Thursday, February 28, 2008


After confidently stating a couple of posts ago that I'd be okay no matter which way the balls fell and my future was decided, my bravado was sorely put to the test this week. It seems I was more invested emotionally in the university idea then I had thought... although it's still very much a possibility, I have been denied funding through work. The program under which I am applying has a cap at two years: I need a diploma or certification in my hands within that period or no funding. Of course, a five-year co-op program is completely out of the question.

Now I face a difficult decision. I can still go to university (providing I get accepted...) but it's on my dime. (And, as my husband joked repeatedly, with a pained look on his face, we'd be eating KD every day for 5 years to swing it financially.) Or, I can take advantage of the truly amazing benefits package by toning my plans down and going to college.

I was crushed on Tuesday when I found out. Now that I've had a little cry, a lot of talking with my support crew (DH, mom, friends...), a glass of wine or two with afore-mentioned friends, and a little research under my belt, I'm more or less okay with this. This doesn't have to end the dream; just a speed bump along the way. There's a course I can take at a local college, get the damned piece of paper in two years, transfer the credits to Athabasca and get my degree from them. Not quite what I had pictured. I loved the Carleton campus so, and had daydreams of me being all studious and geeky there. College just doesn't have the same panache... but it has turned out that it's impossible for me to turn down free education, lacking panache or not.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Couldn't Wait

I have been logging in to my application at the university every five minutes this week to see if anything was new. Okay, not *quite* every five minutes, but far, far more then is called for. They finally received my last bit of documentation early last week, and I know I'm expecting miracles to think that any decisions will be made anytime soon, but the suspense is killing me.

I went on a tour today of the computer lab and listened to the director of the game development stream give a talk. You don't know how badly I'd love that stream, but I know that time pressures for game coders are pretty extreme. I'm taking this degree to claim my life back and live on my own time, not to be up for 48 hours straight coding to meet a production deadline. Sure sounds interesting, though.

It was a great week for goodies from Canada Post. (Okay, I bought them all myself, but when I see a parcel in the mailbox, it just plain feels good!) On Monday I got a rather delicious package from Knit Picks. I bought some pretty lace-weight that was on sale, a set of the Harmony 6-inch sock needles, and a set of those absolutely divine Harmony interchangeables. These are the most beautiful tools I have ever had the honour to work with. I don't think I'll ever have to buy another knitting needle ever again... I actually gave away my small trove of Addi's because they were, well, just unnecessary.

I popped my Etsy cherry with some rather spectacular soy simmering tarts from Ficklefaerie. I've got the Egyptian Licorice one on the go right now, and you would not believe how delicious the house smells. She's in Ontario, too; though strangely this doesn't save you anything for postage. However. I like shopping local when possible, and I love the idea of being able to support local entrepreneurs.

Finally, I was randomly flipping through my Knit Picks catalogue (endless hours of fun) when I saw a rather spectacular shawl on the cover of a book. Having just bought lace needles and laceweight merino, I was feeling more then ready to venture into lace shawls. I checked the book out online, fell in love, and bought it; it came in yesterday's mail. The book is beautifully written and photographed, and includes charts as well as written patterns.

Select "View more images" underneath the picture on the Knit Picks page to see more divine patterns in the book. It's a brilliant idea- shawls that are full circles, but with an opening so they fit the shoulders and don't require folding or endless adjustments. I love how they drape! Who wouldn't love wearing one of these.

Plus, the author is a lovely, personable woman. I dropped her a quick note to tell her I loved and bought the book. She responded immediately, offering ideas for a good beginner's shawl for me to cut my lace-making teeth on. I love having that kind of rapport with the author of a book. It's more then a book then; it's a personal experience.

I can't wait to get started on something of hers!

Actually, I couldn't wait. *grins* Although not one of Alison's creations, I cast on some lace this week; the simple but lovely Wisp from Knitty, Summer 2007. I think it's coming along nicely, and my inevitable mistakes are concealed nicely by the very nature of the beast (hairy and holey.)

Filatura Di Crosa Superior (cashmere and silk!!), a gift from DH.

What fun! I so need more hours in the day to knit.

A question for other Etsy-ers out there. What are your favourite shops and products?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

FO: Sneaky Socks

For the first time I knit a pair of socks for someone whose foot I did not have access to. I had three measurements, the right colours of deliciously springy merino yarn, not a little trepidation, and a plan.

