Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Treacherous Weather

We're getting way more snow than is normal for here. Our driveway is 300ft and then there's the parking area. Mr. Boo helped do the drive but had to write a final exam. I was using shovelling snow as an excuse to not write my exam. But I went inside after about 90 minutes. I had hit the books late into the night and then all morning. This is unit one. Of eight. Whew! But I wrote it according to my self-imposed schedule and aced it. Immediately I downloaded unit 2. It looked like so much reading, but I've already done all the hand-outs today and am ready to read the chapters in the texts. My shoulder is sore from taking notes and my back muscles are grumpy from shovelling. The good news is I got to duck out of a meeting this morning to study.
The spiral pi shawl is growing. I'm almost done the second of 5 balls. But there has been so little knitting. I'm going to do a bit this evening to help me settle. Monday night was bad when I lost track of time and was in the middle of a chapter at 11 pm. I'm usually in bed by 10:30. I need a long, gentle path to sleep including reading a novel. But I'm a good sleeper because of that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Seventeen Years

Mr. Boo turned 17 this weekend. It was a bit quiet because we were both studying. He had a provincial exam and I had my first unit in nursing.
His sister made him a delicious chocolate cake with mocha icing. His study partners were very impressed. This is how they celebrated.

It's all about Dance Dance Revolution in this house. He's a dancing fool. I guess his soccer footwork pays off. They do it together for hours. The dog has to be pushed off the mats all the time.

It was also the celebration of Robert Burns' birthday. Mr. Boo doesn't pipe anymore, but D. does. He is the MC and I help when the band is tuning. We have a lovely Aberdeen School of Highland Dance in our neighborhood and they came out smiling. D. is right behind the green kilt.

Sit down dinner for 400 people with roastbeef and haggis. The scotch tasting bar ran out and all three bands joined together. We were seated with family and friends and had our annual good time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Warm Hearts

This is the water feature in my best friend's garden. I love the effect, but truly the effect is to shock us with unexpected coldness.
This is the school I'm not attending. It's Kwantlen University College in Surrey. I'm an on-line student, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the campus and find it so inviting. The bookstore was excellent. I found two books I've been looking for for ages, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Peter Pan In Scarlet. How many days in spring break.
I don't know why they have this beautiful stage. I can imaging a Midsummer Night's Dream. Perhaps more like the Merry Wives of Winter. Those are my bags. Lots of books. I met my tutor and she's lovely and also a Pediatric nurse in Oncology. I don't know what I'll do when I get my registration back. If it's all going to be a war zone, I might as well go to the O.R.
Li asked for our favourite landscapes on her blog, "Life's a Stitch" (dot typepad dot com). This is our own Mt. Cheam looking eastward. I look toward her everyday. She's not a Caribbean beach with palm trees, but I love how she has her moods and changes her mantle of snow.
I walked the dog, swept the driveway of spruce needles and even had a flute practice in addition to loads of studying. It felt good to have some energy (afternoon coffee). Last night I went to band and found I could still, amazingly, sight read. It was fun.
Oh, and I did knit around on the pi shawl while we watched a bit of the glass teat.
Happy Robert Burns Day. We have the big pipe band party tomorrow night. 450 people for sit down dinner of roast beef and haggis. It feels strange to be a guest. For so many years my husband and I did the organinzing. I even did the Immortal Memory and sang The Star of Robbie Burns. But I stepped back when I stopped teaching drumming. I'm looking forward to our old friends. Slainte!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Frog Blog

What are you looking at? Yes I'm ripping out the entire sock that I reknit on smaller needles and fought with the heel for 2 days. Note to knitters. Don't fight with your knitting. It only misses it up.
Can you see how dark the wool is and how dark the sky is when it's snowing? Even with my Ott light, I was messing up. The new lamp just showed the mistakes better.
This is me in the angst of the saddest day of the year (Monday) and to celebrate, I went to a funeral. Yes. A dear friend who has been very encouraging. But I never knew her before the chronic pain from a horrendous car accident and rhumatoid arthritis. She is peaceful now, but she lived with grace and peace.
The ducks in the snow cheer me up. They really look silly.

