Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Childhood on TV

So yesterday I survived driving an import. Lightning did not strike me down, nor did union members appear out of nowhere and start beating me with pickets. My dad would be horrified, though.

I actually enjoyed driving a little, older car. It brought me back to when I drove the old boats I had in high school - just the feel of the narrow plastic steering wheel, well worn and slightly begrimed, the feel of the effort involved whenever I tried to coax a little pick up out of the engine.

This all came about because of another painful visit to the dealership that involved sudden, surprise services that needed to be done (again) and a part that did not come in when it was supposed to because of a computer error (again). But I've bored enough people with the story so I won't repeat it all again. Suffice it to say that I have a wonderful, wonderful coworker and friend in Jen, who thought nothing of loaning me her car for the duration of the car-related agonies.

In other, more enjoyable news, I had another fun day with Rachel on Saturday. A day that involved childhood memories, random celebrity sightings, a dead room, learning that Mississauga is much bigger than we thought, CSI, and caffeinated poutine. Good times.

The highlight really had to be the childhood memories portion of the program, though. When I thought about the CBC museum, I thought I would see things like old radio microphones, tapes, maybe some hockey memorabilia. And there was all of that. But, there was also this:

Casey and Finnegan's treehouse

Oh, the excitement! Here, in front of me, were dozens of childhood memories. Memories of learning how to make little horses out of pipe cleaners and toilet paper tubes, how to draw on big sheets of paper. And nothing turning out nearly as good as the stuff Mr Dressup made, even though it looked so easy when he did it. And, of course, memories of the Tickle Trunk.

Tickle Trunk
The magic of the Tickle Trunk was that no matter what Mr Dressup wanted, no matter how impromptu the game or the play, the perfect costume and props would be in the Tickle Trunk. And always located right at the top. Nothing like my own toy box, where whatever I wanted had always snaked its way to the bottom, and to get it out meant emptying all of the contents of the box.

Tickle Trunk Close Up

I loved Mr Dressup growing up. He had everything - crafts, puppets, drawing, jokes, play acting, a treehouse, and guests coming to visit and change things up whenever they got a little dull. I had my love for Sesame Street, too, but found the little snippets in between muppet segments a little too repetitive sometimes - after the Muppet Report with Kermit Thee Frog (here) on Rapunzel in her tower, I'd often pull out the colouring books while the pinball counted to twelve. And Mr Rogers I always hated. My mother confirms that the only part of Mr Rogers I watched was the part where he fed his goldfish, right at the beginning. Why I found that part interesting, though, I have no idea. The trolley was okay, too, but the weird little puppets through the door were just creepy.

Mr Dressup with Casey and Finnegan and the other, less important puppets
Nope, Mr Dressup was my guy. When he died a few years ago, CBC radio had people calling in with their memories of him, and I cried in my car as I listened. I never really watched him after Casey and Finnegan left the show - I think that was when I was starting to get a little too old for it (or thought I was, anyway) and maybe transitioning to the Sweet Valley portion of my adolescence. I never liked the new puppets, so my one disappointment on Saturday was the absence of Casey and Finnegan themselves. I was happy enough to not see the strange alligator and stringy, old bird woman, though. Or that scary looking owl with the shifty eyes.

The other surprise memory was the Friendly Giant. Complete with the castle with its drawbridge, and the high-tech animation of the cow jumping over the moon. When I was little, this was another of my favourite shows.

I loved the opening, with the little seating arrangement being moved around - the big armchair for the two people to curl up in, and the rocking chair, for somebody who likes to rock. I liked Geoffrey the Giraffe, but I was always a little suspicious of him, too - he looks like he's always thinking about something shifty. And Rusty the rooster kind of freaked me out, in his little sack hanging on the wall. What else was in that sack? Why did he have to stay in there? Was he being punished for something?

The Friendly Giant and Cronies

And finally, a geek memory. But maybe I'll leave that for another day and a shorter post.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Tonight was nice. Jen invited me to her house for dinner after work. Car pooling has so many advantages! So she showed me how she makes her yummy curry shrimp, Eddy made rice and bok choi and I got to play with the dog. How's that for a night out?

But the dessert was the best part. Jen and I went to Dairy Cream on Lakeshore, and had some really, really good ice cream (mine had coconut and pineapple on top) and then people watched for well over an hour. We mocked the women tottering along in cheap three inch heels and sleeveless shirts, trying hard not to look cold. We discussed our mutual dislike of the shoes with wheels in them and how they make grocery stores hazardous. We criticized the girls wearing inappropriately coloured bra straps and dresses tucked into their jeans. (what?)

