Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Rhythm of Life on the Farm

I've been here just over three weeks and I'm starting to settle into life here. My sister has always been one for uber house organization, having worked for Tupperware at one point. In fact, a big joke one Christmas was when I gave her a label-making machine. It was a half-joke because Lori was organized, and this would help her compulsion. She totally got the joke and started to label everything. Then she realized how much she loved the thing and it has been a valued household item ever since.

There was a time when everything in Lori's house was ordered to the extreme. It used to be that all the movies had to be arranged in alphabetical order. Even now the clothes hanging in the closet are arranged in a rainbow of colour.

Lori has her routines around the laundry, dishwasher, and other systems of organization. It is really quite impressive. Having kids forced her to relax her compulsions somewhat, but as the kids are getting older and can now clean up their own messes, the old Lori is ekeing her way back.

Lori is now working full time (which is four days a week), and has child care set up for the kids in town. She is up at 5:45 and is out the door by 7:15, to be at work for 8:00. She is home between 5:00-5:30, depending on any errands she has to do in town before coming home. On the weekends, they have gone camping a few times (as her husband has been working away, comes home with the holiday trailer so they can camp in it). In the ebb & flow of their lives, I have been finding a way to fit myself in so as not to be a disruptive house guest, but a helpful one.

While I'm here, I have taken on the task of preparing dinner for Lori & the kids for when she gets home from work. As some of you know, I do enjoy cooking but since I've been with Dan, I have become quite a slacker in the kitchen because Dan is just so darn amazing. I have gone through most of my single-gal cooking reportoire since being here, being mindful that I am also cooking for children who are probably picky eaters. Oldest child doesn't like tomatoes, for example. Youngest child doesn't like anything green. I am trying to make sure they get a healthy, well-balanced meal out of me, but I admit it is not easy.

Noodles were a big hit. I bought some Asian noodles from Chinatown in Edmonton a few weeks ago: mung bean, rice, buckwheat. As long as I don't put any "sauce" on the noodles, we're good to go. I only wish I could have found some cheater chopsticks for kids, to teach them how to use them properly.

The deal with me cooking dinner (or as they say around here, 'supper') is that Lori cleans up the kitchen afterwards. It's a good arrangement.

What else am I doing with my time? Lori had a big list of things for me to do when I got here. She wanted me to prune her trees, which I have done. We started painting the ceiling in the TV room - I do the rolling.

 Lori does the cutting in. Cutting in? I had never heard that term before now, had always heard to it referred to as 'edging'. I have been going out and weeding the garden here and there.

Lori is not a gardener. They have a huge plot of land devoted to being a garden but only a small fraction of it is used. Lori got out and planted some seeds in May, and hasn't touched the garden since. It was quite overrun with weeds when I got here, so on sunny days I have been donning my rubber boots (for the mud) and getting out there with a hand rake. The plants that have been weeded around have certainly benefited from my ministrations. By the time I make my way through all the rows once, I'll need to get back to the first rows again but the task will be way easier. Here is waht Lori has planted:






Alas, no potatoes. The seed potatoes are languishing in the cellar.

I dug up Lori's bread machine and have decided to start filling their mostly empty deep freeze with bread. I will bake a loaf of bread every day while I'm here, until I wear the machine out (as happened to our first bread machine) or it's time for me to go.

I've been waiting for my own stuff too. My former employer got my forwarding address wrong, so my final cheque should have been to me by now (it was mailed on July 14), but due to rerouting I expect it will be here next week. Still don't have my damage deposit cheque from my former landlord either.  Once these cheques come in, I can buy a canopy for the truck.

The plan: I want to buy a canopy for the truck so I can lock it when my mum & I travel to North Carolina. It also needs to be waterproof. I would like to get a canopy that has a sliding window that meets the cab of the truck, so that Sam can come & go from the litter box in the back to the cab in the front. But I can't do any of that until I have some money coming in.

Something else I have been doing: spending a lot of time with the kitties. So many kitties! I step outside and they come running toward me. Some of them in particular approach me first.
I can always count on the smallest grey cat (Runt) and the middle grey cat (my boyfriend) to arrive first at my feet. Their mom, Tiana, is a good hunter. She'll bring home mice and moles, and
the occasional dead chicken from the chicken barn. I've seen her devour a chicken leg in under a minute. It's gross and fascinating at the same time.

