Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things to remember

- make sure there are no vegetarians coming for soup and buns when one has made yummy bean soup with a meaty ham hock;
- just because hours are posted doesn't mean that those will be the hours actually open especially if the city has cut the funding;
- Christmas trees can still look pretty in late January but they will shed needles all over the floor on the way out the door;
- ditto cedar boughs;
- friends offer practical help, others say, "Call me if there's anything... ";
- sometimes putting things in order means making a lot of mess first (sigh);
- it's easier to pack a suitcase with clean clothes if one does the laundry first!!

Still breathing

Sunday, January 24, 2010


1. According to CeeBeeCee - our national broadcaster and general purveyor of information and ideas - I am not an eejit. Test the Nation: check it out online if you missed the show.

2. Making a list with estimated time for completion? Total Motivation Tool for me. Of course, my estimates so far are on the under side rather than the over (well, except for #7: dragging stuff out of the frig which should have come out weeks ago - I gave myself 10 minutes but it only took 90 seconds. I used the additional 8.30m to wash the supper dishes and re-write a chapter of War & Peace which wasn't going quite the way I thought it ought to.....) Anyways: #4 is done (est. time: 2h, actual time: 6h but it included a lot of other stuff such as ironing and mending..... Hmmm, maybe I could put those things on the list as separate items and then cross them off?? I need to get out more!)

3. My sewing machine still works - guess vacuuming the collection of gunk out of it and finding the oil and using same was a good idea. Now if I can only figure out how to measure trouser length for myself by myself. (Voice in back of head: Just hem the dang things. Your trouser bottoms are so far away from most people's eyes that they could be held up with duct tape and no one would know. Me: Have you been talking to The Sr Boy??)

Still breathing

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Planning ahead

Do you do this? Go away somewhere and find yourself thinking about what you could/should be doing at home? I do it frequently: come home from away with a Big List and Great Plans. This lasts about until I get my suitcase in the door whereupon I get overwhelmed by the number of things on The List and decide to have a nice cuppa. The List then gets put down and the crossword picked up and another paving stone on the road to H-E-double-hockey-sticks gets laid.

I am going away next week for a few days of early Spring although, except for this morning's hoarfrost,I could just as easily stay here for that. So, early Spring (as in Snowdrops actually blooming and perhaps some diggage of earth), and taking my dad to see the company dance, and checking out the cabin and considering the roofing issue, and generally being Wonder Daughter TM for a few days. All good plans except for the coming home with The List, then the cuppa, the crossword, the cross words, and so on and so on. This time, I decided, Will Be Different.

I already have The List. There are 6 items on it with estimated time for completion beside every one. #1 and #3 are already done (well except for putting a few things back where they belong) est. time: 1.15 h, actual time 2.54 but that was because I was Dunging Out TM in an orderly fashion (Haiti box, Drop-In centre box, rubbish) and some of the action actually overlapped a bit in #2 and #5 so I'm really ahead in those areas, right?

Hmmmm... if this keeps up, I may finish up before I go and have to make another list. Arrggg!!

Still breathing

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fashion statement

It was one of "those" days: a day when the sun is so bright that sunglasses are really a necessity and not a fashion statement. I tried the clip-ons that I think make me look like a (slightly!!) older Meg Ryan but gave up and dug out my rowing wrap-arounds to cut down on the glare. Except for the no-rowing part, it was a lovely day.

I'm due for new glasses. My Friend Heather-the-optician is not too happy that I've taken to wearing my glasses mostly propped up on the top of my head instead of my nose. She pointed out the other day that the current attractive frames are rising 8 years old and fashions do change. I've been sorry I didn't buy the frames I saw in Venice on The Grand Adventure of '05 - the ones that looked like tree branches. That particular design still hasn't arrived in the True North(perhaps because no one in their right mind who has lived with pitch on their hands would ever consider putting something remotely reminding of same near their eyes)but the colour of my leather jacket finally has. Prepare to see a lot of fucshia (pronounced "foookshya")in the near future. Somehow, I thought with the innerwebs and all that fashion/colour would travel much faster than it did in The Olden Days but the colours that were on all the models/mannequins in Italy in '05 were finally in the stores here (the last outpost of style and fashion for sure) last year. Hey: maybe I could have fookshya frames?? Would have to consider changing my hair colour as the current red might be an unhappy pairing.

Hmmmm.... does this mean it's time for another trip?

