Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm baaaack...

So sorry for the falling off the edge of the earth.  I had some major computer issues.  Actually my computer decided it had had enough of my shenanigans, my predilection for picking up viruses and my foul language so it sent me a few nasty messages then went dark for good.

So now I have shiny new computer.  Its very pretty and extremely cooperative.  So far.  My bank account is still sobbing however.

As far my knitting goes, well, apparently there is a lesson that even after all these years I just refuse to learn.  And that is...DO NOT KNIT WHEN EXHAUSTED, LAURA!  I had a lovely pair of toe up socks on my magic loop.  I managed to get as far as turning the heel and it all went to hell. And every time I went backward to fix my mistakes the whole situation just got worse and worse.  I was just too tired and watching "Attack the Block" (which was quite good by the way, once you figure out the accents) was too much of a distraction.

Stooopid idgit.  I SO know better.  Anyway the whole mess got frogged.

In anticipation of including a few photos now that I'm back to blogging I tried to take a  picture or two of my recent fingerless gloves -  knit with Imagination sock yarn from Knit Picks that I'm crushing on right now.  So pretty.  Dug out the camera, took a few pics (fighting Cali off who was taking an intense interest in the process), took the little card out of the camera (because Max still has the usb proprietary cord arghhhh)...finally found the port on my new computer which was set in the least obvious place...of course... and realized that I still need to download Picasa.

I give up.  I tried.

I'll be back.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

 Tanya's boss, a local solicitor who apparently has a bit of a hoarder thing going on cleaned out her office the other day.   Hiding behind a pile of Litigators magazines, a banker's box of old accounting files and a couple of bottles of gifted home-made wine of uncertain vintage and dubious color sat an aged Eatons bag.  And in said bag sat, well take a look yourself...

Let us get to the magazine in a moment because that is all kinds of awesome and worth waiting for.

The yarn is Eaton's brand "Fisherman's Knit Aran", 70% acrylic and 30% wool. Interestingly, there is a little logo on the band.

It's very official looking isn't it,  with that little microscope. I'm not certain what there is about this yarn that requires microscopic investigation or a research bureau to control the information, but then the 80's were a different time.

The magazine was tucked in with the yarn and is Paton's "Irresistible Arans" circa 1986.  Irresistible may have been a reach.

As they say, everything comes around again, so perhaps the beret with the with the four inches of ribbing and dangling poms is back in style, however I am fairly certain that the 'socks with shoes with skirt' combination never made its way back into our fashion consciousness.

Do you remember shoulder pads?  I myself had a collection back in the day and swore wearing them made my hips and waist look tinier. In retrospect they simply made me look like a linebacker.

Look at the size of those things.

And one more blast from the past...big hair, Dallas style.

t I find it interesting that the patterns may have changed over the years but the yarn hasn't.  This yarn has apparently sat hidden away for over 20 years.  That is older than any of the stash I have. And it is in great shape, waiting to be knit.

And the fact remains that I scored 10 skeins of yarn, for free.  And while my dislike of acrylic has been duly noted a mutitude of times on this blog I cannot deny the practicality of an acrylic/wool blend.

I think a sweater is now in the queue, but I think I will pass on the shoulder pads.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One felted entrelac blanket, check

The entrelac blanket is done, finally, and I love it.  Super warm, thick and cozy.  The colours turned out fine, though I don't think I will ever be a fan of variegated yarns. But a gift of Berroco Raku is always welcome and appreciated and I think I did the gift justice.

I knitted the center entrelac panel then picked up all the edge stitches ( and there were hundreds and hundreds) on two 60" circs. And around and around I went, taking care to increase at every corner, until I had only enough yarn left to bind off.  After it was all said and done I felt that it had a too much drape, probably due to its size.  So, to tighten it up, I felted it.

I have a front loading washer so that was out.  I had read about dryer felting though it doesn't appear that it is very common.  But what a revelation it was. Easy peasy.  I soaked the blanket in the sink in very hot water for about 20 minutes, lightly rung it out and threw it in the dryer on its regular heated cycle for about twenty minutes.

What I think is so brilliant about this is that dries as it felts so I didn't have a sopping wet blanket to block. It was certainly damp and it took a couple days to dry completely but still much better than felting it in the washer.

I love working with wool. I have to say I would not have been as thrilled with the blanket had I not been able to felt it.  It was an eleventh hour decision due to some uneven stitches and unsightly corner increases. As well, I seriously dislike obviously visible wrong sides.  And the wrong side of entrelac is not pretty.