I am also spending some time on Lori's treadmill. It's handy that it is in my space (I'd call it my room but I am staying in the basement which is mostly just one big room). I started out with 40 minutes, am increasing my time on it by 5 minutes every time I use it, and am alternating my way through the programs. I do this and listen to a new-to-me podcast called Marathon Training Academy. It's a fantastic podcast and I am inspired to consider training for at least a half marathon once I arrive in North Carolina, see what kinds of races are around Kinston/Greenville. I'd prefer to run outside but there isn't really much running space on the farm (gumboots in cow pasture not with standing) and with the way I've seen the gravel trucks screaming past,  I'd rather not risk my life on the highway. Treadmill it is. It's good, actually, simple, easy to use, and just what I need. See, Lori's brother-in-law came by the other day and said "Holy crap have you  ever lost a lot of weight". And while I have lost 31 pounds, I still have 18 more to go. It's getting harder, so I have to seriously increase my exercise intensity.

I am happy to report that I have also been able to get a fair amount of knitting done. This morning I finished the Darcy Shawlette, a pattern I was test knitting for my Twitter pal @knitpurlgirl, in Indigo
Moon sock yarn. I was given this sock yarn as a gift and while I love the colour, when I went to block it the colour started leaking out of the water in the sink. Out came the vinegar, so I could set the dye.
I'm so glad I know that trick.

I am about 30 rows away from finishing the Victorian Ruby lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today, which I started sometime in June. It was easy travel knitting when I was doing the middle section, but the ends are charted which has meant I had to be anti-social while knitting them. I'm hoping to get that done & blocked today.

The day after I arrived, my sister had her Yorkie-Shihtzu groomed, Roxy had most of her fur shaved off. Then the weather turned cold and poor Roxy Dog was shivering. Roxy had a few sweaters from
her previous owner, but they weren't up to Lori's esthetic. Lori had never really considered dog clothing and then I told her about Ellie and her dog Juliet, and how Juliet has her own wardrobe complete with summer party dress and Santa costume. And then I offered to knit Roxy a sweater. It's kind of crazy, really, having never knit one before and without a pattern. I knew it had to be machine washible (enter acryilic yarn - shudder) and she wanted it to be black. Black! I hate knitting black! Well, it knit up quickly and now I have only to weave in the ends and decorate it with flowers or 'Roxy' or something. That too will probably get done today.

And then what? What will I knit? I have three Cookie A socks to finish and the long-ago begun Brother Amos (a la Brenda Dayne) socks to finish. Maybe after I finish those UFOs I just might treat myself to some Auricania Multy from Liv With Yarn in Camrose.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kittycatting around

Sam and I have been here almost three weeks now. We have been hanging out downstairs for the most part, and when the dog is not in the house, I open the gate at the top of the stairs to encourage Sam to come up and explore. She's quite a scaredy cat but she is also rather vicious, not being socialized at all with other animals. The gate at the top of the stairs is to keep Roxy the dog from going down, rather than keeping kitty cats away.

I have been encouraging Sam to jump over the gate when she wants to come up. If she's downstairs and can hear me upstairs, she meows nonstop. It's really quite annoying. I know she can beat the snot out of dogs five times her size, Roxy should be a breeze if the dog causes any problems (Roxy is quite a chicken though too, and as a puppy, is learning very quickly). Piper, the sometimes housecat that actually lives here, jumps over the gate to get away from the dog & kids when she's home (but she is away for days at a time when the weather is fine).

Last night Sam took it upon herself to figure out how to get over the gate, as she could smell chicken in the kitchen. I had put the leftover butter chicken in Tupperware containers, cooling with lids ajar, on the counter next to the fridge. Lori and I were in the TV room and heard something coming from the kitchen. O! Sam is eating some chicken. I couldn't remember leaving a piece of chicken on the floor for her, for surely the dog would have scarfed it first. Turns out Sam found the Tupperware and helped herself. The sound Lori & I heard was of a lid falling to the floor. Sam had made it over the gate.

I knew then that it would mean Sam would be spending much of the night exploring this new found freedom. She was, as Dan would say 'kittycatting around'. I told Lori this before we went to bed - and to be prepared for Sam to wake Roxy up, as Roxy would surely start barking.

Sure enough, it happened, but I somehow managed to sleep through it. No harm done, Lori woke up, saw Sam with puffy tail, all was put to right and Lori went back to bed.