Mock Smock Socks, Knit Picks Memories yarn in Rocky Mountain Dusk

They went in the mail on Monday and the recipient got them on Tuesday. She says they fit perfectly.


They are my first kick at toe-up socks, and not the last. This is also my first short-row heel; I've always done heel flaps before.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Homemaker

I love to spend time puttering in the kitchen, but have really got out of the practice of slow food lately.

I believe that most every food is good, in moderation. However, I noted an alarming tendency in my diet... too much sugar, too much coffee, too much booze. I was reacting to stress with unhealthy diet, and that it a vicious circle I want no part of... for me, I know that bad diet leads to poor self-image and depression, which leads to eating more sweets and drinking more... it needed to stop.

I have declared a one-week moratorium on sugar, coffee and alcohol, beginning last Thursday. I will extend as desired... frankly, after just four days, I feel ever so much better already. Except for the sugared vanilla syrup in my London Fog this morning (or, for the uninitiated, a non-fat vanilla Earl Grey tea Misto, if you're ordering at Starbucks), and a tiny bit of batter ingested when I, er, "accidentally" licked a wooden spoon (or three) this afternoon, I've been faithful. (Let's call that quality control, shall we?)

Yesterday just before dinner, I realized that if I wanted dessert, I'd have to whip one up. The gelato in the freezer, non-fat though it was, was out of bounds due to sugar content. Rescuing a handful of withery Mac apples, I whipped up an apple pie. I won't use shortening or excessive butter in my pie crusts, and have long become comfortable with the knowledge that my pie crusts will be... how shall I say it... robust. This was no exception. You don't need a plate to eat my pies on... they stand up for themselves. On the plus side, they're high in fiber, low in fat and good for the development of one's jaw muscles.


Today was destined to be a baking day, too. Mom Linda, who has spent her entire life hating fruitcake, loves mine. So we struck a bargain this year... when she came to visit, she'd bring apple pie (I am green with envy over her crusts, though I won't think of the high fat content requires to make them so perfectly flaky.) In exchange, I'd have a ready supply of fruitcake for her.

What with travel and all in the fall, I didn't get a chance to make my fruitcake. It seems a little odd to be doing it mid-February, but all the same, that's how I spent the afternoon. It will be perfectly marinated in brandy by the time mom arrives, a little more then a month from now.


Then, for tonight's dinner, I have a pot of Thai fish soup simmering fragrantly on the stove.

There's something supremely satisfying about healthy, delicious food, made by one's own hands. Despite the fact that I didn't spend the kind of time in the sewing room I had looked forward to, I cannot by any means call the weekend a loss.

I hope your weekend was as satisfying as mine was.

If you are lucky enough to have a long weekend, allow me to a) be green with envy, and b) live vicariously through you. Us Feds get stiffed out of Mr. McGuinty's grand new holiday. Thanks, whoever is responsible for that. Love ya.
(Family Day? When our kids are out of school but we're not off work? Call it "Babysitter's Day", 'cause that's what it is.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sweet Deception

DH and I celebrate Valentine's Day every single day of the year. We have a rule that we shall not celebrate the actual day... no observances whatsoever. No flowers, chocolates or cards... just carry on and love each other ridiculously as we do every day.

I was at home on Thursday when I got a call from a local florist, saying they had a delivery for DH. I assured them I'd be at home to receive it. I hung up, thinking how cute it was that DH's mommy sent him flowers.

Then I got to thinking. What if it wasn't from his mommy? What if, inconceivable as it sounds, he had a mistress and the flowers were from her? I waited impatiently all afternoon for the delivery.

Finally the doorbell, and the delivery guy asked for DH. I accepted the delivery, and rushed to the kitchen... if I had to hunt down and kill his mistress, I was running out of time before DH got home to stop me.

I ripped open the plastic and tissue paper and hunted amongst the glorious blossoms for a card.

You're probably way ahead of me. It was for me, from him, in blatant defiance of our no VDay observance rule. Although how can I possibly get mad at the man for such sweet deception?!




Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today, Half-Empty. Tomorrow...?

Today, I don't so much feel like that graceful dancer, poised and ready to catch whatever falls her way. Today, I feel like that tragic clown who throws everything up and makes fumbling attempts in floppy shoes, but pretty much misses everything.

Nothing has changed in essence... it's still me, it's still the same situation. I just find I am handling it not so well today... the kazillion unknowns caught up with me and I just want to sit in front of the fireplace and drink wine until everything is all sorted out. Preferably by someone stronger and more capable than I.

