Saturday, February 28, 2009

School Is Good for the Waistline

I'd heard about the "freshman fifteen", and although I was pretty sure I wouldn't be a victim, I was a little concerned. Needlessly, as it turns out.

I used to pack amazingly huge lunches at work, not realizing at the time that I ate so much because I was bored with my job. I am the very opposite of bored now; perhaps even overstimulated. I run from class to class, so engaged in what I'm doing that I eat now only to fuel the machine. I make sure the snacks I take to eat in class are veggie-and-fruit heavy, and two days a week I sub in a meal replacement bar instead of a packed lunch.

I've completely overhauled the way I eat, and the way I see food, and it was pretty much effortless. I saw the new routine of school as a perfect opportunity to change what I thought needed changing. I also must say that being surrounded by slim young 20-somethings goes a long way towards keeping me motivated. I'm not competing or anything, but motivation is where you find it.

I've felt fantastic these last couple of months... yes, I'm challenged by the work-load, but I love having my brain stretched in different directions, and I have incredible amounts of energy. I'm down five pounds since school started, and I bet there's more where that came from. I acknowledge that I don't *have* a weight problem, per say, but I could stand to lose a few more to get me to my ideal weight. And if I drop an inch or two in the hip/thigh department in the bargain... well, that's all good.

Actually, I am aiming for the freshman fifteen. Only the other way 'round... taking it off my ass, not packing it on.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Postcard From The West Edge

(Written on Saturday but not posted until today due to a lack of time to get collaborating pictures downloaded)

It was impossible to just go away and leave it all behind… there are mid-terms coming up in college, studying to be done, projects to work on. As if that wasn’t enough pressure, I had additional goals. Get some gloves started, make a pouch for my Zen MP3 player. Finish
Eye of the North, and finish mapping Elona. Cheer mum up.

I’m on the plane back, and I got every single one of those goals done, yet I still feel as if I had a holiday. I spent hours tinkering with Oracle, made study notes for Computer Fundamentals, wrote two pages for English, and put together some info for Success Skills.

Here’s the gloves that I started.


(Recognize that scrumptious yarn, V? )

Here’s the MP3 cozy, prior to felting. Love that applied I-cord. God bless Elizabeth Zimmerman.


The Guild Wars goals… well… a little harder to show you, but I now have mapped all of Cantha and Elona and am beginning Tyria. It’ll be a nightmare, to be sure… it’s HUGE, but when I get the Tyrian Grandmaster Cartographer title, I will also max the Legendary Cartographer title, for obtaining all three campaigns… and then I shall be Kind Of A Big Deal. No, really. I’m not just saying that. (I bet no-one has a clue what I’m going on about, but dudes, I did it, I’m proud of it, and you’re gonna hear about it.)

As for mum. Well. That’s not so straight forward. I don’t think she and I are quite polar opposites, but pretty darned close. I’m adventurous; she won’t drive a new way to the store. I take charge of a situation; she lets the situation take charge of her. She is letting her fears and anxieties run her over, and it’s taking the inevitable toll on her health. She needs me, or some other personal cheer-leader, there every day… I did what I could but I hate to leave her to her own devices. Reason 4,744 why being in Ottawa SUCKS.

You want to see Reason 4,741-4,743? Here ya go.




(That's a caterpillar on that leaf. A live one. In the middle of freakin' February.)

As demoralizing as it is to be on this metal tube which is hurtling me back to the land where winter still holds sway, my soul is refreshed. Perhaps I can make it through to our own spring. Sure, it’ll be in April… but it will be worth the wait.

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Short...

I have an hour between when school is done and when I have to be at the airport.... I'm flying out to Nanaimo (BC) for reading week. Although I take with me massive amounts of homework, both projects and reading, I feel this break is due and deserved.