Still breathin

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writing Women

Glory be! The Writing Women came to eat, write, and read and there are now leftovers excellente in the frig. Did you know there is a soup that is Winter Squash and Banana?? My buddy Rhoda did and made it and it was surpassing delish. As were the rice flour olive bread and the spelt flour butter tarts that came from the southern lands. All I had to do was vaccuum (small act of self-respect although I may be stretching it as I don't think the equipment has been used since before Christmas which may explain the funny colour in the corners of the hallway - you know, the new one for BenjiMoore: DustBunnyGray) and make a salad (which was neither dusty nor gray).

As usual, there was a lot to say. We only see one another as a group once a month although there may be meet-ups in between. With an age range from mother of young children to granny of young adults, we cover a lot of decades with concomitant spread in life experiences. And courage: the young'uns amaze the oldies with their brashness and the oldies blow the young'uns away with their strength under fire. We all write fabulous stuff and we all write garbage and we are learning how to tell the difference. Tonight it was poems, short story, and creative non-fiction. I have some editing to do.

But no vaccuuming.

At least, not for another month.

Still breathing

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Le sighhhh.....

In an Act of Arsedness that is extreme even by my lax standards, the soles of Les Slippers of Beauteousness were sewn in bassackwards: i.e., that which should have been to the fore is to the aft and vice versa. This was done not once, but twice, and, furthermore, not noticed (except for that funny little voice that said, "Oh well, it will sort out in the felting") until 2/3rds through said felting.

I now have Les Slippers of Old-Ladyness which, as this is not what was planned, may be going for a one-way trip to the thrift store. Old Ladyness will arrive soon enough thankyouverymuch and I don't intend for it to be rushed by some slippers although the Act of A is somewhat worrisome.

Good thing I have lots more yarn.

And my running shoes are really, really clean.

Still breathing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quiet pleasures

The Tai Chi instructor says I need to go to a "continuing" class. From anxiety-induced nausea to "continuing" in 4 months - I'm quietly pleased.

These slippers are waiting to be seamed. They took an afternoon of knitting. I'm quietly pleased.

The deer were back this morning. I tried to take a picture of them with The New Recording Device (TM) but I obviously needed to read the destructions as I kept bouncing the flash off the window. I was not pleased but I was quiet about it.

I was not quiet about the two ginormous dogs that came rampaging up the hill and scared the deer - people who don't manage their animals deserve to pay pound charges. The pound is on speed-dial and, having read the necessary pages, next time, I'll have photographic evidence. This is not just about the deer - if I'm going to get back into the running, I do not want to have to think about large, out-of-control dogs when all I'll be wanting is my next breath.

The new moon is hanging in the trees and winter constellations are spattered across the sky; much of that starlight beyond comprehension ancient, those same patterns eternal guide and comfort for journeyers and sojourners.

Still breathing

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Showing up

It was birthday walk day for my friend Dorothy. She is one of those people who shows up - she showed up the week after we moved here 25 years ago, she showed up the morning my mother had a post-surgical stroke and the highways were closed and there was no immediate getting to "there" from "here". She has showed up over these past three and a half years: tea in china cups on the top of a hill at dusk, hankies - a lot of hankies, calls on birthdays - mine and his, getting up at wtf (except she wouldn't use that kind of language) o'clock to go rowing with me so I would go, and walking, walking, walking.

She shows up for each of the women in the birthday walk group. Each of us, in our own time, have been the total one-on-one focus of her attention. Some days we are The Lame Ducks, some days we are Redbreasted Mergansers (find Hannah Main van der Kamp's poem for yourselves). Today, we all walked, drank coffee, and laughed and laughed. There is nothing quite like the mating antics of mallards, playing with The New Recording Device, grandchildren and children stories, a visit to this place (think "hardware store for artists real and wannabe"), and playing and playing with possibilities. We stood on the street like 13 year olds after school, not yet finished with what we wanted to tell/listen/laugh and walked one another to front door, to car, to other car. Finally, the three of us who live on this side of the lake, drove away.

Heading up Bridge Hill, two eagles drifted along the cliff edge. They were so close we could see the feathers of their wing tips, each wing stroke a breath.

