Saturday, December 23, 2006

G.I.F.T. Challenge, Part 4

I made it! Okay, barely, but I did make it! This morning, I finished reading Christmas Magic, ed. David Hartwell, which has been on my bookshelf for about four years with a bookmark in the middle. This year, I started from scratch, and read through the entire thing. Huzzah! I finally finished it!

The verdict? Sadly, I was a little disappointed. There were some high points, as there always are with short story collections. The pinnacle was Janet Kagan's The Nutcracker Coup. It won a Hugo for good reason! I so enjoyed it, and found it extremely easy to read and fall into, to the point where I find myself thinking I should check her out as an author. Other highlights were Bedlam Inn by Madeleine Robins, Santa Rides a Saucer by Donald A. Wollheim, Merry Gravmas by James P. Hogan, The Last Belsnickel by Chet Williamson, and Death in the Christmas Hour by James Powell. Some of the others were good but less memorable. As for the rest, I confess I expected more. Humour seemed forced, satire seemed to not quite make it there, emotion was lacking, clarity wasn't exactly a priority, or the story was just... ho hum. Next Christmas, therefore, when I feel the need for some Christmas spirit, I will pick it up and only read my favourites.

In two hours, give or take, we hit the road. I probably won't post again until we get back, so Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Oh no...

Sheila's last Christmas present didn't arrive. Her birthday present for next year did instead... :P Sheila, I hope you're okay with getting a mysterious I. O. U. for Christmas. I'm sure it'll be here on the 27th, when the building reopens, because, you know, that's just the way it works!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

G.I.F.T. Challenge 2006, part 3

I have recovered a book from my bookshelves that I will be reading and commenting on as part 4, but for part 3, there have been a few thoughts. My first thought was to go and try a Second Cup Eggnog Latte. My brother-in-law looks forward to their reappearance on the menu every year at this time! I have not had the pleasure of trying one yet, mostly because I'm not much of a coffee drinker. However, I couldn't quite find a G.I.F.T. heading for that to fall under. There is no "Christmas food and drink" category. To that end, I refocussed on the "Christmas Music" category. What to do? If I go to the library, likely all their Christmas music will be gone, and the CBC isn't consistently playing Christmas music 24/7 yet. Then I sat back to think about Christmas music. My absolute favourite song of the season is Carol of the Bells. I've had a thought to collect various versions of the song and make a whole Christmas CD of them. I have heard techno, orchestral, acapella, jazz, and variations on the theme. But what do I know about the song? Hmm... I don't even know the words! So, it was off to Google. Let me share with you what I learned today about my favourite carol.

Carol of the Bells as we know it today is a fairly recent creation. However, the melody dates back to a folk song of Ukraine. It is a winter well-wishing song, generally sung on New Year's Eve of the Julian calendar (January 13 on ours), wishing prosperity for the hearer in the new year. In fact, the original folk song is considered out of place if performed at Christmas time!

In 1916, Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich was contracted by a choir master to create a choral piece of Ukrainian folk songs. Leontovich found the song in a book, and adapted it and its lyrics to new piece entitled Shchedryk, meaning "bountiful." The new lyrics that Leontovich adapted from the original folk song tell of a swallow who flies into the eaves of a family's household, and proclaiming the prosperous year they will have. The choir for whom the piece was composed then toured North and South America in 1919 and after, promoting Ukrainian culture, and performing Shchedryk for a multitude of audiences.

On 5 October 1921, the choir performed Shchedryk for the first time in the United States, to a sold-out crowd in Carnegie Hall. Peter Wilhousky, an American choir director, heard the work, and it reminded him of bells. He sat down and wrote out an English set of lyrics for the work, for use with his own choir. The tune and lyrics were copyrighted in 1936, despite being published in the Ukraine 20 years before, and Wilhousky's choirs began to perform the song during the Christmas season in America. The song was immediately associated with Christmas in North America, due to lyrics like, well, "merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas." Other sets of lyrics have been written for the tune, as well. In 1947, M.L. Holman wrote "Ring, Christmas Bells," and anonymous lyrics in 1957 ("Come, dance and sing") and 1972 ("Carol of the Bells," differentiated from the original by the first line: "Hark! How the bells, sweet silver bells" vs. "Hark to the bells! Hark to the bells!") also used the same melody. All four, however, continue with the Christmas theme.

There is also an erroneous report out there that the song is based on an old Slavic legend that all the bells in the world rang out at the birth of Jesus. While a nice thought, the folk song puts paid to this version of the song's origin.

I find it fascinating that, in the Ukraine, both the original folk song and Shchedryk remain New Year's songs, and cannot be performed around Christmas without being told by the listeners that it's not the right time for the piece, but here in North America, the tune remains indelibly tied to Christmas. Unlike Greensleeves, which depending on the lyrics chosen can be both a Christmas and an every-other-day song, this one is seasonal, despite its varied origins. What a wonderful thing to learn about my favourite carol!

I will leave you with Wilhousky's lyrics. Merry Christmas!

Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away

Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold,

Ding dong ding dong
that is their song
with joyful ring
all caroling

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
from everywhere
filling the air

Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale,

Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here,

Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,

On on they send,
on without end,
their joyful tone
to every home

Ding dong ding... dong!

A Christmas Mystery

I received a plain white envelope in the mail on Tuesday. "A Christmas card!" I thought. "I wonder who it's from." There was no return address on the envelope, so once I'd divested myself of coat and boots, and wandered into the kitchen to retrieve my letter opener, I slit open the envelope. The card was lovely: an angel over Bethlehem, with gold writing bordering the scene. I opened the card.

It was blank.

Well, not completely blank. The wishes the card manufacturer put inside were there. But there was no writing at all.

I started to laugh. It was almost more delightful than receiving a regular Christmas card. It is a mystery!

I have these clues. The writing on the envelope is relatively feminine, and was addressed to simply, "Vanessa and Mike." It was postmarked from the T5L area, which is in Edmonton. The card is religious in nature, though that may not be as much of a clue as I think it is.

Maybe I don't really want to know who sent it. Part of me, though, is infinitely curious as to how an envelope could be hand addressed, and a card make it inside without being written in. Or perhaps that was the point. But I would like to thank whoever it is for giving me such a wonderful diversion and making me laugh in childish pleasure for a good five minutes, and kept me smiling for at least an hour after that. Even now, I cannot help but grin at the thought. You have given me a wonderful gift this season, and I thank you, even if it was unintentional.

Monday, December 11, 2006

G.I.F.T. Challenge 2006

Only two weeks left to do this challenge, so I will start with the familiar ones, and find something new to partake in soon. Before the 24th!

GIFT 1: Christmas Traditions

There are so many in our family, it's hard to know where to begin! But perhaps that is the best one to share... Christmas for us begins with Craft Dinner. It is a day of good company, good food, and fun crafts. I think perhaps the part I like the best about Craft Dinner, besides the Danish lunch table that tastes so wonderful and makes me fill myself far fuller than I would on any normal occasion, is the absolute variation and personality in the crafts we make. For example, this year, we made walnut mice. Essentially, you take a half walnut and a hazelnut. Fill the half walnut with stuffing and cover with fabric to create the bed, then add the hazelnut to the top, with felt ears and face drawn on. Finish with a yarn tail and hanger. Consider this sample:

So much difference! So much personality! And the same holds true for the years we make crafts from Mary Maxim kits. We all follow the instructions, and each final product is filled with its creator's personality. I do so adore Craft Dinner. To me, it is the way the season starts, no matter if we hold in at the beginning or end of November, and from there, the rest of the season follows.

GIFT 2: Christmas Movies

There is a part of me that half expected to spend this part of the post extolling the virtues of It's a Wonderful Life. And that is one of my favourite movies, not just for Christmas, but for all time. But for the last several weeks, it's been another James Stewart movie in my mind: The Shop Around the Corner. I have only seen this film once, but it sticks with me. Christmas is the backdrop for the story, and the young James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan find themselves both in hate and love in a jolly, busy season. This movie was recently redone as You've Got Mail, with the redoubtable duo of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the main roles, and it is indeed a good film. But the original, with its 1940s charm, has a special place in my heart. I wish I'd seen it more than once.

For GIFTs 3 and 4, I believe I will turn to literature, and see what kinds of novels, short stories, or poems I can experience in the time I have left.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Okay, now you can see the highlights!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More pictures!

Mike's cookies! He is so proud...

The remains of the gingerbread house. Now to nibble on it. :)

The outcome of my highlights and haircut! She pinned up my hair like I was going to a Christmas party. Not sure if you can see the highlights in these pictures, but it's a tawny kind of colour, both blond and red and brown.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

They stole my recycle bin!

At first, I thought it was a hallucination, because, you know, I have a Virus, but after several double-takes, I realized it must be true. From one day to the next, the recycle bin in the office disappeared!

I called the building front desk person. "Did they take my recycle bin?" I asked her.

"Umm... I don't know. What did it look like?"

"Well, it was waist high, clear, had a plastic bag in it..."

"Waist high? Did your association buy that for you?"

"No. It's always been here."

"Well, we have waist high, clear, with plastic bags in them recycle bins in the hallways, but those are ours. Why did you have one?"

"I've always had one!"

So even if I could find my recycle bin again, I can't have it, because it's "not mine." What I want to know is, why leave it in the office for over a year, so I can get used to it, and then POOF! make it disappear one day? And worse, why make it disappear when I'm sick, so I question whether or not I just missed seeing it?

Off to Canadian Tire. I'll label this one very clearly as mine. :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Intellectually, I realize that it is Wednesday of the first full week of December. But I have lost a week due to illness. This is an evil virus. Stay very far away from me. Thankfully, Mike hasn't caught it yet, and is not likely to at this point.

I have been at work for three hours, and it feels like three days. I know I went to an athletic first aid/taping and strapping course this weekend, but it seems a month ago, and I'm very glad I have textbooks. I know that I went to the doctor on Monday, to confirm its viral nature and get a note, since I was mostly out of the office the last three days of last week, but that also seem an age ago. Medications do not touch this virus; they simply make the symptoms microscopically less debilitating. I want to curl up on the floor of my office and have a nap. Not sure how that would go over.

