Saturday, January 31, 2009

All thumbs

Oh, they say when you stub your toe the world is your stubbed toe, so I guess it's not surprising that my world for the past two days has been my thumb, which has a hurty on it related to the local temperatures and even more local radiator heat. I will say no more. It is gross. And so so hurty!

The thumb is the world to me because as it turns out, you use even the outside of your thumb so much. Right now, for example, typing. It's hitting the spacebar. And I use the tip when I'm knitting, and put pressure on it when I'm trying to cram my double-socked-foot into the Blundstone boots with their tricky back tab thingy.

On the bright side, the thumb is making me Live In The Moment, something I don't do enough, as I realized last week when I multitasked three other things while trying to keep up my turn in a board game. So maybe I need to see it as a blessing, along with all my non-fiction-writings and other activities. I mentioned those to my writing teacher, the one for whom I knit the Lucky Scarf: he reminded me that the more art you do, the more art there will be. And that makes me feel that the scarf was lucky for me, too.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Okay, we're into week - how many, 11? - of not working on my novel, apart from that one day I spent banging my head on the keyboard. I am keeping busy, and being optimistic that this too shall pass and I will get back to my fiction-creatorship eventually, but I can't help but look warily at people who just stopped. Writers who write one marvelous book and then - silence. Or maybe write a few and then get interested in something else and go on being interested in other things and never feel the need to write fiction again.

In my mountain of back issues of Vogue Knitting I found an interview with Barbara Walker, whose Treasuries of Knitting Patterns are still highly coveted, not least by me. She talks about exactly that... or maybe not exactly that. After producing these wonderful, exhaustive, groundbreaking books requiring immense amounts of research and compilation, she said she is completely done with knitting, apart from doing a little in the morning over breakfast. She's moved on to other subjects. But she hasn't moved on from her real passion, has she? She's still researching - and that's the passion.

I love all kinds of writing, but fiction is at the top of the heap. So even though I'm doing other things, and my brain is firmly locked down on the question of what my good friend Iris will do next, I'm sure the flow will resume again sometime. And soon would be good!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh, I give UP

It's winter, and I don't have a single functional hat for wet snow that requires 4 rounds of shoveling (probably more, but I'm exhausted), which may explain my obsession with headgear. Or maybe my brain is frantically working away on what to do with the two main characters of my novel, and has drawn a curtain over its efforts with brightly painted pretty hats all over it with which to distract me from tinkering too early.

Nonetheless, I accept now that I am preoccupied with hats. I am constantly scanning people on the street and classifying the ones they have on for attractiveness and functionality, and finding it impossible to train my eyes on those of people with whom I am actually chatting - they are always drifting upward. So far I've resisted the temptation to snatch my friend Laura's hat off her head so I can count the stitches that make up the snowflakes on it (perfect colours, perfect fit, perfect functionality, in case you wanted to know how I grade it) - but I know I can't hold off forever.

So I've set up a new blog about hats and knitting generally - I will post tips there and everything - and I will resist mentioning them here in future to spare my hat-averse readers any additional pain. And while I was at it, I revamped my website. Yes, I know, I'm too generous.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A present from Binnie

Didn't you just love getting real mail when you were a kid?

And don't you just buy stuff online specifically for the thrill of getting real mail as an adult?

Okay, maybe that's just me, but yesterday I got the realest of real mail, from Binnie, who Shouldn't Have (and I'm thrilled that she did) knit me a neckwarmer that I couldn't resist trying on as a hat.

Can you believe:
a/it matches my new hat that doesn't match my mitts and
b/also, oddly enough, matches my mitts and
c/is made with some very fine Fleece Artist yarn and
d/gave me a great idea for another hat to knit?

Well, believe it baby. And thanks again, Binnie!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yesterday, as I was downloading the 30-day trial of Adobe Dreamweaver to overhaul my website (which will require me to learn how to use Adobe Dreamweaver), I noticed that I've been starting projects and not finishing them. SO unlike me.

