Monday, May 31, 2010

A Heavy Heart and Lots of Prayers

A few weeks ago, my maternal grandfather fell in the shower. It didn't seem to be a big deal at the time, but then he started complaining of headaches and began throwing up. My grandmother brought him to the hospital, where he was x-rayed. The x-rays show a subdural hematoma; he's bleeding at the base of his brain. None of this is very good (particularly the vomitting), but it's even worse given all of my grandfather's other health problems: renal failure, stroke, electrolyte imbalance, diabetes, and alcoholism. He's 86, too, so when all that adds up together, it makes for a pretty grim picture. No one really knows what is going on. The hospital can't do anything for him other than treat his pain and his nausea, so they won't admit him; the brain bleeding is either going to heal itself or it isn't.

I don't know how to feel. I don't want my grandfather to die, but I don't want him to suffer, either. I've been trying my best to pray for peace for both him and my grandmother, but I've had a hard time controlling my emotions and focusing them towards that end.

Rather than dwell on the negative, though, I thought I'd tell you a little about my grandfather, and maybe tell my favourite of his stories. My mom's father is a joker and a trickster. He grew up in Schumacher, ON, which is now part of Timmins. He was one of several children. He worked on the railroads1 and eventually wound up working for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Peterborough and Scarborough. He always has a joke, or a rhyme, or a song for his grandchildren. He loves trains, birds, gardenning, and the Royal Family. He has such a tremendous sense of humour, and tells stories so well. Here is one of my favourite grandpa stories:

The Story of Tom, Lloyd, and the Daisy Air Rifle
When Tom (my grandfather) and Lloyd (his brother) were young, there was nothing in the world that they wanted more than a pair of Daisy air rifles. Trouble was, their mother flat out refused to let them have guns. They began secretly squirreling money away, pledging that once they had enough saved up to buy two air rifles, they would go to the store and buy the guns regardless of what their mother thought. When that blessed day came, however, the store only had one gun in stock. They elected to buy the lone gun, and went off into a field to try to shoot some stuff. Once they ran out of logs and rocks to shoot at, Lloyd said to Tom, "I wonder how much it hurts to get shot by one of these."

The two boys decided to find out. They drew straws; the person drawing the short straw being the first person to get shot. Tom drew the short straw. He bravely walked away from Lloyd, and bent over, offering his buttocks as a target.2 Lloyd aimed, fired, and hit Tom square in the butt. It was the worst pain he had ever experienced in his young life, and the worst part was that he couldn't even do anything about it. He knew that if he so much as whimpered, Lloyd would chicken out and break his end of the bargain. Thus, he held in his tears just long enough to shoot his brother in the butt.

(Afterwards, of course, both boys cried, and had difficulty sitting properly, owing to the pellets in their butts, which resulted in both their mother's discovery of their evil plan and her confiscation of the air rifle.)

1 In the earlier parts of the twentieth century, the only choices in northern Ontario were railroads or mining.
2 When my grandpa told me this story, he told me that there was a reason why they were going to shoot each other in the butt, but I don't remember what it was.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Faux Feminism in Film

I went to Gladiator II: Close Your Eyes and Think of England Robin Hood last night. I thought that I enjoyed it (mostly) at the time, but now that I've reflected on it in greater depth, there are a number of things about it that bother me. I liked Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle as Allan A'dayle, and the rest of the future Merry Men were quite enjoyable (and age appropriate) as well. The music was fun, the costumes were lavish, King John was delightfully cartoon-y in his essence, the last forty-five minutes ruined it for me.

History and performance are two of my research interests, so it's likely not surprising that I like watching movies that are about historic figures and events. One of my primary interests in most forms of media and culture is storytelling; I like seeing the different ways that stories are told and narratives are formed. Movies based in history can be a real treasure trove for that because they force the writers, directors, and actors to find ways to make characters and stories relevant to modern audiences. Sometimes this is successful (Elizabeth, The Tudors) but more often it isn't (King Arthur, the Clash of the Titans remake).

Robin Hood, unfortunately, falls into the category of films that don't work. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Russell Crowe. I'm not the first to say this, and I certainly won't be the last, but he is too old here. (Cate Blanchett is too, and I adore her and would normally watch a two hour film of her reading a phone book, so that's not a criticism I make lightly.) Crowe plays Robin Hood well enough, but the Robin Hood he's playing isn't the one that the movie is about: he's about 15-20 years older. Second, remember the time that Robin Hood's dad wrote the Magna effing Carta? No? Me neither. Third, how come Robin is a mere bowman at the beginning of the film, but by the end is capable of leading a cavalry charge and directing all of John's armies?

The fourth complain is actually part of a larger problem that has ruined a number of historical films for me: the retconning of the role of women, as though women today must have an ahistorical, ass-kicking female role model on the screen or they won't enjoy the movie. Both the Clash remake and King Arthur egregiously bad/good examples of this. I was actually on board with Lady Marion throughout most of the movie: sure, she was a little more active and opinionated than a lot of women in the time period likely were, but she lived a life that required it of her. Her husband had crusaded off some ten years before; there were stables needing to be mucked out; she got shit done. (Pun not actually intended there.) My benevolence ends, though, in the final battle scene of the movie (which I will try not to spoil for you, but if you've seen a movie any time in the last fifty years, I'm sure you can figure it out).

I just don't understand this impulse to give us these false heroines--what do the women in the audience gain from that? It downplays the real oppression that women experienced historically, and it's insulting. Wouldn't it be more effective to show more realistic portrayals of the kind of things that women went through? Contrasting the obstacles that women faced throughout history with both the freedoms that we now enjoy and the problems that we still face could be an enormously affecting and effective way of creating an engrossing movie going experience, no?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


One of the characters on Twin Peaks is named Leland, which reminded me of something I haven't thought about in a long time: names. Leland brought this to mind because it would have been my name if I had been born a boy.1 With a first name that's as unique (and as easily mispronounced) as mine, it's probably not too surprising that I spend a lot of time thinking about names and the effect that they have. For example, I am always endeared to writers who use names well in their writing. Names have also come up recently because I'm getting married, which means it's time to decide if I want to keep my name or hyphenate.2 Currently, I am leaning towards keeping my name--I figure I can always change it later if I want.