So much for my vow not to set foot in a mall in December. The Virus stole the last days of November from me, and the early part of December as well, and I still have a list, albeit relatively short, of people to purchase presents for. But I just can't right now. Even sitting here, having worked for three hours only, my legs are shaking. A mall of any sort is beyond my capabilities right now.

Being miserable, my first inclination is to remove myself from others until such time as I am good company again. I burrow in blankets, sleep or read if I have the strength, and wait. This time is different, however. I find I am desperate for comfort. I want my love to hold me until I fall asleep, and wait out the inevitable conclusion of the illness with me. It's odd.

Mike baked cookies yesterday. He was so proud, he took pictures. We won't mention that the dough was premade. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I just was sick! It's not time for me to be sick again! And now is not the time for Contac not to work!

And even worse. Mike made me a drink last night, hot and lemony, and when I came downstairs, I told him he should have put rum in it. He looked at me. Turns out, he put TWO OUNCES of GOOD RUM in it. I didn't taste it. It's all wasted on me.

Grumble grumble grumble... Off to bed again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worth a thousand words

Being a series of pictures interpreted by text.

As promised, the old/new pictures. Please forgive me expression; I'm afraid I am extremely, EXTREMELY tired today, and couldn't even manage a smile... And for those who might be worried, I'm going to the doctor again tomorrow, so don't. I'm working on it. Old glasses above, new below!

I think they look okay... Still getting used to them. Ugh... Sunday hair... *blush*

In honour of the first Sunday in advent, and because we decorated the house, behold, our Christmas "Tree!"

And for Karen once was H. but now is something else that I don't know, and who wants snow, come out here! You can have some of ours!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Changing images

I think I like the new design. I'm not convinced yet, but I think it looks okay. And relearning the minimal CSS I did know wasn't too hard.

Yesterday, I picked up my new glasses. Mike has promised to take before and after pictures tonight, so I will try to post them. I do notice a difference in the lenses. It'll take some time to adjust; the change was relatively signifcant. In the meantime, I have to rewrite my mental image of myself to one with the new glasses. Unfortunately, my brain isn't like a graphics file that you can just import into Photoshop and permanently make the change. Start the clock on how long it actually takes before I'm not surprised and have to look closer every time I look in the mirror... :)

And finally, happy American Thanksgiving to any and all American readers! I'm thinking of you today as the snow comes down and covers everything, making the roads hellish. Why did I come in to work today after I drove Mike home from the doctor? Oh yeah, I had things to mail out... Here come two fire engines down St. Albert Trail... Lovely. But I'm sure where all of you are, the weather is wonderful, and you're having much turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie! Hope it's wonderful!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hope this works...

I want to know how to make the archive do the cool year --> month --> post thing. If you have it doing that, could you send me your template as a text file, and I'll see if I can figure it out? And could you let me know what your archive frequency is set at under settings? That might make a difference too...

In other news, please send your best wishes out to Mike's eye. I'm sure he's getting tired of me having to drive him around, since he can't see out of the one.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ooo... Beta...

Alas. I had such hopes when I switched my weblog that the drag-and-drop design would be enabled. Maybe I wouldn't have to relearn the minimal CSS I knew! Alas... not yet. So the redesign crawls along.

In the meantime, there's a new link to the side! Yes, I have a weight goal, and it is as weight loss goal. It's to the side so those who aren't interested don't have to look if they don't want to, but I will update it each weekend. I have some plans as to how I'm going to accomplish this goal, among them purchasing a membership to a gym (and yes, going!), asking for a referral to a nutritionist, and continuing pilates at least. I'm not sure my body can handle the yoga yet, to be honest. I love it, but sometimes I can't make my body do that, or that, or that. It just hurts way too much to truly be good for me. It's not good hurt, anyway. I know what good hurt feels like. I was an "athlete" at one point, I think...

In other news, nobody buy me a calendar for Christmas! I've bought one, and I giggled off and on for about 24 hours after I did. Heeheeeheeeeeee... Hahahahahahahaha! Oh! So much fun!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And these are the people we let lead?

The redesign is coming along at a customary snail-like pace, but in honour of election day for our neighbours south of the border, I thought I would share this story about a coming election here at home. That's right, I'm talking about the PC leadership race in Alberta.

Several weeks ago, I was at home minding my own business when the phone rang. Being the Pavlovian creature I am, I answered it even though the call display was unfamiliar. "Hello, Vanessa speaking."

"Hello, this is ------------ from the J-- D------ leadership campaign office. As you know, J-- D------ was..." And so on and so forth with no opportunity to interrupt as she extolled this particular candidate's virtues. "Would you be interested in supporting J-- D------- as the next premier of Alberta?"

"Well," I said to her, as she was now waiting for me to speak, "I appreciate the call, but I'm not terribly politically active, even though I do vote in all the elections. I'm really not interested in joining the Progressive Conservative party."

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "You don't have to join the party."