I decided it was time for a moral victory if only to clear brain space for the editing assignment coming in tomorrow or maybe today. And as a result I stayed up way too late doing the decreases on another hat. Not the one I bought yarn for on Saturday, which will match my new mittens, but the one I spent a whack of cash on two weeks ago because it looked like it would match my new mittens. It isn't a good pairing for them, as it happens, being entirely the wrong weight for the kind of weather that makes thrummed mittens appealing (though I must say, the wind was whipping straight through to my fingertips yesterday - must stuff some more roving in there.) However, it does look very very beautiful, a big turnaround from when I thought I was going to have to rip it off the needles and stamp on it. That was last week, right? Now I need to think of a good border for it.

And there we have it. I have finished a large section of one thing, leaving four - or five? - more to move forward on before Friday, plus the editing. Piece of cake. Mmm... speaking of which...

Monday, January 26, 2009

And now it's over

The weekend is history, and left these memories:

The hat I made my aunt looks fabulous on her and is completely the wrong colour for her coat

The superwarm footless tights I bought as Blundstone-enablers turned out to be superwarm tapered-yet-loose running pants that look really, really awful with Blundstones but make great PJ pants, so I kept them

The new cold snap started before my thrummed mittens were done

I finally tracked down this song I like

I spent 90 minutes in Romni Wools and came away with no more than I went in for, including yarn for a hat to go with the new mittens

I finished the mitts - gorgeous! soft and comfy! the thumbs look like they belong to the Beanstalk Giant! - and figured out how to make the matching hat

and had hardly any chocolate at all, which I will address over the course of the week.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I knew I was onto something

Knitting really is all about math! I could have just believed Kathi, but you know, it's nice when the news agencies back you up too. More proof: I just designed another hat* (for my aunt this time) while actually knitting it, a notebook in front of me to record my stitches and a calculator beside me to figure out how much to increase and decrease when. Once I figured out the smallest number of stitches I needed to get it around my head I didn't have to rip back once.

Another math aspect is related to 'stash', a term which is new since I took my knitting haitus over the past few years. It means, "yarn you have purchased but are not actually using", the "and may never use" part being unspoken. I have filled almost two market bags with unallocated felting stash, plus three or four Ziploc bags of upcoming mitten or hat projects. This is apparently a dangerously low amount. The only cure is an immediate outlay of cash, hence the math.

And then of course there's time, specifically how much more of it will my thrummed mittens take, so I can start on the knitted skirty thing with which I intend to torment Karen?

* You can't tell I'm not working on the novel, can you?

Today's history tipoff

Did you know that fishermen in Maine in the Maritime provinces of Canada (and probably a good many other seaside communities) used to wear mittens that were knit clownishly large and put straight to work, where they'd felt naturally from the salt water and the net-hauling and the drying out on a radiator afterward? As one woman noted, "We knit them 14 inches long, and by the end of the fishing season, they fit perfectly." Eventually women were pre-felting the mitts so they'd work better sooner, but they'd still shrink and get denser on the boats.

Some even wore their mittens wet, wringing them out in warm sea water from the engine before they put them on. I'm missing the science here, but apparently the felted fabric combined with the salt water to insulate their hands so that they were steaming with heat by the time they finished their work and hung the mittens up on a hook on the boat, where they'd dry and stiffen before the next wearing. No comment on how long it took for the fishermen's fingers to lose the prune resulting from all that time in a wet bath.

Why am I intrigued by all this? Because even inside my super insulated high-tech mittens my hands have been freezing for a week now, and we get another cold snap on Saturday. Do you think the sea water trick works inland?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Funny thing happened on the way to...

I had to be out of town for a while yesterday but before I left I had an anguished note from Karen, still trapped at her hotel just long enough to feel the pinch but not quite long enough to get to my house. So I found her this site, which not only maps out every yarn store in your vicinity, but includes comments and star ratings. I checked the hotel and then, naturally, the part of out of town for which I was headed.

Turns out the area's best-rated, most beloved yarn store is in my home town! I moved two years before I began to put off getting a driver's license and learning street names, but I knew instinctively where Robinson Street would be, like it has a yarn homing device*.

