Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm (not) on Alesse!

Note: I'm going to be talking about birth control in this post. Some of you might feel more comfortable reading this or this instead...

Girl, you'll be a woman soon...

Anyway: I’ve been thinking about the birth control pill since yesterday, when I read Eidolon’s post about having cystic acne on her pill. I have very mixed feelings about the pill, and sometimes I feel trapped between the ‘your body, your choice’ ideal of feminism and my own (bad) experiences with hormonal methods of birth control.

My own experiences with the pill go something like this:

  1. Go on the pill in high school to help with acne
  2. Love the pill, despite gaining 15 pounds and 2 cup sizes
  3. Encourage all of my female friends to go on the same brand of pill
  4. Randomly bleed for a whole month after 2.5 years on the same pill; decide to stop taking it, against my doctor’s orders to keep using it with a ‘this too shall pass’ attitude. Right.
  5. Do not lose extra weight or cup sizes for 5 years!!!
  6. Find out that said brand of pill has been recalled due to higher than average risk of blood clots (4x the risk); tell my friends to switch brands
  7. Start learning about alternative methods of contraception (in my case, fertility awareness and/or condoms)
  8. Get a phone call one night that my youngest sister is in the hospital emergency with a serious blood clot in her leg… from the pill
  9. Begin plotting the destruction of the Ortho-Jansen headquarters

Despite my own experiences, many if not most of the women I know use the pill with no problems and they love the freedom it affords them. They generally don’t (need to) worry about condoms, and some of them even use the pill to delay a period if it happens to fall during an inconvenient time (though that kind of skeezes me out…)

Maybe I’m not only suspicious of the pill but also envious of the women who can use it without issues… ‘Easy, breezy, beautiful’ kind of thing. For me, I love the intimate knowledge of my body that comes along with fertility awareness and charting my cycles, but sometimes a teeny tiny part of me just wishes I could just turn my fertility on or off when it was convenient for me. No more of this ‘watch and wait’ natural approach… Then again, I never felt disgruntled about my natural method until I got pregnant a few months ago.

For over three years, I tried to challenge people’s assumptions about fertility awareness methods of birth control and proved by example how effective it could be at preventing pregnancy. Then I got lazy and decided to ‘wing it’ for a month in the Czech Republic… Be thee not so relaxed on your holidays!

Getting pregnant was a giant wake up call for me. Not only was I suddenly confronted head on by a rash of doctors chastising me for not using a more ‘reliable’ method of birth control, but I also felt a profound sense of sadness, like I had abandoned my body and was therefore no longer allowed to share in her secrets. I always imagined that I would be one of the women who knew she was pregnant right when it happened, but I didn’t find out until I was staring in disbelief at a positive pregnancy test four weeks later. Even then, I thought for sure there must have been some mistake.

Having lost touch with the daily signs of my body back when I decided I didn’t really ‘need’ to chart my fertility every day, my nine weeks of being pregnant were dazed and confused. I was indecisive, foggy, and I felt like an outsider in my own body. In between visits to the hospital for spotting, I looked longingly at old fertility charts of mine, and I wished I hadn’t lost my sense of awe and wonder at the workings of my body. I made a promise to myself that if I were given another opportunity, I wouldn’t take my fertility for granted, and I wouldn’t neglect my charting again unless I was planning to become pregnant.

Then I miscarried.

I am back on the charting bandwagon now, but even so, I still think about the birth control pill a lot. Do I have a responsibility to tell other women about the risks of hormonal methods of birth control, knowing like I do that real people end up with lifelong health conditions because of them? (My sister still injects herself daily with blood thinners to prevent another clot from forming, and it’s been over two years now). Can I still speak highly of fertility awareness methods, knowing firsthand like I do that any slip in diligence can mean an instant pregnancy? Ultimately, I still believe that every woman has a right to use whatever method works best for her, but that doesn’t negate the hunch I have that none of the available methods are ideal.

Monday, January 29, 2007


OK, OK—I’m not the best at these ‘a-long’ things, but de-lurking is something I think I can handle. Call me an exhibitionist (or not. Actually, on second thought, please don't). Anywho, for future reference:

I’m the oldest of three girls in my family, and I’m also quite possibly the nerdiest. (Before I would have resented the title, but now I call dibs!)

