has had on my life. And my wallet.
Every major electronic device I have purchased, I purchased while in Windsor. While visiting with my brother. While shopping with my brother. Mp3 player? Windsor Best Buy. Digital camera? Windsor Best Buy. Computer? Windsor PC Outfitters. DVR? Windsor Best Buy. Vonage package? Windsor Best Buy.

And today culminated in a purchase that baffles me. For today, while out 'just looking around', I bought a laptop. I had no intention of purchasing a laptop today. I hoped only to take advantage of my brother's knowledge and advice while I had it, to get a better idea of the kind of computer I should, one day, look for and consider purchasing. Instead, I was taken again to PC Outfitters, just to 'talk' to my brother's friend. This friend offered me a good computer. At a very good price. And the credit card was suddenly swiped and I was suddenly picking up the box and then I was suddenly installing my precious Google toolbar.

I do like this new toy. Without it, right now, on day four of NaBloPoMo, I would have failed to post.

I thank the radiation.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Heading South for the Weekend

It took a month. And $12 in customs fees over and above the price of the yarn (discounted, to be fair) and the shipping. But I finally have my Kureyon. I don't really know what I'm going to make with it - I'm thinking maybe a bag. I probably don't need another scarf at this point.
But I don't think I'll be ordering from Webs again. It's not their fault, but if it's going to take a month to get anything I order from an American store, it's really not worth the (sometimes) lower prices.
I'm heading down to Windsor today. I really should have left by now, but that's another, and very familiar story. I'm going down to attend my brother's graduation tonight. This makes me very happy. I take so much joy in my brother's triumphs and accomplishments. He's come so far from the horrible place he was stuck in, inside his own mind and his own darkness.
But now he's graduating from Geek School and has a geek job that he loves and his life seems to be moving in a positive direction. At last. And this makes me happy.
I only wish I could knit during the three and a half hour drive down to Windsor for the celebration. As it is, I'll have to fill the time with music and knitting podcasts, now that Cast On is back from hiatus. It'll do.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

You Can Smell The Evil

The other night, I was watching Robot Chicken. Now, this is one of those shows that I happen to come across while clicking around, delaying getting off the couch to finally head to bed. And, the first time I saw it, the reaction was basically one of, "Well. That's pretty weird. Maybe too weird for me." And I promptly set about forgetting it existed.

But then there came along another night of bed-delaying, and, since TeleToon is one of my primary sources for this delaying, I inevitably saw it again. It grew on me.

It's a very funny show. And it fits in perfectly as a show to watch just before heading to bed - it's on at 10, and is only about 10 minutes long. So I can watch the whole thing without feeling guilty about staying up later than I meant to. The only danger is getting sucked into Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which comes on just after. But, conveniently, there's a five minute gap, filled with commercials, that provides a good safety buffer.

ANYWAY. The other night, this was part of the show.

Considering my childhood fears of Cabbage Patch Kids, this was not a great thing to watch just before heading to bed.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What Have I Done?

Ever feel like you're setting yourself up for failure?

Following in the intrepid footsteps of Rabbitch, I have joined NaBloPoMo. I am now challenged with the task of posting here every day in November. I get the little fluttery-heart panics just thinking about it.

For today's filler post, I will share the story of the unwanted cable scarf. The scarf was made from yarn chosen lovingly and carefully, so that it would be soft and pretty and wearable and perfect for one particular person. The other day, I was talking to this person, and the subject of scarves came up. I then heard a joking rant about how she has so many scarves that she doesn't know what to do with them all, and she probably will never want another one.

Yes. Well.

Anybody looking for a new scarf? Never worn. It's not even finished yet. I'm sure I'll be able to find someone else with a cold neck who likes cables and 'New Denim' blue. I'm just feeling a bit deflated right now. Luckily, a new knitting book should help to cheer me up and inspire new projects.

See you tomorrow! Until then, I distract from the lack of true content with a kitten.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Scarves Made by Bad People Still Keep You Warm

There is a woman in my workplace who has decided that I am No Good. I am Not To Be Trusted.

This evokes in me unfamiliar desires to be sneaky and devious, and maybe wear a cape, or at least a black eye mask.

She is a temporary employee, here to help one person in particular. Into her third week here, she asked this person if everyone here is ‘okay’. Further probing revealed that she was asking about me in particular. She worries that I am watching her, following her, and talking about her to other people. She asked if I am ‘threatened by’ her’.

The irony of all this is that the person she’s working with is a pretty good friend of mine, and when she was warned by this woman that I am “trying to manipulate” her, she came straight to me to share the funny, and now we are talking about this woman. Because she is crazy.

