Monday, February 25, 2013

In Spite Of The Fact...

In spite of the fact I came to the coffee shop to work on something, I am writing a blog post instead.

In spite of the fact I have had my driver's license for over forty years I still can not parallel park. This adds a level of challenge to going to the coffee shop not experienced by better, more skilled drivers.

In spite of the fact only three people currently reside in our house it can get unbelievably dirty, unbelievable fast.

In spite of the fact we put an offer in on a house two weeks ago, no deal has yet been reached.

In spite of the fact our house has been on the market for one week it hasn't sold yet. Okay, maybe my expectations were a bit high in this area.

In spite of the fact it is the end of February I haven't placed a seed order yet. This would be due to the fact I don't know if I will have a garden. See above two points.

In spite of the fact it is the end of February NHL hockey doesn't end for almost four more months. When the season ends so does our realty contract for selling our house. Hopefully we will be more successful than the hapless Canucks.

In spite of the fact I have done very little spinning since Fergus arrived in our home a year ago, I have a lovely skein of hand spun I am knitting into a pair of socks. It was a birthday gift from my friend Ellen.

In spite of the fact I love the things, I probably won't be having any IKEA Swedish meatballs for dinner tonight.

In spite of the fact the wind is blowing, I am bundling up and making myself go for a walk when I get home from the coffee shop.

In spite of the emotional trauma inflicted by too much death in one season, and possible brain damage due to the incredibly poorly written ending to Season 3, I will be watching again next year. I am watching again for one reason, and one reason only.

In spite of the fact I highly doubt Julian Fellowes reads my blog, I am issuing a warning. Don't even think about messing with the Dowager.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fast 48 Hours

Our house is showing later this afternoon (more on that later) and since I used up the whole morning trying to fix my blog I am left with about fifteen minutes sandwiched in between to write this post. (I decided to change my blog header this morning. Big mistake.)

I got home from visiting my mom on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Rebekah arrived for a quick two day visit. It is a two week holiday in Korea, so she took advantage of the time off to come home for some Western immersion. It was great to see her, and when we said goodbye it was nice to think that in a couple of months her year long teaching adventure will be over and she will be returning to Canada for good. Well, maybe not for good, but at least for the foreseeable future.

I think the thing Rebekah was most looking forward to - aside from seeing Anton - was being able to use an oven. She doesn't have one at her apartment in Korea (they don't seem to be popular with Asians), and has really missed not being able to bake. So much so that she has perfected cake baking in her rice cooker! She wanted to make a Greek dish with lamb her first night here, and I was happy to sit and knit, watching someone else cook dinner for me. Here we are at The Art We Are, catching up on each other's news.

I am doing well so far with my Self-imposed Sock Club. Here are February's socks, done well ahead of time thanks to all the knitting I got in when visiting my mom.

Hand Maiden Casbah Blackberry

It's extremely hard to take pictures of one's own feet even though, as my older sons like to point out, I am not that far away from them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quick Trip

Last Friday I drove down to Spokane, and I have just returned today. It takes something fairly major for me to drive over a couple of mountain passes in the winter. It was my mom's 79th birthday, and I really wanted to be there to celebrate with her.

When I go down to visit we usually have tons of things we do in the short time I am there, but this time we mostly just relaxed, watched some television and visited. Of course, that meant I got lots of knitting done, but I will save that update for another post. We did manage to drag ourselves out the door to go to Trader Joe's, and this time I felt like I hit the jackpot. They have just started carrying a gluten-free pizza!

The original plan was for my mom to take me out for dinner on Sunday for my birthday, and I would take her out on Monday for hers. When we were at Trader Joe's Sunday morning and I found the gluten-free pizza I said I would rather have that than go out for a meal. How many people do you know who would trade a dinner at the local Mongolian restaurant for a frozen pizza?

We also made a quick stop at a store to pick up a plastic storage container my mom needed. It ended up being one of those amazing life moments that takes you completely by surprise. We headed over to a cashier to pay, but then noticed there was someone in line ahead of us buying shoes. This wouldn't have been a big deal if he had been buying just one pair of shoes, but this guy was buying hundreds of pairs of shoes! There were shopping carts full of them, more stacked on the counter for the cashier to ring through, and this bunch waiting to be dealt with.

My mom asked the guy buying all of these what he was planning to do with them. After all, there are only so many pairs of shoes one person can wear, and these weren't even shoes for adults. They were all children's shoes. It turns out he was with a non-profit charity called Soul To Sole, and every year they buy about 1500 pairs of new shoes to give to needy children across the city of Spokane. His eyes lit up as he told us about fitting a child for their new shoes, then a couple weeks later handing that child their new pair. Every day we are bombarded with news stories of terrible things happening around the world, and this somehow seemed to balance some of that out. Quiet acts of kindness and compassion tend to get ignored by the media.

