Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sick, the galloping month, jobs

I know, I know, I'm sorry I haven't been posting very much lately. Today's excuse: I have a cold. Or a flu. Or something that's making me sniffy and sneezy and achy. It's not bad, certainly not as bad as the thing Dan had last week, but still.

(I have spent the last two days watching movies and the first season of House, knitting up a storm on the couch next to the wood stove. Kitty has been here with me the whole time).

It's funny what our routines are when we are sick. I remember when I stayed home from school as a kid, being sick meant staying home in front of the TV watching bad soap operas. I stayed home sick a lot, actually, I was really good at faking it. It so happened that on that day in 1986 when the Challenger shuttle exploded in mid-air, I was home watching it all happen while my friends were all doing math or something.

Nowadays I am much better equipped. I have a husband who brings me stuff, boils water for my Neo Citran, who makes me breakfast. I have a computer, movies from the library, an iPhone with stupidly addictive fun games. (Damn those Pocket Frogs!) And of course, lots of knitting.

You may recall my embarrassing number of UFOs... so embarrassing that I didn't even tell you how many. Well, I finished some. Quite a few, actually. I'll get to that in another post (but it will include the epic baby blankets, four dishcloths and a cloche hat)(Yay).

I say the galloping month because DID YOU KNOW it is almost the end of October? I've been asking the locals what happens around here for Halloween and no one seems to know. There are tons of kids here, and surely they do something. We have plans to stay home and hand out candy. Or not, as it were. If the kids come, we will have candy for them. If they don't, we have candy for us. See? Win-win. I am planning to dress up, but as what?

Hook & Line fishing season ends November 15th. What does this even mean? Well, in my fish counting job, there are two main kinds of fishery. Hook & Line, or Trawl. I have been largely doing Hook & Line boats all summer. It's fine, the shifts are usually pretty short. They are the more involved so I am seldom bored. But with their season closing, I am much more likely to get more Trawl boats. Way longer shifts, less interesting stuff to do.

I have been looking for other work. I have started applying for jobs at UVic (thus introducing the possibility we might move back to Victoria) as well as around here. There are way more jobs in Tofino than there are in Ucluelet, since the tourist season still goes there, if at a reduced rate. We have only one vehicle insured right now so if either one of us gets a job outside of Ukee, we will probably have to insure a second vehicle (don't worry; we have three)(how did that happen?)(they are all red). For some strange reason, I'm not worried. I know me and I know Dan and we neither of us have ever had a hard time finding work. It's finding the right work that is the question. What do we want to do? Get through the winter? Build careers? More uncertainty.

We are actually pretty happy with our situation. I know I complain here and there but really, we have things pretty good. We have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, a growing group of great people to hang out with, and we live in a part of the world that has endless possibilities for exploration, whether on foot, bicycle, surfboard, or 4-wheel drive. If we can afford to put new tires on the truck we won't be stranded here all winter (the pass gets snowy; our tires are darn near bald). With knitting and friends, we won't suffer from cabin fever. And with all the food we have preserved, we are not likely to hungry. So yeah, I think we'll be okay.

/abrupt end

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Getting Organized

If I'm honest with myself, I have at least a dozen knitting projects on the go, and one crochet project. I have big plans to make a series of project bags for knitting, perhaps to sell. I have a very long line of things I'm planning to knit between now and Christmas even though, after last year, I swore everyone was getting gift cards.

One of the projects is actually two: baby blankets for twins. Did I mention I am never knitting baby blankets ever again? I'm about ten rows away from finishing this thing and I should be able to send them off tomorrow. I found out a few days ago that the babies were born September 19th (boys), and what with winter setting in and all, they'll be needing some warmth. Although I'm sure Qualicum Beach isn't nearly as cold as it is here.

Tangent
It's been getting so cold here at night! I wake up to frost on the grass! I think it gets to about 4 degrees. We got home from a dinner party in Tofino last night, then Dan had to go do a boat at 10pm. I went to bed about an hour later. We hadn't had the fire going in the house since the day before so the house was cold. Once I realized I couldn't sleep because I was cold, I got up (now it's midnight) and got a fire going. Started knitting a hat.