Just now I saw Sam make her way over: 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

those chickens can be eaten

Ah, life on the farm.

So I landed here two and a half weeks ago now. The family farm produces crops (currently canola, I think), chickens, and cattle. Chickens are raised in 80x200 feet barns which are temperature controlled and all the feed & watering is automatic. Every day, my sister's father-in-law walks through each barn and "picks out the deads". These chickens are all the same breed and same age, so have no way to establish a natural pecking order. As such, they have unnatural behaviours and sometimes stampede each other when startled, especially in an artificial environment. Some die. With livestock, you must remove the dead ones right away, especially in the summer, because of the smell and to prevent disease.

I had never given any thought to what happens to the dead ones when he removes them from the barn. I guess I imagined that he put them somewhere.

One day, early in my visit this time around, I saw a few of the farm cats, some magpies, and the three-legged coyote eating chicks just outside the barn. I was alarmed! I walked over to investigate (not at all threatened by the three-legged coyote). Coyote took off as soon as he saw me coming. Some of the chicks were dead, some were lame and some deformed. Gasp! What should we do?

My six-year-old niece came up behind me. "Oh, those chickens can be eaten." Right. These chicks would not make the grade of the commercial processor that buys these birds when they are mature.

I think it was the next day that my sister & the kids came back from town to see her father-in-law waiting in his truck in the driveway, rifle sticking out the window. He was waiting for the skunk to come out of hiding so he could shoot it.

At any given moment, there are about a dozen cats around the farm. Lately this usually includes at least one litter of kittens. One kitten from each litter usually survives, as they often get killed or eaten by the farm's dogs, coyotes, or by getting stuck in vehicles.

Farm dogs get run over if they get in the way of a moving vehicle. Seldom do they see a vet to get repaired.

If an animal is unable to recover from an injury, the solution is usually just to shoot it.

It is a hard thing to come here as an animal lover and see how this happens, this casual way of dealing with animals as expendable. My niece has seen an awful lot of death in her few years and she misses every animal that dies or goes missing. My sister doesn't like it either but she has also gotten used to the idea, having lived on this farm for something like ten years now. She said the could feed all the kitties and easily spend $300 a month on cat food, but these cats would all end up dead anyway. One cat lasted 10 years (she was a house cat), and that was an extremely long life for a farm cat; most that survive past age one usually only make it to two or three years.

There is a batch of kittens here now that are six or seven weeks old. Several times a day we all do a kitten count. Six. Three grey, three calico. Where is Runt? Runt has blue eyes. She's my favourite.

The other day I borrowed father-in-law's recip saw to go and prune trees. When I was doing the apple trees, the cows became interested. The three main apple trees line the fence that borders the pasture. I threw the branches with apples on them (not ripe yet, but cows don't care, apparently) over to the cows and they munched happily for hours. There was also a lot of mooing. I wondered what all that mooing was about. Were they saying "O thank you kind human for giving us all these delicious unripe crab apples that will give each of us nine stomachaches later"?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

yarnsalad finds the LYS in Camrose

I've been in central Alberta for two weeks now. I was starting to get twitchy about not having a stitch night to go to, and with the crappy Internet connection out at the farm here, I also haven't been able to participate in Thursday night's #knitchat on Twitter.

On Tuesday, I stopped into Liv With Yarn in Camrose. I was pretty excited when I saw the Auracania Multy in the window display. (I used the Auracania in the Dan & Stacey socks I knit a year and a half ago, early in my sock-knitting career, and *love* using that yarn). The shop was quite large, especially compared to what I was used to with Knits by the Sea in Tofino, but I saw she also carried the Diamond line of yarn, same as Ellie.

I was poking around the shop, seeing some yarns that familiar and some that weren't. I had never held llama yarn before, for example. Eventually I made my way to the back of the shop where the women were knitting, dropped in, introduced myself. Leana is the shop's owner and was working on a piece for yarn-bombing the main street. I also met Bonnie and Amy, who I gather are sometimes employees, but both who seem to have a second home in the LYS, as many of us knitters do. I caught all their Ravelry names, found out when their stitch night was, and said I'd be back on Thursday.

Thursday rolled around and I arrived just after 7pm. Leana and Bonnie were outside on the bench, knitting. Leana was working on a scarf with some crazy new yarn that looks like a big ruffle when you knit it (I think Ellie started carrying this too, a month or two ago). Bonnie was working on a Cowichan sweater, which around here they refer to as a Siwash (?) I was most intrigued by this, as patterns for Cowichan sweaters are hard to come by.

