Friday, March 31, 2006

Blood Red and Daffodil Yellow

Today there are two bright spots of colour that are making me smile.


And these:

And in non-colour related news, I found out today that I am eligible to give blood again. Which I was very happy about, until I couldn't get an appointment. Sigh.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

That's right - it's my birthday. And while I did have to fight off 'woe is me - how pathetic that I'm all allloooonnnne' feelings that kind of blindsided me now and then throughout the day, overall it turned out to be not a bad day at all.

Things really started yesterday morning, when Deena met me for a morning at the market, followed by lunch at the Hot House, which is the place that, every single time we pass it, elicits the outburst, "See that restaurant there on the corner? Best. Tomato-Basil Soup. EVER!" Guess what she had.

One thing we both had was wine, right as the clock hands ticked to meet on the twelve. Deena explained to the waiter that we were only having wine this early because it was my birthday. So, like any good waiter worth his salt, at the end of the meal, he presented me with the most ENORMOUSLY tall piece of chocolate cake ever. And sang to me - but just himself, and quietly, so it was okay. I have since been working my way through that piece of cake gradually - three meals and counting.

When we returned to the parking garage, needing to go down a couple of levels, we were confounded with this little puzzle, which we felt had to be recorded for posterity. And humour.

Here's a close-up, just in case the problem isn't clear in this picture.

I dropped Deena off at Union Station, then headed off to Romni Wools, to see what all the fuss is about. Holy cow. Er, holy sheep? There is so much yarn there, and so poorly organized (to my eyes) that I left empty handed because I couldn't get it all set in my mind what I needed. But it was interesting wandering around.

Today I was ridiculously lazy, not getting out of my pjs until 2 pm or so. I headed to Chapters for a wander and an ice coffee thing (mmm, whipped cream and white chocolate) and picked up a couple of things - a copy of Yarn Harlot, which I've wanted ever since I first heard Stephanie on CBC one day, and another thing that's a gift, so I won't go into details. But one thing I do want to share is the fact that knitters are pretty friendly people, I'm finding. Every time I'm hovering and digging in the knitting book aisle, another knitter will start talking to me. So far, no crazies, so I enjoy it.

After a stop at the grocery store to supplement the market fixings, I sat down for my birthday-evening. It looks something like this.

So that's the Wallace and Gromit movie dvd, my Yarn Harlot book, a bottle of wine I got as a housewarming gift to a different apartment a couple of years ago (it is GOOD), the flowers I treated myself to (floral arranger person I am not), and, the best of all - my dinner. Fresh, handmade basil spinach pasta, with a tomato/cream/pesto sauce (also fresh made), organic baby portobello mushrooms, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and fresh grated parmesan. And for dessert, raspberry vanilla Haagen Das sorbet.

Why on earth am I blogging? Back to the movie!

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Best. Telemarketing call. Ever:

Me: Hello?
Telemarketer: Hi! This is Keith calling from Big-Ass Company Home Phone. I'm calling to help you save money today.
M: Uh, well, actually, right now I'm-
T: With Big-Ass Company Home Phone, you can save up to 20% on your monthly phone bill, all without installing any new equipment, AND you can bundle this with your other great Big-Ass Company services and save even more!
M: Well, I-
T: Are you currently with Bell Canada?
M: No, I'm not.
T: Okay, who are you with?
M: I'm with Vonage.
T: And how much do you pay each month for your home phone service?
M: Well, if I include all the taxes and such, it comes to twenty two dollars a month.
T: Twenty two dollars?
M: Mm-hm.
T: Oh. Well, do you ever make long distance calls?
M: Oh, yes. Most of the calls I make are long distance. That's included in the twenty two dollars - up to 500 minutes a month, but I never use that much.
T: Ah. I see.
T: ...
T: Well, thanks for your time. Have a great day.
M: Thanks! You, too!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sticks and String and Pencils