One of the things that I haven't thought about a lot, though, is nicknames. I have a number of different ones for different situations, the most generic of which is simply the abbreviation of my name: Rhi. Rhi is a nickname that comes and goes for me; unlike the thousands of Matthews/Mathieus that are frequently abbreviated into Matt or Mat, Rhi is a nickname that implies a certain degree of familiarity. Obviously, it's one that's used in my family a lot (along with Rhi-Rhi, which is definitely a family-only name), and when I first went away to school, no one called me Rhi for about three years. It took a similar amount of time for my colleagues at the historic site to using it. Of course, right after that happened, I went elsewhere for my MA, and by the time I came back for the BEd, everyone who called me Rhi was gone. Over the last few years, I've realized that it's a good way of measuring how comfortable people are with me, which I like: it's sort of an easy way to know if someone is really my friend. Now that I think about it, there are only four people in North Bay who call me Rhi.

1 Or Lindsay. Yet another reason to be happy to have been born female.
2 Mat has decided that if I decide to hyphenate, that he will as well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Enter: Experiment In Progress

So it has been just over a month now since I decided that I was going to make the effort to blog every day, and it's been an interesting month. I have really liked taking the time to write a little bit every day, and I hope that I can keep the momentum going forward as I ease in to the summer. One of the unfortunate side effects of the daily blogging has been that there've been a few too many "today I had a bowl of Special K Red Berries cereal for breakfast"-type entries, but I expect that it will get better with time, particularly as I get used to knowing that I need to update every day. The best piece of adivce that I was given was to try to update in the morning whenever possible, which was definitely true. I only missed two days in the whole month, which I'm quite pleased with, and both times it was because I had anticipated updating in the evening and wound up going out instead.

One of the big changes to the way that I blog is that I'm taking more time over the individual entries; some of the longer ones have taken three or four days to write and edit before posting. Right now, I'm working on one that thinks about Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber and female pubescent desire that I'm hoping can go up in the next couple of days. I also want to collect my thoughts on the finale of LOST1 and perhaps some on Twin Peaks as well. (Academic Colleague and I were unable to restrain ourselves, so we watch five episodes yesterday, bringing us up to the end of the first season.)

In about two weeks, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the day that I started blogging, and I intend to have a strong, thoughtful, and generally kick ass essay written for that event.

1 Although, I think I said the same thing about the BSG finale, and I've yet to think of anything even remotely interesting to say about it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Songs of Summer

There has been massive construction work going on at the end of our street for the last month or so, and one of the unfortunate side effects of this (aside from the shaking of our house) has been that the city keep turning the water off between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. This makes it really hard to get anything done during the day, like laundry or cleaning. Alas. As a result of this, I spent most of yesterday afternoon at the beach, finishing up Wolf Hall, and trying not to further the previous day's sunburn. (Waterproof SPF30 is the way to go, it appears.) Wolf Hall was ultimately unsatisfying, or at least not as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be; it was gorgeously written but not quite the sum of its parts, I guess. One of the problems that I often have with historical fiction is that I'm always laying out a map in my head of the historical timeline, and the fiction often becomes secondary to connecting those dots. It took a long time for Anne to become Queen, even if the journey was beautiful.1

One of my academic colleagues and I have embarked upon a new project together: we are watching David Lynch's Twins Peaks. It's a re-watch for him, but a first time through for me. I have seen bits and pieces of the show before, but nothing in any kind of cohesive way, so this is especially exciting for me.

A few people on Facebook have been posting their favourite summer songs, so I've been trying to compile a list in my head of my favourite summer music. So far the list is pretty short:

Summertime - The Sundays
Rock Lobster - The B52s
Santeria - Sublime
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
She's a Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
Steal My Sunshine - Len2
Left and Leaving - the Weakerthans
Be Still My Heart - the Postal Service
Tonight Is A Wonderful Time - April Wine

What are your summer songs?

1 In retrospect, perhaps not the best "beach book" I might have chosen.
2 Yes, yes, I know that this song is actually kind of lame, but you're forgetting exactly how catchy this song is, as is the song it samples, the Andrea True Collective's "More More More." Plus, if I only hear it for a couple of weeks in a year, I actually don't mind it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Twenty-two years ago today, Youngest Sister was born. My mother's friend Laura had come down from Toronto to take care of us, since my father was away at a training exercise, and my mother had a history of going into labour while my father was out of town. We were eating dinner when the phone rang: "It's a girl," said Laura, and I was disappointed. I already had Middle Sister--what did I need another girl for?

Youngest is almost a full seven years younger than I am, which has often lead to conflict for us. When we were younger, our conflicts were exacerbated by the fact that I was older and therefore always "should know better" which meant that if she did something wrong, I usually got blamed for it. This was usually furthered by the fact that our lives were just so different--by the time that I went away to university, she hadn't even graduated from elementary school yet. We also have very different personalities: as much as birth order is pop psychology, some of the ideas resonate really clearly for my sisters and me: I am bossy and need to be "right", Youngest has a healthy disregard for rules and a driving need for attention. (We won't talk about the Middle Sister.) We still have occasional clashes, but these are relatively minor.

In spite of all that, Youngest and I have developed a really strong relationship over the last few years. She has grown up to be an intelligent, capable, and beautiful young woman, and I couldn't be prouded of her. She is so much fun to spend time with, and she is both funny and fearless. She is newly certified as a registered massage therapist, and intends to return to school as a mature student to pursue nursing. She loves music and reading fantasy/sci-fi. She has the most beautiful tattoo of a purple starfish on her back. She had, at one point, almost twenty piercings in various places on her body. She is the poster girl for the Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named's Sister Site; her photograph is on billboards and in brochures. Though we both have our dad's colouring, she looks so much like our mother (which is strange, because I look like so much like our father, but Youngest and I also look quite alike). When I get married in October, she will be my maid of honour. I hope that she knows how awesome and special I think she is.

Happy birthday to my favourite sister who does not live in North Bay Rock City.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot Kitteh in the City

It's about a bajillion degrees here, by which I mean approximately 30C/86F. Mat and I went for a walk down at the waterfront today; I very foolishly forgot to wear sunscreen and am now feeling the wrath of the sun on my delicate skin. I brought the camera along and managed to take a few good pictures.