See, these sweaters are a product of the First Nations people of the Cowichan Valley area on Vancouver Island, and I have called Vancouver Island home for the better part of the last 16 years. The sweaters grew popular and patterns were available for a short time, then the women of the Cowichan Valley protested, arguing that their cultural heritage was being sold and that that was not right. If you watched any of the Olympics in Vancouver last year, you may have seen the Canadian athletes wearing these sweaters. The big question was: were they authentic Cowichan sweaters or were they knock-offs made in China or India? When I was working at Knits by the Sea last year, we had *lots* of people asking for Cowichan sweater patterns. There is a lot of respect for First Nations peoples and traditions on Vancouver Island, so we of course explained why they weren't available. (This is not to say that there isn't respect for First Nations elsewhere in Canada, I honestly don't know, but I do know that there is an awful lot of racial tension and gang violence at the reservation near where I grew up in central Alberta, so much so that a 5-year old boy was shot in a drive-by shooting in Hobbema just last week. I digress.)

I thought it interesting too that they referred to these patterns as "Siwash" (SAI-wash), as if everyone knew that was their name. I had never heard this term before. I mentioned it to Dan last night, and he said they are getting the pronunciation wrong, it's SEE-wash, but yes, that is a local term of the First Nations people. At any rate, I found the whole thing interesting, that there is a class on how to knit a Cowichan sweater in a LYS in central Alberta.

Back to my story... the reason Bonnie & Leana were outside knitting was because every Thursday night there is music on the Main street. There were 50-100 people hanging around downtown, taking in the music. The band was your typical bar cover band, the female singer with a deep husky drinking-and-smoking-every-night kind of voice, who has obviously practiced all her songs a lot but isn't that great of a singer. When the wind kicked up, we knitters were blown inside and Bonnie made tea. More knitters arrived.

It's an interesting thing, going to a stitch night in a different community. It made me very aware of the demographic. In Tofino it's people with dogs, lots of single gals, lots of people just there for the summer, visiting and/or working. In Camrose, it's mostly people who have kids and a few who don't. What I love about knitters is that we are an accepting bunch. It doesn't matter what you look like or what your interests are: knitting unites us and that's all that matters. Even as a new and temporary member of their knitting group, I felt welcomed as we all tested the waters into what was appropriate conversation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

yarnsalad wields a power tool

Before & After. Lori had asked me to prune five of her trees. I could have done it with hand tools, but it would take days and I would be aching. Instead, I borrowed a reciprocating saw from her father-in-law. Two partially-charged and one fully-charged battery later, I only got halfway through the second tree. So I guess I won't get all this done in one day, as I was hoping. O well. Maybe with three fully-charged batteries I can get through a lot more next time.

I *love* power tools.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Salmon Arm to Edberg

On Friday July 8th, Sam & I departed from the Travelodge in Salmon Arm just before 8am local time. I think local time was PST, and I'm not really sure when I crossed into a different time zone. Usually they have signs but I must have missed it somehow.

Sam was not so good to drive with on the second day of our trip. She MEOWed the whole time and it was really getting irritating. She wouldn't eat and wouldn't drink, but I was happy to see her use her litter box.

It became clear to me that I would have to keep the air conditioning on and that, when Mum & I make the big trip to North Carolina, we will not be able to make any touristy stops with Sam in the truck. It's just as well, really. Yesterday it was eight weeks since I've seen Dan, and I'm really antsy to see him. Once we have a go date, Mum & I can get there in five hard days if we push it.

I stopped in Golden for bathroom, snacks, and some cute kitty food. By 'cute kitty food' I mean canned cat food. Every day at 5:15PM, she gets 1/5 of a can of soft cat food, and I was out. We have to keep these routines going so kitty can feel some small sense of normalcy wherever we are.

I have been through the Rocky Mountains a lot growing up, so it was all very familiar to me. As I was nearing the eastern side, it really started to rain a lot and it was even more clear that I really need those stupid windshield wipers (which I have since purchased but not yet installed). I wasn't going through Banff or Jasper, but took the parkway near Lake Louise, which made getting out of the Rockies seem interminable. Eventually I emerged, hello foothills.

