Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mr. Space and the Alien

Mr. Toast and the Toester

 This is John wearing the Mr. Toast t-shirt made for him by 8-year old Rosalie. It was perfect because soon after he opened his gift from me & Dan.

Here is the Toester that we made. I've been thinking about this since last Christmas when I knit the above featured Toast Mittens. I took a block of foam, some velvet and fleece, and went at it. Dan helped with some steel welding rod, the final finishing and painting the name on. The lever on the end was knit by me. (Note: if ever you would like to custom order something like this for purchase, do get in contact, we are happy to do it).


Mr. Toast's birthday is two days after Christmas so the girls made him a birthday cake in the shape of toast. It was a toasty Christmas!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

insert content here

Hi there friends,

Yes yes I'm feeling terribly guilty for not having posted in several days. Please be advised that until yesterday, we had a houseful of people for five days and was therefore busy with, you know, Christmas. Then we needed a bit of down time. Today I had an interview for a job in Tofino, will find out if I got it on January 4th at the earliest. Alas, another part time casual, but it could lead to something more regular.

I have a ton of photos to post, particularly of the Toester and the UFO, but they will have to wait for another day. In the mean time, I am going to Stitch Night in Tofino tonight, will go to bed as soon as I get home, sleep in tomorrow, then get cracking at all the catch-up stuff. We have friends coming to stay for New Year's Eve (only for one night, sadly).

I do look forward to reconnecting in the coming weeks as I have some big projects that I'm about to launch and can't wait to tell you about them.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

found photos of fabulous frog from first family festivus

The frog that began it all. 2007 was the start of where I really took off with my knitting. Dan said Hilary likes frogs, she could use a tea cosy! And so it began. Each year I make one or two (sometimes three) fairly large projects. Wait till you see what this year's projects are...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Next Blog >>

Have you ever noticed at the top of this page there is a button for you to have a look at other people's random blogs? It's an interesting thing to check out. You never know what you will find - young engineers from India, a cancer survivor, new parents, students, people just trying to get by in life. Sometimes I just poke around and randomly follow these links.

Just another one of those Interesting Cultural Experiences...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

an early morning offload

The following photos were taken a few weeks ago, when I had an offload beginning at 8:00am. It was a crisp clear cold morning, and I was concerned about having to climb the slippery ladder down to the vessel before and after the offload could begin.

The nice thing about being up at that early is the sunrise. What is normally a not so pretty view can look sort of spectacular given the right light. Here are some snaps of that moment.

The first one is taken from one fish plant looking south at the fish plant directly south of it.
The second photo is taken from the dock, looking north.

Here two of the guys are managing the pump. They pump water from the ocean in to facilitate the large vacuum sucking the fish out of the hold and into the hopper where the fish will be sorted by species.

The ladder I was afeared [sic] of climbing. I made sure there was someone nearby to at least notice if I fell into the water. Not sure what would be worse - dying of hypothermia or drowning.

I was halfway up the ladder after being on the vessel when I noticed how pretty the pillars here looked at low tide.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

some photos from the last Tofino Stitch Night

Juliet is the shop dog at Knits by the Sea. It was her birthday yesterday and Ellie announced this on the shop's blog.

Juliet is so excited when you walk in the store. She knows that you are coming to see her. So please do give her a scratch, she will reward you with the wagging of her tail and perhaps some puppy kisses.

Juliet wore a dress for the Grand Opening Party in July, wore a Christmas suit for Jingle Into Christmas, and is so used to wearing sweaters now that, the other night when she was on my lap and I was knitting my poncho, she walked right into it.

Photos taken with my iPhone...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

bring your own popcorn

So I recently signed up for Freecycle for both Port Alberni as well as the Tofino/Ucluelet area. Tomorrow I will pick up the new-to-me Nordic Track elliptical trainer that someone didn't want when they moved into the house they just bought. Score!

Then the other night I saw a message offering up the old seats from the Tofino Community Theater. I called upstairs asking Dan if he wanted some theater seats.

YES was his response. Okay then... We went the next day. They had seven banks of four seats. They were bloody heavy, we were able to fit four into the back of our truck. They were also quite awkward because not only were they heavy; they were snake-like in their modular assembly. (Dan later discovered it would have been way easier to move if we had disassembled them before transport). One of these sets was bound for the new coffee roastery, the other three came home with us. Dan hinted at wanting to go back and get the other three but, after moving these behemoths, I said No.

We have heard now in the last few days that the seats were not very comfortable. When we brought them home, Dan took them apart to see how they are constructed (and to repair a few), and discovered they were assembled backwards. These seats easily have another 50 years in them (they are 49 years old) - the reason they were uncomfortable was because the chairs tilted slightly forward instead of slightly back.

With The Family coming for Christmas, we now have seating for double the capacity we are expecting (unless of course YOU come join us for Christmas dinner?) We don't know where these theater chairs will end up but this large house we've rented sure is filling up. If only we had some shelving...