"I don't?" At this point I began to question myself. "I was under the impression that only party members could vote for the new leader."

"Not at all," she assured me. "You don't have to join the party, you just have to be an active member."


When I convinced her that I wasn't interested in being an active member and got her off the phone, I looked around to make sure that gravity was still working. After all, when surrealism hits you over the head like that, you're just not sure what other rules of nature might also be altered.

In what might be a comforting side note, another person from the same office called me later in the week, and had no trouble understanding the duplication between joining the Conservative party and being an active member. She cheerfully thanked me for my time, and we both went about our days.

Ah... What fun it will be on November 25th... :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In other news

I am thinking of revamping the look of the blog, since I can't seem to shake the nickname "Queen of Swords," and well, I'm not sure I want to. Please take a look at the following two banner images. I think the one might be a bit pretentious, but it's based on a QoS tarot card... Click for full size. Any opinions?

The Pretentious One

The "pretentious" one

The Not So Pretentious One
The not so pretentious one

On feminism

Apartment Girl has tagged me to write my very own "Five Things that Feminism has Done for Me," in response to our delightful federal government's decision to cut $5M in funding from Status of Women Canada in the face of an estimated $13B surplus. *shakes head* I will preface this list by saying I know little about feminism, having only explored it as part of other theoretical classes, and never having taken women's studies. That said, here is my list.

1. Feminism made it okay to be single.

This may sound strange coming from someone who is engaged to be married, but it really is the number one thing that feminism has done for me. Because of increased women's rights and increased perception that women are as capable as men, it was okay for me to be single for a very long time, and it was okay that I was prepared to be single for the rest of my life if need be. Because of feminism, I was able to move out on my own before marriage, and didn't have to wait in my parents' basement for someone to come along and "take" me or "rescue" me. I also approached a life without partnership or marriage without the phrase "old maid" running around in my head, which was extremely liberating.

2. Feminism has made me responsible for myself.

Whatever mental crap I'm going through right now (and it is crap), I have no one to blame but myself. I can't come out and blame anyone else, because the responsibility for my own mental wellbeing rests firmly on my shoulders, where in the past, it wouldn't. On the flip side, I am able to make my own money, cultivate my own relationships, and have my own share of responsibilities. While some of these responsibilities are dealt with in partnership, the simple fact of the matter is that in years gone by, I would have had little to no say in how they were handled, and I would have not been out there with a job, cultivating some of those relationships, and other such facets that make me who I am today.

3. Feminism has given me the right to read.

Nuff said. Honestly, most of you have seen my library. I can't imagine life if I couldn't read, even just a little.

4. Feminism has given me the right to associate with men.

I look over my group of friends and acquaintances, and find that a good half or more of them are men. My life would be the poorer if I was unable to associate with all of these good people without a chaperone, for example, or only in a group setting under the watchful eye of many protectors. I am allowed to associate and have friendships with men without being labelled "whore" or "slut." This is extremely liberating.

5. Feminism has given me choice.

I am allowed to choose birth control. I am allowed to choose what I wear. I am allowed to choose what I read, what my job is, what my education is. I am allowed to choose how I spend my time, even if that choice puts me squarely into traditional feminine activities like knitting. I am allowed to choose to stand up for myself, and not put up with certain behaviours. When I was single, I was allowed to choose to ask a guy out, or refuse him if he asked me. I am allowed to choose my partner, my friends, and my enemies.

Not sure who I can tag who hasn't already been tagged, but there's the list. See the original page here. Cheers, all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Once again...

According to the doc, I'm fit as a fiddle, if a bit overweight. Of course, we still need to see the results of the tests (didn't completely freak out about the needle this time! Had a great nurse, though), but if there's nothing there, and I'm still feeling tired and such in a month, I have a follow-up appointment, where we will discuss alternatives. Not medications! Man, this guy is cool. He'd rather try to help without medication first, and then medicate if needed. That makes me so happy! I hate being medicated. So, anyway, I'm going to try and make myself better by eating well, trying to sleep regular hours, continue with yoga and pilates, and reward myself every now and again.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Working environment

So, they're refinishing the roof at work. I knew this wasn't exactly going to be pleasant, since, you know, I'm on the third floor, and there is no fourth floor, but so far it hasn't been too terrible. I mean, you don't exactly like to walk into work and see someone chopping at the roof with an axe, and the tar smell isn't exactly the best either, but you know. And then we have today...

I don't know what they're doing, to be honest. It sounds like they're rototilling, but I know that can't be it. Whatever big, nasty machine they're running, it's hellishly loud, and I can't even hear myself think! Thank goodness I spend most of today out of the office! Maybe they'll get done sanding or tilling or tearing up whatever it is they're tearing up, so tomorrow will actually be back to the pounding, chopping, and only occasional 500 lb weight dropping that I'm sort of used to.

In other news, in an effort to treat myself/take more time for myself, I am considering going for a manicure and pedicure every three months. Yes, it's girly. Oh well. Next up would be December, and I think I will get the electric blue nailpolish, if they still have it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The long awaited body image post

It's Friday, and the bank statement won't balance, so before I tear it up, since I'm sure my boss would be unhappy about that, I thought I would take a break and write the long-awaited (maybe) body image post.

