Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grown Up Belugas

The election is less than a week away, and in the spirit of such, here is an important message from children's singer and passionate Canadian Raffi:

Monday, April 25, 2011



We adopted Jasper in the summer of 1999. He wasn't supposed to come home with us; we were actually getting a kitten for Youngest Sister following the death of our latest cat. Every time we went to the SPCA, though, there was this one adult cat who kept sticking in our minds. When Youngest finally picked out a kitten, a little calico baby, my mom said, spontaneously, "Let's get the tabby, too; your dad really likes him."

He had been at the shelter so long (over a year)1 that we didn't have to pay any adoption fees for him; they were just happy that he was going to a home. Later, we would remark that we couldn't understand how he'd gone unnoticed for so long: while he wasn't the most beautiful cat, his personality more than made up for it. He loved all of us (excepting, perhaps, Youngest) devotedly. Even though he and Padme2 were not litter-mates or even related, they were best friends3, often snuggling up together:

Padme and Jasper

Of all of us, though, Jazz was most devoted to my mother. He would stay up at night when she was working nights at the hospital, and he would wait for her to come home in the morning. If she didn't arrive home at 7:30, he would start to prowl around the house to look for her. He would then sleep on the bed with her for the day. He would sit on the computer desk when she was using the computer, and he would come up behind her and poke her in the back if he thought she wasn't paying enough attention to him.

He was an exceptionally friendly cat. My dad nicknamed him, "The WalMart Greeter" because he would forget about everything as soon as he heard someone on the doorstep, and run to the front door to say hello.

Unlike most cats, Jasper loved having his tail pulled. If you put your hand on his tail, he'd lean away from you so that you were pulling on it. We always had a hard time explaining this to people, who thought that we were making it up--until they saw him in action, and how loudly it would make him purr.

You may have noticed that this post is mostly written in the past tense. Jasper got sick about two weeks ago. Youngest took him to the vet's after he failed to get up for breakfast one morning. His bladder was enlarged, and he was unable to pee. After a few days of being catheterized, he peed on his own and came home, only to wind up back at the vet's for the same reason the next day. He spent a few more days with a catheter in, peed successfully, and came home again...and went back to the vet again two days later. My parents made the decision to euthanize him, and they buried him in our backyard on Thursday evening.

It was very strange to be home for Easter. Between missing him and wondering if she'd made the right decision, my poor mum was so sad. For me, the hard parts weren't the big things--I knew he wouldn't be there to greet us, and I knew that he wouldn't be begging for food around dinnertime. It was the small things: coming around a corner and expecting to see him on a chair; finding his fur on the bedspread in my bedroom; listening for him in the morning.

I'll miss him for a long, long time.
1 Thank heaven we lived in an area that could afford to have a no-kill shelter.
2 Yes, 1999 was the year that The Phantom Menace came out. Why do you ask?
3 Except when he would forget about the time he had the Big Operation and force himself upon her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


In the two weeks since I last posted, I have read twelve books, written one short story, drunk a copious amount of beer, and visited our nation's capital.

I have not made much progress on any knitting projects, but I have talked my mum into going to the Knitters' Frolic in a few weeks.

The books have been, mostly, the first eight Sookie Stackhouse books. They're not terrible, exactly, and they read like candy, but I think I prefer True Blood on the whole. I've also read Trainspotting for the first time.

Ottawa was a blast. I haven't been in several years, despite the fact that it's one of my favourite cities in the world. The friend that I stayed with lives right downtown, so we walked all over the place: down Bank St into the Glebe; across Rideau St to the markets. I got to eat Thai, Vietnamese, and Lebanese foods. We went to see the Pixies on Saturday and to a "Mod Night" at a club. (It featured a lot of Motown music, strangely enough.) I got to see the University of Ottawa's campus, and oh my stars, do I ever wish I'd gone to a real university.

I also got to have coffee with a Ravelry friend, which was pretty awesome. Too bad I'm back to work tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Now that my knitting related blogging obligations have been discharged, I can return to you to our regularly scheduled programming. Which might actually be less interesting, come to think of it, because I am in a slump. Or maybe a funk. Hard to say. I think it's because all of the fun things are over--no more wedding, no more honeymoon, just a lifetime of scrimping and saving to try to buy a new furnace, a new bathroom, and a million other small repairs that our house requires. Sure, we're talking about planning a trip to Europe, but it will be at least a couple of years before that comes through. It's also because the school year is winding down, and this wasn't a good year in a lot of ways. It wasn't a bad year, exactly--not like that year I spent teaching high school--but neither was it a good year. I struggled with the material and some of my colleagues; I struggled with my personal life; there was that whole thing with negotiating a new collective agreement for my union during a time of wage restraint. I'm not sure how I feel about this year yet, either, and it's strange to be thinking about closing something off that feels unresolved to me. It's also the time of year. Spring always makes me feel like getting the hell out of North Bay Rock City, which is never at its ugliest more so than in those weeks when winter is dying and spring hasn't quite decided that it wants to be reborn. The detritus of winter is all over this city, and it's not even warm enough to be optimistic. There's very much a piece of me that wants to be heading "home" like I did when I was a student, back to my parents' house. All that's left here right now is being a grown up with grown up problems, and I am so effing tired of that. Surely the sun has to come out some time.

Day Seven - Time Is On My Side

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

I sneak crafting time whenever I can. I'll knit in the car when Mat is driving and in my office when I'm at work. I knit while my students are writing tests or exams--our exams are three hours long, so having something to do is a tremendous help. I almost always knit while watching tv. I love to knit when I go out for coffee with friends. I cannot, unlike some of my friends, read and knit at the same time. I can listen to audiobooks, but only if I've read them before--I can't focus well enough on the story unless I see it.

I've also recently taken up knitting during RPGs. My nerdy nerd of a husband loves to role play, and when he takes part in a campaign (or, more frequently, DMs one) I usually get invited along for the ride. I am not always a good role player. I get bored and fidgetty when the action moves slowly, or if the subject matter doesn't interest me. Working on knitting projects is excellent for this: I can focus all of my energy on the project, which means that I can focus on the game even more. Having two or three hours of uninterrupted knitting time like that is amazing--I get a lot done this way.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Day six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to.Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

Having seen how my mom's sweater has turned out, there is a piece of me that would very much like to make one for myself, but I think it will take a year or two before I'd be ready to knit that sweater again.

I aspire to be a faster knitter, I think. I have lots of projects and lots of ideas, and I wish that I could find the time to get them all done. My guild has begun posting a monthly goals thread on Ravelry, and I have found that to be enormously helpful in figuring out what I want to make each month. Having a list gives me something to check in on, which is nice.

I also aspire to be a better designer. I'm learning a lot about pattern design, but I would like to get better at translating my ideas to paper and to yarn.

Finally, I would really like to learn how to embroider properly, so that I can embellish my knits that way.