Yes, it's been a while. But I have an excuse! I have a plethora of excuses, in fact. I was in Windsor, then I was in Toledo (without internet access - woe was me!), then I was back in Windsor, and after that, um, well, I've been tired and lazy and too busy catching up on everyone else's blogs and the forum and well, I guess there was some actual work in there, too. Somewhere. I'm sure there was.
And I've started a new knitting project that I'm pretty excited about. So every spare moment at home is spent on the couch with my pattern in my lap and the needles in my hands, little baggie full of stitch markers at my side. I never thought I would, but I've been sucked into the clapotis. Oh, for a better name. It really does sound like a disease. Or at the very least a Condition. One you don't talk about in public. But, it is pretty, and it's going pretty well so far. I restarted about four times, but haven't had to go back since then. (Touch wood! Now! I mean it!) I'm in the third section now, which is the straight section. It's also the section where you have to start deliberately dropping stitches and doing mysterious things to the strands hanging between the survivors. I was struck with terror at that point (I'm still such a newbie) and refused to go any further before checking on the Clapotis support group website for someone else freaking out about the same thing. I did manage to find someone else like me, clinging to the needles, project slung apparently haphazardly between them (but in actuality held in a death grip), trailing the ball and juggling markers while trying to do a web search while kicking the cat away from the yarn. I'm sure I'm not alone. So I did it, and it laddered down the way it's supposed to (I think) and all is well. I don't have any pictures yet of the straight section, but here's one of the increase section, taken while I was in Toledo.

Of course, I'm way too cheap (and broke) to splurge on the Lorna's Laces the pattern calls for ($30 a skein, and you need three or four of them), so I'm using an apple green and hot pink mercerized cotton that seems to be about the same weight, if not quite as beautiful and luxuriant. I love the colours, but I can already tell that this is going to be another thing that I and only I love. Like the time I painted my kitchen a vivid green, somewhere between apple and acid. I loved it. Most other people (with the sole exception of Jodi, love her) walked in and said, "Oh. You painted the kitchen. It certainly looks... fresh..."

I love that this is in spring colours, though. And it's the kind of thing I'll want to wear when it's just a little too chilly to go without a jacket, but I don't want to start layering up. So if things continue to go well (wood! now!) then it should be finished in time for just that purpose. Also assuming that the weather doesn't become freakishly warm suddenly in the next couple of days. And it might. Weird winter.

In other knitting news, I'm still plugging away at my afghan - well, maybe that's not entirely true. The afghan is sitting near the top of the big basket by the couch. As long as it stays somewhat near the top, like a recent archaelogical layer, it has a chance of being finished. A big, lumpy blanket just doesn't have the appeal of a springy, bright shawl-type thing right now, though. It's lovely to work on when it's cold in the apartment, I have to admit. It's strange and at the same time rewarding to hae the blanket that is keeping me warm growing right from my needles, covering more and more of me.

I want to try my hand at socks again, so I'm keeping the dpns handy. I also want to do another baby blanket, for my friends who are expecting some time this year. I'm out of touch with them, so I don't know exactly when. At this point, it's an excuse for knitting another one of those gorgeous blankets, and I'll jump on that. My cousin is also expecting this year, but my mum's already doing a blanket, so I may have to enter the realm of - gulp - wearables. I hope this kid is shaped funny, because the jacket or booties probably will be, too.

Coming soon to this blog - an educational piece concerning the southernmost point of Canada, and how it's not quite so southern these days.

But first, one more for Erin. My friend Deena came through with the wacky writing utensils once more. I present: The Pencil from Cuba.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Can You Tell It's Friday?

I have to go into my Cone of Silence.

I only call it that because I like the sound of it. It is a totally inappropriate name, however, as there is neither a cone nor silence involved. I find that when I am having trouble concentrating, the best remedy is a set of headphones. Funny how this happens so often on a Friday. Huh.