Still breathing

Saturday, January 16, 2010


So, it's Saturday and a glorious, sunny day and, because their website is down, I didn't know that there was new snow at my preferred cross-country area so I did errands instead. Errands which include the following:

- going to the not-this-Saturday-sucker farmers' market (dang!);
- stocking up on nuts and berries at the bulk store (extra points for buying the already bagged bulk which is even more cheaper - stop ragging on my grammar, you in the back - but not as cheap as Sr's Tuesday or Everyone's Thursday but at least I was in and out in less than 7 minutes unlike the aforementioned days which require at least that long in the check-out);
- picking up a G&M for the weekly cryptic slapdown;
- visiting the yarn store of helpfulness (I worry they will go out of business and then who will sit patiently through my trying to get out of knitting a swatch?) and getting 1, 2, 3, ummm, 4 messes sorted out (I bought some stuff, I really did!)
- signing up for a running program (I think it was the sunshine but I've paid now so here goes. We start with a minute of running and a minute of walking. I can do that. I think...)
- checking out the 70% off sale in a favourite store and finding the perfect jeans at full price (dang-dang!);
- taking my going-to-Europe-by-myself (2005 version) shoes in to the cobbler for their second re-sole (vague rumblings of possible travelling begin to stir - must be the sunshine....)
- drinking a coffee in the Bean Scene North while a pair of older dudes play a lot of tunes I know the words to and which I can pick out harmonies for (latter is a big surprise as I don't know how to sing harmony without fingers in both ears).

Not bad for a couple of hours, eh?

Off to knit on the shawl (The YSoH had The Book. Questions answered: K3tog. A bazillion sts. Knitting to the end of the yarn and then ripping back a row or two may still stand...) after putting the new jeans into the wash.

It is 1700h and there is still light in the sky... definitely

Still breathing

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why this is not... 3.1

That book with the pattern for the shawl I am making for someone else because the colour is so-not-me, that book has disappeared. Although I am not the most tidy of housekeepers (stop falling about laughing), this book is large enough and obvious enough to be difficult to miss even by me. I remember showing it to The Jr Girl. I do not recall seeing it afterwards. Suspicions have been raised. Accusations may be next.

All I need to know is: how many sts in the final row and is it K3tog or sssk over the first 9 rows of the pattern???

If I were a "real" knitter, I could figure it out for myself.

Or I would have made a copy of the pattern for just-in-case.

I think it's K3tog and maybe I'll just keep going until I'm almost out of yarn.

Or check the dambook out of the library.

Still breathing

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wardrobe issues

At certain times of the year (not usually January) I live in a cloud forest. I go to sleep and wake up to the softness of mist drifting past the windows and wrapping the trees. A walk means a jacket decision: wool to which the damp will adhere and furze up in a gauze of grey, or goretex upon which the wet sits like flattened pearls. I chose depending on my need for company: the goretex is a whisperer, the wool silent.

These days have not been cloud forest but rain forest and goretex because, despite its chattiness, it does keep the water on the outside, dries quickly and doesn't smell like a remnant of the steppes. If it continues to rain, the bag of wellies in the garage which I found while looking for the wax bucket, will be brought into play.

The last time I used wellies in winter was 1984, the year we moved here and I didn't know one "should" have winter boots. Wellies and Cowichan socks did the trick until Santa took pity on me (or thought I needed something a bit more "dressy" for Sunday-go-to-church). If I have to go back to that option, having worn out the dressy winter boots and been using my fantastic leather hiking boots (did you know a mix of Dubbin and mink oil will waterproof almost anything?? - for the past few years) I'm set.

Waterproof jacket? check
Waterproof boots? check
Waterproof hat? check this out - imagine it in a lovely brown and on my head.

Still breathing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interface living

Well, I'm not shovelling. That is the good news. Unfortunately, I'm not skiing either nor likely to be unless it's water skiing. If this keeps up, I'll be planting the garden by the weekend.

Just in time to feed the six deer that were browsing their way across the lower lot. At least they weren't on the deck cleaning out the planters - maybe the ones I told off last year have passed the message along. Now, as long as the bear that was still wandering about in late November stays asleep (I think he/she is denned up just below the neighbours' swimming pool which could get interesting come pool filling time) and leaves my winter compost pile alone, I'll be happy. (And figuring out how to take pictures with the zooooooooom on the new recording device just in case Bruin doesn't want to sleep through....)

Still breathing.....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Memo #2

Dear Mother Nature:

We seem to be having a slight difficulty coming to a mutual agreement re: appropriate weather for this time of year. To wit: once you get me sorted out for snow (boots, mitts, toques, shovels, ski wax all found and shovelling/skiing muscles warmed up) what's with the return of the rain??? Please get your sh*t together.

Or send me the name of your pool wrangler to help me with the one that keeps trying to establish itself on the (former) front lawn.

Yrs crankily,


PS: If the snow disappears from the trails, I may have to take up your behaviour with your boss.....

