Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Sunday Post

This blog has been very quiet for the month of January. I keep thinking I need to write another post, but then feel like I don't have anything to say. I suspect there are many of us who feel like this at the moment. Gobsmacked by what is happening around us. My blog is not about politics, or religion, or current events. It's meant to be a place that celebrates family, nature, crafting, gardening, and everyday life. So I hope you'll forgive me for this one small detour from the regularly scheduled content.

I am an immigrant. I came to this country over three decades ago. It was a relatively easy transition for me. I spoke the language, I had previously visited Canada many times on holidays, and I came from a country with a similar culture. Three of my children are immigrants. For two of them the transition was also easy since they were infants. Language was not a problem as crying pretty much sounds the same no matter where you are from.

But one of them didn't join our family until he was five, and that added a whole layer of complication. Imagine being whisked away on a plane with complete strangers. You've never flown before, you've never been outside of your country before, you don't speak a word of English, and the people you are with are complete strangers since you've only just met them the previous week. Not only do you not know them, they don't look anything like you. This was not an easy transition, but it was helped along by the fact that everyone involved cared, and did everything in their power to make it work. To make that new immigrant feel welcome. And safe. And loved.

My son-in-law is an immigrant. My daughter-in-law is an immigrant. It wasn't easy. They were older, they didn't speak the language, they came from cultures quite different than ours in Canada. It was a struggle for them and their families when they arrived. But they're okay. Actually, they are more than okay. They are wonderful people, and have fully assimilated into Canadian life.

So here's the thing. I wonder how the story would have turned out for me, my three adopted children, or my daughter-in-law and son-in-law if, instead of love and acceptance, we had experienced suspicion, fear, or hate upon our arrival in this country. All I can say is I'm so incredibly thankful that I'll never know the answer to that question.

Moving on...

I've jumped on the Stopover bandwagon. What a fast and fun knit! I did it in twelve days, and had I not stopped in the middle of it to finish up a pair of socks I might have completed it in under a week.

I'm still catching up on blogging about my Christmas knits. This is Ella's Bear In a Bunny Suit. I think it ended up looking more like a chipmunk in a bunny suit, but Ella's only a year and a half old, so I don't think she noticed.

This is Baa, knit for a friend of mine.

There were Flower Fairies and Leaf Sprites for Lucy and Nevaeh. And now I think I'm finally caught up with all my gift knitting!

Here's a glimpse of what's currently on the needles. I usually knit in the evenings, and Fergus is my knitting buddy. After some tummy rubs and ear scratches he settles in beside me and sleeps. The project on the right is going to be a skirt. Some day. Hopefully soon. The project on the left is going to be a Coast Salish inspired vest. Again, some day, hopefully soon.

We are in the midst of some lovely weather.

It's been so nice that the garlic I planted last fall are starting to grow. It's always an exciting discovery when I spot them. They are the first signs of life in my garden, and make me want to get out and start digging in the dirt again.

I hope your weekend has been a good one. And I hope you will forgive me for my digression from my usual content. It wasn't at all what I originally intended to write when I sat down at my computer.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Deep Winter

I realize I am in the minority when I say this, but I love winter. I now live in a place that experiences very little winter, and I have to confess to missing snow covered trees, the crunching sound snow makes as you walk on it on a cold day, and the quiet stillness that happens after a big snowfall. So for me this winter, where we have actually experienced all of those things for the past month, has been a treat.

We have an indoor/outdoor weather gauge that not only tells you the temperature and weather forecast, it actually shows you what to expect. You can see my weather guy is bundled up in a scarf, toque and mittens, the cloud is dark black meaning we can expect a lot of precipitation, and there are snowflakes coming out of the cloud. Yippee! Snow instead of rain!

I always find January to be a bit of an odd month. I enjoy that tucked in feeling it gives me. It's the month, more than any other, I have the most success in slowing down, taking time to read the books and magazines that have been piling up, and spending time just being. Holiday preparations are in the past, and gardening and other active pursuits are in the future. I need to find a way to continue these moments of stillness throughout the year.

