Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alpaca alpaca alpaca

Saturday's trip to the alpaca farm was pretty awesome. (If a little wet.) The alpacas are such strange but interesting creatures. They hum to each other, and they all have to poop in the same place. (It's part of the herd mentality, I guess.) The thing I like most about them is their eyes--they're just so inquisitive. I got some nice yarn, too, which is good, because the yarn diet is in full force as of now.

I picked up the material for my Hallowe'en costume today, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to pull it off for Friday. There will have to be a lot of working very hard to make it happen, but it looks like a pretty easy pattern, comparatively speaking.

This week would be great if there were about three more days in it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall is upon us in full force. The leaves are mostly gone now. It was a short leaf season this year, which is unfortunate because it is one of the most beautiful things about this city. Now it seems to be rain, snow, and increasingly colder days. One of the things I like most about the new house is that it has a very small driveway, which will make shovelling less of a chore than it was last year. (At my last apartment, which was a basement one, I somehow suckered myself into shovelling the driveway [which is easily six times the size of my driveway] on my landlady's schedule--lots of 6 a.m. days, and lots of shovelling the driveway 4+ times a day.)

Lots of the mail I was waiting for finally showed up this week, including my Professor McGonagall hat and rosewood wand (see previous post), but also my latest KP order AND my birthday present from the boy (my very own personal ball winder and swift). The Imagination sock yarn at KnitPicks is just gorgeous. I bought two balls each of Wicked Witch and Looking Glass--it's an alpaca/merino/nylon blend and the colours are stunning. I'm contemplating a scarf in the Looking Glass for the youngest skylark sister, since it's her colours (turquoises, aquas, blues, greys) but I'm not sure about it since it's got such a high nylon content.

The ball winder and swift are especially fun to the cat, who thinks that it is Great Fun to try to chase the swift when it spins, and then is surprised when he gets caught under the umbrella part.

This afternoon, I get to go make friends with alpacas. The knitting guild has been invited out to the alpaca farm outside of town. The sisters and I went in the spring, but it was a pretty quick visit during an open house. This time we get to go into the barns and actually see how the alpacas are cared for and such. The owner has a lovely little yarn shop there, full of yarns from her alpacas and from an Ontario alpaca co-op where everyone contributes some fibre and then they all get yarn. I think I'm going to wear the socks I made from the yarn I bought when we went in the spring--is this the knitter's equivalent of wearing the band's shirt to a rock concert? (A faux pas I've never committed, I should note.) My camera is definitely coming with and I'm hoping to pick up some yarn. It's not breaking the yarn diet if it's local, one of a kind yarn, right?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Hallowe'en approaches (a scarce eight days!) and I still have no idea what I want to be. I'm going to be Professor Minerva McGonagall during the day, of course. (My McGonagall hat came in the mail yesterday; it is ENORMOUS.)

But what to be at night? No idea. I need to decide pretty quickly here, as this weekend will be my prime costume making time. If it helps, I'm going to a party, so it isn't just a "handing out candy at the door" kind of deal.

All suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I took this picture about an hour ago. It hasn't stopped snowing since then. My poor pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

plus ca change...

So, $290 million later, what do we have to say for ourselves?

Not much, apparently. We still don't want to give Harper a majority mandate, but we sure as heck don't want those other guys in there, either. What a mess--the Ceeb is even reporting this election as having the lowest voter turnout since 1898.

Stephan Dion is in a whole heap of trouble. The Liberals' showing in this election speaks pretty clearly to how the Canadian populace responds to Dion as leader. (Which is unfortunate, as he has been fighting an uphill battle this whole time, and I quite like him.) He seems convinced that he will stay on as leader, which is a decision that may end up costing the Liberals quite a lot of money (as it forces them to undertake a leadership review, which their broke party can ill afford). Neither Iggy nor Rae seemed willing to admit to their own leadership hopes last night on camera, but it's got to be on their minds.

The Liberal candidate here, Anthony Rota was re-elected handily; the only one of his party to retain his/her seat in Northern Ontario...Health Minister Tony Clement held on to Parry Sound-Muskoka, turning his 28 vote margin from 2006 into a 10 000+ vote of confidence...and the rest of the north fell to the NDP. Back home in Simcoe Grey, Helena Guergis (who has the dubious distinction of being our country's second sexiest female MP after Rona Ambrose) easily defeated her opponents despite some controversy over Site 41.