From left to right: The nerdy one, the cute one, and the creative one!

I’m going to be a first-time aunt in April.

I met Marty on a Saturday night, fell in love with him by early Sunday morning, and (being the good Catholic girl I am) moved in with him on Monday. Since then, we have spent a maximum of 10 nights apart from each other.

I believe in guardian angels, and I feel like Marty was a gift to me from the spirit of my Dido.

My husband is closer in age to my mother than he is to me (one of the zanier fallouts from a teenage pregnancy. Also a lesson from karma—see below).

I learned to knit when I was seven years old (in good ol’ Red Heart Acrylic—gotta [heart] the Red Heart!), but I didn’t pursue it seriously until it was too late for me to show off my hand-knit items to my teacher, my dear Baba.

I have been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old. Having to force down tiny pieces of meat is what prevented me from going vegetarian earlier (my parents—god love them—didn’t know much better at the time). Cheese is what will forever stand in the way of my being a vegan. I. Love. Cheese.

I have O negative blood. Thus, if I were to follow the Eat Right For Your Blood Type diet, I would subsist on red meat, mostly.

I take a twisted pride in shirking all of the essay-formatting skills I practiced diligently in my 6 years of university. I especially like the liberation that comes along with using random punctuation (dashes, commas, brackets, and too many exclamation points!!!), sentence fragments, and altered spelling for laffs. Grammar, be gone!

People used to make fun of me for having a space between my front teeth. It used to make me self-conscious, but now it makes me proud. (Me + Madonna = BFF. Or if not BFF, then at least co-presidents of the Gap Tooth Club.)

My hair has spanned the gamut in length and colors. It’s been shaved, short, medium, long, and really long; brown, red, orange, navy, black, burgundy, and even platinum blonde (Never. Again.) I think the ‘true me’ is locked up in my short, spiky hairstyle of yesteryears, but I appreciate my current cape of long hair, too.

<-- People change. Luckily, so do hairstyles and make-up!

I’ve had to learn (the hard way) that you become what you judge on numerous occasions. I’ve even found myself asking a random grocery cashier out on a date after making fun of people who hit on me when I was bagging their groceries. Don’t mess with karma, man. Anything is possible with her.

I am a Cancer-Gemini cusp, and horoscopes for both zodiac signs often ring true for me. I guess that makes me a two-faced romantic with rollercoaster emotions and a dislike for all things feelings-related…?

I can talk about menstruation, fertility cycles, and healthy sexuality for a lot longer than most people care to listen. As somebody dear to me once summarized: “My name is Dana. I like to knit and bleed.” True dat.

And what about you, my loyal readers? Are you ready to join the delurk-a-long? Post a comment! Come out of those cyber-shadows! Do what you will, but please do the delurk!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Quick and Dirty

So yesterday we decided that a gentle stroll along the ocean beaches was in order. It was Marty’s birthday, the sun was shining, the tide was low, and there were many crabs and tiny fish to be located in the tide pools.

Well, we turned over rocks and saw many crabs, we played with other people’s dogs on the hard-packed sand, and we sat on a bench overlooking the pristine blue ocean waves. However, we also ended up getting lost in a bog, caught in an overgrown raspberry bush (in a down vest, no less), and stranded on one side of a random moat dug in between a park and a residential street.

This is how my once-pink runners came to look like this:

Today there will be no walking. Only patient scrubbing of the shoes.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Birthday wishes!

Oh, that happy feeling!

Happy birthday to Kathy today, and best wishes to Marty for his birthday tomorrow! Both of them were born in the same year, but what’s interesting is that Kathy was born on the last day of the Year of the Dog and Marty was born on the first day of the Year of the Pig. Just a bit of zodiac trivia for y’all…

See you next week, dear readers!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Two's a Charm

Well, I’m happy to announce that the universe takes care of its young! A mere 1.5 days after I kinda bombed a certain job interview question, I was in another interview— this time for a position I was more interested in— answering the same question like a downright natural. A natural, I tell you! Thanks for all of your input, and bonus points to Mama Tangerine for her woolly sheep answer (see comments). Anything that can bring farm animals into a job interview setting is an instant classic, if you ask me. It reminds me of that time back in Computer Science class when my friend dared me to ask the prof if our resumé assignment had to be typed. Instant. Classic.

