Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Wrap Up

It has been a miserable couple of days around here: Mat and I have both been violently ill for the last 48 hours, which is not good at the best of times, much less when you are coming off the complete and total circus of Christmas.

All things considered, Christmas wasn't actually as crazy this year as I had been afraid that it would be; we managed the family gambit as well as could be expected: Christmas Eve at Mat's parents' place, Christmas morning at my parents, Christmas dinner at my aunt's in Toronto, and Boxing Day at Mat's uncle's in Sudbury. We were exhausted by the time that we got back to our house...and then the plague hit.

I managed to finish all of my knitting but one in time for Christmas. The Fornicating Deer hat went over quite well, as did Youngest Sister's cowl (she hardly took it off the whole time we were home). Youngest Sister also created the most wonderful thing for me--a Yellow Submarine/Beatles bag. I'll have to get some pictures of it soon...just as soon as I get my brand new Nikon D3100 DSLR camera. It should be here on Friday. I am thrilled. I have had a devil of a time trying to track one down in person, but managed to find an online retailer who not only had it in stock, but had a slightly lower price on it. I've spent the last couple of months trying to re-train myself to look at the world with a photographer's eye, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do with something more than a point and shoot camera.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdown to Giftmas

The last week or so has been a frantic exercise in grading on a deadline whilst attempting to prepare for the holidays. Some parts of it went quite well. (Grading finished 24 hours before it needed to be, yay!) Some parts of it didn't. (No tree or lights or other Christmas decorations at the house, boo!) In good news, I have almost all of my Christmas business figured out, and have only a few small gifts left to pick up. Heck, I've even got stuff wrapped already, which is quite unusual. All I have left to knit is a pair of mittens for my cousin (made from some soft semi-local baby alpaca--yum), which likely won't take more than a day or so. Actually, now that I think about it, I need to finish the hat I'm working on for Mat, but that should be easy enough to finish up today.

The handmade piece de resistance for this year, though, is the hat I made for my father-in-law:


Monday, December 13, 2010

A storm front moved westward through NBRC yesterday, gifting us with about 40 cm of the white stuff. Today, we've got a different storm front moving east from Montreal, but this one is only bringing 10ish cm and a great deal of wind. The schoolbuses are cancelled throughout the city; my sister's office has closed for the day. The university is still open because the city buses are still running. (Those jerks would keep driving through the apocalypse, I think.) Fortunately, I had no plans to go to the school today. Classes finished on Friday, and my exam isn't until next Monday, so it's all grading from here on out. I can't think of a better day to spend holed up with some essays, the cat, some knitting, tea, apple cider, and some knitting.

The knitting guild's holiday party is tonight. I'm making pulled pork in the slow cooker, and serving it with tiny slider buns. We're also doing a blind stash exchange, where people will wrap up things from their stashes and we'll pull numbers for them, so I need to figure out what I can bring.

I grafted the hood on mom's sweater last night. I am quite proud of this--grafting in pattern is not an easy challenge, but somehow I managed to get it right on the first try. Unfortunately, I am now about 90% sure I don't have enough yarn to make the sleeves, and I am freaking out. I think that I need to step away from the project for a while so that I can figure out what I want to do about it. There are a few people on Rav who have yarn from the same dyelot, but I feel strange about PMing someone and saying, "Hey, want to sell me some of your yarn that you obviously have earmarked for other projects?" Currently I'm kind of leaning towards just buying more from Knit Picks and alternating skeins if the colour shift is too dramatic.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Touring History

Mat and I are beginning to put togethr our plans for our honeymmon, which we will take in February during my reading break. The honeymoon itself has been the source of some vexation for both of us, as we have very different ideas about where such a thing might take us. He would like to go to a resort and bake in the sun for a week; I would much prefer to do something more cultural.1

Obviously, I want to go to Scotland. I'm not so sure I want to go to Scotland in February, per se, but that's where I want to go again, and soon.

However, we have arranged a compromise: New Orleans. It has food, history, culture, music, and a nightlife. The flights for the week we want to go are relatively inexpensive, and there is just so much to do there. The historian in me is thrilled by the idea of haunted tours, cemetary tours, Garden District tours, French Quarter tours, walking tours, swamp tours, etc.

The humanist in me (and perhaps, dare I say it, the pinko Commie in me), though, has mixed feelings about two of the possible tour offerings: Plantation tours and Hurricane Katrina tours. The relationship between history and tourism is always an uncomfortable one, as it has to preclude learning at some point and move towards spectacle: "Come see where the levees were breached! Marvel at the hard working people of the Ninth Word as they attempt to rebuild thier lives!" or "Come see where B'rer Rabbit was written! Eat lunch in honest-to-goodness slave quarters!"

Which is not to say that these things are not interesting to me, nor that there isn't value in seeing them--it's more just the way that they are marketed that disturbs me. When history becomes spectacle, there is substantial danger in losing the significance of the events. Eating a meal in slave quarters, to me, validates a particular period and a particular lifestyle in a way that I'm not comfortable with.

1 I can spend approximately 30 minutes baking in the sun on a beach before I am bored out of my mind, and I can't imagine doing it for a whole week. Yes, you're right--"relax" is not in my vocabulary.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Counting down the days

We went away for the weekend for the first time in more than a month, and we did it for fun for the first time in more than a year. It was very exciting to get out of the city. We visited old friends of Mat's, who are becoming my friends too. We ate Thai food (mmm summer rolls) and went shopping for crafts and books. Michaels, which is about the only big box craft store we have in Canada, does a line of $1.50 accessories that are colour and pattern co-ordinated, and the pre-holiday set this year was knitting themed. My favourite part? The best wrapping paper ever:
wedding 056
There are matching cards, notebooks, pencils, pencil cases, etc. I also have a roll of blue cabled paper, but I haven't broken into it yet.
We are in the final week of school, at long last. My students will hand in their final papers today, and I'll be grading well into infinity. There are about eight inches of snow outside, and I have yet to solve my winter boot dilemma. (I have a gorgeous pair of Hush Puppies, which are knee high and lined, but they also have a three inch block heel, which I feel is a bit dubious in times like these.)
I finished three hats in the car this weekend, but the hood on my mom's Rogue is continuing to kick my butt.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Happy December. My sore throat has come back full throttle, along with some sinus pain. Seriously, can I not be done being sick now? The area between my nose and my throat feels bruised, almost. Ugh.

This is the last week of the calm before the storm: on Monday, my students will begin to hand in their final papers, and then it will be a mad dash to get everything marked for the exam on December 20th, and then it will be a mad dash to get the bloody exam marked quickly so it doesn't hang over me for the whole holiday as per last year. At least this year we have a late start in January, which should afford me some breathing room.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with Christmas knitting this year, but I guess I'll need to have something to break up the monotony of all that grading. I really want to CO stuff for myself, like some nice warm socks, and maybe a pretty shrug, but I can't. I need to finish my mom's sweater (still plugging away on the hood; it looks gorgeous with all of cabling but I just want it to be done), a fornicating reindeer hat for Mat's dad, a long cowl for Youngest (why-oh-why didn't I just buy her the one at American Eagle that she wants me to remake for her?), mittens for my cousin, assorted least hats are quick, right?

There's no time to blog--if I'm gonna get this done before Christmas, I better get cracking. Back to the hood!