Mom's 79th birthday was yesterday, and my cousin Kath (my mom's niece) came in to help us celebrate. We are a family of introverts, so every time we went to the elevator in my mom's retirement home and were greeted by this sign my mom would cringe.

We went out to dinner, then back to the apartment where my mom and Kath indulged in the box of Purdy's salted caramels I had given to my mom. This might be hard to believe, but I didn't eat a single one. In a rare moment of chocolate self-control, I decided I could buy them any time I wanted, but for them they were a rare treat. I felt quite virtuous.

Kath stayed overnight, and the evening reminded me of when I was a kid and would go to a slumber party. We talked and laughed and told stories until way past when we should have gone to bed, especially considering I had to get up and face the long drive home today. Here we are at the restaurant.

Happy birthday Mom! And I'm really sorry I lied about not putting this picture in my blog.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fergus Friday, February 15, 2013

This Fergus Friday update is much the same as previous ones. Fergus continues to torment Emily at every opportunity.

He continues to be a busybody. In addition to watching what is going on in the neighbourhood, he also feels a need to be a part of every activity inside our house. There was no way he was going to be left out of the Crokinole game!

Fergus's love affair with Anita continues unabated. While Anita was making my birthday dinner this week Fergus sat at her feet watching her every move.

Fergus and Jenny are still best friends. Here they are, on one of the rare sunny days we have had this winter, taking advantage of every square inch of sunlit carpet.

I'm sorry to report that Fergus's drug problem has surfaced once again. This past Sunday Jay and I took a day trip to go look at a potential place we might want to move to. Kellen was going to be doing some painting in our house while we were away and very kindly agreed to dog sit. David was going to be home for most of the day as well, so between the two of them we figured we had the dog care thing covered.

Well. As I was slowing down to turn into the area we were looking at, my cell phone rang. It was Kellen, and he was in a panic. I could hear the dogs barking and David yelling in the background. Somehow - I'm still not exactly clear on the details - Fergus got a hold of Emily's bottle of thyroid medicine. When David came upstairs he discovered Fergus in his crate, surrounded by bits of plastic bottle and little white pills.

As I pulled in behind the realtor I was still on the phone trying to sort things out. Luckily Jay knew how many pills Emily had left, and once David and Kellen gathered up all the pills Fergus had licked and scattered on the floor only one pill was unaccounted for. This was fortuitous, since I have had to phone the vet once before when Fergus had snacked on one of Emily's pills. I knew he was in no danger from having a single pill. As if house hunting wasn't stressful enough!

Fergus still doesn't understand what all the fuss was about...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Year In The Making

It's finished! After 366 days, 732 rows, and 40,260 stitches of sky watching I was finally able to cast off my Sky Scarf. I started knitting this scarf on February 11, 2012. I cast on 55 stitches to match my age, and committed to a year of observing the noon sky and recording it as closely as I could with two strands of yarn for the next twelve months.

When I first started this project I was filled with enthusiasm. I could hardly wait for the noon hour so I could knit the day's sky onto my needles. If I wasn't home I would make a note of the sky wherever I was, then knit it as soon as I returned. This level of enthusiasm lasted approximately two weeks. The remaining 362 days of scarf knitting were met with a progressive lack of enthusiasm. I have never been as happy to cast off a project as I was this scarf!

Judging from the scarf's length, there were clearly too many days in 2012. I reached optimal scarf length somewhere around the end of August, and all knitting after that moved this from being simply an accessory, to being a potential accessory to a crime. Here it is with no wraps. And it's okay. Go ahead and laugh. I certainly did!

One wrap around my neck and it still isn't quite right.

Two wraps is perfect. Well, as perfect as something that poses a major choking hazard can be.

It's not exactly beautiful (massive understatement). It's huge (another massive understatement). It cost more to knit than anything I have ever made (you can't believe how much yarn went into this thing).  But now that the tedium of knitting it is a thing of the past, I can honestly say I am glad I finished it. When I look at the long patch of grey that was knit last spring it instantly brings back memories of all the rain we had, and how the North and South Thompson Rivers flooded. The huge patch of brilliant blue reminds me of the glorious summer we had. My favourite bit of the scarf is the single, dark, foreboding ridge of grey that represents Typhoon Sanba, experienced during my visit to South Korea last September. And the endless stretch of light grey that makes up the last part of the scarf proves I am not exaggerating when I say we have had very little sunshine this winter.

You have no idea how happy I am to be able to say this- it's a wrap (Ravelry project link)!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Moving On...