/end tangent

O no. Well I can justify this one, actually. See, I knit this same hat with this same yarn last month and I have been meaning to write down the pattern because customers have been asking. Only... well, I didn't make any notes with the first one. So I just eyeballed it and went from there. Lessons learned: the first hat was probably done with a 6mm needle, last night's hat was 7mm. I had half a yard of yarn left over (very efficient, really) but it is still a bit on the big side. I think I'm going to mess with the math a bit more because, it is beret-like, it has increases and decreases which have to be strategically placed. At any rate, I brought home yarns in all the colours the shop has (don't tell Dan. I get a very generous discount at the yarn shop and gosh it was hard to resist) to test out this pattern. I finished the hat this morning and will probably cast on for the second test hat (really the third now) with the math revisions. I want to be able to knit them on 7mm needles because I think it looks better. 6mm works with the pink variegated but the other colours are solids and needs to be not so tight.

The whole point of writing down this pattern will be something like 'free pattern with purchase of yarn' but really, I have to cut my designing teeth somewhere. It might as well be something that is easy and not too expensive.

Some time ago I started Brenda Dayne's Brother Amos Hellfire Lace socks with Malabrigo. Soon after starting, I totally lost my sock mojo. It's too bad because I really want some new socks; I started a 12 Socks knit-along and only got the first month done (three months behind now); I promised a pair of BMW socks to my boss at the fish job for which I have the yarn; I have some really nice/interesting sock yarn to knit with if only I could be interested.

But here's the thing: socks take 40-60 hours to complete. This hat that I started/finished in the last 14 hours? I finished it in 3 hours. Very gratifying.

And then...

Side note
When I was in Kelowna, we happened upon a Chapters. Where I live now is a two-hour drive away from any large book store, so seeing a Chapters was like a rainstorm after a drought. I managed to get away with only one knitting book but it is a good one. It's called Knitting 24/7. I think I would knit almost every project in the book. Indeed, I have yarns for several of these projects (though some of these only recently acquired...). One of the first things I have wanted to knit from this book is a hat called Spiral Tweed Cloche.

Digression
I made the Brattleboro hat (also a cloche) from the most recent Interweave Knits Magazine from Malabrigo I bought in Portland last year. I wear it all the time and get comments on it just about every time I wear it. In fact, yesterday when I was working at the yarn shop, a woman walked in and said "Cute hat! Is that the Brattleboro hat?" "Why yes it is!" I said, delighted she recognized it. We were instant friends and are now Friends on Ravelry.
/end digression

I really like the Spiral Tweed Cloche pattern. It can be made from one skein of most worsted weight yarn. It is an easy pattern and will, I'm sure, knit up quick. I'm planning to make a few out of different kinds if yarn. So while I should have spent my knitting time earlier to day finishing the aforementioned baby blanket, I cast on for this hat.



It's fine. Everything will be fine.

I called this post "getting organized" because today was the day I had set aside for cleaning/tidying/organizing my craft room. It wasn't that bad, but it had become a dumping ground for irrelevant stuff. You know how that happens. I'm not 100% where I want this room to be but now I know where things are (i.e. where they are supposed to be) and I have a much better sense of how many projects I have to work on. By re-creating this space in here, I can come in and work away at my many projects.

Speaking of which...

O dear. Well I hate to say this but not including today there are only nine Sundays until Christmas. Now I know that we are all annoyed when Christmas stuff starts coming out in stores before Halloween, or even before the Back-to-School frenzy has subsided. But as crafters and artists, if we want to make hand-made gifts for all the people in our family and perhaps a few friends, then we must get a head start.

Fifteen family members. That's a lot. I think I'll be adding Mid and Eddie to that list - because until now we have only been exchanging cards, I feel our recent reconnection requires I step up my game. They deserve it, after all.

A couple of the things I made for Christmas last year were big time-consuming projects, there rest knit up in less than a day. I have already done my big project for one person and will get going on the rest. There is no way that I will have a repeat of last year - up until 3am on Christmas eve to finish the interminable project... No. This year, no matter where we are, I will have my Christmas gifts done weeks ahead of time so I can spend December socializing, baking, decorating, and enjoying the season.

Monday, October 11, 2010

my belated grandfather

I had to fly to Kelowna late last month for a funeral. I think I'll save that story for another post because here I wanted to post some photos of my grandfather that I haven't seen in ages. In fact, I don't think I have more than a couple of photos of Grandpa.