I rolled into Rocky Mountain House and decided to fuel up. I probably could have made it to the farm with plenty of gas to spare but I wasn't taking any chances. I also needed caffeine fuel (they called it 'coffee' but it was questionably so). That was where I encountered the dust storm. As I was standing at the gas pump, a little pile of dust gathered around my feet. I was glad that I was wearing leggings under my dress, not only because my skirt flew up, but also because, well, dust just shouldn't go in some places.

The wind and the rain continued. I made the mistake of going through Red Deer instead of just heading straight for highway 2. I think that delay (with all the road construction and detours) cost me about 45 minutes.

I had a vague idea of where Lori lived. I've been there dozens of times before but I had never actually driven it myself. I didn't map it on my GPS before I left (duh!) I didn't ask her for the nth time "which road do you live on again?" I thought if I could find Bashaw and New Norway, I could figure it out. I knew it was east of Ponoka & Wetaskiwin. I knew it was south of Camrose. I was fairly confident I could find it.

Turns out it was quite a bit further than I thought. I was starting to get nervous about maybe being on the wrong secondary highway. Then I saw the sign for Meeting Creek. A ha! That was where Lori's mother-in-law grew up. I knew I was close.

Finally I saw the sign that said "Edberg thattaway" (paraphrased, mind you) and I knew we were there. Relief! I was tired, hungry, grumpy since Sam had been MEOWing in my ear all day, and really had to pee.

I pulled up around the back just before 7:00 in preparation for unloading. The winds were so strong they were (as we say on the coast) blowing a gale. The kids were SO EXCITED to see Auntie and everyone wanted to help and Sam was freaking out and there were kitties and other dogs all over the place and I just wanted to pee and get the kitty to her safe hiding place. It was a bit overwhelming, really. I forgot to call/text Dan to let him know I had arrived safe.

Lori hadn't prepared any supper for me, so she defrosted some hot dogs and buns. It didn't matter, I just needed food, really. I got Sam safely tucked away downstairs, set up our bed (I brought our mattress & bedding), and she has been hanging out down there ever since. It took a while to calm the kids down and then put them to bed. Then I stayed up chatting with Lori until nearly 11pm. (Remember, this is late for me - I'm used to being in bed asleep before 10pm). So much to do, to talk about, to get. But when I did finally get to bed that night, I slept a very good sleep. So too, did Sam.

Internet! I made it work!

Soon there will be no stopping me.

O my dear readers, how I have missed you! And I have so much to tell you!

I have not been able to blog since arriving at my sister's place because they have weird Internet. And by weird I mean an Internet connection I have never seen before. See, they are out on a farm where until earlier this year, only dial-up was available. For some reason, I thought they had had cable installed but it turns out they have this little plug-in that picks up a cell phone signal and turns it into an Internet carrier, just like how it works on the iPhone.

When I first got here, I tried using it on my sister's computer (an old Compaq laptop) and it was s o  s l o w.  As in pages taking so long to load the server was reset. Then I thought maybe if I installed the device on my laptop (built this year, *way* faster than Lori's), it might work better. For some reason it didn't work that first day. I was discouraged. Am I doomed to several weeks of no Internet at home? Will I only be able to get connectivity if I go into Camrose and hang out at Starbucks?

And then, today, I thought "I'll try again, see if I can make it work". And I did! It's WAY faster and now I can spend the entire afternoon Interneting. I am so excited I could pee.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

yarnsalad goes from Cowichan Bay to Salmon Arm

My alarm went off at 5:50am. I wasn't in any rush to leave really, but I had to say goodbye to the Skipper before he went to work at 6:10. I wasn't entirely awake and I hadn't slept well the night before (woke up sweating, that nervous sort of sleep when it's the eve of something big), so we didn't have lots of words at that hour. But we hugged, and there were tears and sniffs, well wishes, and then he was gone. Then I went downstairs and let some more tears fall.

Toni and the Skipper had helped me to repack my truck last night. With some careful rearranging, and minus a few things, there was a bit of extra space. It was a good thing, because this morning when I went to shove in the final few items, I needed that space.

As I was packing up, Sam was freaking out. She's known that something is up, she knows she's not going to like it, and she knows it probably involves another long stupid car ride. Every time I sat down this morning she was on my lap, purring. Don't leave me behind, she was saying. Then when it came time to put the kitty in the truck, she tried to run away upstairs, so I had to corner her and catch her. Meow meow meow.