Newspaper article about knitting

I was interviewed for and featured in an article about knitting in the area. Check it out!

Knit your art out

The interview was conducted by email, though I follow Stefania on Twitter. She mostly used the text I provided verbatim.


Monday, December 6, 2010

The credentialization of work: a rant

I know, I made up that word. But I'm irritated...

I have a lot of education under my belt. I have spent almost ten years of my adult life in an academic institution. I have an English degree and an M.Sc. in Health Information Science. I am a part of that generation that felt lied to about 'get a university degree, you'll get a job'.

I'm living in this small community that all but shuts down for the winter, and I can't find work. There is a smattering of jobs here and there with the local health authority and with some of the resorts, but I don't have my Foodsafe certification so I am not 'qualified' to handle food (I spent six years working at McDonald's in an era that predated such certifications, I'm pretty sure they invented Foodsafe). I can't get a job in any sort of health related office because I don't have my Medical Office Assistant certificate, or my Medical Terminology certificate.

I am not averse to retraining. In fact, just now I was poking around at Pharmacy Tech programs in BC. It seems there are two: Selkirk College in Castlegar (an online program) and Vancouver Community College. It would take about two years to complete.

Then I thought I'd look at what the colleges on the Island have to offer. Camosun no longer has Pharmacy Tech. Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina) has no such program. North Island College has the Medical Office Assistant (which requires Medical Terminology), but before you can get into that program you need the generic Office Assistant program.

I looked into the courses for this and it has things like Keyboarding (yawn), How to Use the Internet (are you kidding me?) and other things that I have long been adept with.

So what pisses me off is that there has become a standard in so many industries where you have to have a certain piece of paper that says you know how to do this Thing or that Thing. Even if you already know how, or are qualified to teach the course, the job requires the piece of paper. Is this something that happens everywhere? It seems rampant in British Columbia. I have already spent something like $70,000 on my post-secondary education and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay another $80 so I can serve food in a restaurant.

This is the reason that people like me get this excellent training and then don't work in our fields: I am very intelligent but I don't fit into any pigeon holes. I am also unwilling to pay more to get certification for things I know how to do.

It is so disheartening and demeaning to be in this position, to feel like I'm highly qualified to do things but not be able to find work. I'm sure lots of the places I've applied to around here haven't called me because I'm 'overqualified'.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

today's adventures: Port Alberni


It's always so exciting to go to town. When you live out here, you ask your people if they need anything from 'town'. They have more than one grocery store! A Canadian Tire! Restaurants that are open year round!

It's amazing what becomes exciting when you live in a remote community that only sees lots of people in the summer.

The weather wasn't too bad heading out. There is always concern about The Pass: Sutton pass, which is about 400 m, I think. At the north end of Kennedy Lake, as we were in the twisties of narrow road between the lake and the vertical rock face, we saw a black bear on the road and a semi approaching in an oncoming lane. Panic! But the bear ran away, there was no roadkill (or damage to vehicles), and our journey continued.

I was surprised at the amount of snow on the hills. The roads have been plowed, and ever since the two paramedics died on this road last month, the federal government has kicked in money to make sure this road remains clear all through the winter, 24/7.

It was around Sproat Lake and approaching Town that we ran into fog. Not literally, of course, you can't just run into fog. I'm sure there's a fantasy novel beginning with fog.

Anyhoo, I arrived at the college for my testing. I was to interview later in the morning for the Library Assistant position but first had to take the Microsoft Word and Excel testing. The job only requires a basic understanding of how to use these programs, but the testing software tests for all levels. I did very well, of course, since I am quite familiar with both programs. I had about 45 minutes between finishing the tests and the start of my interview.

I had been to the Port Alberni campus of North Island College once before, a long time ago, in another lifetime, it seems. It is with NIC that I began my post-secondary journey back in 1995, and was a student until I moved to Victoria to go to UVic in 1998. I was involved with the student movement then, so had occasion to go to Port Alberni for a meeting. It's been - what - 12 years? 13?

While I was waiting for my interview, I hung out in the smallish cafeteria. Was surprised to see a gal there studying in her pajamas. Ordered a coffee and breakfast sandwich, then settled into knitting socks.

Aside: I took up knitting socks the day after Christmas last year and ripped through several skeins of yarn and landed something like eight pairs of socks from my favourite sock book. Then I totally lost my sock mojo. They took too long, other quicker projects held my interest. Away with socks. Well, after all this Christmas knitting and knitting sale items, I decided it was time to return to the socks. So I did. I have accomplished three inches of my 2-at-a-time socks in the last two days, mighty pleased with myself

(return to main story)

Time for the interview. I feel it went very well and I hope I do get to work with these ladies. I had occasion to talk about my knitting (yay!) and ask about the instructors I had back in the mid 1990s. I learned that I am one of two people being interviewed, that they may well offer the job to both applicants. This was encouraging. Then they asked if they could forward my CV to other departments that need sessional instructors: International Studies, Nursing, Human Service Worker. Yes! Of course! I would be happy to drive to the Comox Valley (somehow, I'll figure that out later) if it would mean getting experience teaching at a post-secondary institution and actually using my expensive education. I was going to ask/suggest/mention (but forgot - rats!) that I could also teach English courses at the NIC satellite campus in Ucluelet. You never know what could happen.