Consider the following. Click each for a bigger view.

I showed these pictures to Mike when he asked what the post would be about. He looked at them, and shrugged and said, "What's wrong with those?"

And there's the rub. 'Cause even though all four are taken on the same day, by the same photographer, with the same camera, I think the left ones are all right, but the right ones aren't. The left ones coincide fairly decently to how I perceive my own body, my own internal body image, but in the right ones don't for various reasons.


And as I sit here and consider the things that I'd intended to say, things about how strange it is that the internal and external pictures don't match, how hurtful it is to hate pictures of yourself, how frustrating it is that I fall in that 95% of women who do not consider themselves beautiful, I realize that I don't really have to say these things, and I realize that, in some ways, posting about this topic is half call to arms, half cry for help.

It's been, quite frankly, an awful week. I had a severe moodswing on Tuesday, from playful to distraught in the space of two hours, and though Wednesday improved, Thursday I was back to the extreme fatigue that's dogged me for so long, accompanied by some rather annoying irritability. And I'm tired of it. I'm not happy. It's not that I'm unhappy, because I SOOOOO am not. I have a wonderful fiance, a nice (if slightly unkempt) house, fabulous family and friends, I know how to knit, and even if I have a few more pounds of body fat than I should, I'm working on it, and I'm not obese. But I'm not happy. And why is that?

Let's turn to the things I need to let go. I need to let go of the guilt about a dusty house and a dirty bathroom. I need to let go of blaming myself for events that I have little to no control over. I need to let go of (and this may be key for self esteem) the pain left over from high school when people called me "Pat," and I finally found out who "Pat" was and why they were calling me that (back when I had shorter hair). I need to let go of the stress associated with not being perfect, having my share of human faults, and not being able to do anything about it.

Ah yes, easier said than done. But how do I go about it? Sheila and Nathan admonished me in their birthday card to, "Take more time for myself." Is that step one? Mike says I need to stop beating myself up about things. I do notice I'm doing it, after the fact, and it strikes me as a fairly recent phenomenon. When did I get a martyr complex? How do I get rid of it, before it ruins every relationship I have?

As I write this, I'm flipping back to the pictures I posted. They seem to have changed slightly. I don't hate the right pictures anymore. I still know why I picked them out to illustrate my previous point, but I do seem to be looking at them slightly differently. Maybe we are witness to a pivotal moment in my life here. Who knows? There's still a hellishly long way to go, even if we are, and I doubt it's something I can do completely on my own. I know this is vague, disjointed, and fairly unformed, but if anyone has any suggestions, I think I just might be open to them at this point. Quickly! I just don't know when I'll shut down again... Hope it's not for a while...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jean emergency!

I know, I know, I promised an intellectual-ish post about body image. And I will post it, soon. But I couldn't let today go by without regaling you all with the jean emergency, in the hopes of inspiring a few smiles. :)

As some of you know, this past weekend Mike and I made a quick trip down to Calgary to spend some time with Mike's mom. On Friday night, we'd decided that I would make wontons for dinner, since she loves them, and was feeling okay after the second half of her first chemo treatment. So there I was, standing in the kitchen, merrily making wonton after wonton, while Mike and his mom were behind me chatting about something to do with something, and suddenly Mike says to me, "Honey, did you know you have a rip in your jeans?"

This isn't something you want to hear with your Dear Mother In Law also standing right behind you. Heck, I can hardly think of anyone you'd want standing behind you! Add to that the fact that the jeans aren't very old (only about four or five months), were expensive, and are, in point of fact, the ONLY PAIR OF PANTS YOU HAVE WITH YOU on this trip, and the adrenaline starts going.

Okay, okay. Maybe it's not so bad. "I do? Where?" I ask.

"Right at the back. Right beside the pocket."

You mean... Where my underwear is? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

After proclaiming this, Mike and his mom went off to fiddle about with her computer, and I finished making the wontons I could, washed my hands, and scurried off to the bathroom in the hopes that it wasn't as bad as my imagination was making it out to be.

Of course it wasn't. It was worse.

My jeans had a run in them, about seven inches long and two inches wide, something resembling the run you get in a pair of nylons. My jeans. My not very old, expensive, and did I mention THE ONLY PAIR OF PANTS I HAD WITH ME jeans.

I called Tallgirl. There was some talk of buying a stop-gap pair at Old Navy and finding the receipt at home when we got there, but on the advice of my DMIL I called Tallgirl. And you know what they said? "We've actually had a lot of problems with that style of Parisucos."


Thankfully, my leather jacket covered the rip quite thoroughly if I stood up straight enough, and Mike stood behind me on the escalator on our slightly-before-closing time emergency trip to Eaton's Centre downtown. They were very good about it, and even refunded me the $20 difference between the expensive jeans and the emergency replacement jeans.

So that was how my weekend started. It turned out very well, in the end, but it started with a jean emergency. :) I hope I've at least inspired a smile or two out there in virtual-land. I'll return soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thanksgiving Hallowe'en fun!