My best friend is having cataract surgery today. I was wondering what to make her. When I thought of the God's Eyes we made at camp, I went into my craft drawer and found this wire. I put it on a gold ribbon for a book mark. Hopefully she'll be able to see well enough to read next week before she does the other eye. Sigh.
I am so happy to have my spring green pi shawl to knit while I watch TV with the kids. D is in New Orleans and we're getting along OK. I'm doing lots more studying than knitting.
I met my tutor today and she's totally supportive in a way only nurses can be. I am encouraged that she was just going to show me how to navigate the website. Awfully nice, but I'm already up to my armpits. Back to the books.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Knitting My Mistakes

The stitches are trying to jump off. It's time to change to longer needles, but, here in the boondocks I can't buy one to save my life.
We also just received our magazines. Perhaps they were brought by donkey. A few of us have been haunting the news stands. Grumperina has a good article about seaming sweaters in the knitscene, which is for my daughter. Cara (januaryone) is a brilliant photographer and her colourful cards are focused in the Very New Very Vogue section.

The 3.25 mm needles did not really change the gauge and I have a second one to add when it gets bigger. I was disappointed that it was still all bunched up for the photo. But my knitting mistakes are much easier to fix than others.
My tutor was kind enough to reschedule my orientation for Wednesday. I have to drive into Surrey. While I was belatedly getting my student card at the Langley campus, I missed a scheduled lunch with a dear old friend. What was I overlooking when I picked up chocolates (Yum Yum Chili Chocolate from BC Connections) to apologize?
The first chapters of my course took about 8 hours to read. I know it's beginning time, but I am worried I don't have enough hours to do this and look after my life, too. I read thoroughly and made copious notes and study cards. Perhaps there will be less review.
I always say now that I have a mind like a sponge. But it's a very full sponge and you have to squeeze out something to get the new information in. Perhaps I'll lose the lyrics to pop songs from the 70's. Or the lines of the Fool in Marat Sade. I hope it's not knitting related. Maybe my nephews will miss their birthday cards.
One of my youngest nephews had a baby on Thursday. The joy is modified by their fighting with my sister and general sad state of their relationship. But this is my first grand niece and I'm not part of the feud. He's hardly ever talked to me in his 20 years. So I can resume my normal relationship with them and give them the tomten sweater with a gift certificate for necessities.
I hope in all this studying I don't have to give up the necessity of blogging and reading your blogs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tumbling Down

All those good critical thinking ideas are not helping me. I was just emailed that I missed my orientation. Apparently an independent on-line study in Nursing requires face to face orintation. I do not like the word "orientate". "Orient" will do, thank-you, nurses. I feel dreadful. Not only did I spend the whole afternoon taking my daughter to the doctor for the same cold that I have worse, but she turned on me like a dragon when I said I didn't feel well enough to go to Starbucks. It's amazing how the inner 15 year old reminds me so much of that two-year old.

In addition, this little dell printer next to me is threatening to send me back to my ludite roots. OK, I'll buy your own special ink cartridges and try to take the ones back to the mall. I'll even order on line. But you should recognize the one I put in. No, it is not missing. Would you like me to move the screen closer to the printer so you can recognize it? Tomorrow I will call dell. But not tonight.

We've just lost one of our brave old ladies at church. I'm terrified that her funeral will coincide with my make up orientation. We all pitch in because we are in the process of getting a new minister: we do not have a minister right now. I'm the right hand to the Worship chair(woman), but I've already messed up my first day of school.

This time I will not be wearing my sister's hand me down light green wool skirt and jacket with the snap on bow. I will not be entering the basement from the girls' side and climbing the wide polished steps to the last class down the hall to the left. I will not take my place in a wood and iron desk that is attached to the one infront and behind me like a sleigh. There will be no kind custodian (Mr. Robinson) with his red dustbane and his wide broom to wink at me. There will be no elderly Mrs. Nichol in her last year of teaching before retirement who likes things done the old way and is relieved that I am not shy like my sister. No, I'm not shy.