Stitch is so much a dream destination I grinned and would have danced a jig, except I don't know any and it was quite crowded with a knitting class and several other customers, a beautiful sleeping cat, a basket of drool-on-able colourful leather bag handles, and astonishing amounts of breathtaking yarn. Of which I bought not one ounce. Proud of me? I was too until I asked, furtively, "You do mail order, right?" And they do. I did buy two sets of Brittany Birch double-pointed needles, which are really, really good. Addi-type good. Still, no yarn. Karen, you must come to Grimsby with me as soon as possible! And those are words I never thought I'd say.

* Probably it was just that it's the same street our church was on, though.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Knitting - it's a lot like writing

Last Friday I bought some beautiful yarn that is soft and dyed in the most lovely shades of green, and reeeeeaaally expensive. More so than Malabrigo. As much even as the qiviut Karen tempted me into, though I got four times more of this new yarn for the price. Still. What I have been knitting with this yarn looks awful, and I am faced with ripping it out and try something else, and I fear that now I have this wonderful yarn I will not be able to do it justice and will somehow squander it or leave it unused.

I've had the same problem plenty of times as a writer - the unfolding of a tremendous idea that I know perfectly well is the product of months if not years of reading, thinking, interpreting, and doing - precious and expensive, you could say. And then I mangle it with the wrong words, delete them and try new words, and delete them and try again - not infrequently killing the idea altogether. Then I have to put it aside, or give up in fear of killing it, and leave it unused in favour of a steady stream of other ideas. I have never been able to recover one of these old efforts, but I find they inform the new ones.

So I am going to take this as a learning experience and in the spirit of Binnie's most excellent reflections on this subject I will feel I have done something useful, and go back to thrumming mittens while I wait to think of a better project for lush green wool.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The big day!

I am VERY excited to be starting off on this particular, fabulous, thrilling day. First there is the obvious wonderfulness of a new inauguration for our friends in the US and for we Canadians, frankly. Next, there is the fact that the choir of the girl I know* whose boyfriend was stolen by God has been invited to perform right in Washington to celebrate same.

(I would be singing too, but people would not be happy to hear me do it At. All. She, on the other hand, delights everyone.)

Then I get to see my orthodontist, always a treat - no, seriously, his office is astonishingly peaceful and pleasant, no matter how many casts they have to take of my teeth there - and finally, Karen Irving is coming to visit and - there may be a yarn store involved. You know, maybe. If we have time and sufficient interest. I probably shouldn't be excited about this last part because it's sure to include a lot of money spent by me, plus a lot more storage-related strain on the envelope that is my house. But if I'm not going to be writing anyway, it's good to have a distraction and I know I can count on shiny new yarn to do the job.

*Check out St. Jude's reflections on the importance of lingerie!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Math and the girls who like it

I was very good at math in high school, I am guessing because I am smart, I study hard, and my friend Bob coached me all through grade school. Well, mostly he waited until I was finally getting the point and then said something very rude under his breath so that I would laugh hysterically and get into trouble, so maybe I give Bob more credit than I ought. Probably it was the studying.

Another thing I'm really good at is retaining vast stores of immediately useful information and disposing of everything else; I stopped knowing how to figure out algorithms (if indeed I ever learned those) the minute people stopped asking me to do it.

I still appreciate numbers though, which is lucky because my beautiful thrummed mittens clash horribly with my luxurious new hat. So naturally, I need another hat, and naturally, the pattern for the first one won't work for the yarn I found to match the mitts. That means I am making up another pattern, which requires me to manipulate the number of stitches so that the hat will stay on and simultaneously taper smoothly on top. I like this kind of math, and the way I keep ending up with multiples of 7 and/or 3. Why don't they teach this in high school?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

All buttoned up

So - the writing is completely blocked up. Cue suspenseful music as the voiceover asks, "Is this the end of the novel in which Mary invested about $4000 in tuition plus a year or three of her life?"