Today, I have a big project to get done. And it has to get done today. Before the end of the day. And it's long and kind of complicated. And I already did it once, and did a kind of poor job of it, so I'm redoing it with improved understanding and direction. And.... I can't concentrate on it. Of course. My train of thought:

Okay, so I'll move this paragraph over here. Hmm. But now I have this information repeated, and it's not quite what I want. How should I do this?

Oh, I'm going to be in Toledo next week. I should check the weather there so I know what to bring. Oh - warm at the beginning, cold later. Hm. Lots of packing, then.

Right, back to work. Maybe I should look at the table of contents to see...

I wonder what's going on in the forum. Oh. Nothing. Well, are there any new TWOP recaps up? Nope.

Hey, I should be working. Oh, but first I should get another coffee. Hey, I haven't gone to say hi to Jen yet. I'll do that now.

Okay! Back to work. Oh, hang on, I'm going to be in Windsor this weekend and the next. I should check the weather there. Oh, yeah - it's only an hour from Toledo, so it's pretty much the same. Huh. While I'm here, I should check the Toronto weather. Interesting.

Work, work, work. Oh, I have to put in that person's contact information, so I'll get that list out - oh, look - there's that knitting manual I meant to photocopy. I should do that now.

That's better. Now I can bring it with me.

I won't continue. It's less a 'train' of thought than it is a crazy ball let loose in a paint mixer. So now, before I get caught up in anything else, I'm going to be a good little worker and enter the Cone. Winamp, take me away.

Well, first I'm going to check my mailbox.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Forced Contentment is Still Contentment

I am actually happy today to have a big project and a looming deadline. I am going to give it my all, but I'm not sure I can get it completed today.

So, of course, I'm blogging. What else?

Ah, the fine art of procrastination. It's not even that I have anything specific I wanted to explore. Things are just pretty good right now. I had a good weekend, more social than usual, I have a big (if boring) knitting project on the go, and a couple I plan to start up, work is going alright, I have a trip next week, but arrangements with the kitty are all good, the sun is shining, spring is on its way, and I am busy at work. I have plenty to be unhappy about, but I choose to ignore those today and be as happy as I can be.

Some random pictures, because I have them:

First off, this one's for Erin. Another pen to use when I am feeling down. I love the way the little legs dangle and twist.

Deena usually picks me up something whenever she goes away, and I've deduced from these gifts that airport gift shops are the best place to buy funky pens. I am not so much with the buying of gifts, partly because I'm away so often, and partly because I never think of it (bad friend? maybe.)

Next up, we have Ed the Sock III, spotted during Sunday's Queen St W wanderings with Rachel. Ah, the heady rush of celebrity.

And finally, a gratuitous cat picture.

At first, the playing with the tap and the water seemed like an innocent diversion. But now, Sebastian is developing some kind of weird fixation on the drain, staring down into the dark depths until an errant drop hits his head. It makes me wonder what's down there...

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Take my blood - please!

I know that I've been lazy about posting, but it's for a ... well, it's for a stupid reason. I haven't posted because there's been a post about blood donating that's been on my mind, but I know that it's complicated for me and I'm not sure how to say it, so I've been putting it off longer and longer.

So I haven't posted because there's something specific I want to post about. Yep.

It all started back in high school. Once we were 17, we were encouraged to donate blood. They didn't bring a mobile clinic to the school, though - instead, every few months, if you went to donate blood at the Red Cross across town, you got the rest of the day off, to 'recover'. Giving blood wasn't a hardship for any of us, so my friends and I would jump on every chance we got, and make a day of it. We'd goof around in the waiting area, and then try to all get in the chairs at the same time so we could race to see who could fill up their blood bag the fastest, squeezing our fists and trying to breathe a bit faster. John always won, though, being the only boy - a nurse commiserated with us once, saying, "Boys have bigger veins - sorry." But I got my time down to under seven minutes, so I was a little bit proud of that. The clinic had Herman cartoons on the ceiling, so you spent most of your time trying to see how many of them you could see from your chair without moving around too much, so the nurse wouldn't come and scold you for moving your arm.