We were also doing our best to unobtrusively (read: totally obviously and pathetically like 12 year old girls) watch the group of very tall, very well armed policemen who came in shortly after us and lounged within our sights for quite some time. With guns strapped to their right thigh and stun guns strapped to their left, and vests strapped to their chests above the Batman-like belts full of handcuffs and whatnot. Fun. We only left when they finally packed themselves back into their shiny black van and left for whereabouts unknown. Then we went to Dollarama and I bought all kinds of goofy pens and pencils for no really good reason. (I'll get some pictures soon, probably)

It's such a different night from what I'm used to that I'm not sure that I know what to do with myself. I am used to going home and being alone until I'm back at work the next day. I think I like some socializing.

Even if it does mean no knitting gets done tonight.

But it does make me think about part of the reason that I would hesitate to stay with the family that I lived with last summer. It was a lot of fun, but I got used to coming 'home' and eating with and being with other people. Having someone to talk to, or even just hearing someone else in the house. The crash that comes when it's time for me to leave for the last time and go back to my own place is a bit hard to take. It happened after my summer in Calgary and when I moved to Dunnville, and hit me really hard when it came time to leave Caledonia last fall.

Yes, I need my alone time, and maybe even more of it than other people do. But (and it pains me to admit it) I do need other people, too. Sometimes. But I have to wonder if having that for a short time is worth the pain of losing it again.

I should go to bed before I become any less coherent.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Here’s the current status of the baby jacket.

Baby Jacket ad infinitum

Look familiar? Yeah. It’s been a couple of weeks and it’s gone nowhere. In that time, I’ve ripped out the blanket made of dog fur yarn, made considerable progress on the baby blanket and the second clapotis, and then yesterday I started to make a log cabin bathmat, from Mason Dixon Knitting. This morning I ripped it out and started over and now I have this, which I’m quite pleased with.

The bathmat

I made it using acrylic I had lying around. I’ve decided that I must embrace acrylic, instead of shunning it. Because I will only be able to afford wool and other more luxurious fibres occasionally. And I plan on knitting a lot more than occasionally.

But the lack of progress on the baby jacket is what’s really the point here. The reason for the lack of progress is fear. Poorly based fear, at that. The pattern leaves a lot of the figuring up to me, basically telling me to mirror what I did on the left front. I like a little more direction at this point in my knitting education. But this fear and refusal to deal with the problem in order to move forward are pretty much the main themes of my life right now.

I’m confronted with another possible change. And even though this could be a really good, very welcome change, it also means, well, change. And a lot of it. And that tends to make me freeze in my tracks. To the point where for the past three days I haven’t left the house. Which may or may not be related to this looming possible change, but I’m really just looking for some explanation of my hermitage.

And now I’ve come to this place where I kind of feel like in order to move forward with my life, I have to move forward with this jacket. And as long as it sits bundled up in a flour sack, out of sight and only half-finished, nothing else in my life will change. Is that insane? It might be insane. At the very least, it’s not quite right.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I Don't Take Enough Pictures

Sonya, Mum and Dad
Last weekend, my parents and their friend, Sonya came to visit, and we had a TO weekend. This might seem like not such a great picture, but with this bunch, I was lucky to get them all looking at the camera at the same time, never mind trying to find a moment when one of them isn't talking. It was noisy weekend. (Love you!) Saturday morning we were took the GO to Union Station and walked down to St. Lawrence Market. We had wonderful weather for our day, and I didn’t take nearly enough pictures. For example, as we approached the market, the first thing we saw was a bunch of women all dressed in wedding gowns, handing out flyers. Now, really – wouldn’t a picture of that be great?
Flowers in the park behind the Flatiron Building

Clearly, I need to take more pictures.The back of the Flatiron Building

Aside from my houseguests and all the shopping that happens when you’re entertaining people who like to shop, I’ve been doing lots and lots of knitting lately. And I realise that I haven’t really been keeping my little progress bars updated, or sharing what I’m working on. So, here you go:

Here are my three big projects. First, on the left is an afghan that I started a while back. I haven’t done much work on it recently. I’m finding that creating a warm, squishy blanket is great in the winter, but not really what I want to be doing when it’s warm and sunny out. Plus, I’m hating the yarn. What looked like a nice, neutral beige-ish boucle has turned out to make a blanket that looks like it’s being knit from dog fur yarn.
Dog fur blanket, baby shawl, baby jacket
Life Lesson #1: Don’t buy “Mill Ends” of “100% Unknown Material” from Walmart. (You’d think I wouldn’t have to learn that, but there you go.)