So, after two job interviews in one week, I’m feeling a little exhausted. Having to be ‘on’ (and preparing to be ‘on’) can really take a lot out of a girl! That must mean it’s time for a movie and some feel-good knitting.

Everything about this scarf-in-progress makes me feel good: the colour, the mindless but pretty lace repeats, and the fact that it’s from a charity pattern. When I make it again (and you know I will), it will be thinner and shorter, but this one will be perfect as a cover for my meditation table. Blissful, peaceful sighs all around!

And then there's my latest e-bay purchase to get the creative juices flowing: a 60s hat pattern book!

This pattern really blows my skirt up: (as does the top left cover shot of the sequined lamp shade hat... does that mean I'm strange?)

This one, not so much:

Though I'm sure a spaghetti beret does it for some people... (and as a side note, doesn't the bottom model look like Bree from Desperate Housewives?) Well, take care for now, dear readers. I'll be back again tomorrow with a birthday post for Kathy and Marty!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back in the USSR

I had my first job interview in years yesterday. Kind of scary, actually. I pushed the ‘send’ button and my resume was gone, and then what felt like 10 minutes later, I was on the phone with a woman and setting up an interview for a mere hour and some away!

I have been fortunate (lucky? Unlucky?) enough that my last few jobs have literally been handed to me on a platter. However, the flipside of that is I haven’t had interview practice for a good… oh… 6 years? Needless to say, going into the interview, I felt kind of unprepared. I was trying to imagine what the questions would be, and as I rode my bike to the interview, I practiced what I would say if asked. The thing is, it’s been so long that I really have no clue what people even ask these days. (I sound like I’m about 84 years old when I say that, but it’s true. I really feel out of the whole job interview loop.)

Many of the questions I actually got in the interview were of the type I wouldn’t need to prepare for (‘How long have you lived in Victoria?’, ‘What was your degree in?’), but I was caught completely unawares by one question in particular:

‘Can you tell me what your plans for the next five years are?’

Five year plans??! What is this, the effin’ USSR?!?

In retrospect, the question seems pretty standard for a job interview, but the full and honest truth of the matter is that I really have no idea what my five year plan is. I can tell you what I don’t want to be doing in five years from now, but I haven’t really thought through the specifics of what I do want.

If I had been asked that question in September 2004, the answer would have been simple: In five years, I would be almost finished my Ph.D. and I would be preparing to scope out a professor position at a university.

Things changed, though. Things always change.

Now, if I think through what I really and truly want for myself for the next five years, I think more in general terms. I want to live in Victoria. I want to be in a still-happy marriage with Marty. I want to live somewhere without neighbours above or below us. I want to be pursuing a meaningful line of work. What that meaningful line will be, however, I can’t say right now.

I can’t even recall how I really answered that question in my interview. It was probably an OK answer, but if she was hoping for me to demonstrate how focused and goal-oriented I can be, I didn’t.

The odds are good that I won’t be getting called back for that position, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to go through the interview nonetheless. It got me thinking a lot about my goals, and it even kick-started something inside of me that has been lying around like a lazy blob since I defended my thesis.

Does anybody know a textbook answer to the five-year plan question? I won’t lift it for my next interview or anything… I’m just curious what employers are actually looking for when they ask it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Return of the Killer Alarm Clock

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to this week’s (belated) Monday edition! As it usually goes with Mondays, I had grand ambitions to get the week off to a wonderful start. I set an alarm to wake me up nice and early-ish (8 am) yesterday, and I planned to start applying for jobs as soon as I could turn the computer on. Well… it didn’t happen that way at all. In fact, pretty much everything I had planned for was disrupted in one way or another, for better or worse.