Yes I wish this first day of school had been a success. My luck is that my tutor is willing to give me a second first day. Wish me luck.

Starting Over

The sun rises slowly. Here it's 0700h and it hasn't reached the creek yet. I love the bright harvested field and the promise of a clear, sunny (though cold -2C) day.

Yesterday I began my nursing refresher course. They now call it re-entry to practice. I have spent six months gathering my paperwork to qualify. I was lucky they didn't expect me to start over after my 12 years away.

Our first lesson (of course) was the Nursing Process. This is the framework in which we make our nursing decisions. I was a bit worried that it would be as boring as when I was 21 and first transplanted to Calgary and the traditions of a proud hospital training nursing school.

I am different. The text is different. Even the approach is different. There is so much more respect for the individual ideas and experience of the nurse and the client (patient). They have placed it within the structure of critical thinking. Yay! I like this stuff. I love sociology and psychology and philosophy. How different these processes seem now that I have read the Greek classics, raised two children and passed the 40-year mark.

I must say that knitting fits beautifully within the framework of critical thinking. Decision making, using language to explore ideas and reflecting on successes and failures is what this blogland is all about. What encouragement to a writer and journaller to hear that I am to keep a nursing journal of how I felt about the situations, what worked and what could be done better. As well, my love of research will be embraced.

I know I didn't always find this keenness accepted on the ward. I realize now that there were many bullies on the nursing floor. But I'm bigger than most of them. I have learned to support my children to triumph over bullies and I can do it now too. If I want to do thorough foot care, I don't care if it makes you look bad. If I want to chart at great depth, it is for my patient's good and my own personal and professional aims.

The text also encourages the sisterhood among nurses that I never got at home because I was so wrapped up in being a new wife and mother. I look forward to some new friends who will understand the situations and the confidentiality. My best friend from nursing moved from Yellowknife to north of Adelaide. Sigh. There's always email.

I finished the first square of the aran afghan. Dragonskin is appropriate for a young man. I bound off and I'll probably pick up and knit seed stitch borders. I like this enough to perhaps use it as ever-other square. But it is not TV knitting. I wasn't about to give up the English countryside in Wives and Daughters to keep the overlapping stitches on track. I do better with a running pattern. I still wanted this to be a block a month, but I am wary of placing such barriers on my time. Perhaps it's a block as I wish project.

The Nursing course is self directed, so I really need to focus my discipline on keeping on track. If i finish a little early, I could have the summer off. Hmmm. Another start.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Now that I have a few FO's under my new year belt, I have a "can do" attitude. This jaywalker sock has been neglected since I tried to knit it on the Coquihalla Highway on the Winter Solstice. What is wrong with it? I brought it out and compared it to other socks and I thought I was right that it was just too big. I knit loosely and I probably just didn't get gauge.

So I ripped it back and went down from 2.5 to 2 mm needles. Let's consider the first few inches a swatch. In the realm of finish-a-thon, one must include the current projects at risk of being stashed as well as the ones marinating in the pantry downstairs.

I found an OTT (type) light at my bestfriend's favourite store. It's called MTF and they clear out all the Costco merchandise. Yes- cheaper than Costco. So we find books and shampoo and especially cashmere (don't tell D) at half the price or less. Most of my cashmere is clearance.

Here is my first whiff of spring. My snowdrops at the front door are boldly attempting to show. We're having a dreadful wind storm and the TransCanada Highway is closed eastbound to Merritt. My in-laws just arrived home from Vancouver Island and I am thankful that they had a safe ferry trip.

I started my son's afghan. This will be an ongoing project because my best friend knows that the blanket has to be long enough to cover his long body. She's always right and it doesn't always make things easier. So 12 inch blocks need to be at least 6x4 blocks. Probably 6x5 for the proportions I want. This block is Dragonskin from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Not only am I going to capitalize on my aran stash, I'm going to learn lots about different cable patterns. All good. Take your time. Plus little blocks means I get to have a new start each time.