The felting totally took care of thoses issues and gave it, dare I say, a professional finish. The wrong side has ridges around the entrelac blocks but they now look purposeful.

I didn't felt it entirely.  There is still some stitch definition left.  I thought I would stop while I was ahead, but perhaps the day will come when it needs a bit of a cleaning and I will give it another go-around in the dryer.

I throw it over my legs every night as I knit.  It's thick and soft and I believe I will still be enjoying it when I'm eighty.  And how many things can you say that about.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Well, THAT was interesting...

I was at the gym yesterday.  This particular gym specializes in classes; core, kick, step, spin etc.  And I rotate between them all and I am, with the exclusion of my recent sick days, quite consistent in attending. 

One of the teachers approached me and asked if I would have any interest in teaching classes myself.  Now this I might have expected 10 years and forty pounds ago, but to be asked now - well, that is interesting.

If I were to pursue this I would need a plan.  A serious diet and fitness shape-up plan.  There are definite inticements here.  And there are many things to consider.  A)  I would have a built-in part-time job; instructors are in high demand in my rural area; b) being a teacher/instructor is tailor made for my personality; c) it would go a long way in reigning in my weight and smoking struggles; d) it would be fun, I love the whole gym and fitness thing and always have.

I'm not certain if this is a road I will choose to travel but regardless, it reinforces my belief that you never know what is around the corner.  Worrying is, by and large, wasted time.  And that while life can be hard we can, perhaps, find balance in the opportunities and surprises that come our way.

I love surprises and this was a big one.  Today, I am heartened.

And in a very random aside, this is my new wallpaper that I downloaded last night.  I think it is very beautiful and it makes me happy every time I start up my computer.


My idea of a good time...

All in, this would probably cost me $10,000.00.  If wishes were fishes... Everything about this interests me, beautiful locations, wonderful history, teachers whose work I know and follow etc etc. sigh

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Things I can't show you today

It comes as no surprise to me that I am sick again, this time with a monstrous cold.  I rarely get sick. I expect this is due to a combination of good genes (hearty Dutch and English stock), almost daily Greens+ and fervent handwashing. But when my immunity gets felled I tend to get one illness on top of another, making up for lost time I imagine.

All my body wanted yesterday was sleep.  And I left work early to accomodate it.  Sleep in my bed, sleep on my couch. I was exhausted, blearly eyed and suffering from the usual sneezing and sniffling depicted so well on all those cold medicine commercials that play non-stop this time of year.  Anyway, Max was to come home from university last evening and asked to be picked up from the train station, about 40 minutes drive from home.  At 7ish. But maybe 6:30ish, he wasn't sure. Because he is a) male and b) a teenager he had lost his phone and couldn't contact me on the road and I suspect wasn't organized enough to catch the appropriate train and connecting bus to get him there on time.  Long story short - I sat in cold car (alternating running the car for warmth and then not to conserve gas), in a dark, empty parking lot for 2 1/2 hours waiting for him. He was only saved from being torn asunder by me because hours of building anger and illness had totally burnt me out by the time he finally arrived.

When I awoke this morning after the lousy sort of sleep one has when one is sick I see the camera I had appropriated from Ben and have been using for this blog sitting on the table apparently to be taken on Max's travels to meet up with friends this weekend.  I'm not thrilled to be losing the camera all weekend but I can live with that.  What frustrates me is that when I went to grab the cable to download the pictures I have sitting on it, a cable I am careful to always leave in the same place so it is always on hand, I couldn't find it.  Of course. God only knows what he has done with it. 

Consequently I am unable to show you the pictures of;

a)  the progress of my entrelac blanket which has taken an interesting turn and,
b) a soup can (there is a story there, not a particularily interesting one but a story nonetheless)and,
c) something else I cannot recall but that I am sure was inspired and riveting.

I am making the infamous Cabbage Soup this morning in an attempt to kick start better eating habits and to detox my way out of this cold.  I was going to take pictures. I guess its back to my old camera.  I had better be able to find the cable or blood will be shed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bucket list (sort of)

I have been giving some thought to places I would like to see and things I would like to do, not so much "before I die" but more "if I ever have the opportunity". 