While I wait to find out, I have buttons. Ever since I was a little girl and my mother would graciously allow me to play with the old chocolate box of mostly one-off buttons she kept with her sewing stuff (I used them as dolls or sorting chips) I have had a fondness for the things, the older and more colourful the better. A few years ago mum even let me have a few of my favourites.

I don't use these buttons. How could I? If I sewed them to something, they might fall off or I might have to give them away with whatever I made to sew them onto. Sometimes I consider sewing them onto stiff fabric and framing them to hang on the wall, or decorating a purse with them, or gluing them to birthday tags or bookmarks, and then I come to my senses. Lately though, I've needed buttons to sew onto things, and now I'm looking at big jars of old buttons on eBay and thinking H'mmm. Maybe there are some in that jar I could bear to give away. I know there aren't and that I would merely have more buttons to hoard, but it beats staring at a blank screen, don't you think?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thrumming: it's the new gardening

I've come to accept that whatever Karen Irving does, I will do too. If Karen jumped off a cliff I would doubtless do the same, wondering whether we couldn't just climb down but certain that there was some really fabulous rock at the bottom she wanted to show me in a hurry, because I know Karen likes rocks as much as I do, though I don't typically enjoy falling onto them, so that's where this analogy breaks down. Suffice it to say that if you read Karen's blog and noticed her mitten-thrumming adventures, you'll know what's coming next.

Thrumming is, as I understand it, the process of feeding roving (hunks of wool that has not yet been spun into yarn, though it will likely be clean and possibly dyed) into knit stitches. Result: a warm impenetrable fabric, soft with woolly tufts on the inside.

I was, in addition to understanding that, under the impression that thrumming is not gardening. But it seems those tufts have to get into your knitting somehow, and since the roving for my mitt kit came in a solid braid, it means tearing it out 3-4" at a time. You know, by hand. And roving is seriously grainy stuff. You can separate it along its width like nobody's business, but try tearing along the length and it grows superheroically strong enough to send you right back into the garden, in July, weeding out the most stubborn malingerers. Still. Thrummed mitts! gotta get back to it!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Feeling the love

Astonishing news: that hat I designed and knit in about five hours the other day from the yarn I bought at the bookstore? It is just as warm, and way more comfortable, then the Crusader Cap Disaster. Truly. I wore that thing outside in -17 C weather yesterday and was so impressed that when I got home I wrote up the instructions straightaway so everybody can have one.

Since I didn't have long enough blocks of time to feel guilty about not writing, I decided to sort out some of the other patterns I made - taking pictures, making .pdfs, figuring out yardage, stuff like that. I dubbed the new hat Luxury Lid and loaded its pattern onto my website. Then for fun I got myself listed as a designer on Ravelry, and linked my two website patterns there. Well. In 11 minutes I had two very nice notes from other knitters, and somebody had added Luxury Lid to her list of possible future projects. You never get that kind of instant gratification from writing fiction!

I hope that having my head turned like this is not going to make it even harder to work on the novel today. Because on Thursdays, I really, really try to write, and after three days of looking at my chapter and screaming GAAAAGGGGHHHHH, I could use a little victory. Realistically? I will heed the call of the thrummed mitten kit. But I will try to write first, I promise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Thermos at home (plus a pic for Jennifer)

Forget yer office lunch - Thermoses are so practical for home use! You can make your lunch in the morning while you're in the kitchen already compiling enough stray coffee granules to brew a cup*, and heat up soup or, in my dreams, hot chocolate, then pour it into your nicely warmed Thermos. When noon strikes, you'll barely get a chance to lose your train of thought before you're right back at work!

Oh, if only... though my non-writing guilt is minimal today, as I have other commitments I couldn't ignore even if the words were flowing like a river after a big thaw. Some of them: getting on sufficient hats and serious layers of mitts to peer outside. Yes, we have cold snap. I tried out the Crusader Cap last night and can say with confidence that it is highly functional, huzzah. Still, I can't help longing for happier days, like Monday or even yesterday, when I snapped this in non-skin-damaging temperatures. Happy Wednesday, Jennifer! Hope my tree brings a little New England into your week.