I am not in the least helped by the requirement to sort through the complex layers of administration that are called upon in situations like this. I sat in on a seminar today to learn about some of the advocacy groups that are in place to help medically releasing members, and was overwhelmed by information. I have more questions tonight then I did this morning, but at least now I am armed with business cards... I have an array of contacts to employ to help me deal with all this.

And half a sock to show for the day, too. I suppose any day I can knit on government time is a good day, after all.

Knit-night tomorrow, my fellow guildies? (Brief pause to check on weather. DAMMIT!!! More snow called for tomorrow evening... (a bout of quiet sobbing ensues)... All right. Knit-night tomorrow, weather permitting?!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Day 6: Aswan

Christmas Eve. This was a freakin' busy day! Up early, on the bus then a quick boat ride to an island located on Lake Nasser . The attraction here was a gorgeous temple on an island called Philae. Well, it used to be on that island, anyhow... when the Aswan Dam was built, that island was submerged. Aware of that possibility, UNESCO up and moved the entire temple complex to a higher island.

Egypt, Day 6, Philae Temple

Egypt, Day 6, Philae Temple (6)

Egypt, Day 6, Philae Temple (13)

Egypt, Day 6, Philae Temple (16)

Egypt, Day 6, Philae Temple (20)

DH, his sister and I had had a late-ish night the previous evening and were feeling a smidge cranky. We breezed through the temple and made right for the Ancient Egyptian Coffee Bar. No sooner had our Turkish coffees made their way to the table then our guide indicated it was time to move on. Not willing to waste perfectly good coffee (oh sweet nectar of life), all three of us gamely shot our demitasses. Suddenly, the sun shone just a little brighter... the three of us were annoyingly happy for the rest of the day. It was, clearly, just what was required.

Next we toured Aswan Dam itself.

Egypt Xmas 2007 283

The Nile's beginnings at the dam.

Egypt, Day 6, Aswan High Dam (4)

Lake Nasser, formed by the damming of the Nile.

Egypt, Day 6, Aswan High Dam (8)

The Soviet-Egyptian friendship monument at the dam; it was funded, designed and given assistance during construction by the Soviets.

Next stop? The Unfinished Obelisk in the ancient quarries at Aswan.

Egypt, Day 6, Cleopatra's Unfinished Obelisk (2)

Egypt, Day 6, Cleopatra's Unfinished Obelisk (5)
This was insanely huge. There is controversy to this day as to how these are actually moved and raised into position, as such tasks are beyond modern construction techniques.

I think at this point in time we finally went back to the boat, ate quickly, and then were herded out for the afternoon's sights, beginning with the Aswan Botanical Gardens.

Egypt, Day 6, Gardens
DH is being loomed over by some of the larges poinsettias I've ever seen. Free range!

Egypt, Day 6, Gardens (2)
I don't know what these were, but they're pretty.

Egypt, Day 6, Gardens (3)
There is a story I missed capturing in this picture. The laughing couple on the left were romancing a little in the park. Seconds before I managed to take the picture, he had her by her wrists and was spinning her madly around himself. Feet in the air, black abaya and veils streaming, her giggles lit the grove like sunshine. It was a truly magic moment, and I'm glad I was witness to their joy and love.

Egypt, Day 6, Gardens (6)
DH and I are Pied Piper to stray cats around the world. They see us and come a-running!

Egypt, Day 6, Gardens (7)

Our next stop was the Nubian village, an enclave of displaced Sudanese outside of town. It was a long-ish boat ride, through the First Cataract on the Nile. The Sahara desert begins here, and it was so annoying to be so close but not have the time to step on its legendary dunes and watch the sun set. Next time, I suppose.

Egypt, Day 6, Nubian Village (2)

Egypt, Day 6, Nubian Village (10)

Once there, we (evaded the hawkers) had a glass of tea, toured a rather primitive house, and petted their cat.

Egypt, Day 6, Nubian Village (19)
Whaddya mean, that's no cat??!!!

Egypt Xmas 2007 327
Free-range camels, too. It was on a mission... it dangled through town like it was a school kid late for dinner.

That was the end of the scheduled activities for the day. Rather then being drained, we were still giddy. Tonight represented the first free evening in a town we had, and to my sister-in-law and I, that could only mean one thing: shopping!