Still breathing...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This post brought to you by the letter S

Sock news: Those Puppies are DONE. I stopped counting at 6 re-knits. 5.5 mm needles and monster yarn (fritidsgarn from SandnesGarn) made the re-knits quick but they were still re-knits. The Jr Boy seems to like them. Now I have to learn how to darn the ones he wanted darned so they can be the back-up pair. And I'm going to use up the leftover yarn to make these. Maybe even more than one pair.

Ski supply news: The ice cream pail of new wax as put together by Himself for his last season has been found - all it took was emptying a bankers box in the front hall cupboard (not there), ripping the garage apart (not there), shovelling out to the outside storage cupboard (not there, nor were the critters that have made tracks to the pushed apart screen over the ventilation holes which is a Good Thing), and, finally, bending down far enough (pretty funny when you know how tall I am - hint: not very) to actually look under the shelf in the tool cupboard. Tah and also Dah!!

Sky news: Clouds. Clouds. Clouds. Clouds.

Sculling news: None since the club, due to a bunch of stuff, had to move the boats into a no-lake access barn last September, However, for the record, the lake has been unrowable only 19 days. We lose more days in the summer. Am I aggravated???

Son news: New digs have been found and very nice they are. It will be much quieter here in a few days. And I may be missing a couch. And some dishes.

Son's sibling news: Post-hockey game text from Buffalo: "Lost car keys. Camping in the Hyatt." Hmmmm.... wonder if the Hyatt allows campfires??

Still breathing

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy 64th

A visit with dear friends, sorting out the bottle returns, church meeting, abortive clothing shop, a dram with The Jr Boy. The Jr Girl went to a hockey game. No cake, no cards. The Sr Boy never was too fussed about his own birthday - it followed the frazzle of Christmas too closely.

I think we did fine.

Still breathing

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Sitting here full of Greek food from an impromptu birthday for The Friend Whose Birthday was The Day Before Himself's and, while still lonely in that peculiar hollowed out way of loss, glad of good friends, roast lamb, and ice-cold retsina.

That is all.

Still breathing.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why this is not a knitting blog 3.0

I knew I shouldn't have done it but I did. What? you've never done something you thought was a good, well, an OK idea and then found out that your first instinct that it really was not a good idea was the one to listen to not the second instinct (which wasn't really an instinct at all but another eejit idea floating about - they should have to wear fluorescent vests or something those ideas that are masquerading as instincts) which said, oh whatthehell what could go wrong???

Do NOT, do NOT EVER, put some knitting that has gone bad beside some other knitting that also gone bad. So help me yarn, they cross-pollinate and create even more projects-of-infinity than one wants to consider.

Cases in Point: The Christmas Sock Knitting.

I started The Jr Girl's first because there was a bit of a pattern and they were being knit on 2.25 mm needles: not a huge job but lots of stitches that take some time even while reading all the blogs I read. First Sock: A+ so it seemed reasonable to start The Jr Boy's sock. The Jr Girl's Second Sock: 3 rip backs, 2 major tinks (oxymoronic??), and a complete screw-up in the counting of a simple 6 and 2 row pattern. These, finally finished, were left to rest up before their trip to the big city. Resting up beside The Jr Boy's Christmas Socks in Progress. On a scale of Not a Good Idea, this is a 99.3 out of 100.

The Jr Boy's Christmas Socks followed my usual issues with him and size but I thought I was pretty clever by stopping after Sock 1 to let him try it on. Total re-knit required and completed. Sock 2 cast on and then ripped when I couldn't remember that I'd changed the rib from k2p2 to k1p1 so I counted for k1p1 but knit up k2p2. Re-knit up to and including a beeyouteefull short row heel and then, somehow, managed to make the foot 4 stitches wider than its brother sock which is not a problem with usual sock yarn but when knitting with Aran weight.... sigghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Also: because I was sure I'd nailed it (except for the part when I didn't check it out against its brother but why would I when it was the same number of stitches except it wasn't), I kitchenered the toe and sewed the end of the (very black) yarn in really, really well.

Do NOT EVER put gone-bad projects together.

Looking for my scissors

and still breathing.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New season

The children at the neighbourhood school have been busy: massive snowballs dot the soccer pitch. The rollers were still wearing their snow pants and snow boots but there were a lot of jackets are hanging on the fence. Snowball rolling is hot work.

Hmmmm.... Perhaps I could organize teams of school-children to come up to my place and driveway clear by rolling monster snowballs?? They could bowl them down the gulley and make a new Olympic event!

In the absence of organized school-children, the driveway got one more shovelling this morning just in time for the predicted temperature drop currently underway: -8 and falling. At least the cold came attached to a high pressure which, together with the wet snow, cleaned out the air and left it sparkling and bright which meant:

Tah dah!!