* this is for illustration purposes only and does not reflect the actions of the author, who is more likely to be chasing dry tea leaves or flecks of hot chocolate mix.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's hear it for the crusades!

We're going to gloss right over the two paragraphs I wrote (then cut) yesterday and dwell on the positive: I finished my cold-snap-worthy hat. The plan for this balaclava was to knit a giant tube closed at one end, wash it in hot water, and cut a hole for my face.

Well, I made it too big, so I had to wash it about four times and turn it into shoe leather before it fit. Then I messed up with the scissors and cut the opening so low my neck will be exposed to the elements. Further adjustments for my glasses mean it's a bit wider on the sides than ideal for the conditions in which it's meant to protect me, though I did manage to keep a nice squarish top to cover my forehead. On the bright side, it was still so ridiculously long I was able to cut slits into the sides for my shoulders, leaving a wide swath in back and a nice curve for the part that hangs in front.

"I was thinking of sewing cat ears on the top," I said, modeling it for the nearest human and hoping my own opinion would be contradicted. I got silence, then hysterical giggling. "Exactly," I pressed on. "Because I knew it would look stupid, and I thought it might as well be funny too." "No no," nearest human said. "You need a big red cross on the back of it." It's true. I will wear this hat and become one of the knights who say 'ni', minus the antlers. But at least I can get back to my writing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Help comes in many forms

So, how was your weekend? Mine wasn't so much a whirlwind of excitingness as a slew of errands and catchup, but that included sleep, which is what passes for exciting around here. It was also adventures in learning Continental knitting (thank you YouTube) and wearing my carpal tunnel wrist brace (how the heck are you supposed to hold your right hand?)

I read a little, having got my copy of Can Any Mother Help Me? This is a study of brainy Depression-era English women who were blindsided by the demands of motherhood at a time when brides were agreeing to their new husbands' innovative idea of settling far from their parents to avoid interference, only to find they needed and couldn't get any advice about babies or housekeeping. One woman was reduced to cleaning her husband's shirt collars with Vim, a very nicely-scented bathtub cleaner.

Today I should write, and will try to write, and can probably be found instead furiously knitting the last of an extremely warm hat in anticipation of the extremely cold snap that will be upon my fair city by Wednesday. Go, wrist brace.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fate brought us together (honest!)

I went into a bookstore yesterday. A real, independently-owned, cute as a button bookstore complete with comfy sofas and a fireplace and a ton of fabulous books. And what did I buy? Yarn.

Let me tell you quickly, before you throw that cushion, that a portion of what I paid will go to help build a school in Peru and generally support the children of the shepherds who look after the sheep who produced it!

Not good enough? Okay then, how about I fell in love with it because it is so soft - merino wool blended with alpaca and silk - and the colours sang to me? which turned out to be, I think, because they are a dream match for my favourite scarf, the one I bought in England at Liberty on a perfect day from a perfect vacation ten years ago? something I didn't discover until I got home and unpacked them onto said scarf?

Will it make you feel less annoyed if I tell you I finally figured out how to stop the automatic flash on my camera?

Sigh. I don't know why I don't seem to be able to write at the moment, because there are a lot of good ideas floating around in my head, but I will have faith that all this knitty stuff is carrying me along to a better story somehow. Or at least to the Perfect Winter Hat.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Synonyms in the wild

There are a million ways to say the same thing but when you substitute one word for another, there's always a slight change in the meaning. Try telling the difference between sour cream and a creamy vanilla yogurt without your nose or tongue and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Yesterday was a scheduled writing day - ideas in head, clear calendar, phone not ringing, snow behaving as snow should (seen but not heard making any sort of ruckus) - and yet I wrote only one paragraph. All I wanted was the aesthetic experience of winding my new yarn from the skeins it came in to balls I can knit with, because it is so soft under my hands and so beautiful I can't tear my eyes away. It's as mind-opening as visiting an art gallery.

So - procrastination? creative process? They mean much the same thing except for that one little difference of not getting the writing done. I did however go on not writing by updating my website with a new feature: Procrastinatory Projects!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Attack of the snowmen

Snowman - check. Christmas tree decoratively stuck into snow hill awaiting garbage pickup - check. Sopping wet hats and mitts - check. It's January.