(footprints on rocks)

North Bay Waterfront
(look at how low the water level is this year--scary scary)

Some guy named Mat
(that guy)

(hot kitteh)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Satellite Campus

Day two of the conference was quite eventful. I skipped the early morning sessions to wander around the downtown area. The cottage country towns really flourished in the 40s, when the wealthy families in Toronto bought up land for cottages, and the architecture of the towns often reflects that. I found a small tea shop and had a delicious breakfast made with local cranberries, before perusing the farmers' market. I didn't wind up buying anything because I had nowhere to put the produce, alas. I also got to take a few good pictures, including one of a bell tower for Girl Tuesday.

Luce Irigaray was the keynote speaker, appearing via satellite from France. She was very much how I had imagined her to be, right down to her mannerisms. She was also very funny, which I hadn't anticipated. She spoke to us in English, but had many of the questions translated into French, which was quite interesting to watch--many of the questions became only pieces or approximations in translation.

My own paper was well-received, despite being in the last panel for the day. I don't think that I read it as well as I could have, but for my first time around I was pretty happy with it. The moderator for my panel has encouraged me to revise and submit it for publication, so that gives me another thing to add to my list of things to do this summer. The rest of my panel was also quite good: one person discussed how Disney's Beauty and the Beast rewrites the story of Cupid and Psyche, and the other talked about how atonal music is used in an expression of love. It's really cool to see people who are so enthusiastic about the things that they are researching--almost infectious, even. I even had a couple of people tell me that listening to my paper made them want to rewatch the films that I'd discussed, even though they hadn't enjoyed the films the first time around.

The conference as a whole was overwhelming in the sense that while it was interdisciplinary, it was dominated by philosphers and political scientists, which is quite intellectually intimidating once people get going. (It's also good for reminding me of the gaps in my own knowledge; I haven't done much theory since finishing my MA, and some of it, like Spinoza, I haven't read since high school.)

The real highlight of yesterday, though, was dinner. One of my colleagues came down to see my paper, and he stuck around for dinner, which wound up being a six course vegan affair. We sat with Gad Horowitz and Shannon Bell . The food and the conversation was delicious. I wound up at a pub afterwards (that did not have my beloved Strongbow on tap, though they made for that with Sleeman) discussing the current political climate at the university. (I'll write more about that tomorrow.) I met one of the political science profs from the university, who asked me what courses I was taking, and who guessed my age at 22.1 Needless to say, I did not get in until late (which is why I didn't update yesterday). I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. I did a reasonable job of not letting my social anxieties get the better of me, though the banquet dinner the first night was a real challenge in that respect. There was good food and good conversation--what more could I ask for?

1 Flattering? Strange? The jury is still out.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Today has been a true comedy of errors. In spite of a variety of screw ups, both divine and personal, I finally arrived in Bracebridge to attend the conference. Unfortunately, I missed all of today's panels and films as a result of my late arrival, though I did arrive in time for dinner and the keynote address, which actually prefigures some of the arguments that I'll make tomorrow. The paper is done, or at least done enough that I've printed a hard copy to read.

Conference people are funny. I sat with a group at dinner where one person (a philosophy student at a Christian college) wanted to argue that Nietzche's vision of salvation is poisonous. Unfortunately, my Nietzche, Spinoza, and Heidegger are rusty, so I couldn't offer much to rebutt his arguments...more for the summer reading list.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Any Given Day

On any given day, here are the things you are likely to find in my purse:
  1. A handful of random loose change floating at the bottom
  2. At least four different lip treatments (one of my indulgences)
  3. A notebook (the current one reads, "She had not yet decided whether to use her power for good...or evil")
  4. Two pens and a pencil
  5. A cord for one of my various pieces of electronic equipment
  6. Three different sets of keys, which all have keys to my car and my house
  7. A knitting project
  8. At least three stitch markers, each from a different set, floating loosely at the bottom
  9. Spare buttons
  10. My cell phone (which is green and made from corn bi-product)
  11. My iPod (named Richard Parker)
  12. Some spare napkins

The Subtle Knife

If you ever want to get me started about something that irks me, just ask me about the use of email services at the school. The university contracts out our email to Google, which is fine.1 What is not fine is that there is a "" email address that does exactly what it implies: sends the email to everyone who works for the university. Obviously, this does serve a useful and important function, since sometimes there is information that everyone needs to know, but it's also led to some very bizarre (and unprofessional) flare ups: in some ways it's neat because it spawns discussion within the university, but in other ways, it can be really frustrating to sort through all of the extra emails to get to the ones that I actually need to answer.

It also irks me because, on some level, I'm actually kind of a Smug Asshole sometimes, and more specifically, I'm a Smug Asshole Who Hates It When Old People Can't Be Bothered To Use Technology Correctly. All of those unnecessary Reply Alls that reveal too much personal information, or petty grievances, etc. make me crazy. (See, I told you, I'm a jerk.)

We're about a month away from this year's Convocation ceremonies, and one of the honorary degree recipients is a very controversial figure: former Ontario Premier Mike Harris. Harris is most (in)famous for bringing the Common Sense Revolution to Ontario, which resulted in substantial cuts to health, education, and social assistance programs, the privatization of former public sector entities, and the formation of the megacity of Toronto. (Granted, he also balanced the budget, got approximately 500 000 people off of welfare, and added some 378 parks and protected areas for Ontario.)

Naturally, this has sparked a fair amount of outrage among certain groups of people.2 One faculty member wrote a very thoughtful letter to the effect that after due consideration, he didn't feel that he could attend the convocation in question because he didn't want to provide a tacit endorsement of Mr. Harris through his presence there.3 He encouraged the rest of the faculty to make their own determinations about what their presence at convocation would mean. There have been a number of response to his email, but the latest one in particular sticks in my mind.4 The writer asks:

At the beginning of teaching and learning is ignorance and curiosity. I come with a surfeit of both. Please forgive a Harrisy and allow me to ask "what did he do to you?" -- you educators, you academics, you people with powerful minds and voices.
What did he to do me? Oh, brother. Where do you want me to start? How about with the two separate times my mother was laid off from her nursing job due to hospital cutbacks? How about when 2/3s of the teachers at my high school were issued pink slips? How about the two separate teacher strikes that happened in my school board? How about the introduction of standardized testing (EQAO) and the farce that is the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test?5 The many, many problems with the New Curriculum? The elimination of the OAC year, and the resulting problems with the double cohort? (Middle Sister was part of that.) The consistent cuts to post-secondary education? Or maybe you've heard of the town where I was born--a little place called Walkerton?