Last night's dance went amazingly well, and the video looks great. However, the file is 151 Mb and Flickr only accepts videos 150 Mb and under. Of course. So, until I figure out the mysteries of AVI compression, you cannot share our moment of glory. (Is there anyone wise in the ways of this that can throw me a tip?)

(I emailed a link to the photo of the outfit I made for dance class to Linda MacPhee, the designer. She wants to use the photo and my email in her next newsletter! *squee!*)

I'll blog as I can and as I feel like it from the West Coast. I can feel something easing in me already, just knowing I'm going back to the place I love so well. Have a fabulous week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twenty Years Better

I've recently been pummeled on Facebook with "friend requests" from my fellow graduates from high school. Our 20-year reunion is coming up this summer, and I guess everyone is feeling all huggy and emotional about those days.

I have ignored every one of the friend requests. Chances are pretty good that if we're actually friends, we're already Facebook friends. I know that the definition of friends on Facebook is probably different from the real-life definition of friend. Even so, being trapped for a few years in the same educational institution together does not automatically make you my friend twenty years later.

One fellow didn't take a hint when I ignored his request. Twice. The third time (and I was surprised I bit my tongue for that long) I messaged him, telling him I wasn't his friend back then, and I wasn't feeling any closer to him two decades later. (He had something over 1000 people in his friends list. Tell me he's not trying to compensate for something.)

He was surprised, and admitted after a couple of messages exchanged back and forth that he recalls being mean to me in high school. All the more reason not to throw myself at him for a nice how-ya-doin' hug, though honestly I don't remember him being mean. Or much of anything about high school. Everytime I have a drink, I will the alcohol to kill those specific memory cells.

Back to the reunion. I hated that school, that dead-end hick town, my social status (or lack thereof), my friends (or the lack thereof) and the powerlessness of youth. A year or two after graduation, I cut all ties (including an engagement to a local hick boy) and moved down to Vancouver, which marked the beginning of my real life. The one that I carved for myself, not had pushed upon me by convention or lack of other opportunities.

The only reason at all I'd go back is to laugh. To laugh at the high-school beauty queens, once the envy of the school, now 60 pounds overweight, with three pudgy vacant children (or, more likely, grand-children) and a job at the nail salon. To laugh at the school jocks, unobtainable and desireable back then, now with thinning hair and their guts straining their John Deere belt buckles.

It's not worth the airfare just to mock them. My successes and adventures do my mocking for me. I wish my fellow graduates well, but I never want to see them or set foot in that town again.

Organizing committee? You can take that as a "no, I won't be attending." Now piss off and stop sending me info about it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finally Finished

These two pairs of socks seemed to take forever, but they were worth the wait. S6301717 I took pictures of these as I kayaked the Rideau canal last summer... Yeah... they're skating on it now. Glory hallelujah, they're done. (Indigo Moon hand-dyed yarn, Cookie A's Hedera pattern.) S6301720
These began as "Plane Socks", started on DPN's as I needed something to work on while flying out West. Then they became "The Socks That Never End"... and now they're simply done. I ran out of the "
On Your Toes" yarn near the top but boldly kept on knitting with some Louet Gems that I had laying around... these are lovely cold-weather buddies.

Finally, in the sewing room, I've made a lovely outfit for dancing. Kate and I sat in on some of Linda MacPhee's workshops at CSNF in the fall, and Linda has made me fall in love all over again with sewing. Great patterns, clearly written, and not needlessly complicated, made in forgiving and wonderfully drapy fabrics. What's not to love?

Wayne and I are doing a floor-show at our dance-studio this Thursday... a sultry rumba to Sade's
Smooth Operator. I'll be wearing this: S6301713
This skirt, Linda's "Salsa Skirt", is made out of movement itself. I think it would dance without me wearing it... I can't wait to show it off in the studio. Looking fantastic is at least half of any dance routine! (The top is just her "Model T" with funnel neck and long sleeves.)