Sound changes completely when snow falls, have you noticed? Apart from the bonus sound of snowplows grinding along the roads and, in my community, sidewalks. Things are on the one hand more muffled, and on the other, more audible. You can actually hear snowflakes falling on a snowbank if you're quiet. I know because after an hour or so of shifting the stuff I tend to be pretty darn mute, leaning on the handle of my shovel, wondering whether I can go inside already. (actually, I do enjoy shoveling. honest.)

Anyway, it snowed here yesterday and will snow again today and I am finished the latest editing job and apart from hauling more snow I am free, if I choose, to touch my gorgeous Fleece Artist yarn or even knit with it. Or I can work on my novel, for which wonderful words have been unfolding in my mind as I edited and shoveled and made more chicken stock. Or I can just look out the window at how beautiful it all is. (yeah. I'll be writing, thanks - I don't look any of those gift horses in the mouth!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A quick round of tag

Nancy gets away with tagging me to share seven weird random things about myself because she's Nancy. I will pass on tagging seven other people though, because Kathi tagged me last fall and I did it then.

1/ I lived in England for a year. Favourite pastimes there? Chocolate, walking, shopping boot sales and charity shops, afternoon teas, and the Portrait Gallery.
2/ My fireplace is blocked off by a huge decoupage project I still haven't finished after three years.
3/ I once sewed a Vogue pattern dress with its own foundation dress (complete with boning and inside belt), with fabrics so fine I needed tissue paper to protect them from the teeth under the presser foot of my machine.
4/ My sewing machine is a 1940s Singer inherited from my aunt's mother. I wouldn't dream of sewing a dress like that on a modern machine.
5/ I don't sew clothes any more. But I did make all the curtains that hang in my house.
6/ In spite of swearing off seed propagation after last spring's fiasco, I have been reviewing seed catalogues furtively.
7/ I have known Nancy, and Kathi, and even Karen for nearly 12 years! I met them on the now-defunct Mystery Writer's Forum, before I knew I couldn't write a novel-length mystery plot to save my life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Call of the countryside

I've always had a thing for houses, from the time I designed endless examples of the tree variety on the wall-sized blackboard my dad made in our basement from a big piece of particle board and blackboard paint. I never visit a friend without experiencing house envy over some cool feature or other, and no matter how many times I move I always look longingly at houses for sale.

This may explain my interest in a country home. Gardening sure can't be the attraction, considering how fast nurturing plants got old for me when I redid the front lawn last summer. In fact I thought I was over the whole second home thing, especially after my Christmas closet reorg... I know myself too well to think that if I had more rooms I would store less. I'd totally accumulate more.

Then yesterday I leafed through the latest issue of Harrowsmith Country Life and now I'm kind of smitten again. Wouldn't it be cool to have a room just for crafty stuff? and another with bookshelves on every wall and still enough space for a comfy chair or three? and a fabulous view over fields and frosty trees or, in summer, the soft nuzzling leafy kind? Even if it is more than ten minutes to the nearest retail chocolate? Oh, wait, there you go - that's all I needed to get my mind back on the scary looming work deadline. Thanks diary!

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's in the mail

HA! I have on my counter four neatly wrapped parcels to take to the post office. Today. Before lunch, in fact, and not a moment later.

One is surplus mohair going to Binnie, who has a lint brush, apparently, and one is the Christmas hat I brought home to make longer. One is the Lucky Scarf, finally going to its intended recipient and arriving, I hope, before the huge cold snap next week. And the last is an old friend's baby present (8 months after choosing it) and wedding present (about 2.5 years after.)