These are the things that resulted from the Harris government that are the most personal to me. It does not even begin to address the things that happened to the province I live in and its culture: Ipperwash, the hospital closures, the privatization of the 407, teacher testing, the changes to labour law, the budget problems that occured after he resigned.

It worries me that the university wants to ally itself so closely with him, particularly given that we have a substantial aboriginal student population, and that we've invested a significant amount of time and effort into both attracting aboriginal students and working to ensure their success.

1 Well, not really fine in the broader sense that there are significant privacy concerns that arise from using Gmail, but I generally like the interface of it, I like the pre-loaded address book, I like the Google apps, and I also really like that we now get 7 gigs of space, unlike the 750 megabites that we had under the old system.
2 It's actually a bit more complicated than this for reasons that I'm not really supposed to talk about because the announcement has yet to be made, and won't be made for about 16 months, but if you really want to know, the Toronto Star has speculated about it here.
3 The convocation is the one for the Faculty of Applied and Professional Schools, which is not one that I would normally attend, so I don't actually need to make this choice.
4 I've since been informed that this was intended as a genuine question; I had initially interpreted it as hostile, but apparently it is not.
5 Sure, the test scores keep going up, but that's because the test keeps getting easier, not because literacy levels are any higher.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You can't feed a child sheet music

I'm re-watching Garden State as I finish up the conclusion to my paper. I'm starting to get nervous about the actual presentation aspect of it, and even just the idea of going to a conference by myself. I can't even remember the last time I had an adventure on my own.

I've talked a little bit about body image issues before, though not in the kind of depth that I'd like to devote to them. One of the offshoots of my particular body image issues is that I have had a very difficult time finding a bathing suit that fits me in a way that makes me comfortable. (This is compounded by all the years spent working at The Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named; I spent the better part of seven summers dressed from head to toe in wool, so my body feels very strange when it's warm out and my skin is exposed.) One piece suits tend to make me look heavier than I actually am because I have to buy them to fit my hips and bust rather than my waist; two piece bathing suits show off my waist better but seldom have bottoms that are big enough. I am pleased to report, though, that I have finally found a bathing suit that takes care of all of this: the Marilyn suit from PinUp Girl Clothing. It covers everything but manages to be completely flattering at the same time. It's nothing short of brilliant, and I got it in time to bring it with me to the conference this weekend.

Several of the old HSWSNBN alumni and I are gearing up for another round of everyone's favourite historical strategic board game, Diplomacy. We'll be playing by email, which I actually prefer. The face to face games tend to have an immediacy that I find counterproductive; I much prefer to draw things out, which allows for more of an actual role playing aspect to it. We've yet to draw countries, but one of my opponents has already researched propaganda that he can use in the campaign. As a group, we've all known each other for 5-9 years now, so the personalities within the group are fairly distinctive; it could be very easy to fall into certain assumptions about how the game play will unfold...and it will definitely be interesting.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Send in Wesley Crusher

One of my all-time favourite episodes of Star Trek: TNG is on right now. (The Naked Now, a.k.a. the episode where Tasha Yar and Data do it.) I should be writing the conclusion to my conference paper, but am not. I think that I may actually take the writing offline, as I suspect this might be one of those instances in which I might get more done if I write by hand.

[Four Hours Later] I have written approximately four sentences. Only one of them might be any good.

A few months ago, we held a wake for bad yarn at our knitting guild meeting. I brought a ball of yarn with me that had such bad energy attached to it that I couldn't knit anything with it. It's a long story: the yarn was part of a sock kit that I purchased because half the money was going to a breast cancer charity in the States. The kit did not arrive when the dyer promised it would; she apparently underestimated how much time and how much dye was involved in dyeing the 100 skeins she'd taken pre-orders for, so much so that it took nearly ten weeks past the date she said she'd ship my kit for it to arrive. Needless to say, I was prejudiced against the yarn before it even got there (I moved from my apartment into my house during these ten weeks, so there was some concern that I wouldn't even get the yarn). Once it did get there, though, I found three knots in the skein, and numerous errors in the pattern. All in all, it was a pretty awful knitting experience (made even worse by the fact that it was something I was trying to make for my mom). So I packed the yarn up, brought it to the wake, and sent it off to whoever wanted it.

This month, the lady who snagged my yarn brought it back in the form of a beautiful Cookie A sock. It was good to see that it had gone on to a better home, where it could actually be something other than a ball of yarn that made me clench my teeth every time I thought about it.

Time to get back to work on the paper, though.

Monday, May 17, 2010

She's A Rainbow

I didn't get done everything on today's To Do list, but I did get a goodly portion of it done. I did not, however, get done the BIG THING, which is, of course, the conclusion for that paper that I'm presenting on Saturday. I need to finish it tomorrow...if only I knew what I wanted to say.

I wrote a poem a few weeks ago when I was reflecting on House of Leaves and the phenomenom of echolalia. In particular, this idea of involuntary repetition made me think about tarot cards.1 If you draw the same cards repeatedly, the cards represent lessons that you are not learning, mistakes that occur again and again. When I used to read tarot cards, once upon a time, the card that I used to draw for myself was Temperance. My first deck was a Greek mythology tarot, and the Temperance card was one of the most beautifully illustrated cards in that set. I never quite understood what this card meant for me when I used to read, as I didn't think of myself as a particular intemperate person.

I haven't touched the cards in about six years now, for one reason or another. A good friend gave birth about two weeks ago to a beautiful baby boy, and she has asked that I do a reading for him, so I pulled out one of my decks and started to see where the cards would take me. I dealt a Celtic Cross reading, which is a reading of ten cards where the first card represents the querent. What is the first card I draw? Temperance, naturally. I guess I haven't changed as much as I think I have.