So I think what I’m going to do now is rip all that mangy dog coloured section back and get either more of that nice blue, or find a contrasting colour in a real boucle, and not something made from what was probably left in someone's dog brush.

The second item there might look familiar. It’s another of the baby shawls. I have a particular baby in mind, I think, but I’m also making it because it’s a fun pattern, right up to the end, where I would rather rip out my hair than do another repeat of the border section. Fun!

And the third is really what I’m spending most of my time on. It’s a little baby jacket that I’m making for my cousin’s baby. I think I like making little baby clothes. It’s very rewarding to sit down for a couple of hours, and see actual progress. And it’s a good first real ‘clothing item’.

The one thing I forgot to put in the picture is my second clapotis. I’m doing a new one in a turquoise colour that should be able to ‘go’ with more of what I wear, unlike the bright pink and green one that has limited wearability.

The only one with a real deadline is the baby sweater – due date is in five weeks. As for the baby shawl/blanket, I think I’ve already missed the birth, since I’m kind of out of touch with those particular friends, beyond Christmas cards.

But now that I’m a knitter, I’m jumping on any and every opportunity to knit teeny tiny little things. So let me know if you’re making any plans. Really.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Questions You Never Wanted to Ask

I’m not the first to notice that when a group of people comes together to eat and chat, more often than not, the topic of conversation almost inevitably turns to bodily functions such as vomiting, peeing, or pooping. For some reason, I’ve found this to be especially true when the meal is a little more formal – any time when the subject of puke would be just plain inappropriate.

Yesterday at lunch, we had quite the toilet conversation. It all started with one person talking about a really fun bathroom store she’d visited the day before. This store has a line up of functioning toilets, and squishy little colourful samples that you can flush down to see how well they work, and then watch them travel through a clear pipe.

It was all downhill from there. I felt especially bad for the one guy in the room, since he was also the only one of us with significant bidet experience as well.

First, the bidet: What is it really for? (Yes, for cleaning) No, you don’t use it after number one, just number two. Yes, the temperature is usually adjustable, and so is the height of the water flow, like a drinking fountain.

So, what – you finish up, wipe, shuffle across the room with your pants still down, and then plonk down on the bidet? (pretty much) We debated the benefits and downfalls and decided that in general, we do not like the bidet, for several reasons, including the need for ass towels and the potential for side to side wetting when getting on or off. Plus, they’re just weird.

Next up was Boys and the Bathroom. Do you feel self-conscious at a urinal? (not really) Would you use a urinal in a co-ed bathroom? (sure) Do boys use toilet paper if they just pee? (no) Isn’t that kind of icky? (not really) Do boys who are maybe more - well-endowed - than most have to worry about dipping in the toilet when they’re sitting down? (Um. No.)

Lunch is fun.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Gift of The Gift of Life

It was at a red light - I swear!


After almost five years, I have once again been permitted to donate my blood. Yesterday, my friend Jennifer from work and I went to the blood donor clinic at Sherway Gardens mall and bled for the cause. It was all familiar and almost comforting. Except that we were, you know, in a mall. I’m not quite used to people strolling past me with Sears and Sony store bags while I lay on the cot with a big needle in my arm.

But everything went well, and I filled my bag with no fuss and in close to (personal) record time. I lay there, feeling the heat of my blood as it passed through the tube lying across my wrist, looking up at the water damaged ceiling and out at the blue, blue sky through the skylights above me and just felt better. Giving blood is to me an opportunity for me to give of myself in a very real (and literal) way. I know that what I’m doing is going to help people who desperately need help. It seems to me so much more meaningful than giving money. And there is no anguish over whether I am giving to someone worthy, or whether my donation will be used wisely, as is so often the question with monetary donations. I am sharing my blessing of health and giving of my time, and that makes me feel good – and more, it makes me feel like a good person. I expect no reward, and I thank the volunteers and workers almost as profusely as they thank me.

And then I have cookies and peach juice and Bits and Bites.

And, in an unexpected bonus, I won an mp3 player from a promotion on the Canadian Blood Services website. They may be forgiven now. Bribes definitely help.