To illustrate:

The Plan: To wake up nice and early-ish (8 am)

What Actually Happened: I was woken up at the ungodly hour of 6 am by the worst thing of all: the upstairs neighbours’ alarm clock. This isn’t the first time this has happened here in Victoria, and it’s also a phenomenon that, for whatever reason, has dogged Marty and I in our last three apartments! It’s never just a couple of beeps, either. Oh no. We have been plagued with neighbours who use perma-beep alarm clocks but never wake up to turn them off. They just go on and on and on… I’m usually awake by the third or fourth ring, and then I lie awake and listen to the beeps for hours. Literally. Are we the only people in the world who know proper alarm clock etiquette? Surely, dear readers, you can pass Alarm Clock Etiquette 101 with flying colors. A quick quiz will help confirm this:

1. Does your alarm clock wake up:

a. You

b. Your neighbours

2. When your alarm clock rings, are you:

a. Home to turn it off

b. Somewhere else entirely?

3. Does your alarm clock:

a. Ring for a maximum of one minute before shutting itself off

b. Ring until somebody manually turns it off, even if that means it rings for a whole morning

Hmm… seems pretty simple to me, but apparently many people find the act of turning off an alarm clock too difficult to handle. But I digress…

The Plan: To start applying for jobs as soon as I turned the computer on

What Actually Happened: Nothing of the sort. Instead, we cleaned our apartment, I knit a couple of toques, and I wove in the last ends of the end-ridden top secret blanket I’ve been knitting. Marty has always wanted a flat-top toque, and I finally found a pattern that would make it happen.

The Third Eye Chullo pattern comes from the Knit Wit book
, and I used Patons Classic Wool for the grey one and Lang Tosca for the striped one. (Forgive the random hat-on-a-lamp shots... Marty went to work today before I remembered to take some pictures!) Maybe the third eye can wield off any unwanted alarm clock advances in the future… or better yet, land me a job!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Newly Deads

People are funny creatures. Just yesterday, we heard that a local artist had passed away. No funny stuff—just old age. Since his death, though, his family members have raked in around $100,000 in art sales. Can somebody please explain this to me?

I don’t understand why deceased artists manage to clear out their entire collection of pieces in such a short time (for a hefty price too, probably), when so many up-and-coming (and really good!) artists live relatively hand to mouth for their entire lives. (Not mentioning any names of course… Cough! er.. Cough! um.. Double hack and a cough!) It’s not just that, either. That deceased artist probably (by comparison) struggled with art sales while he was still alive. I can’t say this for sure, of course (seeing as I don’t know who the artist was), but I doubt he ever experienced a weekly windfall of 100 grand until it was too late. What is it about death that makes artwork so appealing?

Needless to say, one thought led to another, and it wasn’t long before we started debating the merits of faking Marty’s death. (Our pros and cons list looked something like this: Pros- $100K! Cons- the whole going to hell thing...) In Operation Windfall, Marty would suddenly and tragically ‘pass away’, and I, the weepy 'widow', would then hawk his remaining paintings to the now-mourning public (for double the price… Maybe even triple). I would make an award-winning (but highly unethical) documentary film about the whole experience, and then people might think more about supporting artists while they are still alive, too.

And what would we do with our $100K?

Well, some people might go nuts with buying luxury items—a sports car, a house, a boat, perhaps even a boatful of cashmere yarn—but Marty and I are yearning for only one thing: studio space. If we suddenly had a large amount of disposable income, we would get his studio out of our dining room and into a Room of Its Own where it belongs. I would get a studio for crafting, and I would decorate it with all of my kitschy knick-knacks that have been stashed away for much too long. We might get a dining room table—our first in three years!— and then we could haul out our classy dining room set that we received as a wedding gift and haven’t even opened yet. We might decide to have people over for dinner! Lap. Of. Luxury.

The truth is, we would never actually fake Marty’s death. But we will continue to support local (living!) artists as much as we can. I’m not one for bossing people around too much, but I suggest y’all do the same. Artists, artisans, and crafters earning a living wage-- while they are still alive? Now that would be funny.

The John Lennon Wall in Prague, CZ

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

You Can’t Make This Shit Up, Vol. 2

We brought back many things from Calgary on our last trip out. Much of it was very useful (our bed! A couch!), but a lot of it was stuff that has been resting in boxes since I was little. Somehow, we managed to bring back an entire trunk full of things saved from my childhood (photos, notes, old journals), but we couldn’t find things like our casserole dishes or even the bookshelf. Sigh. I guess veggie lasagna will have to wait. As will everything that belongs on a bookshelf… In the meantime, though, I have a ton of new fodder for the YCMTSU segment of this blog. Phew! We couldn’t have that stuff just collect more dust now, could we?