Then it came time to say goodbye to Toni as well. We've known each other so long that we are family now. They have been so good to me, to me and Dan, to me and Dan and the kitty. I feel so at home in their house and it was hard to leave that comfy bed and that lovely tall toilet seat in their guest room (I know, it's the small things, right?) Another round of tears and sniffs, then the kitty and I were off.

Meow meow meow. I hate this why are you taking me for a car ride, you know I HATE car rides.

Last night I had my mind made up that I was going to take the Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay ferry. Then the Skipper had a look at the maps, the routes, the schedules, and advised me to take the Swartz Bay - Tsawassen ferry. He said I wouldn't save any time and by going the southern route I wouldn't have to go through Vancouver *and* it's a route I already know. I decided he was right, and went that way. The ferry only cost me $63. Can that be right? For some reason I was expecting $80 or more. I guess I'm so used to getting gouged by BC Ferries that I always expect ferry fares to hurt. It was nice to have money left over for a change. I could afford to have breakfast!

I mostly stayed in the truck with Sam on the ferry. It was busy upstairs and as I had been crying (a lot), I was in no mood to be around people. I don't know who was in more need of comfort: me or Sam!

Sam decided she liked to be in the foot well on the driver's side. Not going to work for me, far too dangerous, so I put a pillow in the way to block her access. Eventually she settled in to the space on the bench right beside me, meowing only occasionally, and panted. It was warm for much of our drive, and while the air was flowing, she was panting partly from warm and partly from stress. Her poor cute kitty paws were sweating! Not once was she interested in eating or drinking or using the litter box. At one point I put on the halter and leash to see if I could interest her in peeing on some nice bushes but no, she just wanted to climb and get up high. On a rock face. No no kitty. Bad kitty. Meooow. At least she didn't bite or scratch me, just hissed.

I prayed for an uneventful drive. It was more or less uneventful, except I apparently took a wrong turn at Hope. There were options! I could take Highway 1, the TransCanada or Highway 5 to get to Kamloops via the Coquihalla. I do in fact own a road atlas but dang it! I left it at the house of Dan's father when I had dinner there on Monday night. I thought I could make it without it. How hard can it be to follow road signs, after all?

Well, I did make it to Kamloops. It was just before Lytton that Dan messaged me, asking where I was. I sent him my location (not being entirely sure where I was but was admittedly concerned that none of the road signs said "Kamloops XXkm", just Ashcroft and Cache Creek.) He told me I should have taken the Coquihalla...  Ok well make sure you turn right at Cache Creek (that's what the sign said to do anyway)

So even though I didn't get enough sleep last night, I got this crazy idea in my head that I would drink lots of coffee and maybe just drive through the night. Nap at rest stops. Dan did it when he was on his way to North Carolina, I can be just as tough as him! Then Dan astutely pointed out that he had a bed in the back of the truck AND didn't have the kitty with him. Right. Okay okay. He's right. He booked me a room at a Travelodge in Salmon Arm. 319km away from where I was. I rolled in just before 8pm. Had a text chat with Dan, a lovely bath, and now I'm telling you all my story.

The weather conditions where I started were warm, then hot, but overcast for most of the day. It was even muggy, so I was glad to have air conditioning in the truck. So was the kitty. Just after Kamloops it started raining, driving home that fact that I really need new windshield wipers. There comes a time in every woman's life when we need to learn how to do these things. Age 37 is better late than never, right?

Something else also surprised me: mountains. I grew up with family road trips over the Rocky Mountains once or twice a year during my entire childhood. The few times Dan and I have driven in the western United States, I've seen a few mountain ranges. There are mountains on Vancouver Island, but certainly not nearly as impressive as some of the bigger ones I've seen in my life. I'm embarrassed to say I got to a ho hum point in my life where if you've seen one majestic mountain, you've seen them all...  WELL I'm here to tell you I was all wrong. I must have driven through the Cascades before at different points but certainly not this particular route. At one point I came around a corner and saw this rock face of hundreds of years of compressed solidity that spanned for thousands of meters, different coloured rock all running into each other. The mountains started rolling into high desert mounds covered in sage and I knew I must have been nearing Kamloops. I knew I was near Kamloops because of the sage, not the mountains. I've seen mountains like those in the States, which makes sense because the mountain ranges don't stop at the border.