I was eighteen when he died, had just graduated from high school six months before, in 1992. I was living in Red Deer at the time. I was living with my mum and Eddie (see previous post about Birthday Tribute). They were going to Kelowna for Christmas to be with Grandpa, whereas I had to stay behind and work. I spent Christmas eve with my boyfriend and his family.

My mum called me the night of Christmas day to tell me that Grandpa had died. That she had to let herself in (with her key) to my Grandpa's trailer only to discover that the top half of his body was completely black. The coroner figured he'd been dead for three days, had a heart attack.

I got on the bus the next day. Took the overnight bus from Red Deer to Kelowna. I have always hated traveling by bus, especially the overnights.

The next few days were a bit of a blur. I remember we stayed in a hotel room somewhere in Kelowna. My sister (who lived with Dad at the time) was away on a cruise with Dad, were due back on the 27th. When I called & told her, she flew out the next day. I remember it was cold, being deep winter. I have no recollection of the funeral. I don't even know which family members were present.

I do remember, however, the trip back to Red Deer in Eddie's truck. It was his old Pig (he always calls his trucks Pigs, it's kind of cute, really). I remember that the old Pig didn't have a heater that worked so for our 11-hour drive back to Alberta, the five of us (Eddie, Mum, me, my sister, Eddie's son Kris) all huddled into each other for warmth.

My Grandpa, my mother's father, was by far my favourite grandparent. He was the one that I saw most in my life. His wife Emma died ten years earlier so my memories of her are vague. I barely saw my dad's parents when they were alive, even though they lived closer. So for all intents and purposes, I haven't had a grandparent in 18 years. Everyone called him Johnny.

Johnny and Eddie were long time friends. They were fishing buddies, went camping together in the Shushwap and Clearwater in British Columbia's interior. Now that Eddie is getting to be that age, he reminds me a lot of my Grandpa.

I stayed at Eddie's house in Kelowna when I was there last month for Unc's funeral. It was great to see him and pick up where we left off, our old sense of humour still intact. He will always be, in my and my sister's eyes, a part of our family. He has photos of loved ones all over his house, including two of my Grandpa, which I took pictures of with my iPhone. One is of all of us camping, and I am probably 18 years old in that photo, it was probably the last photo of us ever taken. I don't know when the other was taken, but you can be sure it was on a fishing trip.


Note my early 90s hair.












my first handspun


A few weeks ago when I was working at the yarn shop, Carol (a regular at stitch night) brought in her spinning wheel for me to try. She had lent me a drop spindle a few months prior and I just couldn't get into it. The wheel, however, was way more fun. Compelling. Mezmerizing.


She brought in some sample fiber for me to try. It was kind of hard not to overspin but I sure liked the look of it.



Later, I decided I couldn't wait to spin up the BFL I had at home so took the spinning wheel home with me. I made two plies, then plied them together. Here is what I got.
















Close up. They say to hang on to your first handspun, because later it will be referred to as 'art yarn' and once you've learned to spin a fine, even ply, the chunky uneven yarns are next to impossible. We'll see about that. At any rate, I'm not sure what I'll make with this, I enjoy looking at it so much! I haven't done the soaking-with-weight thing to set the twist yet but soon, soon I'll get to it. I might have enough for a hat or at least some sort of neck accessory.

Monday's mood, fishing adventures

I don't know why, but I have been awfully moody these days. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. I had terrible nightmares involving terrible things happening to loved ones, which meant I woke up several times the previous night, and was not at all well rested yesterday. The weather forecast told us rain for days on end, but the sun was shining when we woke up yesterday morning.

Dan said "let's go fishing!" and I just wanted to sleep. I had a mile-long list of things I wanted to get done at home (you know, vacuuming, laundry, windows, etc.) so we went fishing.

In the summer we discovered and then took friends to this place called Hilly & Billy's hidden hole. We can say that's the name of the place with confidence because there is a sign (note to self: take picture of sign). At first we thought it was a swimming hole. It was secluded, on a river, and had lots of great places for sunbathing.

The water was rather cold for swimming. We've done some lake swimming this summer so we were used to getting into fresh water with only a swimsuit. Apparently rivers are much colder. Who knew? I couldn't stay in the water more than five minutes before risking hypothermia, so got out and dried off/warmed up quickly in the sun.