Finished the Finishing

Casmere socks are done. They turned out pretty quickly and pretty well. Mom's feet are smaller than mine so I think they'll fit even better. I'm ahead of schedule for February birthday.
The baseball sweater is finished. It fits D so well. This is a May birthday for nephew #3. A lot of finishing! But Lucy Neatby was in my ear and my stitches were made happy. The kitchen is a mess and the husband is a bit grumpy. He said I wouldn't have to change much to make him one. Hint. I made the sleeves extra long (my nephews look like they haven't finished growing). So for D I'd make them normal.
And here I am invoking spring with a bright, swirly baby blanket. This is for June. It's probably the best picture I'll get because as it grows, it folds back on itself like a sack. I'll have to move up circulars in a while. I wonder where I put my other 3's?
This is the Round or Pinwheel Baby Blanket from knitlist. The author is Genia Planck. I couldn't get the beginning with her notes, so I went to EZ's Emily Ocker's circular beginning in the back of Knitter's Almanac. It's really just a crochet beginning of 5 stitches. I used to crochet a lot, so I'm comfortable with that, except this Butterfly Mercerized Cotton is very slippery. I also attribute my crochet experienced to my ability to knit continental. That and I'm ambidextrous.

So I have some easy two-long-rows knitting to tuck into when I begin my studies. I still have a jaywalker sock that I carry around and underappreciate.
Yesterday, when I needed to give my hand a rest, I went through all my newly organized Interweave Knits magazines and set up the next two nephew sweaters. The Cascade 220 will work perfectly with the Braided Blues from Fall 2005. This nephew is a bit slighter, so probably a medium with long sleeves would do OK. I'm taking back 5 balls of Phildar which will start me on yet another sweater.
In finishing, I can look forward.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Gift of Knitting

This cold really stinks. What is making me behave and rest is this perfect sock pattern. Karen's Sugar-Free Diabetes Walk Socks that I bought from her website:
It really is a splendid cable pattern that my spongey, gooey brain can manage at this time. The Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran is so sumptuous. These are for my mom's February birthday. Here I was afraid I wouldn't get them done in time and I made one in a single day. I read about all of you doing that, but I thought there was special knitting magic. Apparently one of the ingredients to completing projects is time. Imagine. So eventhough I don't like being sick, I am given the gift of time.
I received a thank-you in the mail and my first honorarium for playing flute. I have been paid to sing before, but this was special. The seniors and kids made it worth while and I thought my flowers were the thank-you. I'd like to buy a charm for my bracelet or something to mark the event, but I just paid several hundred dollars for registration and text books for my course which starts next week. So I should at least put it in the kitty to go toward my flute lessons. It would be great if I could pay for a chunk of them by playing. The gift of music.Noodle Pie was given snorkel gear for her birthday and I found this picture on my camera. Not only is that snow, it is rain-soaked slushy rotten snow. I drove to Langley in poor visibility because of the heavy precipitation.
We are planning a cruise for Spring Break and if they have their own snorkel gear, they can just pop into the water at any beach. The gift of looking forward to tropical journeys. If I feel crappy today, at least it won't last forever and I have my knitting.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Knitting in the Light