Tomorrow I'll drive through the Rockies, it should take me between 8-10 hours to get to my sister's place. I'm hoping to be on the road by 6am, cross over to Alberta well before noon, be at Lori's place for dinner (or as they say, "supper", since they refer to lunch as "dinner"). I sure hope they let me get some rest before making me start playing Favourite Auntie

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I have good people in my life

I have had the opportunity in the past month to visit a lot of friends and family, most of whom I won't get to see again for a long time. I have been hosted for dinners, taken for lunches, and been welcomed as an honoured houseguest for overnight stays. Really, this is where you see the best of people. I have been given a few gifts in my last days on the Island and I am deeply moved by the generosity of people who love me. For those of you who have been so kind to me in these last days and weeks, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks with deepest gratitude. You all know what a stressful time this has been for me these past two months since we first learned that Dan was offered the job in North Carolina. It has been quite emotional and some days it's everything I can do to keep myself together.

Tomorrow I will drive off the Island. I was going to take the Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay ferry, but Steve convinced me that the Swartz Bay - Tsawassen Run would be easier. I defer, he's probably right given routes and traffic. I might not make the first ferry or even an early ferry, but I'll take two days to get to Edberg, where my sister most anxiously awaits me.

Sam has been pretty good in Steve & Toni's house, but she knows there is more tumult yet to come. I will do my best to make the cab of the truck comfy for her for our long journey.

And now, to pack up the truck tonight!

ps I have gotten a lot of knitting done these past few days, will blog about them separately when I can take good photos of my WIPs.

Monday, July 4, 2011

yarnsalad leaves the Pacific Rim area

Sorry I've not been posting, I have been busy moving away...

Here's how my last few days have gone:

On Wednesday after work, I had my last massage with Tawnija. I decided last month that I would see her every week before I left, we had a good arrangement so I could (afford to) do that. O it was wonderful to be on the table, under the powerful hands of someone who can read the body. I left feeling so relaxed that I could hardly see. I wandered over to the yarn shop, and when Ellie closed up we went to her place to get ready for my farewell party at Shelter.

Ellie's idea was that we would dress up with a Sex and the City theme, that we would move Stitch Night (normally on Wednesdays) to Shelter restaurant. We were sitting down with the first round of drinks, most of us drinking Cosmopolitans. I was barely halfway through my first one when Ellie said "It's your last night! Why remember it?" and then ordered me another one. I sent text message to Kirsten "So... can you feed my cat and bring me a clean uniform to work tomorrow?" Her response was "sure! Drink up!" More cosmos followed...

See now I must confess that in Tofino & Uculelet among my friends (the knitters), I have a reputation for story telling, and the more alcohol I have, the more colorful the stories. It's true I have lots of stories and tell them often, but I guess the more tipsy I get the less inhibited I feel about telling certain stories. Well, yarnsalad let loose that night and I couldn't possibly repeat any here. Besides, I wasn't the only one spinning yarns...

So we had drinks, then dinner, and then in the interlude between dinner and dessert, Kim from Chocolate Tofino  broke out some chocolates for us: Grand Marnier (YUM) and chocolate mint. After dessert was tucked away, Ellie decided we all needed to go to the Maquinna for karaoke night.

I didn't know this, but I think the Maquinna is Tofino's seediest bar. It's nickname is the "Dirty Maq" for a reason. When we got there, there were maybe about 15 people in the place, not much going on, but there were people on the mic. We got our drinks, sat down at a table, when a local character, a young woman who had just played a softball game that day & was still in her gear came by I said "I'm going to sing a song and you guys are all going to dance!" "Okay!" we said, and the night progressed from there.

We wild & crazy knitters danced the night away, sang a few songs, and entertained the crowd. I sang Melissa Etheridge's "No Souvenirs" and Madonna's "Ray of Light" (not very well but who cares? Everyone was drunk!)

Now here I must add that as it was the Sex and the City theme, I was wearing the only heels I own, which are 3" tango shoes that I got when I was learning Latin dance in Korea. I am tall, have bunions, and almost never wear heels, so having these things on my feet for six hours was a feat in itself. Somehow I made it back to Ellie's place, where I stayed the night, having left my truck at Shelter (and was spotted by someone I know. The text message read "I saw your truck at Shelter...") (See, I was living in Ucluelet which is a 35 minute drive away, so that my easily identifiable truck was spotted is a dead giveaway that I was out having a good time).