Dan has been talking to the locals about freshwater fishing and has now been told that Hilly & Billy's Hidden Hole is for fishing, that this is the time that the Steelhead should be running. Off we went.

It's not so hidden, really. Heading out of town towards Port Alberni, turn right onto the Toquart Bay road. It's a logging road too, gravel, and after the rains has its fair share of washboard and potholes. I always remember now to wear a sports bra on adventures like these so the girls don't bounce around too much. :-) After the 6km mark, and about three bridges (or four?) there is a road that goes off to the right. There used to be a Coke can attached to a tree ( or was it Diet Coke?) but we didn't see it yesterday.

It's not far on this little road - only a few hundred metres. Park the truck, walk a few steps to the log bridge. The log is easily 4 feet in diameter and, as damp as it was, a little worrisome to cross. Dan didn't cross it, I did. All the trees I caught were on that side of the log. (Yes, you read that right. The fish weren't at all interested in my line but the trees were!)(I am so good at casting my line)(Fishing is dumb)

It was, to be fair, a nice sunny day. I had made peace with myself for not knitting yesterday, allowed myself to be in the moment. But after fixing my tangled line a few times and climbing onto precarious precipices to retrieve my hook and lure, I was purely frustrated. My low mood turned into a full on grump. I left my fishing rod and Power Bait on the log (Dan was fishing elsewhere) and went to the truck to play Pocket Frogs (iPhone game).

After about 20 minutes, Dan came a-calling and told me he had to go for a swim. Apparently he knocked the Power Bait and my fishing rod off the bridge into the river. Crap. That was my fault for leaving it there.

Luckily, my line was still attached to the tree that caused me the latest frustration. I grabbed the cord from the back of the truck that had a hook attached, and threw it towards the line/tree branch in hopes of pulling up my rod. It worked! The fishing rod was easy - the Power Bait we declared a write-off.

Dan keeps telling me I'm so patient. I'm really not. There is definitely a different kind of patience required for knitting than for fishing. I have all the time in the world for knitting. But spending three hours waiting for fish to be interested in your line? Who has that kind of time? How is it in any way relaxing? Stupid fish. And fishermen spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on gear to attract the right fish. I don't know. Maybe I'd feel differently if I actually caught something, if all these hours weren't wasted in vain trying to catch a fish I'm not even sure I'll like eating.

Because of all the climbing I did at the Hole, the pants I was wearing were rather on the damp side. I tried so hard to be in a better mood.

Got home, headed straight for the bath tub. I was pretty tired and expected I might doze off in the bath tub. It's never happened before, but it was still possible. Then my phone rang (I know, my own fault for having the phone in the bathroom with me) and I heard about more family drama. Sigh.

Done with the bath, I needed to get moving on the flan I promised to bake for the Thanksgiving dinner party we had been invited to. But my mood kept on sinking. Laying on the floor seemed very appealing, in fact, it was as though gravity had increased and I was meant to be laying on the floor. I despaired; am I getting depressed again? Dammit, we can't afford for me to need to be on antidepressants.

Dan came, scraped me up off the floor, deposited me into bed. He'll take care of the flan. The kitty came and napped with me.

Later, upon waking, the flan was ready and it was time to go. I wasn't feeling very sociable, to be honest, but there was turkey involved. It was a pretty low-key evening, which was just fine. I think the whole group of us were tired. Came home with the leftover flan (yes! Flan for breakfast!) and went to bed.

Last night was a much better night. I slept! No bad dreams! And even though it is pouring rain today, I am in much better spirits. The fire is roaring, the dishwasher is dishwashing, the laundry is well underway. After lunch I'll don rain gear and go for a walk. Come home, dry off in front of the fire and knit the afternoon away.

Tomorrow I'll go hunting for jobs again. Did I tell you? I've been laid off from the yarn shop, as of the end of October. It came as no surprise, since business has slowed right down. It's just as well, I think, because I think a change is in the air for us.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Today in my life

Not quite the Day in The Life that Backyard Feast wanted, but it looks like Zola is dying for news. Here is today:

5:45am Dan's alarm goes off because he has a boat at 7:00am. I wake up too, of course

6:35am I hear Dan still downstairs. He should have left for work by now

7:10am Dan crawls back into bed. Boat has been delayed until 10:30, but he had to go into the plant to find this out. The storm has moved in (i.e. torrential rains and high winds) and probably the vessel was later than they expected.