1I should point out that my use of tarot cards is/was very casual, and that I'm mostly interested in the imagery of the tarot (which is relevant to an English scholar) and its meditative qualities rather than any fortunte telling. The artwork of tarot cards is fascinating to me, and I have a couple of tremendously beautiful decks, including the Vertigo Tarot, which features characters from DC Comics' Vertigo line, and is illustrated by Dave McKean, who is enormously talented, dark, and twisted. There's also a Salvador Dali deck that I quite covet (which is worth about $200, which is why I don't own it).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

message in a bottle

I have the most enormous pimple on my nose right now. It started a couple of days ago on the inside of my nose, but now has migrated/grown to the outside of my nose, where it is swollen, red, and sore. When I woke up this morning, my beloved said, "If it makes you feel any better, I won't call you your face." When I got to my parents' house, my mom said, "What happened to your nose?" Sigh.

It was a busy weekend in the land of my childhood, but I did get a lot of things for the wedding done. I am realizing more and more that I need to accept that nothing I can do for the wedding will make everyone happy (and sometimes, it won't make anyone happy). It is a bit frustrating because people keep telling us that we have to do what is right for us, but then they are offended or unhappy if the things that we want don't match up with their ideas about how things should go. I just need to remind myself that no one is trying to make me mad, and that people are only doing what they do and saying what they say out of love.

And when that doesn't work I will lock myself up in a small room and knit feverishly until I feel better.

This is shaping up to be a busy week here, as I have a number of school commitments to deal with, and my conference paper at the end of the week. (And no, of course it's still unfinished...why do you ask?)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers

I've returned to the land of my youth for the weekend. I'm hoping to do a number of things for the wedding this weekend, eat some raw fish, and maybe squeeze in a visit to my parents and their cats. I'm also going to get to see the newly minted offspring of good friends, which should make for a good night.

We went out to the pseudo-British pub last night, which was very exciting, as the pub here serves my beloved Strongbow Cider on tap, which is not the case in my northern town. (And no, northern pub, Great Rock Cider is not the same thing at all.) It was a good night: I got to sit in the middle of thebench, which meant that I was perpetually between two conversations; the most memorable thing I was caught between was the esthetics of zombie narratives on one side, and Canadian politics on the other.

One of the friends that we went out with last night is someone I've known for nearly ten years now, and he is one of the last people in the world with whom I maintain a pen and paper correspondence. (Which reminds me, I owe him a letter.) One of the things that I like about his letters (aside from the part where he actually writes to me and has beautiful handwriting) is that he always seals his letters with sealing wax and his monogram. Last time I was home, I had mentioned to him that I wanted to use a seal on our wedding invitations, but that I'd had a difficult time finding a seal that I liked, since I am keeping my last name, thus preventing the use of a monogram. (And let's face it, a lot of the love or wedding themed seals are pretty tacky.) At the pub, R presented me with a gift: he'd found a Clan Gordon seal for me, and purchased a bag of wax for me to use as well. It was such an unexpected and thoughtful gift that I had a hard time expressing how I felt about it at the time. I can't wait to get home and start stamping with it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

as we walk in fields of gold

As it is apparently a pretty cinematic week 'round these parts, we went to see Iron Man 2 last night. (I've also watched both A Streetcar Named Desire and Party Monster this week.) IM2 is pretty much exactly what you'd think it would be: it's nowhere near as bad as some early reviews implied that it was, but it certainly doesn't exceed the original. The only thing in it that really bothered me was a touch of lazy writing: to have two Russian characters and not ever really acknowledge what that means...I don't know. I suppose that a) one of the characters is technically American (in which case the naming of that character is unfortunate) and b) as Mat points out, the vast majority of the film's audience knows nothing about twentieth century Russian history. (Which is, I suppose, unfortunate, since so much of the Iron Man stuff is informed by the Cold War...)

I received my course evaluations for the Winter term in my mailbox at work yesterday, and they were the best set of evaluations that I've received yet. (We are evaluated by both a 5-point Likert scale scantron sheet as well as an anonymous written form.) I received a 4.40 out of a possible 5.00 for my Likert scores, and the most negative comment that I received in the written was that I was "just okay" in seminar. I also had a couple of people comment that I was "well-groomed" which is...hilarious? bizarre? irrelevant? untrue? I try not to think too much about my evaluations because they don't necessarily mean anything, but I have to confess, it's particularly gratifying to have such good evaluations for this term because my evaluations for the Fall term were actually the worst evaluations I've had in my three years here. It feels good to have made that kind of improvement, and to know that my students enjoyed this year as much as I did.

I've cast on a February Baby Sweater, and I have to say, it's a bit terrifying. EZ's pattern doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me, but I am trying my best to trust that it will turn out well. I guess that if it doesn't, at least it's a very small sweater, so ripping back won't be too painful. I'm using one of the yarns I picked up last weekend, a superwash DK dyed by Tanis Fiber Arts in a beautiful blue/purple mix, and it's knitting up beautifully.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The North Bay Film Series hosted their final film of the winter season last night. (If this seems odd, I should point out to you that while I was off gallivanting in Toronto on the weekend, this fair city rceived some four inches of snow, so perhaps that winter bit is not such a misnomer.) Anyhow, the film was "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and I quite enjoyed it. It's very rare to get to see a film that I know so little about, and I really like the sensation of being able to just watch, rather than having that mental checklist of things that I'm expecting to see.

The film was very good, though a bit strange: a potboiler mystery shot by someone with the visual sensibility of a photographer. It was exquisite to watch, even at its most painful, and largely compellingly acted. Most reviewers have commented extensively on Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth Salander, but I found myself drawn to Michael Nyqvist's Mikael more. I don't know that it was a part that I asked him to do a lot, per se, but I enjoyed his stoic subtlety.

There are a few uneven parts: scenes that don't fit, like the one where the family tells Mikael to get out, or Cecilia hitting on him; it takes too long for Lisbeth and Mikael to meet1. The biggest issue is the film's desire for closure, as there are nearly four separate points at which the film could have ended that would have given me sufficient closure, but it just. kept. going. to explain "one more thing" to us. I'm curious to read Stieg Larsson's novel now, as I'd like to know how much of this comes from the adaptation.