My life of single motherhood has been rife with responsibility and time and money have been in short supply.  I have developed an armour of pragmatism and lack of sentimentality to cope with those responsibilities. This is not a new story, I have met many single moms who cannot afford, either financially or emotionally, to acknowledge their own hopes and wishes.  Perhaps this coming to terms with our individual realities is simply part of growing older or a result of the harsh realities of life, nevertheless, it is still sad. Over the years I have simply shut down the part of me that longs to see beautiful things and explore fabulous places.  My brother and my parents have all travelled extensively and there is a particular pain in being left behind, to hear them tell their stories and to covet those experiences.  I am neither proud of, nor comfortable with, my self-pity, but there it is nonetheless.

So I have decided to open a little window into my own personal longings to see what may still linger there.  First up:  the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 Landing page header image

I actually went to this museum many years ago, though my memories are sparse.  The V&A is a museum of art and design located in London, England. It is massive and world-renowned and exactly suits my taste in museums - focusing on textiles and history, decor and design.

Can you imagine standing here, surrounded by all this jewellry? Wonderful.

Would you like to go on a little adventure and see something really interesting?   You are looking for this.

Go here. Wait for it... wait for it... there it is at the top, its called a chatelaine.  Now, click on the image. And again. And again.  See?  Isn't that amazing?  I love that.

This is hand done and simply gorgeous.

18th century fashion

Creepy AND wonderful.  Ever since seeing The Sound of Music as a child I have had a thing for puppets and marionettes.

I could look at excellent photography for days.  The most riveting photos to me are the ones that shout a story.  I love this one.  It made me laugh out loud.

Photograph - Agricultural Show, Essex, 1973

The Gamble Room in the V&A Cafe
This is the V&A Cafe.  I very much want to sit there and have a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

V&A aerial view

This could go on and on.  The link is here should you be interested.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Random thoughts

This has been a strange week.

1.  I know it is lame to discuss the weather, but honestly, how strange is it that last night it poured rain? Ben said that it feels as though it is the early days of Spring, that winter is over before it began. Of course we still have quite a ways to go before March but I have to say this reprieve is going to make this Winter much shorter and go a long way in alleviating the dreaded February depression.  Thank God.

2.  Schadenfreude.  Absolutely am I shallow enough to thoroughly enjoy it and there is schadenfreude in spades at work right now.  I was called back in to help train the two young (very young and pretty) women he hired to replace me because he quickly realized how over his head he was which wasn't the only problem, I soon discovered.  They don't even have basic secretarial skills and are woefully underqualified.  And yesterday (after two days in the new job, just two days!) one of them quit when she saw the dichotomy between her skills and what was going to be expected of her.  She was smart. He is an idiot. 

 He had to "eat crow" (his words)  to call me back, and now matters have gone from bad to worse. This whole dismissal thing has truly been a roller coaster ride and I suppose because I have come to terms with my dismissal my emotional investment in the job is gone and I am really enjoying watching this roll-out.  He is not smirking at me now.

3.  Today I am the mother of a 19 year old son. I have had several conversations this week with parents who are struggling with their kid's attitude problems and failing grades.  I find it very strange that I do not and never really have had those problems with my sons.

By all rights I should have. I had a tumultuous childhood and teenage years, a difficult family situation and then a serious backlash when I finally got out of the family home.  I had some very "adventurous" years in my twenties and there is very little I didn't try at one time or another. My kids went through a divorce and at times I was very bitter. 

I have made so many mistakes and done so many stupid things over the last 19 years and they have been part of it all. And yet here they stand, tall and strong and smart with whip-sharp senses of humour and irony.  They are far better people than I ever could be and I honestly don't know how that happened. There is one small thing though.  I have always liked my kids and enjoyed their company and thought the world of them and they have always known that.  And maybe in the cyclical way life works that has been enough to make up for many of my failings as a person and a mom.

I am making things better by: working out diligently.  Forget about the diet thing. I am hardly being pristine about that (timbits yesterday, sigh) And I'm smoking like a chimney. Goddammit. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just when I thought I was out...

...they pull me back in.  Things have been going swimmingly.  I've been at the gym everyday, thinking about my future plans and adjusting to getting my life back and then... damn, the dreaded email.  Please, please come back and help train these neophites. Sigh.  I have no choice as he is still signing my cheques. 37 days and counting.  I can do anything for 37 days.

This is going to slow down my blanket progress. I am trying to decide whether or not to block it when I'm done.  Blocking will even out the stitches and give me more width as well as make it much easier to add whatever border I decide to add, but I just love the rolling hills texture of it now. Decisions, decisions.