The highlight of watching the election results come in, though, was CTV's Craig Oliver, who was wonderfully cranky and crusty, and made sure to ask all of the candidates he spoke to all of the delightfully direct questions that other reporters would just pussyfoot around. You, sir, are my hero.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Election madness and the genius of Stephen Leacock

(Note: I had actually written most of this post last week, but my work computer ate it, so I'm re-creating from memory.)

Tomorrow Canadians return to the polls to elect a new federal government. This election is ill conceived from pretty much every angle: No one party stands to gain much here, aside from Elizabeth May and her Green Party. (Though, when you have nothing, there is nowhere to go but up.) We have no hope of anything but minority government, which means it's only a matter of time before we are back at the polls, and broke again.

Last election I got to hang out with Ryan, eating strawberry shortcake, and conversing intelligently as we watched the numbers come in from across the country. No such luck this time, though I will still be watching.

It is at times like this that I am reminded of the awesomeness of Stephen Leacock. Certainly one of the reasons why I'm partial to his work is that he's a hometown boy, so I do identify strongly with the satire that he enacts in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town--a satire that is still relevant 96 years later:

Let me begin at the beginning. Everybody in Mariposa is either a Liberal or a Conservative or else is both. Some of the people are or have been Liberals or Conservatives all their lives and are called dyed-in-the-wool Grits or old-time Tories and things of that sort. These people get from long training such a swift penetrating insight into national issues that they can decide the most complicated question in four seconds: in fact, just as soon as they grab the city papers out of the morning mail, they know the whole solution of any problem you can put to them. There are other people whose aim it is to be broad-minded and judicious and who vote Liberal or Conservative according to their judgment of the questions of the day. If their judgment of these questions tells them that there is something in it for them in voting Liberal, then they do so. But if not, they refuse to be the slaves of a party or the henchmen of any political leader. So that anybody looking for henches has got to keep away from them.

But with all the talk of strategic voting, it's the eleventh chapter of Sunshine Sketches that comes to mind, entitled "The Candidacy of Mr. Smith":

In any case, everybody who has ever seen Mariposa knows just what election day is like. The shops, of course, are, as a matter of custom, all closed, and the bar rooms are all closed by law so that you have to go in by the back way. All the people are in their best clothes and at first they walk up and down the street in a solemn way just as they do on the twelfth of July and on St. Patrick's Day, before the fun begins. Everybody keeps looking in at the different polling places to see if anybody else has voted yet, because, of course, nobody cares to vote first for fear of being fooled after all and voting on the wrong side.

Don't worry about being fooled, gentle reader. Vote for who you think would do the best job. I know it seems like a piss poor choice sometimes, but it is a choice that we have, and that's worth a lot. The system only works if you let it: strategic voting doesn't help anyone here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

we only said goodbye with words

This post is my 399th here at this blog, which seems like a great number, except that I have been blogging here since 2002. Not such a great track record, after all. I've done better at blogging this year than I did last year, though, which is a promising sign.

So, in the interests of approaching that magical 400th post, I should probably say something interesting here. With regards to my last post and the election contretemps therein, I'm given pause to wonder about the results of the police investigations into the incident as hate crime. If Popescu had said, "All Jews should die," or "All black people should be put to death," would it even be a question that his words constitute hate crime? It wouldn't. So why is homophobia more socially acceptable in this way? What does that say about us?

I've completed weekend #3 in my four weekends away from home. This one found me in Fergus and Guelph for the wedding of a friend from grad school. I love going back to Guelph - it just makes me sad that I don't live there any longer. The wedding ceremony was wonderful: it showcased the couple very well. The reception was an excellent time. Alicia is a Jane Austen nut, and Jason is a Batman fan, so they each had an action figure with them at the head table. It was adorable.

I got to catch up with two of the other women I went to Guelph with, both of whom are doing interesting and awesome things right now, and who really make me miss the MA experience. I'm giving serious thought to the PhD now. I think I actually want it now (I haven't for the last few years) but I am terrified of the changes it will make to my life.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

dreaming of better lives (the kind which never hate)

This is terrible. Not only that, it's in my own backyard. It's a pretty interesting situation--I'm troubled by the school board's reaction, in particular. I'm appalled that they left Sudbury Sec's principal to fend for himself rather than making a comment as a board. I also don't know what to make of the principal's response: Yes, we certainly do want to promote freedom of speech, but we can't do so at the risk of spreading hate? Do Popescu's comments constitute hate crime?

I'll be interested to see what the investigation into his comments turns up. It's been a few years since I taught grade twelve law, so I'm a little rusty on the hate crime laws...but this incident has the potential to have far reaching implications for how we think about public debate and how we try to involve our youth in political discourse.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this.