That said, the experience as a whole was good enough that I hardly noticed I was reading subtitles, which is impressive.2

1 The scenes with Lisbeth leading up to their meeting are compelling, but also excessive; I think the same things could be conveyed about her character without devoting quite so much time to it.
2 Although I wonder if this is because it was in Swedish, which is a language that I don't speak at all. I have a hard time with French films subtitled in English because I speak enough French that I can either listen to the movie or read the subtitles, and I find it distracting to do both.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

As the day begins...

Oooh, so I went out gallivanting last night and missed yesterday's post. I had fully intended to be back at a reasonable hour, but that did not happen. There is a group of people who meet once a month to read their own prose and poetry, which I've attended off and on over the last few years. It's such an interesting mix of people who attend, with a broad variety of skills. I've been reading a few pieces here and there, all poetry, and I have mixed feeling about doing so. There are usually a few colleagues from the university there, and usually a few current or former students, as well, and it intimidates me to read in front of them. (More the colleagues than the students, particularly since there are a few whose opinions I value highly.) I am also intimidated by some of the bad work that gets read; I can't stand the idea that my writing might be that bad and that I might not know it. (This anxiety is a big part of why I haven't written much in the last few years; I am going to do my best to ignore it this summer and just write anyway.)

I've been working away on the Craic Socks pattern that I got ages ago when I was in Three Irish Girls Sock Yarnista club. It's a beautiful sock, and I'll be quite excited to wear them, but I have an early edition of the pattern that isn't anywhere near as clear as it needs to be. (There's one cable in particular that is totally counter-intuitive to me; I've screwed it up at least twice so far, but because of the type of cable that it is (k1p1k1, but the k1s are twisted) it's just not worth it to drop it down and reknit them. I am going to cast on a February Baby Sweater for a colleague who is due any moment now; there's a five hour department meeting tomorrow and I just don't think I can do it without something to knit.

I feel a massive cleaning campaign coming on, which should take up my afternoon nicely, and then I think I'm going to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo tonight.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Alligator Tears

This has been the busiest May I've had since taking this job. My branch of the faculty association is gearing up for contract negotiations, and we hope get things off the ground soon. This means lots of meetings, and I have also volunteered myself to administer our blog, which should keep me hopping as things get underway.

My Knit Picks order arrived this morning: I finally have a copy of the EZ Knitters' Almanac, which looks quite promising. I also picked up a couple of the new Stroll Tonals, which are gorgeous. I have one skein in Gypsy, a stunning red, and one in Blue Violet, which is just what the name describes. I also got 3 skeins of undyed wool/nylon yarn in a sport weight for Mat's kilt hose. I think I'm going to make the Toirneach socks from Knitty for him, adjusted to use sport weight. All of the patterns I've looked at call for worsted weight, which I'm a bit hesitant to use, as I've not found a worsted weight yarn with any nylon content. (Well, not at a price I can afford, anyway.) The nylon is a must--Mat wears through regular socks quite quickly, and even if these are only special occasion socks, I want them to last as long as possible. I've also seen a few pairs worked up in worsted, and they are heavy and thick. Sport weight should hopefully minimize some of the bulk.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I have a good mother, and her voice is what keeps me here

My mom is really neat. Like really neat. So neat that I don't even know how to begin to tell you about how neat she is. So maybe I'll start with this picture:

My mom is the second oldest of five girls--she's the one with the cat shirt on. Four of the five girls are nurses, as was their mother. (The other does something with computers and maps.) My mom trained as a nurse at St. Michael's hospital in Toronto, and lived downtown while she was doing that. This has made her absolutely fearless: she can cross a busy downtown street while my sisters and I can only look at the oncoming traffic with total fear. St. Mike's is also right by Massey Hall, so she and her nursing friends would sometimes get to meet the musicians performing there.

My mom loves sock monkeys. She had one when she was a kid (that she still has, though he is missing an arm). She calls sock monkeys "minkeys". This interest has resulted in a family sock monkey assembly line at several points in the past. In fact, this spread to last year's Sister Weekend, from which we have learned that you should never drink and sock monkey.

My mom is one of the most generous people that I know. For the last several years, she has been travelling to Nicaragua to help run medical clinics in rural villages, as well as volunteering at the children's hospital in Managua. During her time there, she has seen and done some incredible things. The first year that she went, she met a woman who had just had a baby girl. As there were no respirators, my mom took turns manually "bagging" the baby so that her lungs would be forced to breathe. The woman and my mother spent a lot of time together, and the baby was eventually named "Luisa", the Spanish version of my mother's name. The next year, when my mother returned, her friend walked several hours to attend the closest rural clinic, and she brought with her a gift for my mother: Two live chickens, chosen because they were the most valuable gift that could be given. (And yes, she is actually holding the chickens by the feet there.)

My mom is also neat because she isn't afraid to be quirky or weird. For example, the year before she turned fifty, she told people that she was fifty-one, so that when she actually turned fifty the following year, no one made a big deal out of it. She also went through a phase where all of her MSN Messenger conversations with me contained no vowels, only consonants. t trnd t sh ws trng t s hw lng t wld tk t brk m. Of all my mother's quirks, though, my favourites are the ones that involve Jasper. When Kinsey, our twenty lb. torty, passed away, my mother promised Youngest Sister that she could pick out the next kitten. They visited the animal shelter a few times, and Youngest picked out a little calico who turned out to be Padme. My father had admired an older, friendly grey tabby named Jasper, so when we picked up Paddy, my mom decided to bring Jasper home too, as a surprise for my dad. As such things often go, Jasper soon fell in love with my mother. He is so attached to her that he "works nights" with her--when she has night shifts, he will stay awake all night so that he can sleep with her during the day. (He also knows what time she should be home, so if she is late, he gets upset and starts to walk around the house to look for her.)

These are only a few of the reasons that my mom is neat. There are lots more.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

DKC Knitters Frolic By The Numbers

I'm sitting in one of two adjoining hotel rooms with three other women from the guild. Two more have gone out in search of food. There is so much yarn here it's almost obscene. I am exhausted in the best possible "I walked all over Don Mills" way.