This week, I’m proud to introduce the Pie Plate placard.

Designed by the good folks at Fulcrum Communications (yes, it’s designer!), this placard was intended to retrieve a certain pie plate of my mother’s back from a certain ex of mine, but it served mostly to provide cheap thrills for my family for a good half decade.

Background Info: Way back when, I somehow ended up dating a guy that I was trying to set my best friend up with. The details of the situation are sketchy (methinks karma was just getting herself some cheap laffs at my expense), but I do know that in our three short weeks of ‘dating’ (read: hanging out at the mall?! Going to watch a Cannons baseball game?!!??!! WTF?!), I was called upon to bake a pie for said ex’s birthday. (Of course, his birthday conveniently happened to fall some time in those three weeks. Mine was likely still 8 or 9 months away. Isn’t that always the way?) Anywho, I’d never baked a pie before, but I was fortunate enough to be the daughter of the Queen of Pies. By the time of this fateful birthday pie, my mom had about a kabazillion gourmet pies under her belt, so she offered to teach me for the occasion. She also offered me the use of The Pie Plate.

Long story short, I baked the pie, presented it for his birthday, and promptly dumped his ass decided we were better off as friends. The only thing was… I didn’t get the pie plate back.

Days went by. No pie plate.

Weeks and months went by. No pie plate.

A year went by with no sign of the pie plate. I still ran into him occasionally, and I always asked about the pie plate. I even asked his dad about the pie plate and was assured that I would get it back shortly. This was getting a bit ridiculous. (Note: By this time, the regular old pie plate had been elevated to the sacred status of Pie Plate. Rumors began circulating at home that this very Pie Plate had been passed down to my mother from her mother, and her mother’s mother, and her mother’s mother’s mother, and so forth. Truly, things were getting out of hand.)

It was around this time that my mother implemented a 15 dollar security deposit fee for any new boyfriends I happened to bring by. This helped to ensure she got her books and baking dishes back, and it also helped to ensure that I would never bring any boys by the house. Ever. Again. You try explaining to your latest crush that they have to cough up 15 bucks for your ma… (Actually, by this point, it was all in good fun.)

This is how the Pie Plate placard came to be. My mom’s friends whipped it up to be displayed whenever I might run into the ex, just as a little reminder. They were eager to point out that the font type was called “Hey, Stupid!” (for real!), and we were all pretty amused to imagine me parading by the university with the Pie Plate placard in tote. Sadly, though, this story does not have a happy ending. Our beloved Pie Plate has still not been recovered. If anybody has any information about Pie Plate’s whereabouts, please phone CrimeStoppers anonymously. Cash rewards may be paid for information that leads to recovery of stolen property or to an arrest. With your help, we can put an end to crime.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Caution: Unchecked Rage Ahead

Last week I had the incredible experience of seeing a Cranio-Sacral Therapist for the first time. Going into the appointment, I wasn’t really sure what I could expect, but I did hope that she would be able to assist me in dislodging some very large chips (school, miscarriage, moving, etc.) off of my energetic shoulders. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. My therapist was incredibly skilled at reading energies, and she was able to help promote re-alignment in those crucial areas, as well as in areas I wasn’t even expecting.

One of the key recommendations she made for me (since you’re all apparently on a need-to-know basis now) was to let go of my tendency to take on other people’s issues and crap. My solar plexus was plagued with the weights of about a bazillion people’s problems, and she gave me permission to give all of that stuff back. This caused me immense relief when I was still in her cozy little office, but since stepping off of her healing table, I’ve been feeling something else entirely: completely and utterly irritated.

It’s like I’ve gone from being overly accommodating to other people (at my own expense) to being 100 percent about ME ME ME. Little things that never would have even bothered me before have taken on epic proportions in whatever part of my brain controls feelings of irritability. Upstairs neighbours listening to a little weekend music? Geez!!! Can’t a girl get any peace and quiet??!! Have to wait fifteen minutes to get on a cardio machine at the gym? Kuh!! I’m sick and tired of all this waiting!! In-laws phone in the middle of a hockey game? Hel-LO!! I am TRYING to WATCH the FREAKING FLAMES play the FREAKING OILERS!!! AT LEAST HAVE THE DECENCY TO PHONE DURING INTERMISSION!!!!!!!