The weather might be cold (this week we've had overnight temperatures of -10 C), and the roads and paths are very icy, but I still make a point of spending time outdoors each day. I use Yak Trax to stay safe when I walk, and, possibly no surprise here, I have lots of woolly handknits to bundle up in to keep me warm.

Our holiday guests have all left, but that doesn't mean we haven't had daily visitors. The family of raccoons Jay rescued from the recycling bins last fall come by every day to say thanks. Fergus goes absolutely crazy when they show up, but that doesn't seem to deter them.

Flax by Tincanknits

Here are a few of my Christmas knits. I made Lucy and Ella matching Flax sweaters. This is such a great pattern! It's free, and there are two versions, one for worsted weight yarn, which is what I did, and the other for fingering weight.

Gramps by Tincanknits

Oliver's sweater is another Tincanknits pattern called Gramps. This might just be my favourite knit so far for my grandchildren. Those elbow patches, the pockets, the shawl collar... I'm pretty sure I'll be knitting Oliver another one in a bigger size at some point. The pipe and Prince Albert tobacco tin are not Oliver's. They belonged to my Grandpa. :-)

Our winter is forecast to come to an end Monday. Warm weather and rain will be returning. I will be putting my Yak tax and down jacket away, but I have this one last weekend of snow and ice and cold and all things Deep Winter to enjoy, and I intend to make the most of it. I'm hoping you are having a good weekend too, no matter what the weather!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Traditional Time

Here we are on the other side of the holidays, and I'm here to report that our family had a very traditional Christmas. Traditional, that is, in the sense that it was filled with the usual chaos, plus a bit of calamity thrown in for good measure.

The moment captured in this picture is what I now think of as the last civilized moment of the holiday. It was the evening of the 23rd, and everyone had just arrived. We had a "pie night," including chicken pot pie, quiche (two kinds, one vegetarian and the other with meat), and tourtiere. Rebekah and I had carefully planned each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, to feed sixteen people for five days, and the first night went exactly according to plan. Well, you know that Woody Allen quote? The one that says "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." Exactly. Disaster struck.

Our usual Christmas tradition is to have an appliance break down. This year the appliances held together, but the plumbing didn't. On Christmas Eve afternoon our kitchen sink became plugged. No amount of hot water, drain cleaner, or removal and inspection of pipes was able to remedy the problem. I'll spare you the details. I'm sure with some imagination you can picture a small cottage, sixteen people, and no ability to use the kitchen sink.

The good news was my brother had rented the cottage next door for him, my mom, and my two nieces. So we did have a sink and a place to prep food and wash dishes. It just meant making dozens and dozens of trips back and forth, through the snow and ice, to clean up from the last meal and prepare for the next one. It was exhausting.

But here's the really neat part of this story. Everyone pulled together and pitched in. My brother took charge of all dirty dishes, and loaded and reloaded the blue bin we were using to transport them next door to be cleaned, then he had to bring them all back in time to be used again at the next meal. Rebekah, my nieces Corinne and Danielle, and Alexandra were busy going back and forth too, helping me prep food for the next meal. And the people left at the cottage were in charge of watching over four young children, which was no small feat! Not only that, but after our celebrations were over and most people had left, the plumber came out. When it was time to write him a check for his services we were told that Karsten had asked for the invoice to be mailed to him. So many helping hands, and so much kindness. Who could ask for more?

I purposely put non-breakable ornaments on the bottom half of the tree. Lucy and Nevaeh had fun taking them off and giving them to my mom.

We managed to get outdoors for several walks.

Diana had purchased two sets of matching pyjamas for the kids. Trying to get a picture of all four of them was a bit like herding cats.

Nevaeh is modelling the mittens I knit for her. I'll have to save the rest of my Christmas knitting for another post or this will be way too long.

It was such a treat to have my nieces here with us. Ella and Lucy thought so too!

I'll leave you with one of my favourite pictures. If you look closely you'll see that Oliver has grabbed a handful of my mom's hair!

I hope your holiday season was memorable (in a good way), and here's wishing all of us a kind and calm 2017.