So, without any further ado, here is my Frolic experience by the numbers:

1: Stop on the way down (at the Purple Sock)
2: skeins of 3 ply Wellington Fibers 50/50 merino/mohair in a dark teal
3: number of sweaters brought with me
4: rounds of buffet eating at the Mandarin (my dad would be proud)
20: minutes spent waiting to check into the hotel while the poor desk clerk was harassed by a guy who told her that her eyebrows were sexy
8: pillows in our hotel room
3: bottles of wine consumed last night
1: new button given to me personally by Amy Singer
8: compliments on my Rosamund sweater
6: skeins of Peace Fleece in the nicest green imaginable
6: skeins of Diamond Yarns Homestead in white
1200: metres of Fleece Artist Saldanha
1: skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot
1: skein of DK weight Tanis Fibre
2: felt covered soaps
1: bottle of "Unleashed" SOAK
1: sock monkey box bag for projects
198: price, in dollars, of awesome dress at Anthropologie
27: number of times I wanted to cross myself while looking at prices in Anthropologie

"Being among our own kind": PRICELESS.

Friday, May 07, 2010

the adventure awaits

The countdown is on: only two and a half hours left until we leave for the Frolic. Having done some location scouting thanks to Google Maps, I've realized exactly how close we are going to be to the Ontario Science Centre. This might not sound like such a big deal, except for one thing: The Ontario Science Centre has a massive Harry Potter exhibition right now. So massive and awesome, in fact, that it's actually open until 10:30 tonight. Lucky for me, the two others I'm traveling with--Girl Tuesday and Grrly--have graciously agreed to indulge my nerdery and check it out with me. It's too bad we won't be able to go during normal business hours, when the rest of the Science Centre is open--it's actually a pretty cool place to visit. (And my dad worked there when he was in high school, which is also kind of neat.)

Come to think of it, I should probably start packing for my adventure.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

find my direction magnetically

I actually wrote a whole post this morning about the Canadian government's position on funding women's reproductive health in developing countries, but I have decided against posting it until I can better support my arguments.

So here is the second entry for today. I haven't really accomplished much today aside from participating in a two hour meeting for one of the committees I sit on. (Speaking of which, I volunteered myself to sit on three more union committees next year, in addition to this one and my duties on the AcademicImperial Senate. It has been suggested to me that I may be overextending myself, but I don't think that I am. The main committee should be a summer endeavour that will hopefully be finished its business by September, and the other committees are ones that meet infrequently and/or over email. Also, applying for a PhD program is still on the table, so I want to pad my CV as much as possible.)

It has been a slow couple of months for me on the knitting front; I've started and ripped out more projects than I'd like to admit over the last few weeks. I've actually only completed two things since the end of March, which is a very low productivity rate. It's interesting--I generally identify myself as a process knitter rather than a product knitter, but I'm a little irritated that my productivity level has been so low. I've been trying to pick out projects on Rav to have in mind while I'm in a yarn buying mood at the Frolic this weekend. What are you making right now? What do you think I should make next?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Grey Wednesday in Sudbury

The nearest city of any size to this one is Sudbury, which is home to Vale Inco, Science North, and Laurentian University, among other things. I spent a fair amount of time in the city when Mat attended the university, and have come to a singular conclusion about it: I hate it. It is not a pleasant city to spend time in, and the beautiful rock faces of the Canadian shield are marred by a layer of black sludge from the mines. Unfortunately, it is where Mat's extended family lives, so there will be lots of Sudbury in my future.

The one thing that Sudbury does have, though, is much better shopping than North Bay, including an Old Navy. Unfortunately, today was not my day for shopping, as I found only a single thing that I wanted to buy, excepting a variety of food products at Costco. This is unfortunate as my summer wardrobe is looking pretty grim at the moment.

I will be heading to Toronto this weekend to visit the Downtown Knit Collective's Knitters' Frolic, which is one of the bigger fiber events in Canada. I believe there are six of us headed down from the local guild, and we've elected to make a weekend out of it, hitting a few stores along the way and staying in hotels overnight. I am pretty excited about this; not only because I'll likely come out of the weekend with some pretty yarn, but also because I am thrilled to be spending some time with other knitters and other women. For whatever reason, the vast majority of my friends in North Bay are male, and while I love these friends dearly, sometimes I just want to break out of the constraints of nerdy man-dom. I keep trying to find ways to avoid making sweeping generalizations about gender roles here, but haven't been able to do so; unfortunately my guys are pretty much exactly what you would expect: they play X-box, read graphic novels, discuss the merits of 2nd ed. DnD vs. 3.5, plot how to stay alive during the Zombpocalypse, and are usually complaining about the latest big screen adaptation of their video games, graphic novels, or RPGs.

Suffice it to say that drinking wine and talking about/fondling yarn will be a welcome diversion.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


I finished House of Leaves this morning. (I guess, technically speaking, I finished the narrative last night, but I made my way through the appendices this morning.) I don't know the last time that I've been so captivated1 by a book. As an academic (or a pseudo-academic, as I like to think of myself), I have a hard time turning off the part of my brain that is analytical and critical; I am almost never able to simply enjoy something for its own sake. Mostly I'm okay with this, since I am a big critical theory nerd. House of Leaves, though, is fascinating because it simultaneously asks the reader to read simply for the sake of reading, and to be a critical, analytical reader. The book is full of footnotes, sidebars, and non-sequitors; it is, itself, partially a monograph on a film called The Navidson Record, which is a (pseudo?) documentary about a family who moves into a house only to discover that it is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It invites the reader to participate in its analysis of the film and of the situation, but also thwarts the reader by demonstrating how analysis is always inexact: it pushes the reader towards analyzing but then turns around and shows us how arbitrary it is to try to (en)force meaning on anything. This is, to me, simultaneously frustrating and breathtaking.

One of the book's chief intertexts is the story of Echo and Narcissus. (It also uses Jacob and Esau, and kind of uses the Minotaur--there's an entire section on the Minotaur, but it's been crossed out, so you have to read the chapter through the strikethrough, which is challenging). The Echo parts, which are earlier in the book, produce some really lovely prose:

Myth makes Echo the subject of longing and desire. Physics makes Echo the subject of distance and design. Where emotion and reason are concerned both claims are accurate.

And where there is no Echo there is no description of space or love.

There is only silence.