I love this skirt so much I just ordered more slinky from Linda to make three more...
I'm hoping to record our floor-show, but will only post it if it is of good quality, and if the dancers (cough*us*cough*) don't screw it up too badly. Wish us luck!

A Losing Battle

My husband and I don't give our daughters everything they ask for. Every week they come to us, begging for (insert current electronic "have-to-have" item here) or money to go on some optional school field trip or some such thing. They do not lead deprived lives; they have every thing they need and quite a few things that they don't. Compared to our childhoods, they are spoiled rotten, though they don't often come across as such.

Last year the question of cell phones came up. They were 11 and 12, and their friends started getting cell phones, so immediately my husband and I became Bad Parents since we didn't think that children needed them.

Then their mother came back from Afghanistan, and one of the first things she did was to buy them both cell phones.

Let me tell you a little bit about their mother. This is the woman who went away for seven months into a dangerous operational theater, and who called her children perhaps once a month while she was gone. This is the woman who made her kids cry themselves to sleep out of worry every night for half-a-year because they never knew if their mother was alive or not, because she couldn't be bothered to call. (In contrast, my husband called me at least daily while he was in the same theater, so it certainly wasn't a matter of access... and she never left camp, either.)

By any account I can give, she is a bad mother who cares far more about her own interests than about her children.

So. She buys them cell phones. The youngest immediately lost hers, and mummy replaced it just as quickly with a newer, better model.

So it's become, in this matter and many others, her against us. She is quick to throw money at their every whim, which I suppose for her is much easier than actually loving her children, or wanting to set any kind of boundaries for them. Anything we deny them they run to her for. I know this isn't a new story or situation, that countless children of divorced parents manipulate their parents in the same way, but by God is it frustrating.

My husband and I set limits for the girls so they learn to appreciate what they have, so that they understand that sometimes you have to earn the things you want. That maybe getting everything you want isn't the best thing for you in the long run. That learning the pleasures of delayed gratification builds a strong, enduring character.

She undoes everything we do, every lesson we try to teach she renders invalid. We're the mean parents, in the girls' minds, the ones who are more likely to say no to everything. I know that twenty years from now, they'll be on a therapist's couch, realizing that their mother really didn't love them and we weren't being mean, we were just trying to raise decent human beings. In twenty years, we shall be vindicated... but until we win the war, we shall lose every battle.

I hate parenting (step-parenting, in my case.) This is exactly why I never wanted children in my life in the first place... it's a lonely, thankless job. They hate me for trying to do what's best for them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Week Five, and I Am Humbled

The first couple of weeks, I was cocky. "This is easy!" I said, tempting fate and showing how little I've really learned in life.

The next two weeks picked up a little. Assignments followed labs which followed tutorials which followed quizzes, and I cocked an eyebrow in the general direction of my schoolwork and thought I may have to start applying myself a little.

It's now week five, and I beg forgiveness of the capricious School Gods who smote me mightily for my over-confidence those first weeks. It's not that it's beyond me, it's just that there's SO MUCH of it and it never stops coming and deadlines are blurring and I'm never sure what's due when and I am having to devote a huge chunk of non-school time to... well, school.

I'm still loving it. Don't get me wrong. It's just that it's not the cakewalk I mistook it for. (You can all stop laughing now. I know you all saw it coming.)

I'm still managing to knit on the sly... I've actually finished two pairs of socks this week, including the now falsely-named Socks That Never End (TM). (Pics to come) I swatched last night for a pair of Nereid fingerless gloves, a little somethin-somethin that I can take on the plane with me when I fly to Vancouver Island for reading week. (The week after next. Can I get an alhamdulillah??!)

Thanks to all the commenters on my last post. Two of you were new commenters, and it was so nice to hear from you! Sometimes I feel I'm talking to myself out here, so I loves the comments.

BTW... Ratbastard transit strike is nominally over but bus service won't begin until next week, full service within two months. Um. Rejoice?

Stay warm, friends. The end of winter is nigh.