This navy wool is very deceptive. I'm finding that seaming it in the sunroom in daylight makes a big difference to the visibility of the stitches. A men's large raglan has a lot of seams.
Ususally I can only knit in the evening and we'll sit in front of the TV together. But I'm sick.
Everyone I know has this cold. My family had it during the holidays. Our piano teacher has cancelled. Noodle Pie has a sore throat, too.
So I have made two types of soup: lentil vegetable and butternut squash pottage. I have made the creme brulee for the birthday dinner. I get to use my blow torch tonight! I used it to light her trifle candles, too. Our house is full of pyromaniacs, so I'm usually last in line to play with fire.
Lots of hot tea and maybe one of the banana muffins I made last night. This Christmas baking is hard to shake. I may need to make some more goodies until the days get longer.
There snow on the ground again, and a snow warning. This is so strange for us in the Pacific Coast Rain Forest. Another reason to cocoon. Hopefully the transformation will include a finished nephew sweater.
I cast on a scarf yesterday, but the two types of handspun won't play together. Urban Yarns is mailing me another ball of Cashmerino so I can knit my mom some special socks. The mailing will be expensive but less than gas to Vancouver. Plus Kathleen was so kind and cheerful.
I also lucked in with the Kwantlen College bookstore. I start my class next week and don't have my books. They're shipping them to closest campus. Just for me. Thank-you Trudy. I haven't even met you and I'm doing an on-line class, so I won't even get to stop in and visit.
Hope you are all well.
15 years ago I was one week into false labour and trying to get to the hospital in a snow storm. They had said that it was my last day to wait. But she knew when she wanted to get out and she came out with all the skills to eat and scream and sleep.
She is a huge personality and smarter than me. I'm not sure capricorn was the best choice for this house, but she has shaken it up. In the last year she has been able to shine with her solo trumpet in the jazz band, singing at church and teaching little guys how to skate. She is developing some deep friendships with girls her age and is bouncing between teaching band or being a neurologist. Both good choices. She is a knitter. Although patterns are boring to her and she'd rather knit just off the needles, she has made some great kritters, knit most of a red hoodie and is almost ready to felt her black messenger bag.
This is a tough stage to grow through, but she is starting to show some responsibility. I'll need the help to get through my own courses. I won't post her picture, but she has kicky short hair and vibrant blue eyes and is already an inch taller than me.
Happy Birthday Noodle Pie.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Overshot the Sleeve

Lastnight was a great family gathering for a 15th birthday celebration. Both sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins from both sides. The trifle was a hit and short-lived. Her real birthday is Tuesday, so I'll probably make some cupcakes or something for her family gift opening.
Mr. Boo treated us to a little Rachmaninov at the end. It is rare that he enjoys performing, so we took advantage of his Grade 10 (Toronto Royal Conservatory) expertise.
I have been enjoying how quickly this navy sweater is coming along. I measured the second sleeve next to the first this Sunday afternoon (while listening to a podcast interview of Phillip Pullman on CBC's Writers and Company) and was ready to count the stitches of the increases. Well, I was 10 stitches too many which means ripping back 40 rows or almost a whole 50 gram ball of Phildar Pegase+ at 90 meters. Oh well. This time when I knit those 40 rows, it will go more quickly because I'm not increasing. I wish my hand wasn't hurting so much from knitting. Just take it easy and don't overdo it. Oh, and count.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Trifle

It's cold and wet. I'm glad I took the BBD for a walk early in the day. Now we not only have to avoid the word "walk", but I can no longer say "W-A-L-K" nor "Take the thing for a thing". She knows what we mean. Perhaps if we spoke in verse or sang.

I made the chocolate cake and butterscotch pudding for the Skor Bar Trifle:

Layer half a cubed chocolate cake with half a recipe of butterscotch pudding and sprinkle with a smashed up Skor bar. Cover with 1/2 of the sweetened whipping cream from a 500ml (pint) carton. Repeat for a second layer. Top with another terrorized and tenderized Skor bar.

This will be NoodlePie's birthday cake for the family coffee and dessert party we have every year- right after Christmas.

I am coming down with the plague (aka strep throat?). This is my way of not cooking. Tomorrow we will see how well I will not clean.

We're also messing around with making desk calendars. I saw one in "blueprint" magazine.

We have a local photographer who made similar ones with really nice pictures. Perhaps next year we'll do something with adobe photoshop.

No pics today because me camera battery was at the spa when the kids made us tacos for supper last night. It was a nice colourful picture, too. I hope they appreciate the aquisition and application of practical skills.

I lied. We had a few minutes of sun in the north-facing backyard just now so I had to capture it. On these shortest days, we have to celebrate the light.