I left Ellie's the next morning, walked in my running shoes to get my truck, found (a very unsatisfying and expensive) breakfast at the Tofino Bagel Company, then went to the hospital for my last day of work. Luckily I had all my gear so could have a shower. When I was telling my coworkers the story of the previous night's debauchery, they were all delighted for me! Chelsea said "that's great!" Alice got me towels for my shower. The day was off to a lovely start.

So as it was my last day and Kirsten was with me (it was her last day of training to be my replacement), it was an easy day. It was a good thing because I was slightly hungover. No, I didn't get floor-licking drunk, thank goodness. I don't like that feeling and I am admittedly far too responsible to show up for work with a really bad hangover.

At lunch time, Judi the cook rolled in a cake for me.

Everyone sang "for she's a jolly good fellow" and there was a card and it was so sweet that I was moved to tears. I had been at Tofino General Hospital for exactly five months.

That night, I had signed up to moderate the #knitchat on Twitter. Every Thursday from 6:30-7:30pm PST, Natalie from the Cloudy with a Chance of Fiber podcast hosts a knit chat where we discuss various knitting topics. I got to moderate & lead the discussion for the knitchat a few nights ago, my topic was knitting to fashion and how we choose the garments we knit for ourselves. It was riotous good fun and I received lots of compliments the following day. Glad everyone had a good time!

After the #knitchat, I had dinner at the home of my former fish boss and then we watched V for Vendetta, a film Chris thinks everyone should see. It was dark but very well done, good cinematography and an interesting plot. It was good to escape into a story...

The next morning I woke up and felt overwhelmed. I had been having upset stomach for several evenings in a row and my foot hurt. I think it was the gold tango shoes, but I felt rather paralyzed with the amount of work I had to do to clear out of the house and not knowing how on earth I was going to do it by myself. Faye showed up and said "lets get a hot dog" and I went with her. Faye always has good ideas and I will follow. I had forgotten that it was Canada Day, and didn't know that down the street from the house there was an event that had free hot dogs.

That was an odd moment and bears a bit of a story. Someone got on the PA system and said something about 'make way for the colour guard'. Colour guard? Isn't that what you use to get your stains out of laundry? Then a bunch of people in camo pants and red hoodies marched on the lawn, single file. Ah. The Rangers. There was one Mountie in full regalia, and then the Ucluelet version (a la hoodies). The mayor got on the mic (who has a laughable reputation) and said some not very funny things in an effort to be funny, and kept on saying you-CUE-let (instead of you-CLUE-let)(I get right bent out of shape at half the town for not being able to pronounce the town's name correctly). It was like nails on a chalk board. We got in line to get our free hot dog.

Later I went home to get moving on the packing and cleaning. Faye and her daughter came over to help. Kat & Kirsten came over to help. I didn't ask, they didn't offer, they just knew I needed help and started working away. I didn't even have to tell them, they just started clearing out the fridge, the bathroom, and just did stuff. It was so good, because I was so distracted and overwrought that I wasn't in a position to make rational decisions. If it wasn't for them, there is no way I would have been able to make it out of there on time.

So my landlord is away in Nova Scotia, working & going to school. He had a friend of his come over & do the walk-through with me. When Kevin came by, I wasn't really ready but he works during the day and I wanted to leave after lunch the next day, so we had to do it on Friday night. We did, and he was pretty pleased with how things looked. No damage, and in fact there were a few improvements Dan had made to the place during our time there. I am a bit worried that I didn't get a copy of the condition report after we both signed off on it, this having to do with access to a photocopier and Kevin having to work the next day. He said his wife would bring it by before I left but that didn't happen. Fingers crossed all will be well. 

Kat & Kirsten had me over for pizza on Friday night, which was good since I had no food left in the house at all. They hosted me for breakfast the next morning too. Then they came back to help me load up the truck for the dump run, then clean out the truck, then Kirsten expertly packed up my truck with everything that was coming with me. It was stressful and hard and I thank the heavens that they were there to the end to help me. I popped over to the Driftwood to buy us all lunch. It's three doors down from the house and was the first restaurant Dan & I went to the day we moved in last year. Truck loaded, we were just getting the tarp on when it started to rain. Good. It was time then.

We said our goodbyes and with a sort-of-scared kitty in the truck with me, we drove away.

This is Sam on my lap, she had finally settled in to having a snooze as I was approaching Steve & Toni's house.

And with that, I'll end my lengthy post!