But as much as I’m keeping a sense of humour about the whole thing, (because I am not Evil and everyone here is well aware of that), it still sucks to have someone come in and decide that you are a Bad Person.

But I know how to feel better.

My first cables

My very first cables. It's the Irish Hiking Scarf from Hello Yarn, done in Patons Merino. This is part of my Christmas knitting, but I'm pretty sure this person doesn't read this blog. I hope. And, since I've started down this road, here's a completed Christmas gift for my mum.

Mum's Clapotis
Yes, it's (another) clapotis, in mercerized cotton. It's really more of a royal blue than an electric blue, but I couldn't get the colour to come out quite right.

I also decided that I do not have enough scarves and picked up a fun green Patons for myself.

I love the weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

There is a Donkey at the End of This Post

This is basically a 'yes, I'm still here and breathing' kind of post. I feel kind of gagged at the moment, because while I am knitting, it is of a Christmas variety, and therefore can't be shared. I may have to post the latest projects and save them as drafts until it's safe.

Outside of knitting, my life is just ticking along. Some things are improving - work is busier and more challenging, now that I'm in a new role. It probably helps that I have no real clue what I'm doing, so every day is a learning day.

For a long time, I've felt a disconnectedness with my own life - as if I weren't really living my life but, instead, biding my time until this little period of uncertainty and fear were finished. Finally, now that I feel confident with my job status and know that I won't have to pack up and move again anytime soon (I'm feeling like I just jinxed myslef there) I'm starting to feel more in touch with my world. When I'm feeling disconnected, it touches just about every part of my life. My house gets really messy, bills go unpaid, letters unmailed, errands not run, meals not cooked. Right now, my apartment is only beginning to recover from this last bout. I know that I'm starting to come out of it when I get into a burst of tidying and cleaning activity. Last night, I cleaned out a shelf in my massive, chaotic hall closet, and immediately felt so much better. In the past few days I also got around to brushing the cat, depositing a cheque I've been carrying around for a couple of weeks, vacuuming a mess in the spare room, watering the plants, and swiffering the neglected corners of my bedroom. These are all little things - so little that when I'm hunched under a load of worry or uncertainty, they seem insignificantly unimportant.

Part of what's brought me out has been my visit home to see my parents. My mum's having some mysterious health problems right now that are leaving her completely without energy, and so I spent a great deal of my visit tidying and doing laundry and kicking the butts of my dad and brother into helping with household chores so that my mum wouldn't feel so much pressure to keep up with cleaning and cooking.

Speaking of, I should really get myself started on my own cooking and cleaning so that I'm ready for the madness of Thursday night television. Priorities, dontcha know.

I do have pictures from my Thanksgiving weekend visit - you can see them at Flickr. Want some incentive to check them out?

I present a gratuitous donkey picture for your viewing pleasure.
Casper and Jodi kiss

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Leaving the Rock

It's completely normal to say 'be right back' and then not show your face for a couple of weeks. Right?

So the end of the Newfoundland sotry before I forget any more of it.

Tuesday morning was my last in Newfoundland. We got up, packed, had breakfast, and headed out. I needed to do a bit of shopping downtown for fun things to bring back for my lovely catsitter, not to mention my mum and dad. In the past year, I've been doing all kinds of travelling, but it's all been for work and hasn't involved a moment of fun or shopping. So I was determined to bring goodies back from the Rock.

Since the shops didn't open until 10 am, we took our time getting downtown, making a stop at the Confederation buliding and taking a moment to say 'hi' to John Cabot, whose Newfoundland statue looks exactly the same as the Caboto Club statue in Windsor. Just kind of funny.

We also made a stop at MUN, for the mandatory picture-taking with the university sign.

Next, we drove around St. John's, taking in the sights and going down the very steep streets. I love the rows of crooked houses, looking as if they would all tumble and crash to the ground if one were taken away, like a row of dominoes.

Next, it was to the shops, where I dragged poor Rikke and Keith through shop after shop, looking for just the right print and just the right gifts for the people at home. And myself. I finally came away with a little artcard picture that was almost what I was looking for, and a few little gifts that weren't quite what I'd hoped for, but would do. And. I went back to a shop we'd been in the very first day we were downtown, where I'd fallen in love with a little tote bag, and I succumbed to its charms and brought it home with me, where it rarely leaves my side. I like to just look at it sometimes.

We even saw a cruise ship in port, taking up about two city blocks along the waterfront, and towering high above most of the downtown buildings, looking out of place and filling the area with 2000 more tourists.