Yes, it’s that bad.

Now, learning to say no to others might not be such a bad thing in general, but I don’t even feel especially nice anymore! I feel exasperated, bitchy, irritable, petulant, and really short-tempered. I don’t feel like myself at all.

I’m pretty sure (or at least really hopeful) that this cantankerous version of me is just a passing phase, one that will subside once I figure out how to maintain healthy boundaries. But starting to do this—now—after a whole lifetime of giving myself over to other people—might take some serious doing. In the meantime, if anybody has any favours that they’ve been waiting to ask of me… the magic 8 ball says it might be best to wait until Thursday or so. Or at least to offer the gods of petty anger some luscious fibres before asking!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Newly Weds and Newly... (hint: It rhymes with 'reds'!)

When I first told people that we would be moving to Victoria, I got more than a few mentions of the city’s notorious senior population. ‘What will you do there?’, I was asked, as though the whole city would suddenly shut down at 5 pm, just in time for everyone to watch the evening news or Jeopardy. I wasn’t familiar with the city back then, so I just reassured whomever I was talking to at the time that I was sure there were many things I could find to do for fun. In the back of my mind, though, I secretly hoped it wouldn’t end up being checkers in the apartment lobby or something like that.

Arriving to this beautiful city, I was impressed with the quaint little shops and the abundance of breathtaking scenery, but I was more than a little dismayed that I couldn’t find a Knit Club anywhere. (OK, aside from the $10 drop in at the Beehive. That totally doesn’t count.) Checkers began to seem like more and more of a likely (and even appealing) prospect for my Friday evenings… that is, until two nights ago.

I am happy to announce that I met with the wonderful Crafty Bird a few nights ago and took the first step to co-forming Victoria’s very own small knitting circle! Sure, it wasn’t 20-odd people crammed into a Kensington teahouse, ranting about something or other, but it was glorious and inspiring nonetheless. The Bird and I have lots to talk about, so it looks like we’ll be able to make our knitting nights a fairly regular thing. Hooray!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nomadic Roots

Long before I became a nomad, I lived an immensely stable life in a quiet cul-de-sac in northwest Calgary. My mother stayed home with us while we were growing up (something I will be eternally thankful and proud of her for), and many of my early memories simply revolved around waiting with my sisters near the front window for my dad to come home from work, on his bike, always promptly at 4:30 pm. My mom would always have dinner waiting, it was always made from scratch, and life was pretty good.

I lived in the same house for 21 years, and then my youngest sister and I moved out together into an awesome little rental suite. Things were still stable; we only moved a mere seven blocks away from ‘home’, and the fact that my sister was my roommate lent a comforting sense of continuity to the whole experience. Marty and I later lived in that same rental suite together, until July 2004, when the first seeds of nomad-ism began to take root.

Earlier on, I had had the ‘brilliant’ idea to apply for grad school, and I eventually was accepted to study at Concordia University in Montreal. (And since people seem to look so crestfallen when I say ‘Concordia’ and not ‘McGill’, I’ll say here that I could have studied at McGill—I was accepted and everything—but the über-crappy and laughably unprofessional folding job of my acceptance letter turned me against it. For real. It looked more like the beginning of a paper airplane than a regular tri-fold letter. Just saying.) Anyway, come the end of June, Marty and I prepared for a trek to Alaska and readied our belongings for Montreal.

For me, a nomadic lifestyle didn’t unfold slowly and gently like a new spring blossom. No, once those first seeds of wandering had been planted, they raged like a weed inside me—large, stubborn, and resilient. Six weeks were spent exploring the rugged terrain of Alaska, then after a week to regroup in Calgary, we were off to Montreal. Montreal, alas, didn’t agree with either of us, so very quickly we hit the road back to Calgary and haphazardly arranged for me to study at the U of C instead. It was there, in our rush to find an apartment before I started school (um, in a day!), that the seeds of the nomadic lifestyle were to rage out of control, unchecked, for 2 full years…

Let me introduce now what I hope will become a regular segment in the ex-nomad blog: I’d like to call it You Can’t Make This Shit Up.

