Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award



O look! Someone gave me an award!
 



This is a pay-it-forward award of recognition. Isn't that sweet? This one was passed on to me by my friend Ursa.  Here are the rules for receiving this award:


1. Thank and link back to the blogger that awarded you the badge. - check
2. Share 7 things about you. - see below
3. Award 5 – 15 other bloggers. - see below
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know about the award. - will do this after I publish this one
  

Seven things about me
(and here I will list things that you wouldn't already know from being a regular reader of my blog)(which will be tough, because I share a lot with you, my readers)

1. I grew up in Alberta, left just before I turned 21, lived their for five months in the winter of 2004/5, and hope I never have to live in that province again. I hate the climate, the attitudes, the government, the consumerism, and just how boring the whole thing is. BC suits me way better.

2. For most of my adult life I have been saying I have spent most of my adult life in post secondary institutions. It took me 5 1/2 years to do my BA (started at community college, transferred to university to  finish), did two years of a second undergrad degree before starting my Master's, which also took me two years. That equals nine and a half years. But I have been an adult (more or less) since I was 18, and I'm 37 now. That makes 19 years of being an adult and half of that is 9 1/2. So now, for a little while, I can say "I've spent half my adult life in post secondary education" but soon this will, in fact, be less than half. 

3. I had my right ovary removed in emergency surgery when they discovered a cyst the size of a grapefruit in the summer of 2006. The following year, I had bunion surgery on one foot. The year after that, I had the other bunion surgery. I hope I never have to have surgery again. 

4. I have an extremely difficult time saying "I love you" to people I love. My husband is the exception, we say it all the time. But I rarely say it to my family. It feels awkward in that context, like unlubricated metal grinding on metal. Those words were not said much when I was growing up so I was really unaccustomed to using them for most of my life. My sister works very hard to make sure they say it in their family, but for me it just feels strange. 

5. I have had a lot of therapy/counselling, especially when I was in my 20s and in university. I did a tremendous amount of self-work in order to be less socially awkward, more honest with myself and others, more accountable for my actions and to be a person of integrity. I really didn't like who I was when I was in my early 20s so I heeded the lesson of Richard Laskin, Ph.D., who was my professor for my first year Sociology class: "Pay Attention". 

6. Paying attention was a segue into mindfulness for me. I studied Buddhism for a few years in my early days of religious exploration (and eventually went down the path of Pagansim, which I have since left), and internalized a few Buddhist lessons. I like to think I have developed mindfulness, and for me that means paying attention to what the other person may be feeling/thinking in a situation, considering the context (why are they reacting that way?), and being circumspect. I also learned non-attachment which sometimes manifests as aloofness. And that may have to do with #5. But I can let go of things, places, people, without a huge emotional disturbance.

7. I think I have developed a coping mechanism by which I forget unpleasant things. I say "I think" because I'm not sure. I know there are big patches of my life that I have no recollection of. There have been countless occasions when someone would say "Remember when... " and even if the event wasn't unpleasant, I have no recollection. Even with further detail I don't remember. This goes for times in my childhood as well as in my adult life. Maybe there is a section of my brain where synapses don't form. But lately I have been referring to this as my "delete" mechanism. My sister said "remember when..." and I say "no, I must have deleted that."


Well now that seemed to have turned into an Exploration of Stacey's Psyche. Hm. Don't mean to get so heavy, sorry! And now for the next bit:



Other Versatile Bloggers

This is Diandra, who is a young mom, academic, foodie, knitter, designer, all-around crafty gal. She's really into the farming grow-your-own-food movement and has a bazillion ideas about... well... everything. 

These are friends of ours in Ucluelet who moved here from Toronto to follow their dream. I often refer to them as The Good People at Stellar Coffee, because they are about to launch their roastery! Dan & I refer to them as 'K2', since both their names begin with K. They spend a lot of time outdoors here and chronicle the movements of the wildlife that surrounds us. 

This is also a friend of mine, Stacey (spelled correctly), who only recently started blogging but she really seems to have gotten the hang of it. We met in 2005 while first year students in the B.Sc. program for Health Information Science. It's hard to believe it's been almost six years since then! Stacey blogs about food, crafty stuff, style, and (at the moment while she is on vacation), Hawaii.

I can't remember how I found this gal - was it on Twitter? And she has a few handles so I don't know her first name, either. What I *do* know is that she knits beautifully, loves to spin, blogs about things like My Little Pony biscuits she made, and is about to graduate from... I'm not sure what. But she's a busy gal and always has interesting stuff to say!

Another friend, Toni. We met while working at the library in Victoria in 1999. They (she and The Skipper) bought a house with a yard in 2009 and have been working hard to maximize their food-production space in the back yard. Toni not only posts about their seedlings and raised veggies, but also explores workshops and events in her area, discusses books she's read, features photos taken by The Skipper (an excellent photographer), and often waxes philosophical on how gardening/farming/food production changes the way you think about things. Every post is carefully crafted and thoughtfully written (she is a PhD in English, after all).

Now here is something amazing. Amanda has made it her goal/obsession to create a scarf or some other wearable neck piece every day of 2011 and blog about it. Yesterday was Day 110 and she hasn't skipped a beat, despite having been sick a few times and taking a trip to - where was it? Disneyland? She knits, crochets, sews, and otherwise assembles all manner of textiles & fiber into things you can wear around your neck. I was so darned excited about her project I crocheted two of one of her early patterns, called the Sideways Single Crochet scarf (and my photo for one of them is the feature photo in Ravelry!). Do check her out, you will be amazed at her level of inspiration!