First ski of the season!!

The skis could have used a clean and I can't find the "new" wax box/ice cream pail nor my favourite mitts - I think they got evacuated last summer during fire season - but it was glorious: barely used tracks, blue wax, sunglasses, and not-me in the ditches on the road there and back (the sunny day made for surface melt on frozen roads and people thinking "wet" instead of "ice" - you do the physics).

There was silence, not simply quiet, but silence. No engine noise of any sort - the usual planes were nowhere to be heard, the track groomer was not running, the brush clearers were finished for the day. It was me, the snow, the sun, and two ravens falling all over each other through the sky.

Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same.

Bring it on!

Still breathing

Monday, January 04, 2010

Next one will be to the snow plow driver.....

Dear Mother Nature:

It appears you did not get cc-ed on the memo about snow. To paraphrase: ON the mountains, ON the ski hills (especially Whistler/Blackcomb until after the ParaOlympics), NOT on my driveway.

Thanks for your attention to this matter,

Your friend,

Three shovellings in one day. Sheeessshhhh!

Still breathing

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Olympic Run-up

The Pineapple Express blew in on Friday night. The driveway is now bare except for the part that is masquerading as a pond courtesy of the "interesting" way the new gravel was spread at the end of last year's construction season. I have recorded it on my new Recording Device in 'opes of either getting the driveway levelled out this Spring or organizing the edges of the new (unplanned for) pond exactly where they ought to be.

The weather report calls for -11 by Wednesday. If substantial evaporation has not occured, I will be practising my triple toe-loops prior to spending the Olympics on the sofa with my new hip(s) knitting.

Still breathing

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Roysters Ockefeller

Prior to moving to this valley, I spent my life within smell of the ocean. (For the record, it appears the world falls into two categories: those of us who inhale the odours of low tide and think "home" and the rest of you.) My dear mother-in-law gave The Sr Boy a small piece of property on an island and we and The Jrs were blessed with beaches to walk and tide pools to explore. We ate The Best BBQ Salmon in the World (tm) as made by Himself over a fire of thick chunks of Douglas fir bark but, as we were always there in R-less months, we left the oysters on the beach alone. Shells were gathered, though, and sit on window sills and the deck in this dry climate. Occasionally one gets broken and then I bury it in the garden and think of the consternation of future archaeologists.

We also left the oysters alone because I couldn't stand them: all that creamy, grayish, green slime smirking at me once a shell was wrested open, barnacles biting my fingers and leaving cuts that took forever to heal, the very idea of them sliding down my throat was gag-inducing. I'm the same about clams even though they are easier to open: must be the colour ..... or maybe the slimyness..... Whatever it was, it didn't bother The Sr Boy at all: he would eat them any time someone would prepare them. As I didn't, he was left to his own devices which usually meant Special Occasions. Such as New Years. At friends.

On Thursday afternoon, I found myself at the fishmongers knowing I would be buying salmon for New Year's Day and thinking I was buying shrimp and scallops for New Year's Eve. Such things don't cost as much when shopping for one. I had plans for a nice viognier or maybe a split of champagne.

Somehow, I left with salmon and two Oysters Rockefeller, oysters harvested from our island.

At midnight, I ate the second one. They tasted of the ocean, like going home.

Next year, I'll get six.

Blessings be.

Still breathing.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Binary code for a title is pretty hot stuff for someone who is not only old enough to remember the computer that filled the basement of the Commerce Bldg at UBC but old enough to have worked part-time as a keypunch/data input operator. One space out of place and the whole program died. Not so good times. My children remind me that the computers in their cell phones are probably more powerful than that computer and I remind them that I usually use a fountain pen so we are about even.

The driveway has been shovelled for the first time in this decade. It took waaaaay longer than it should have due to two things: neighbours out for New Year's Walks and the Cedar Waxwings. The neighbours I see fairly often but the Waxwings are another story.

They were really busy when I went out - their chirrups are higher pitched than anything else but I didn't pay attention because I was Shovelling. After the second pass of the flock and the splat of orange droppings landing about me, I noticed. They were stripping the rowan tree that I warned the backhoe guy about and, as they finished, they launched into the firs and pines chattering like debutantes who had gotten into the chaperone's punch bowl.

They don't come every year and I have never seen such a flock of them. If I had remembered my new camera (!!!), there might have been a picture. As it is, they will be in my mind's eye as harbingers of grace, joy, abundance, and companionship this New Year.

Blessings be.

Still breathing.