I did promise a cookie house progression! It turned out to be more of a one-person project than a two-person, though I did ice half the roof. In the end, Mike did most of the work, though I was nearby. I spent most of Thanksgiving Monday in the kitchen while Mike was in the dining room. Dishes got done, icing got made, and so did wontons! Oh, they are soooooooo delicious, and EASY! :) Thanksgiving dinner was stuffing, pseudo-mashed potatoes, and Mustard Sauced Chicken, with turkey breast substituted for the chicken. It was a slightly rude awakening on Sunday when we went out to buy a turkey, only remember (on my part) that whole turkeys are always frozen, and we'd never get it defrosted for Monday. Turkey breast it was! And while the potatoes were mostly raw, and so did not mash worth anything, dinner was delicious. And now, on to the cookie house!

Stage 1
It stands! Mike did an excellent job of trimming the pieces and icing them together to form the house.

Stage 2
One window. Ooooo... Scary...

Stage 3
Front side nearly finished decorating, with the carnage of actual making around it. Nope, doesn't look like the box at all. Still looks good. :)

Stage 4
The artist hard at work.

Stage 5
The ultra-creative back side of the house in progress.

Finished Front
The finished front of the house.

Finished Back
The finished back of the house. I still need to go home today and dye coconut green for the grass.

On a final note, we have created a memorial to our aquarium friends who have passed on. It seemed appropriate, if slightly morbid, but the time was right to find a gravestone decoration. Now we need to find a shelf to add to the wall above our 20g tank, so it can have a permanent home.

Aquarium Graveyard

There is another post forthcoming, either today or tomorrow, which will not be nearly as light-hearted, as it deals with the topic of body image. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 06, 2006

A little hat

I did promise photos of the little hat. It is a bit bigger now, as I'm four rows from finishing colour 2, but you get the idea.

Back side.

Front side. Colour three is a darker tan, and then it's away from the neutrals and into other colours! The first is light mint green, I believe. I do hope to get some work done this weekend. We have the upstairs TV back and repaired (hopefully), so I might be able to watch some M*A*S*H and knit! That would make me so happy...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sacre Bleu!

In just over a week, I turn 29 years old, and begin the hard work of making it through my 30th year on this planet. Good heavens. I think that that is a place I don't really want to go right now, as it is full of questions of what have I done with 30 years, why aren't I in this place or that place, what on earth am I going to do for the next thirty, and so on and so forth. I would really rather enjoy the moment, so I will attempt to do that.

This weekend is a long one, and thank goodness, because I really want to kick this leftover cough that has me out of commission for about fifteen minutes to half an hour each night, hacking up a lung or two, and I think I just need to rest. To that end, Mike and I have been doing some tidying/cleaning/chores each day this week when we get home. I may still have to put aside two or three hours this weekend to clean the bathrooms and kitchen, but at least it's not the whole house! We do have some plans, though. There is no yoga, sadly, so we're going to go down and check out the indoor farmer's market instead, to see if any of our favourite sellers are there. All the ones we asked last weekend said they weren't going to be. :( We're also going to order in one night, for an unspecified celebration (can't tell yet), and we're likely going to go to Rona to buy a snowblower before there's actual snow to blow. Mike has requested a turkey dinner one night, to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in the house, which will necessitate a trip to the grocery store and probably a roaster purchase, since we don't have one. I'm considering finally making wontons as well, and possibly bagels. And, we bought this! So we'll probably put that together on Monday, which Mike has suggested be a pyjama day. :) I do believe that our first cookie house deserves a full photo progression and post, so stay tuned!

There's a lot of food in the above plans, I notice. I was complimented on my cooking the other day. Apparently, word of my prowess in the kitchen is making its way through our virtual circle of friends, only one pair of which have actually partaken of it. Of course, if promise of good food is enough to get more of them to come visit... Personally, I feel my claim to fame is being able to follow a recipe and not be afraid to experiment with spices. I'm by no means a gourmet. But I do like good food. Hmm...

I've sent some mail these last few days, and in doing so I've discovered how much I've missed sending mail. This doesn't mean that all of you will be deluged with cards and letters, as my hands still can't handle a whole ton of writing. But we do have a printer now, and there is much tidyness on the dining room table, so you may see more things coming from the house. I make no promises, but I have missed it.

And on a final note, I must link-share something I found on Rampant Bicycle's blog. OMG, do I want some of this! I mean, what self-respecting PIRATE wouldn't?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A variety post

I do so detest being sick. I especially detest the types of sickness that don't seem to get any better, really, just sort of hang around and leave you feeling that, though you have more energy, better is still a long, long way off, and not a word you would apply to your situation.

Daily I go home and turn trepidatiously to the backyard. One day, the big tree in the park behind our house will join its fellows in deciding it's fall, and we'll have to break in our new leaf rake. Multiple times, I'm sure. So far, I live in a state of constant anticipation. We'll see if today is the day.