Ultimately, I think what I liked most about the book is the way that it challenged all aspects of my reading processes: Not only was I challenged to rethink reading in terms of how I cognitively go about it, but I was also forced to change the way that I read. I read approximately 600 words per minute under normal circumstances, and this book wouldn't let me do that. It doesn't allow for any momentum on the reader's behalf: it wants you to slow down, to look around, and to consider. (And then it tells you that you're an idiot for doing just that, since meanings are not fixed or even meaningful. But it still won't let you go; it won't let you tear through it.)

1 I mean captivated in both the positively and negatively connotated senses of the word: I have joked on Facebook about the book giving me insomnia, but it kind of did. It was very difficult to turn off my brain after reading, and I imagine that it will continue to haunt me for some time. The friend who lent it to me told me that, "HoL may cause insomnia. Not to mention obsessive-compulsive symptoms and periodic fits of vertigo. Should not be read by women who are pregnant, or combined with CNS depressants." It hasn't given me vertigo, but it has invoked a strange sense of claustrophobia unlike anything I've experienced before from simply reading. (No word yet on the obsessive-compulsive or depression symptoms; I tend towards both a bit to begin with, so that's more difficult to measure.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

reading, conferences, and sunny days

I had made a promise to myself that the next time I had a rainy, grey day to myself, that I would sit down and re-watch Denys Arcand's Le déclin de l'empire américain and, if I had time, Les invasions barbares. Sadly, I didn't do either this weekend, and today is already so sunny that I think I need to get outside.

I spent most of last week working on a paper for a conference I'll be attending in a couple of weeks. (On the May long weekend; thanks a lot, conference organizers!) I love my job very much, but it doesn't give me a lot of opportunity to function at a higher academic level: even when I'm writing lectures, I'm still running in a first year mindset, so trying to break out of it has been a challenge. Also, academic writing is hard work when you've been out of the game for a couple of years; I had forgotten that it actually is work. The paper is about 80% finished, and I've gotten some really terrific feedback from the people that I've showed it to. It's been a long time since I've been excited about something like this.

The other nice thing about the end of the term is that I finally have time to do some reading for myself now. I haven't done as much as I would have liked; I think the most notable thing that I've finished is the graphic novel adaptation of I Am Legend (which is substantially different than the Will Smith film). I am current working on Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which was given to me by a colleague who used it in his course on haunted house. It's certainly the most interesting thing I've read in a very, very long time; it does its best to destabilize our deep held notions about what text is and what it can do. The correlation between the book's form and its content is formidable: it evokes exactly the right blend of claustrophobia, fear, and curiosity. It has, unfortunately, also left me with a touch of insomnia; I've found it very difficult to quiet my mind after reading.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - Day Seven

I can still remember when I first started stashing. It actually took a while; for a long time I was quite content to work on a sort of "pay as you go" model of knitting. Unfortunately, I am also my mother's daughter, which is to say that I come from a long, long line of hoarders, stashers, and bargain shoppers; it is simply not in my nature to say "no" to a good deal. Thus, I began to accumulate.

(I also have a belief [bordering on superstition] that is bad luck to walk out of either a yarn store or a book store without buying something.)

Suffice it to say that I love yarn. I love touching yarn. I love the different textures of different kinds of fibers, and I love the way that merino is different from Romney is different from blue-faced leicester. I love colour, as well: Fleece Artist and Handmaiden's palettes have enormous appeal for me. I love having a craft room full of yarn that I can pick from for my next project--it's almost like shopping at home.

I love Briggs and Little, particularly Regal and Heritage, both of which have a wonderful "real wool" kind of feel. I feel like whatever I knit from them would be indestructible.

I love Three Irish Girls. I've been in her clubs for almost two years now, and that has rewarded me with some of the most beautiful colourways imaginable. In terms of her yarns, though, I'm quite partial to Galenas Chunky, which is the softest, squooshiest thing imaginable, and also her Finley Fingering, which takes colour in a gorgeous way. I have dreams of knitting fingering weight cardigans out of it that are light and warm.

If I had to choose one yarn to rule them all, though, I'd probably pick Berroco's Ultra Alpaca line. It's soft, snuggly, has a terrific colour palette, felts like a dream, and is exceptionally well priced. If I were limited to a single yarn for the rest of forever, this is probably the one I would choose. I've used it to make Fetching, a Dumpling Bag, a hat that looks really stupid on me and therefore doesn't exist, and some house socks. I definitely need more of this stuff.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - Day Six

Today's theme is revisiting the past, or at the very least, revisiting a past finished object. When I first skimmed the topic list for this week's post, this was the one that I initially thought would be the easiest to write about, but it turns out that I'm actually finding it to be the hardest.

I really like to knit for other people. I think that it demonstrates how much I care about them, and it allows me to share something that matters a lot to me with them. For the most part, I've been pretty lucky in that I've mostly made things for people who are capable of appreciating the fact that I've made something for them; most knitters have at least a few stories of slaving over something special, only to have the intended recipient scoff at the offering. (I've only got one story like this, and it's really not all that bad--I made a really cute bamboo kimono top for a former co-worker's new baby, and mailed it to her, and never got any acknowledgement--I had to track her down a couple of months later because I was *sure* it had gotten lost in the mail.)

But, as I've said, I've mostly knit for people who like (or at least, pretend to like) the things that I've knit them, and thus, a lot of my favourite finished objects are things that have gone to other people. I love my mother's Hudson Bay Company-style point bag, the Weasley Sweater I made for the son of the children's lit prof/Potter scholar in my department, the Tiffany mittens I made for my friend Jess. I love that all of these are things that get worn by the people who have them. (My colleague apologized for the shape of her son's sweater the last time I saw it; I had a hard time convincing her that I was just happy to see that it was being worn and loved.)

Strangely, there's nothing I've made for Mat anywhere on my Ravelry page. He's been gifted with a number of strange knitting attemps on my part: the time where I tried to create my own hat pattern (fail), a Life Aquatic hat that never fit quite right (mostly his fault for deciding to grow out his hair; my initial measurements did not take into account the monstrosity that would grow on his head), and a single mitten (from the year where he cut the tendons in his right baby finger and had his hand in a splint for the whole winter; he likes to pretend that I'm a mean girlfriend who only made him one mitten). I will soon be embarking on a quest to make him some kilt hose, so let's hope that doesn't end up in the same place. If I start in the next few weeks, I should be able to finish them by October, right? Right.