Aswan had a lengthy market district, and although it was almost 1800 by the time we were ready to go, everything was in full swing and would be for hours yet. Middle Eastern markets often are open until midnight. We waded through street after street, SIL and I doing most of the shopping (shoes, clothes, luggage) with DH being baggage boy. We were having so much fun that when it came time for supper on the ship, despite it being the nicest dinner of the cruise (according to the guide), we decided to give the meal a miss. For our fancy Christmas Eve dinner, we ate, from a street-side vendor, some of the best shawarma I ever tasted.

We returned to the boat hours later, poorer and tired but still giddy. What a fun day.

We were glad the next morning that we had opted out of dinner- a handful of other passengers were ill from it. The turkey was suspected as the culprit.

Actual Knitting Content!

Amid the whirl of the last couple of weeks, I finished off a pair of socks, cast on for the second of another, finished the first of one pair, and did a quickkie one-day project. The needles are as active as ever.

This is despite having been bitten by the Home Improvement bug yet again... with mom and dad coming out next month, I have been busy finishing off painting and assisting DH with the basement. Fortunately or otherwise, my measurement and cutting skills from quilting transfer quite well to carpentry, and DH has been enlisting me to aid him. I know it's only fair as it's my basement too, but I can't help but itch to be anywhere else but the basement when the power-tools are screaming, I'm covered head-to-toe in sawdust and sneezing convulsively. This is why I am I love with textile arts... it's clean and quiet!

A couple of pictures before I run away and lock myself in the sewing room for a while. I made myself write an essay and a half this afternoon to buy myself time for good clean sewing fun!

Here's the socks. Love 'em.

OnLine SuperSocke 100, cotton/wool blend. Blueberry Waffle pattern.

Obligatory cat picture with knitting content.

The quikkie project, with a small rant inserted. After learning, much to my horror, that my ever-present Nalgene bottle has been secretly poisoning me, and much more so when I make my twice-a-day pot of tea in it, I recycled it immediately and bought a pretty, functional stainless steel replacement from a very efficient shop in BC. (I am making light of this but I actually feel sick and betrayed every time I think about it. For the love of God, get rid of your Nalgene bottles.) (I'm actually in the process of de-plastic-ing my kitchen. Should be interesting.)

Anyhow. The stainless steel is lovely but its single-wall construction gets too hot too the touch when I make tea in it. The tea also cools too quickly for my liking. What else does a knitter do, but make a Klean Kanteen Kozy out of scrummy left-overs from my leg warmers?! It works like a charm; the tea stays warm for hours, I love the feel of the wool/mohair, and I get to enjoy some of my favourite yarn every day. It's truly a win-win situation.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Fall Where They May

This has been an amazing couple of weeks for me. I don't quite know how to explain all the things that are going on and how I feel about it all!

I've had a lot of plans for a long time. Plans to leave my current job, plans to go to university, plans to work in textile arts. These were all vague goals I was working towards.

This seems to be "rubber hits the road" month. I am in the process of making each of these goals a reality. The years of dreaming and planning are over, and now it the time for doing. The paperwork for the medical release (!) is flying fast and furious, I have completed my application for university and am just awaiting a final transcript and a decision, and I have applied and interviewed for a part-time job involving textile arts (!!)

I ought to be scared witless, what with the prospect of losing my job and such major life-changes hovering over me, but I am giddy. Intoxicated.

There is something transcendent about this pause. I am a dancer who has thrown several sparkling glass balls in the air, and am exultantly suspended in the moment before they first start to descend. I don't know which ball will drop first, or even if I'll catch all or any of them... but it's okay. Whatever happens, it's okay.

This is a perfect moment, where everything is possible.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Drama Queen

I woke up this morning feeling a little embarrassed at how I had such a panic last night about the whole flight situation. Not just a panic, but a rather public one, as I broadcast it in my last blog entry.

I swear I go a little off my rocker without DH by my side. It's a little frightening. I think he emits calming pheromones or something that I have completely become dependent on.

So, this morning I called the happy, friendly (obviously not Air Canada) reward call center lady, who set me up with the ticket I needed for a few thousand points and some cash. Sure, it's not strictly what I told dad; the only reason he agreed to come out was 'cause I needed to use those miles, and I ended up doing something quite different to get him out here. Not sure it matters; he's coming now, whether he likes it or not! :)

The unused Aeroplan miles I couldn't use this time around may expire... or I may have occasion to buy another short-haul flight before they disappear. Either way, I'm pleased to have gotten even a single "free" flight out of them.