8:00am My alarm goes off. I pick up my iPhone, play Tap Ranch, go downstairs to drink my glass of orange juice and make coffee

8:30am Turn on the computer & upload photo of drawing that Dan did for Eddie (who, by the way, is a long time family friend).

8:35am Kitty decides she needs to take a nap on my lap.

8:40am I rip out this stupid lace shawl (Simple Yet Effective Shawl) because I can't seem to get the number of the stitches in the rows right. My third time doing a shawl with this yarn.

8:50am Watch the crows out front foraging for food. See the rain going sideways. Hear the winds, the foghorn. Consider making a fire.

8:57am The present moment


Before about 10:15am I need to eat breakfast, get dressed, make lunch, and get ready for work. I might get a load of laundry in there, perhaps some ironing. It will take about 35 minutes to drive to Tofino, a bit more if I pick up any hitch hikers. I'll work at the yarn shop from 11:00-6:00. It's raining so it could be quite busy as people want something to do at their guest house or lodge while it's raining. When I'm not handling customers, I'll be knitting, obviously. Dan will probably leave for work before I will.

After closing at 6:00, it will be getting dark but I will probably make it home before it's fully dark. It's Friday, so the gals will be coming over for Ukee Stitch Night. Dan will likely get home before me and will probably clean up, get the house ready for guests. There will be two or more ladies coming over for knitting/crocheting, tea, snacks, and conversation. We'll sit by the fire.

I'm realizing that if I'm going to be living in this rainy climate, I really do need a proper rain jacket. I have a couple of rain ponchos and some pants I wear when I'm cycling in the rain, but none of those look very business like.

I dreamed last night that I had a back yard garden. I was digging up spaces to place my carrot starts when I found the ground teeming with happy earthworms. I wondered what food there was for them there, was glad. I sure miss having a garden. I don't seem to be very interested in container gardening and with all the bears/deer/raccoons around, there is almost no point to trying to grow anything. In a weird bit of irony, the sunflowers I have planted in the back and then ignored are now, finally, happily blooming. As the storm season hits us in October.

Birthday tribute



Today is Eddie's birthday. Eddie will probably never read this blog, but just in case he does, I just wanted to post the birthday card that Dan drew for him:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

bits of stuff

1) I have a migraine. Today is day 2 of the same migraine. Before I lived in Asia, I used to have prescription medicine. That was a long time ago now, and for a while, ibuprofen was working. Not so much now. I can't just go to the clinic because a)I haven't signed up with them yet b)they are only open a few hours a week and c)migraine meds are expensive and I don't have any health insurance coverage. So I suffer.

2) I'm knitting a mobius for the first time. Ellie has a woman from Victoria coming to teach some workshops in a few weeks, one on how to knit a mobius. I figured it would be good for people to see what a mobius looks like so they can decide whether to sign up.

3) We've had some fantastic weather lately. As in warm and sunny. Unfortuantely, this is the worst possible weather for me - the sun hurts my eyes when I have a migraine.

4) I made lasagna yesterday out of ground buffalo meat and it was delicious. Yay for leftovers.

5) I'm going into Tofino this afternoon to teach a kids' knitting class, then staying to close up the shop. I think Dan will drive me, since I can't really see out of my right eye. O yes, I am positively delightful today. (That was sarcasm).

Monday, October 4, 2010

working, working

Hi hi

I'm sorry for not posting. I've been very busy with all my jobs. I actually have about a dozen or so sticky notes lined up on my desk with topics I want to blog about. Heaps of photos of things to share with you. But each day gets sucked up by work (yarn shop work yay! and fish job ... not so much).

As we ponder our winter here in Ucluelet, I am making every effort to stop thinking in terms of being here or not, what may be or might not be. We both need to find other sources of income, it is true, because fish job slows right down in the next month. The only thing we can really count on, it seems, is not knowing.

At least I have yarn.

Dan and I have now been to all but two restaurants in Ucluelet and I think when we complete this list, I will write a review/guide. We might not ever make it to Norwoods, actually, it's the kind of place where there are no prices on the menu and then you get handed a bill for $200 for two people. A little ostentatious for us at this point.

So yeah, we've been working, doing stuff around the house, canning, and knitting. Ho hum. I am hoping to get on to more thought-provoking or newsy posts in the next day or two.