Overall, it was a great trip, and I'm very glad I went. I definitely want to go back someday and see all the things I missed this time around, like whales and icebergs and puffins and seafood. Not to say that I didn't have a lot of Newfoundland experiences this time around - I had screech and kissed a fish, touched the ocean, had chips with dressing and gravy, listened to an impromptu backyard fiddle and guitar performance, wandered the coast and visited George Street.

Oh, and I almost forgot! As I sat in the Westjet boarding area, waiting for our flight to be called, I was somewhat baffled by the dozens of people lining the walls, whispering and adjusting cameras. All was made clear when the attendant announced the arrival home of Craig Sharpe, who'd placed second in Canadian Idol the night before. He walked a gauntlet of cameras and autograph seekers, with little old women giggling to one another that he was "just as cute as he looked on tv".

I highly recommend a trip to Newfoundland. And try the screech.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Above Ground and Below

The next morning began my last full day in Newfoundland. While Keith and Rikke had planned a two week trip and were preparing to head north to visit L'Anse aux Meadows and to do some wandering and hiking, I had to head back to Ontario on Tuesday.

We got up in time to get breakfast at the hotel, then headed south, out of St. John's and down to explore the Irish Loop and the Avalon Peninsula. We took our time, driving along the coast and stopping frequently at the side of the road to take pictures of the blue and green vistas that kept opening to us.

At one point near Tor Bay, we had stopped near a house where some people were working outside, and Keith heard a woman remark, "If I only had $500 for every tourist that stopped here to take a picture! I don't know what they think they see!" Here's what we saw:

It's funny how one can become so used to anything - including beauty - to the point where it isn't even visible anymore.

We stopped at the Colony of Avalon, an historic site where you can see the open archaeological digs, and take in yet more stunning views. You can see some of the open pits in the picture on the left (kind of).

We stopped at the visitor's centre briefly, but decided to bypass the tours and displays in favour of wandering around on our own.

By this time, I was glad that I'd brought my clapotis, and had it secured snugly around my neck, protecting against the very cold wind and the occasional gusts of misty drizzle. (Oh, yeah - I made a second clapotis for myself in a more reasonable, wearable colour of Silky Wool.)

[Arrgh. Here's where blogger stops letting me add pictures. Back to good old Flickr. Maybe there's a secret quota and I've far surpassed it.]

Keith and Rikke at Colony of Avalon

I started to keep track of the pictures in my little knitting note book, marking how many pictures I'd taken of Witless Bay, Tor Bay, Calvert, Avalon, Bear Cove...

Rikke Takes Pictures at Bear Cove

Bear Cove

We drove south down to the barren area approaching Cape Race, whose claim to fame is that it was a Marconi station here that received the Titanic's distress calls. The open, empty landscape reminded me a lot of the Burren, a very similar landscape near Galway in Ireland. It was as we drove through this area that it began raining. We decided to cut the day trip a bit short, since stopping for pictures wouldn't be as easy or productive.

Instead, we headed back to St. John's, where we visited the Geo Centre, situated with its entrance and lobby on the side of Signal Hill, and the rest of the attraction located beneath the surface of the ground. It was an interesting visit, though we could have gotten more out of it if we'd visited first thing in the morning, rather than after a day in the car.

Part of the Centre is a large display of Titanic information, including many, many panels telling the entire story of the ship's building, history, financing and final voyage. It was quite interesting, and very comprehensive, if skewed and accusatory of... well, everyone involved. By the end, we were all a bit tired of hearing how it wasn't the fault of the iceberg, but of every single person involved, who had all been greedy and lazy and acted without conscience. Thanks. Got it after the first 20 panels.

Anyway, as I said, we may have been more impressed if we weren't a wee bit tired.

The part of the exhibit I found most interesting, if a bit creepy, was a model of the Titanic as it appears now - broken and crumbling on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Titanic model

We next headed up Signal Hill to take in the amazing views from this spot above St. John's.

This is pretty much the same picture as the one in my first Newfoundland entry, only now in daylight.

St Johns seen from Signal Hill

Signal Hill down

I'll restrain myself from posting all of these pictures. Check out the group in Flickr by clicking on any of the last few pictures to see more.

That evening, we headed out to Vanessa and Aaron's house near St. John's, for a wonderful dinner.

I thought this would be my last Newfoundland entry, but I think I'll leave our morning in downtown St. John's for a last, brief story, since this is getting too long.

Imagine I'd been there more than five days!