I am trying to make things better by: taking my vitamins.  I am a huge fan of Greens+ and have been for many years.  But it is expensive and my upcoming economic shortfall means I am going to need to moderate this $65 a month expense.  So I have bought a good quality multi vitamin to take on alternate days. And yes, I realize that quitting smoking will make more of a difference to my health than all the multi vitamins I can choke down.  I'm on it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The beginning of the end

On Friday I was told not to show up for work next week.  And to clean out my desk of personal effects, after hours if you please. And that he may have me perform some work from home  What a relief.  Phew.  Its almost over, that horrible job with the crazy, nasty boss.  

I believe he will keep me on the hook until the bitter end, parsing out my pay week by week and sending me nasty emails at home regarding various perceived work defects he finds in my absence.  I will be very, very surprised if he doesn't simply refuse to pay me to the conclusion of my notice at some point as he becomes enraged over something or another he comes across as he trains his new people.  My co-workers and I, none of who remain at the job now, always took great care in covering our asses due to these sorts of accusations.  The boss has a problematic, some might say selective, memory and a frightening temper.  And I am no longer there to defend myself.  Whatever.  Not being paid would suck but  having to continue to put up with the abuse would suck more.  Best case scenario would be that he just gives up on me.  Here's hoping.

I've been working diligently on my entrelac banket.
Again, sorry about the murky color.  I'm shooting this in the wee hours of the morning.  It's actually quite a bit prettier than it appears.  And it's 50 inches long which I think will work out well after I put a border on it.  Which sort of border I'm not certain yet.  But I'm going to enjoy figuring it out.  

I am slowly feeling happier about life.  And like the entrelac, it may not have been what I envisioned but with some improvision I think it may be just fine.

I have made things better by:  Seeing the end of the job coming certainly but I've also been diligent about working out and I have convinced myself that the carton of cigarettes I bought yesterday will be my last. I'm going to do it. Finally.  The time is not going to get any better.  End of the month. I can do it.  


Friday, January 6, 2012

Entrelac monster

I should know by now, I really should.  The length of a cast on does not necessarily reflect how long said knitting is going to be. Specifically, the longer the cast on the more unpredictable this becomes.  And apparently this is particularly true for entrelac.  Witness...

Good God, I swear this should be half this length.  Upon reflection I have decided to go with it and am redesigning the blanket in my mind as I go.  I simply have put too much work into this to frog it and it really is quite pretty.  (It is 5am and there is no proper light to shoot this and get true color.  I will try again on the weekend.)

I am down with the flu, no surprise really with the stress of the holidays and all the other crap I am dealing with.  So, hopped up on over-the-counter meds I spent yesterday (and will again today) in my chair knitting and watching movie after movie.  I have discovered that I am more than able to watch The King's Speech basically on a continuous loop despite the consternation of my sons who remain on Christmas vacation.  Colin Firth is yummy and makes me feel better than any combination of meds (and perhaps wine, so sue me, its four o'clock somewhere and I'm sick).

Days 5 and 6:  I made thngs better by: Colin Firth, eating oranges instead of cookies, actually taking sick days without guilt and obsessing over what is going down at the office in my absence.  42 days and counting and I am caring less and less. Its about bloody time, dumb me. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Can you tell the difference?

New camera.  Better I think.

I am sitting here and just staring at this screen, too tired to try and be creative.  Emotionally exhausted, this day was long and the final weeks of my job are obviously going to be difficult. I am finding it difficult to be enthusiastic about about the prospect of a new life when I am mired in the crap of my old one. Anyway, the entrelac is coming along slowly, and I was able to borrow a PSW text book to check the program out.

Day 4: I made things better by: No junk food (but I did enjoy a peanut butter sandwich so big fail on the sugar fight)  and a killer workout. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good God its COLD!

-25 celsius tonight.  A week ago Christmas was 10 degrees and snowless, today holy crap its cold and I spent an hour digging out before I could get the car out of the garage this morning.  Though I have to say in the darkness of 6 am it was exceedingly beautiful as the snow fell under the street lights.

Hello Winter, my old friend.

Day 3:  I made things better by:  looking into PSW training.  With my dismissal imminent  I am considering a career overhaul. Being proactive makes me feel better.  Also, still no sugar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ack! Entrelac

So on the weekend I picked up some assorted heathered Berroco Peruvian to go with my Raku. I have my heart set on a throw, but what design?  I've looked at them all, Lizard Ridge, 10 Stitch Blanket, Squares on a Roll etc.   In the end I decided the project had to meet the following criteria; it would work with varigated yarn (which can get ugly real quick), it would have some textural element (to give it interest and keep me interested) and it would have to be simple enough to knit in front of the television and/or when I'm tired.