I had thought that knitting a blanket would be a good way to stay warm during the winter. As it grows larger, it covers more and more of your lap, and doubles as both a project, and a heat retainer. And in theory, that works. If you're knitting a blanket in rows, it works in practice. If you're knitting a blanket in the round, what you really end up with is a little hat. Which grows to a bigger hat, but by no stretch of the imagination will likely be a heat retainer, despite trying. I am midway through colour 2. Pictures of the little hat as soon as I can pull them from the camera.

In other news, tomorrow, Mike and I are going to the NAIT store. I have a sneaking suspicion he wants to take me there so that I get my own hoodie and stop stealing his, but it should be fun anyway. Then to Kingsway and House of Spoons to get something to hang his repro katana from the wall with, and we should have a fairly fruitful afternoon.

And an RIP today. Pale the snail passed away last week. We are sad.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wedded Bliss II

Pictures speak louder than words. Alas, I can take credit for none of them. They belong to my aunt, my uncle, and the one that did come from our camera was taken by Lisa. Click to enlarge, should you so choose. Enjoy!

Unexpected guests... :)

Gill, looking cold and fabulous!

Probably one of the shortest engagements in history. "Will you marry me?" "Yes, I will."

The moment.

Family photo!

The parents coming down the hill.

Mike looking smashing, and me looking pretty good, if whale-like. And you can save your flames on that last bit for the comments. :) It was a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wedded bliss

The wedding was wonderful. I really cannot do it justice today, but wanted to post that it was. And because it was wonderful, I really can't complain about catching a cold at it. But I did want to poll my readers who were also guests at the wonderful event and see if they too have gotten a cold. I have on good authority that the bride, groom, bride's mother, bride's father, and bride's uncle caught some manner of virus since that day. :)

For a more detailed account of the day than I can manage right now, as well as some photos, see Gill's blog.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I made this!

Truly! The Damnabe Shawl is finished! And it's HUGE! But oh so pretty. And in true fashion, I did something nasty to my lower back finding and snipping off the yarn ends as it was spread out on the dining room table, which prevented me from cleaning the bathrooms yesterday. *sigh* If it's psychosomatic, it's completely unconscious, because even though I don't enjoy cleaning bathrooms, I want to clean them! Ah well. Back to the shawl. So. It's done! And since the wedding is out of doors and in a grassy field, I don't think wearing it as to the left here is advisable, so I'm going to fold it in half and wear it as shown below. :) So... the next project. You can see in the background the next in my series of ocean-pallat doilies for the "good china," but those are small and easily completed. I want to do something like this, as I am getting kind of tired of wearing my fleece jacket at work all the time. However, purchasing another project is not in the cards right now. So, I will probably do this, since I've bought the kit already, and have started the second colour from the centre. Of course, I'm a much better knitter now, so may just tear the whole thing up and start again. :) But the nice thing is, no deadline!

The weekend is coming up quickly, and I'm sketching out in my head the things I'm going to say, both in my role as "co-bus entertainer" and "Master of Ceremonies." I find myself feeling a little bit... well, my self-esteem is tenuous right now. Seven and a half days of cafeteria food during fencing camp threw my tenuous hold over my weight gain out the window, and I feel like a whale. It makes me slightly uncomfortable. Good news is, Mike and I are signed up for a weekly 90 minute yoga class. Bad news is, it starts the week after I get up in front of everybody feeling like a whale. *sigh* Alas. But I will survive, and hopefully the weekly exercise, and if I can start walking three days a week as well, will have me feeling less like a blue whale and more like a dolphin by the time Christmas rolls around.

And for those who were perhaps wondering, Mike's mom's surgery went well, and she's recovering nicely. I will keep you posted!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Power of Positive Thinking

Ernest the Orchid
Some things in our house are named. We have Ducati (still alive!), Beamer (the replacement betta), Sherman (the 'tank' betta), Zippy (the oto), and Pale (our super snail). Some other things are not named, such as the platies, since we seem to go through them for some reason, and the yoyo loaches, since we can't tell them apart. So I would like you to meet Ernest. We picked Ernest up today at Hole's Greenhouse, our housewarming gift from Mike's mom.

It was important to us to bring Ernest home today. For, you see, tomorrow is a very big day for Mike's mom. Tomorrow, she goes in to the hospital for surgery, and following that, chemotherapy.

If I were not a deist and believed in an intervening God, this would be the point where I would ask for people's prayers. But I am a deist. Nevertheless, I do believe in the power of positive thinking. So, if you have a spare moment in your day and are so inclined, I would be grateful if you could send some positive neural energy towards the Foothills Hospital tomorrow morning, and through the rest of the week.

I think both Ernest and Mom will thank you.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Garden Photos Part 1

Yes, I know it's been near on a month since Mom and Dad came up to assist with the ugly garden. Here, finally, is phase one of the photographs from that weekend.

You remember the lilac bush. I think I will call him... Arnold. Here he is, in full glory, before... We came to the decision that, as lovely and full and green as Arnold was, he just had to go. If we trimmed him back to only a few of the smaller, newer branches, we'd never get lovely flowers again, as we'd have to keep trimming him, and flowers only grow on old growth. He was also planted far too close to the house. In the end, we decided that he had to leave us for that lovely garden in the sky...