Last week I voiced a thought that has been rolling around in my head for many months. "I think it's time to say goodbye to Kamloops." Last fall we had briefly considered purchasing some property about an hour east of where we live, and putting a cottage style home on it. The land sold before we were in a position to do anything, but the thought of moving has stayed with me throughout this long, dark winter.

We moved to Kamloops almost seven years ago in the midst of what was a very stressful, unhappy time in our family's life. Kamloops has been exactly the right place to be in the ensuing years. Rebekah, Alexandra, and currently David have been able to pursue post-secondary education through the university here. Kellen and Anita would never have met if we hadn't been living here, and I can't imagine our family without Anita being a part of it. I have met several lovely woman I have become friends with over the course of my time here as well. We have shared walks, and talks, and copious cups of tea/coffee while knitting away at the local Starbucks. But...
  1. Our house is way too big for two people. David is planning to move out this summer, but even with him home there is a lot of unused space. 
  2. I would love to get rid of Stuff. Realistically, this is not going to happen until we are forced into action. 
  3. I miss green. There is a certain beauty to the sage brush and sand hills I am surrounded by in this desert climate, but mountains and green forests are what resonate with my soul. 
  4. This final point is huge. I would like to live somewhere that allows me to be able to drive to my kids' homes in a few hours. As my kids sort and sift and settle, it is becoming clear Kamloops is not going to meet that criteria. I want to see my kids more often than once or twice a year. 
This week we have had a couple of realtors come through our house to assess what it might be worth in this rather dismal housing market. This was the news I was waiting to hear before I posted anything about our plans. We have a place we are thinking of relocating to, somewhere centrally located between Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria, but I will save that for another post. The point is, in order for that to be possible we need to get enough for our house that we can make the move without incurring any debt. I heard back from realtor #1 last night, and it looks like it might just be doable.

So now we enter an unenviable season of life - trying to sell our house. Our past attempts to sell houses remind me a lot of my attempts at lace knitting. Both have been dismal experiences that would make a short stint in Hell seem like a holiday in comparison. My first horrible task will be choosing a realtor. Is a good choice even possible? The one I think will do the best job (she is the top realtor in Kamloops) was wearing so much perfume that by the time she left I had a splitting headache. The unscented realtor is very nice, but she doesn't have nearly as many sales as the smelly one.

Then we will have to face the disruption of having our house shown to complete strangers. This will mean keeping it clean and tidy and looking like it doesn't hold Stuff that belongs to various kids, kids-in-law, and Jay. (My stash, of course, doesn't count as Stuff.) Even more difficult will be making it look like it doesn't hold Fergus. If you happen to know someone who would like a nice family home in Kamloops, complete with two garden boxes, two apple trees and some really awful appliances, please send them our way. It will save me having to choose a realtor!

This is a total coincidence, but I am currently having yet another go at lace knitting. This is the start of the Northmavine Hap, a pattern from Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies. In what has been a complete and welcome surprise to me, I am actually enjoying the process this time around. I have made one mistake so far (I didn't change colours when I should have, but I can live with it).

I wish there was some way my current success at lace knitting could translate into success selling this house. But even if we aren't able to sell, I won't count the whole experience as a loss. Finally, after repeated requests and several weeks of no action, David has moved his leg off the shoe rack after I pointed out loose limbs probably weren't going to be a selling feature.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

To Write Or Not To Write

It has been almost a week since my last blog post. I really didn't intend for that much time to go by, but I have been waiting until I could make an announcement before I posted again. My frustration is I still don't have the information I need, and until I know for sure what is happening I best not say anything. So here I am on a Tuesday afternoon feeling like I don't have anything worthwhile to write about simply because I can't write about what I want to. I assure you, this makes it all sound much more exciting and mysterious than it really is. I just need to know what I am writing about before I can write about it. So stay tuned - all will be revealed in my next blog post.

In the meantime, the sun is shining, the snow is sparkling, and a gluten-free banana cake is baking in the oven, filling the house with a delicious smell. And I have two bits of good news to report. Yesterday I made the wonderful discovery of a long forgotten Cadbury's Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut bar stashed away in one of my hiding places. Finding chocolate I have forgotten about is one of my greatest joys in life.

The other good news is I only have six days left to knit on my Sky Scarf. I have caught up on weaving in all the ends to date, and can't wait to cast off next Monday. Kamloops has had a very unusual weather pattern this winter, with weeks of low cloud and fog, with only a few sunny days sandwiched in between. It has been depressing to experience, and even more depressing to knit. The dove grey yarn is getting used up at such an alarming rate I have been afraid I might not have enough. Today's sky with its brilliant blue and white was a welcome change. Even if the remaining six days are overcast I should have just enough dove grey left to finish thanks to today's reprieve.

Next up, the news...hopefully!