It wasn't procrastination, exactly. I was just really hoping to, you know, see her. In person, with a beautifully wrapped if heavy Thing. And then her gorgeous baby arrived and I thought, well, now I'll definitely get to see her. But there it is - she lives an hour or two away, and I can't drive more than fifteen minutes without getting sweaty palms, and we both have busy lives, and let's face it, we're lucky to get a few phone calls in every year. But this holiday season I was determined. I was not going to take any more parcels to the post office without carting hers along too. It's not even wrapped inside its parcel. Finding the perfect wrapping paper would have set me back another six months, I know it. So off it goes, and what a victory!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday supper

Yesterday the neighbour who owns Bruce the Adorable Fish mentioned she had to get home to check on her roast and I thought, Must. Make. PotRoast.

What is it about a real supper, anyway? Once the initial thrill of achievement is past it's hard not to think of those long-cooking meat with potatoes meals and say meh. They take forever to prep and cook and ten minutes to eat and then another eternity to clean up from. But now that I've got bacon on the stove I'm registering the value of all those great aromas. (Yeah, and I bought a chicken today too... evidently this week's procrastination will be meal-related.)

Thank goodness the novel I'm revising this winter has a lot of kitchen time in it. And crafty crafts. Which is why I absolutely must find a little time today to carry on with the felted robber hat I'm improvising with my new addi interchangeable circular set. Time was I'd nap on a Sunday afternoon while my mother tended to amazing aroma-making, but if those days are gone, I might as well continue my quest for the Perfect Winter Hat.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The birthday girl

I have been thinking about my birthday. It's not today, or even soon, and when it does come, it won't be a significant number. But last year's was spectacularly bad, worse even than the ones when I got a disfiguring mystery rash all over or got 2 weeks of food poisoning from the curried chicken sandwiches at a posh birthday tea, and I am searching feverishly for a way to disaster-proof the next one.

It's not like I have high standards. I keep the date quiet, and celebrate that way too. My sole wish is to spend part of it with my mother, who had all the work to do when I arrived. She's the one who gave me my fussiest birthdays (though the time my friend Bob woke me early to sing Happy Birthday the year it fell on a Saturday, and turned out to be calling from the lobby of my apartment building with a chocolate cake in his free hand, was pretty fabulous.)

Mum used to throw the best of all local birthday parties for me by renting the library's projector, plus some National Film Board shorts. We always, always had I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. Afterward, and after the usual rounds of Pin The Tail On The Donkey, my guests and I would retire to the dining room for cake with fortunes and coins in it, and one particular guest would laugh so hard a milk/cake combo would come out his nose. Now that's a party. Maybe I should learn to send cake and milk out my own nose?

Friday, January 2, 2009

A writing day top ten

I haven't had a writing day in a month at least. I wonder if I'll know what to do with it? Well, if I find I don't, I can always procrastinate with these exciting alternatives:

1/ four boxes of as-yet unsorted Stuff from mostly clean closets
2/ two different drawers that must be purged and merged
3/ six shallow but very full file drawers whose contents need filing
4/ a very large box of magazines with some contents I might keep...
5/ ... either for reference or for a decoupage project (yes, I know)
6/ three parcels to wrap up and label for mailing
7/ a batch of cookies I should not make
8/ a hat I have to rip back and knit longer
9/ a super warm hood for myself to design and start
10/ a batch of muffins I should make

Makes writing look pretty darn relaxing, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Farewell Bruce

Some of you may recall the goldfish adventures that marked the opening pages of this diary. Lethargic Fish died fairly quickly, while Energetic Fish lasted nearly a week. You can imagine my trepidation when our neighbours asked whether we could take in their fish while they visited family for the holidays.

Bruce arrived in a charming small bowl like the ones my childhood goldfish enjoyed during their all-too-brief lives (yes, I have a history of failing fish.) It is decorated with very nice rocks along the bottom and a spiky green plant on one side. Here the similarities end.

Bruce is not a goldfish. He is a betta - a Japanese fighting fish. He is a very pretty blue, and he is friendly and attentive and smart and delightful. He noticed when I reached for the fish food. He noticed when I was anywhere near his bowl, come to that, zipping right over to my side, fins flapping excitedly. At breakfast time he would watch happily and wait for all four pellets to hit the water before slurping them up. And best of all, he survived! Which is a very big consolation for his having gone home today. Bye-bye Bruce, hope to see you again soon.