Then, of course, it was the cookies (usually stale) and juice (from powder), and we'd leave, with our little blood donor stickers proudly displayed on our jackets. We'd go out to lunch, then spend the day goofing around, or shopping. The only day I got woozy was the day we gave blood, then went downtown to walk and shop, then to the mall, then went straight to Tae Chi. I had to sit down quickly. It still makes me laugh that I was done in by Tai Chi.

So I kept giving blood whenever I could for the most part, dragging new friends with me when I could. I never really thought much about it, but I liked to go in part because it made me feel like I was being a Good Person. The first time I realised that it meant a bit more to me than that was when I was living in Calgary. I had a week of bad days, spent looking for jobs and doing stupid temp work, and napping in the afternoons because there was nothing else I could do, with no job and no money. I decided that the best way to get out of my little funk of sadness was to do something for someone else. I got flowers for my roommates, and that made me feel a bit better. But it was when I went to give blood that I really felt like things were going to get better, and I could look forward to maybe being positive and happy again.

Like so many other things in life, it wasn't until I lost it, that I fully realised how important giving blood was to me. When I went that last time, I was in the little partioned-off booth with the nurse asking me silly questions and looking for track marks on my innner arms (which are pock marked with the triangular scars of donation needles) when she asked me about my time in Britain. They'd changed the rules, she said, and now any time more than three months spent in the UK since 1980 - cumulatively - meant an ineligibility to donate. I was stunned. I hadn't seen this coming. I sat there, listening and nodding as she told me that there were other ways I could help, I could donate, or canvass, or hand out cookies at the clinics. I'm sure she said other things, too, but I don't remember them. I was just praying for her to stop talking so that I could leave. I went out to the car, and sat down, and started crying. Yes, it made me cry when I was told that I could no longer regularly visit a place where people would stab me with large needles and then give me broken cookies.

After that, I became pretty bitter about Canadian Blood Services. Every time someone mentioned them, I'd start ranting about stupid, non-scientifically based policies, and the people who thought them up. When I was in Ottawa, and standing on a balcony above the CBS headquarters, I had to resist the urge to spit on their roof. People stopped talking about them to me, because they were a bit leery of the crazy.

Last year, my mum called to tell me that she'd heard on the news that the rules had changed. Now, you're ineligible to give only if you spent more than three months in the UK between 1980 and 1996. I spent probably about two months there in that time, then was there for three and a half months in 1998. So I was in the clear. But there were hurt feelings, and it took me a while to decide to go back. I finally made the call last week to set up an appointment (another stupid 'innovation' of the CBS - people are more likely to give if they can just go and walk in, I think - is that just me?) and was told that I was still on the 'ineligible' list, though they didn't know why. So now I'm to wait two weeks and then they're supposed to call me back to let me know whether or not I can give.

Oh, the anger. Why?!? I'm trying to do something good, here! And they won't let me! Why should I keep trying? They are not encouraging more donations. Arrgh. I can't even express how this is making me feel, because I don't really know. I know that this probably didn't make sense, but if I didn't get it out somehow, I might have exploded.

So. I'll call again once I get back from Toledo, if I haven't heard from them by then. Until then, I guess I'll keep hoarding my blood all to myself. Thbbppt.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Gold Medal

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.

My favourite finals thoughts on the Knitting Olympics came from JenLa, complete with the description of the detritus floating about the remains of the Knitting Olympic village. Ah, the mental image of a whole village full of us loonies.

I really enjoyed this challenge - my one regret was in that I underestimated my own abilities, and finished way early. I guess I'm a bit better than I give myself credit for. Not that I'm about to start trying to knit a sweater or anything, but maybe I'll try for that sock again.

Another favourite moment was last night in my discussion group, when I sheepishly mentioned that I had been in the KO, and Christine said, "Hey! I read about that in the paper! You were in that?" My public.