Unfortunately we feel drawn to the basement DVDs and the movie theatre. We really loved the Golden Compass on New Year's Eve. I took friends and cousins to Mission to the SilverCity big theatre. We enjoyed our midday viewing, Starbucks and Black Bond Books. I have almost all 6 of our book club's choices for the year. But first I wanted to finish the Golden Compass trilogy and the Laurie R. King. Now I've just started Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns". This was an unauthorized choice while they passed it around and I'm the last to catch up. It's already as good as the Kite Runner.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Beginnings, New Endings.

Mt. Cheam (She-AM) is our local dormant volcano. She is a little sister to Mt. Baker and Mt. St. Helen's. Every day we look to her to see if she is wearing her snow mantle and if her companion, Ladypeak, is dressed like her. When I was little, she was never without snow. Now she loses her snow in the summer eventhough her peak is 6,500 ft. I have climbed her twice.
On New Year's Day I walked around the 5 km block for the first time in many months. My foot injury is healing and I wanted to make a symbolic move forward. I was lucky enough to listen to Cast-On during the walk. Brenda Dayne spoke of "starting as you mean to go". I have taken this literally on the right foot forward.

Today I am making curtains. The TV room downstairs still isn't finished. These curtains are meant to add a theatre-like decor and to separate another room to use as a guest room. I have had to harangue the gang, but the sofa bed is in there and the curtain rod is ready to be hung. Carly is not impressed and chooses to leave her dog hair on everything in protest.
My poor sewing machine is neglected. I treat it like I do the stallion we used to have, with a fair dose of respect and trepidation. It is smarter than me and makes things look easy. But it is noisy and has moving parts and I am always astounded that anything I sew ever turns out.
Finally, January grey skies have settled in. I made my favourite: biscuits. Just from the Joy of Cooking, but they turned out really well. Especially with local honey and hot tea. I'm reading a wonderful Laurie R. King book that is intended to bridge her two mystery series. The first is the Bee Keeper's Apprentice. The bee keeper is the retired Sherlock Holmes and these are stories of his further exploits (with a wife!!). Holmes are the first stories I read when I graduated from Winnie the Pooh. I have always been under his spell. King's second series is set in modern day SanFransisco (one of my favourite cities). I bought the first one, A Grave Talent in an Oxfam shop on Byres Rd. in Glasgow and it kept me happy all the way home on the plane. I wasn't prepared to test the British airport security with knitting needles.

I also had time to listen to an Anne Perry novel on tape while I sewed and knit and puttered. It is a great comfort when the kids are home and I have time to myself, but my house is chaos.

We've been watching Ken Burns' The War. D. loves his WW2 history and I bought him the 6 DVD set for Xmas. This explains how I am on the second sleeve of a large sweater and in danger of injuring my right hand. It's a good thing I have reading to divert me from knitting. Soon it will be all studying.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Escaping the Stash

Today is a day for planning.
I took down the tree and decorations and cleaned the front room. Whew!
I have in my stash an inordinate amount of aran wool. I have knit many aran sweaters and so have this very similar stash. I plan to make cabled squares for my son. At first I thought one per month because I really enjoyed the hat a month year a year ago. But this is probably a graduation present and he's only in grade 11, I can take my time and stitch it up, too.
I hope to do 12x12 inch blocks with a bit of seed stitch border and delve into some of my stitch pattern books. Although I am inspired by the Knitters' All American Aran Afghan, I really don't like most of those squares. I'll check in my back issues, though.
I cleaned up my stash enough that I have room to put my knitting magazines on those shelves.
The sleeve is decreasing. I hope to cast on the second one tonight. It depends on family viewing.
I really enjoyed listening to Live and Violet while cleaning this morning. I even joined the chore wars. We'll see if this encourages or intimidates.
I am cleaning up some files and emptying out my upstairs cabinet for the soon to be all-encompassing Nursing courses. I need to buy my books and hook up for on-line lessons. I'm glad I've already gotten my feet wet in that arena.
Hope your New Year's Day is filled with new hope and beginnings.