Yes, this is our old apartment. There were two main staircases in the building, and both of them were crammed underneath with crap like this.

And I wonder why I hit the ground running…

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Mission: Accomplished

I’ll start off by apologizing for the reference to Mr. Asshat Cruise. Just what you need for my first post back, eh? Well, dear readers, I’m here to tell you that he can’t be all that bad. I didn’t believe it myself until fate intervened and blessed us with the same wedding song. Yes, it’s true— but I guess that’s what we get for having our kayaking guide plan our wedding for us! (He only knew how to sing the Top Gun and Dirty Dancing soundtracks…)

Anywho, enough with T. Cruise. More importantly: we made it! My body is still vibrating from the sixteen or so hours in the van yesterday, but we are safe and sound, and the best news is: the mural is gone!

The drive to Calgary was pretty nerve-wracking. I have an overactive imagination at the best of times, but the whole way there, I had horrible thoughts about the mural dying a slow and painful death. In one scenario, the ferry would groan and sink, and we’d be clinging to a mural panel to stay afloat, a la Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic (ooooh, Leo!). In another, a nasty collision with a semi truck would crack the mural like a melon (never mind probably killing us instantly—it’s the mural I was more worried about, though!) It didn’t help that the mural was coated with milky stains due to an unfortunate varnish mix-up; basically, the whole way there, we didn’t know if we could salvage it, or if Marty would have to do the whole thing over (NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! That would be even worse than anything my doom-plagued imagination could conjure up!)

Well, the weather cooperated on the highways and a little bit of ammonia went a long way to clear up the face of the mural. We installed it on Saturday, and now we can officially be done with it forever. (That also means I won’t ever write about it again, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief- huzzah!)

Otherwise, the visit to Calgary was pretty rushed. We visited with Marty’s parents, my dad, sister, and cat (Nigel!), and a few of our friends over tea. We hit up some of our favourite places—Cadence and the Diner Deluxe-- and went to our storage to fetch some more essentials. I’m pleased to say that we now have a bed and a couch—yeah, we can now curl our asses into the lap of luxury!

Anyway, I’m still getting re-acclimatized to our life on the coast and catching up on e-mails and blog reads. Tune in tomorrow for another update and the unveiling of a new blog feature!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Rooster by any other name...

Scanning over my previous posts, I came to the startling realization that I might have created the impression that my knitting collection only consists of a tacky hot pink apron… Allow me to clarify. I would never, in a million years, want to be known only as the woman with the hot pink apron! (That, or as a bag lady. Or a cat lady.)

Since showing up at my first ever KnitClub meeting, knitting a plain old dishcloth in plain old Bernat Cotton yarn (and feeling horrifically silly, I might add), my knitting has improved in leaps and bounds. I’m still a bit on the inexperienced side when it comes to things like sweaters and Fair Isle (my way too big and tent-ish Tubey sweater can attest to that), but overall, I can say with some degree of confidence that my knitting doesn’t suck.

One of my good friends celebrated her birthday a few days ago, so I suppose it’s only fitting that in my knitting defense, I feature some of my gift knitting for her in today’s post.

My friend has the sweetest one-year-old baby boy. On one of our altogether infrequent visits together, we went to return some cutesy farm animal wall hangings that she had decided not to put up in his room. Her boy may be only one year old, but he’s no baby! Anyway, when I happened across the patterns for Chinese Zodiac symbols in Knitty, I thought it would be perfect to knit up his zodiac symbol—Rooster—and felt it into a wall hanging. It would be sophisticated and symbolic, and it would be reflective of their cultural heritage. That was the plan, anyway…

I quickly knit up the Rooster symbol and felted it up.

Just when I was getting ready to mail it, though, an alarming thought crossed my mind: was I sure that this was the Chinese symbol for Rooster? Flashes of Britney Spears tattooing herself with the Chinese symbol for 'strange' when she really wanted 'mysterious' crossed my mind... I didn't want to end up delivering the equivalent of gibberish to this special child. (Nor did I want to have any more connections to B. Spears-- it's bad enough that we were born in the same year! Oh, who am I kidding? I'm a Slave 4 Britney!)