Enter entrelac (heh).
Its been years since I've knit entrelac.  Apparently its not like riding a bicycle at all, because I struggled and struggled to pick it up again.  But one day and several washclothes later I think I've got it.

Day 2: I made things avoiding refined sugar.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, Day 1

This post is going to take some time.  And some thought. I take comfort in the fact that no one reads this so it occurs to me that I should use this to my advantage and get some honesty happening.

I am not one for new year resolutions and, in fact, September has always felt like the time for new beginnings for me but here I am and it is January 1, 2012.

2011 has been a different and difficult year for me.  I lost my spunk this year and I lost my way.  My character generally lends itself to openness and plucky enthusiasm but I have been defeated. In six ways, it turns out. 

1.  Singledom

Two years ago I took up running, lost a load of weight and threw myself into dating, both on-line and in real life. I was determined and committed myself to this goal. I saw it as a flat out effort and priority, this finding of someone, a friend to share life with and to experience love again.  It was a great deal of effort and I persevered for a long time but, ultimately, it was a failure. Apparently, I have been told, my expectations were too high. But I refuse to settle.  I want the real thing and nothing less. The thought of settling for someone in order to avoid being alone, well, that's not me.  And as a consequence I have come to the realization, in my bones, that I will in all likelyhood, spend the rest of my life single.

2.  It's getting hot in here.

I hit menopause full force with all its attendant ticks.  I tried HRT for a while but quit when I became too freaked out by the possible health consequences. 

3.  Empty nesting for single moms.

My eldest son headed for university this year.  He is gifted, a natural academic and got into a highly regarded school and program and I am both proud and happy for him.  There was considerable stress in the working out of the financials and in the loss of his companionship after 18 years of being attached at the hip.  I thought I had cruised through the transition, but now I wonder if  perhaps I didn't simply ignore and deny it.

My younger son is also academically clever and will be leaving for his own university education in 2014.  And suddenly this feels imminent.

I feel strongly right now that raising these two wonderful boys has been my primary life task.  I have done it well I think - they seem to be well adjusted, relatively happy and successful - but it is almost over, my job is almost done And if I am being completely, brutally honest here I can't seem to see past September 2014.  I can't picture a scenario in which I will have any motivation to get out of bed in the morning frankly.  My finances are precarious, I am alone and I am tired. The boys have brought daily light and laughter into my life that I have been unable to find anywhere else and I can 't imagine living a life without that.

4.  Some mistakes were meant to last.

At the time of my divorce quite a few years ago I also lost my best friend of many years.  She freely admitted to being a selfish woman but for some reason I felt immune to that, that our many years of closeness protected me.  I saw her through the loss of both her parents and many of life's trials and tribulations.  When the time came for our positions to be reversed, when I finally needed her help, she bailed. I rolled with it as I always do, blaming myself for my poor choice in friends, but the severity of her betrayal has coloured all my subsequent relationships and I simply do not trust any more.  I find it interesting that the loss of that friendship has effected me far more than the loss of my husband of 14 years ever did.  

5.  The work never ends.

I loath my job and my boss.  Due to my boss's character and possible mental health issues my job carries enormous stress and after 6 years I can honestly say I am exhausted. Plus it appears I may have been fired.  This has happened before and he has reversed his decision and that may happen again.  I will know more in the coming weeks, however, it occurs to me that it would probably be best for my mental health if it came to pass.  However, financially it will be a big hit and it has become abundantly clear over the past several years that no one is interested in hiring a 50 year old in an admin capacity.  Why hire me when they can hire a bright eyed and bushy tailed 30 year old with up to the minute computer skills.  My concern is to make ends meet until my youngest heads to university, to do whatever I need to do.  After that, I simply don't know.

6.  Family inheritance

And there is my fight with depression and my biological predisposition for it.  And while I am on low level meds I have not taken this issue seriously enough this past year and am suffering the consequences.  As I have battled this year's stresses my eating habits have suffered. I know food=mood but haven't been practicing it and shame on me.

So, the time has come to own it all and turn the tide, or not.  And today I choose to turn it around. One year, 365 days of trying to make it better, one day at a time.  Full, flat out effort, like I did with the dating project and an honest reassessment one year from today, January 1, 2013.

Day 1: To thine own self be true.