Before we left this morning, I checked my Susan Miller December 2010 horoscope and was rather encouraged by my career prospects in the next two months.

Dan picked me up after the interview, and we went to RHM Subs - a new (?) donair shop in this unassuming building. Dan was super impressed, I thought it was okay. I don't think I've ever actually had a donair before, so the experience may have been lost on me. O well.

Next we headed to Fairways for our beloved Asian food products. Nori! Sweet Chili sauce! Sesame seeds!

After watching the coffee documentary the other day, I am now paying more attention to the coffee sources and Fair Trade logos. With friends about to launch their coffee roastery, I am also paying attention to local roasteries. (Sorry this came out sideways, it's horizontal in my file??) I hadn't happened upon this one before, but my roasteristas (my word) have.

Later we went to Quality Foods. Did they only recently open? When we went there early last month, it seemed they were a fairly new store and therefore had lots of great sales. We must have spent $20 on British candy alone. (Today we carefully avoided that aisle). But then I saw something else very interesting.

I like Karma Coffee, I think they have a good thing going. In fact, until I discovered they aren't producing Fair Trade coffee, they were my current favourite. It made me wonder though, how much did they offer Quality Foods to showcase their product like this? Obviously they are trying to promote localism, which I think is a good thing.

So food stuff. Dan and I admitted that even though we really shouldn't be spending extra money on frivolous food right now, we sort of can't stop ourselves. Dan calls us Foodies. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with that designation, though I do appreciate good food. It just feels a little to pretentious for me. Not that I equate foodieness with pretention, I just don't feel that the title fits me.

So, after The Season of Culinary Indulgence that lies before us is over, we will put ourselves on a food budget and try to limit some things in our diet. This can only be a good thing for our health, of course, and our wallet too.

That was a digression, oops. Back to the story...

After groceries we swung by OhSweetie's house to collect a few items she had offered, then off to Serious Coffee to meet an old friend.

Good old Facebook. It's great for reuniting you with people you haven't seen or heard from in a long time and would like to see again. This old friend was instrumental in my becoming an activist in the student movement in the 90s. Though he is younger than me, he was politically my senior and mentored me through those years. We were colleagues and friends, adventuring to far-flung places like Renfrew, Ontario and St. John's, Newfoundland for AGMs of the CFS. O the memories. We were young and idealistic and just getting our chops in playing politics.

I moved on from NIC to the University of Victoria Students' Society when I transferred to UVic. I served one term as director at large, then joined with the CUPE activists when I got hired at the Greater Victoria Public Library. Not long after that, my days of student activism faded to the past.

That was many years ago now, lots has happened in the mean time. (I went to Asia for two years, my sister got married and had two kids, I went back to school, got half of a second Bachelor's degree and then an M.Sc., got married myself, took up knitting, have visited the US five times, moved to the west coast...) So when I found my old friend Rob on Facebook and saw he again lived in Port Alberni, well, we simply had to have coffee.

I always like these moments of meeting up with someone I haven't seen in a long time. Usually it's a good thing (occasionally there is an awkward we-have-nothing-in-common-anymore moment) and I have that realization that some things never change. There is a comfort in that.

The day was galloping on, so soon after Dan came to pick me up, we said our farewells to Rob, then headed for Canadian Tire. They had houseplants on sale!

Ah, houseplants.

I have long wanted to be one of those people who has lots of houseplants. I love houseplants, but have never been in a place that had good space/light for houseplants, or stayed long enough in one place to feel like I could settle into having them. We did move here with a few, some of them evens survived the journey. Three, to be precise. Two succulents and a cactus. And then with all our uncertainty about staying/going, we didn't want to acquire any. But now that we're pretty sure we'll be here a while, we bought - how many? - nine plants? If I can get myself coordinated, I'll introduce you (via photos).

Then it was time to go home. Start our long 1.25 hour drive through The Pass and towards the Ocean. We got home just before six (having left this morning at 7:30), got the fire going, and settled in to unpacking our groceries and making dinner. (Ha! Dan did all that, I sat on the couch with a hot bag on my back, sore from hauling firewood the last two days, and I knit on the socks).

I signed up for freecycle in Port Alberni last week, and just as we got home a message arrived with an offer of a free elliptical trainer. Oooh! Oooh! Me! Me! I messaged the woman right away and won my prize! So the next time we go to Town, I'll have the machine that will cancel any excuse I would have about exercising in bad weather. And boy do I need it.

So, yeah, it was a good day. :-)