Well, it was a good thing I checked. The Knitty pattern featured the Japanese symbols for the Chinese zodiac signs. No good.

I went back to the internet, found the appropriate Chinese symbol, graphed it out and knitted it up.

Lesson learned: When you’re trying to be meaningful and symbolic, it’s best to make sure you’re representing the right culture… (Or you can tattoo yourself with Kabbalah symbols backwards... but who am I to judge?)

Anyway, my friend’s boy now has his sophisticated and actually symbolic wall hanging above his crib, and I’ve got the leftover one in my meditation corner (Luckily, I happen to be a Rooster, too!) When I get back from Calgary, I’ll post some other non-hot-pink knitting projects. I promise there’s more than one…

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Cross Your Fingers!

Well, we're taking the plunge tomorrow morning and trying to head back to Calgary for a few days. (I put the fire drill photo in because I'm more than a bit alarmed at the whole prospect...)

The plan is to wake up at 5-ish, make our way to the ferry and then drive all the way back to Alberta! Cross your fingers for good weather, good highway conditions (i.e. no giant avalanche warnings or closures like there are now!), a van that runs well, and an easy installation of the mural-- I know it's a lot to ask for, but we'd appreciate it!

I'll talk to you soon!
Take care, all.

*UPDATE*: The highway is still closed because of a giant avalanche, so we'll have to try again tomorrow. Sigh.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, the HQ (Housewife Quotient) has dropped drastically at Chez Ex-Nomad. We’ve now suffered through a number of dubious meals and have let the dishes pile up in the sink, and I’ve even spent (much) more time watching Sports Plays of the Year than I have cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry. Well, it had to happen sooner or later, and what better time than at the crossroads between two years?

I’m such a sucker for countdowns of all kinds, but I have a particular weakness for the year-end variety… Any list—Memorable Moments, Music Videos, NHL Goals, David Letterman, Celebrity Stories—I’ll watch it and probably like it. (And now that we finally have a TV, this is much easier to do.) Aside from the nostalgia brought about by watching Corey Hart heat up the Guilty Pleasures chart, the end of the year also inevitably invites reflection on my end: how could the previous year be characterized, and what do I hope for in the new year?

Sadly, 2006 was distinguished in many ways by death, illness, and struggle. I lost my dearest Baba, Tyler Johnson—an amazing coworker, BK—a dear friend, a pregnancy, and of course my soul while I finished up my master’s program. Relatives, children, and friends of friends passed on, became seriously ill, or suffered in ways that made the year difficult to bear. However, 2006 was also a year of promise and new beginnings: I finished the thesis and officially became Master Dana; I joined the beloved Calgary KnitClub and learned how to knit more than just dishcloths; I went on a (belated and extended) honeymoon to the Czech Republic and got to visit places I had only ever dreamed about before; I saw Madonna in concert, fulfilling one of my secret lifelong fantasies; and I moved to Victoria with Marty, setting in motion the life course we had planned for ourselves.

I’ve never been big on making New Year’s Resolutions, but this year, I’m taking a big step and resolving to set some! Since a new year is, in many ways, like a new partnership, I’ve decided to structure my resolutions around the old wedding adage: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Something Old

I resolve to be more cognizant of the food I put into my body. I would like 2007 to be the year when I finally treat my body more like a proverbial temple than a plain old trash can.

Something New

I resolve to learn Czech! I got a book on e-bay, so all I need is a little determination to start conversing with Marty in his native tongue!

Something Borrowed

Adopting Crafty Bird’s mantra (which I think she, in turn, borrowed from somebody else—can’t find the exact link right now, though), I resolve to make an effort to use what I have before enhancing my already unwieldy stashes.

Something (out of the) Blue

I resolve to practice more random acts of kindness and giving. Nothing feels quite as good as opening up your mailbox to find a little surprise in the midst of all those bills! Here’s how you can help me out, dear readers: please e-mail me your name and mailing address, and I will send out a small surprise some time between now and the end of the year! Just like that! Please don’t be shy—knit clubbers, former schoolmates, coworkers, mystery blog readers that I haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet face-to-face, and everyone in between—I expect to see your names in my inbox!

Well, Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks in advance for keeping me accountable to my resolutions-- I’ll talk to you all again soon!