Dad asked our neighbour if he would mind taking some plant material to the compost over the weekend, as he had a truck. He said he wouldn't, and later in the evening, came over to see exactly how much material we had planned. That was when we told him about Arnold, and our plans for reducing him to constituent parts in the morning. "With what?" he asked. Oh, a hand saw, some pruners... "I've got something better than that," he said, and went back to his garage to get an electric saw...

"Oh, we hadn't planned on doing it now!" I told him, but then Dad brought out his pruners, they ran an extension cord, and before I knew it, Arnold was being cut apart and piled on the driveway...

Soon, Arnold was looking like something less of a bush...

...and more of a stump, and...

...a pile of deadfall in the driveway. He was soon loaded into the back of the neighbour's pickup, and on his way to the community compost the next day. I have hopes that he will help with fertilizing gardens all over the city next year.

This is the first installment of garden photos. Stay tuned!

My Goals* for the Weeked

* denotes hopes, dreams, and other unrealistic aspirations

1. Finish the damnable shawl!
2. Clean the house!
3. Get all the recycling done!
4. Get the games room tidied up so that Mike and I can do physio exercises there!
5. Cook gourmet food every night!
6. Wake up not feeling exhausted!

My More Realistic List of Goals for the Weekend

1. Get the body of the damnable shawl done.
2. Get the recycling and composting to the depots without putting my back out or otherwise hurting myself further than I already am.
3. Possibly sweep/wash the main floor's floor. Maybe clean the bathrooms. Maybe. Definitely clean the fish tanks.
4. Push stuff to the sides of the games room so there's some space to exercise.
5. Pft. You're kidding, right?
6. Wake up. Despite the pain, I'm glad to do that every day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Silver lining help, please

I would have posted last night, but I wisely decided I was too upset to do it justice and not come off as whining. I'm still not sure I can, but I will try.

I am knitting a shawl to go with my dress for my sister's wedding, which is coming up in a month. When I picked up my needles for a couple of rows last night before cooking dinner, I had over a foot and a half of shawl, and was about 10 rows into the second of five balls of yarn. The shawl is knitted on 1.5 cm diameter needles, so it is loose and lacy, and looks wonderful. But that looseness ended up being a bad thing, as half-way through the row, my elbow slipped on the chair, about five stitches slipped off the needle, and the tension wasn't there to hold them in place. The shawl unravelled down the middle.

Perhaps if I was smarter, or a more experienced knitter, I could have rescued it. Mike and I did try to unravel it down to the last demolished row and put it back on the needles, but to no avail. Even trying to get the stitches on the needle was enough to pull out more along the row. In the end, I cut a piece of cardboard to wrap the yarn around, and tried not to completely break down in tears of frustration as I unraveled the whole thing.

I am looking for a silver lining, but it is eluding me. This is the fourth time I've had to restart this shawl, and the yarn that's been cast on and knitted four times is starting to show the wear. Unravelling the shawl put me back between 8 and 12 hours (estimated), and my hands aren't yet well enough to handle knitting for hours on end. Yes, I will likely have free time on my upcoming business trip to sunny Olds College, but I had hoped to make great steps towards finishing the shawl there, and now I'm the above 8-12 hours behind on that goal. Not to mention that the wedding is a mere four and a half weeks away.

I completely realize that there are wars going on in the world, that my family has had to deal with two deaths in recent months, that Mike has started physio and will be in a lot of pain for the next little while, and that there are far more important things to become upset over than a silly knitting project. There must be a silver lining. It's silly to be upset over something so trivial.


Cast on 60, knit. *sigh*

Monday, July 17, 2006


Some of you may not have believed me when I said that our garden was running rampant, but growing. Indeed, it is, and it's so rampant, I'm starting to find it almost ugly. Not that I'm a huge fan of the perfectly manicured, exquisitely trimmed and formed garden, but this is getting ridiculous. The trouble is, I don't know what to do...

Here is the front of the house, with lilies, sandhill cherry, ground cover, and other things. I think we need to trim the cherry, but I'm not sure how, and the lilies are massive! I don't think they can be cut back.

Our uncentred "flower bed" in the lawn. I hate this bed. I don't hate the hostas or the lilies, per se, but I abhor the bed completely. Almost more than the ground cover that's "lining" the sidewalk blocks.

The side of the house, with more sandhill cherries, and a climatis that isn't doing so well.

This is perhaps the most distressing part of the rampant garden. There was a stump here all winter. Now that it's summer, it's become a bush. The stump refuses to give up.

Not only that, there's a hosta in there, getting buried in all the bush-ness of the reincarnated tree.

Last but not least, the lilac bush. This bush did receive a judicious trim in the spring, but it still has taken over its immediate area. My car makes friends with it every morning. It rubs against the side of the house with any strongish wind. And we did trim it! I swear!

I'm not entirely sure what to do about this problem either. *snuggle*

These pictures are posted as a cry for help. While I realize that we needed to see what came out of the ground this year, I have no idea what to do now that things have come out of the ground. Any assistance or advice is most sincerely appreciated!

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