This is Dan's (as in my husband) blog. He doesn't post very often but when he does, his posts are full of content and photos. They are well-thought out and carefully researched, as Dan used to be a regular blogger when blogging was first invented.

And there you have it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Auntie: Day 1 & 2


So while my sister and my niece were here visiting for five days, I went from being Stacey to being Auntie. It was kind of funny, actually, because the last few times my niece referred to me as Stacey and I'm okay with that. But I guess she is conditioned to refer to all her other aunties as Auntie, and I'm just another one of them. The good one. (*wink*) 

In the photo above, we are standing in front of the goat pasture in behind the Coombs Country Market. I had just picked them up from the airport in Comox not long before, and Coombs was sort of on our way back. We had to go to the Goats on the Roof market (though they don't put the goats on the roof until later in the year; for now they are in the back pasture). They have a great cafeteria that puts on a great lunch with a generous kids menu. Kid gets entree with fries, soft drink, and a voucher to get an ice cream from the shop around the corner.


I wish I had taken a photo of the triple-twist rye bread that my sister bought. It was HUGE, beautiful, and delicious. I will probably stop in and buy some my next time through. We made off with some great deals and yummy food, stopped in for the kids' ice cream (Blue Bubblegum, of course), and headed west.

Cathedral Grove is not far from Coombs. A wee jaunt around Cameron Lake, then some lovely forest walks on either side of the highway. This is an old growth forest and the trees are massive, some of them several centuries old. What I really wanted to show them, my family who lives in Alberta where what they call trees are referred to as 'seedlings' here, was the Big Tree. Here I am in front of the Big Tree (below).



My sister in front of the big tree. Now, see, blue ice cream can stain one's face blue and when you have a mother who likes to photograph every moment of your life, at some moment you notice when your mom takes bad photos of you, or photos of you when you might have food on your face. My niece knew she had blue on her face and refused to be photographed here. Too bad. 


Just before low tide on day two, we walked down the block to see a small beach, about 200 metres away. They were glad to have use of the rain gear they brought, because it was wet almost the entire time they were here. In the photos that follow, I got to play Marine Life Tour Guide. I surprised myself at how much information I seemed to have absorbed from living here just a year. It came in very handy when answering the questions of a ravenously curious six-year-old.




Let me tell you, there was *much* excitement at the sight of a star fish! 


Here I am explaining how anemones feed. My niece would later refer to these as nemones (NEH-moe-nees). Cute. 


These are not so visible at high tide, so we got there at just the right moment.

After this beach (does it even have a name? It's at the Whisky Dock in front of the aquarium) we walked to the library to get some books. The library is next to Big Beach, where we went next.


Already she was learning the difference between oyster, mussel, and clam shells. 


(All these are my sister's photos, by the way, hence the annoying date stamp at the bottom)



Ok it has to be said. Auntie likes getting her picture taken too. And we have often been told that we look alike, that she could be my daughter. I hear this happens often with children looking like an aunt or uncle.



This was a big moment. We got to see hermit crabs for the first time, a wee sculpin, and some green anemonies. It was good that niece had a chance to do some learning about these things a few days before we went to the aquarium. 



I was just so tickled at this day. She thought the beach was AWESOME and wanted to go back to the same beach. There were just so many other beaches we had to go to! And they all offered something a little different. I am absolutely relieved and encouraged by the fact that she is interested in these things, that she can be interested in science. As a result, I'll be honing the birthday and Christmas gifts to help foster this kind of learning. I can't wait until her little brother is old enough to do this too; visits to the west coast will be SO MUCH FUN for the kids.

Also, I'm not using the names of my family members here. My sister is a bit sticky about Internet privacy and, while I have posted some photos of us here, I'm just not going to attach their names. Hope you understand.

wishing for ice cream

Ha.

Since I blogged about weight loss in my last post, I should even the balance and talk about ice cream.

Last summer, Dan got on an ice cream making kick. It was great. Here are some of the flavours I remember:

Chocolate
Vanilla
Toasted Coconut
Lime
Cherry
Blueberry
Blackberry
Salal (sorbet)
Apricot
Peach
Caramel
Roasted Plum
Lemon


There were probably 30 or more flavours, all told, and some of them were sorbets. I can't remember them all but the little ice cream maker was going a lot last summer. We'd have friends over, give them each a spoon, and bring out as many flavours as we had on hand at the time. Then I told everyone not to tell their mothers about eating from the ice cream container!  (I know, now I'm totally busted for telling you all this. Believe me, it's worth it.)

It may seem that April is a bit early to be thinking about ice cream. I still have to scrape the ice off my windshield and warm up the truck before I leave for work in the morning. It's barely even spring, summer seems an impossibility just now. And yet. We've had a run of sunny days and everyone is just so darned excited about the potential for warm weather, that ice cream has been on my mind.

The nice thing about Dan's home made ice cream is that it's very rich. And that means after a few spoons full, I'm sated. And that nestles wonderfully into my weight loss program. So at the suggestion of a friend, I went to the store to buy some ice cream ingredients, laid them out on the counter, and hoped that Dan would see them and get the hint. 


Ingredients for a batch of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Not pictured here are some smaller containers in which to put small amounts of each - wouldn't it be cool to have Neopolitan ice cream home made?

Corned Beef & Cabbage



Ok this might not look very good to you but to me it is something I have been bugging Dan to make for weeks, something I look forward to and get excited about. Corned beef and cabbage. He made this for me for the first time when we were living in East Sooke, and I don't remember liking it that much. Dan may not have figured out how to do it so well at that point, but the couple of times he's made it here in Ucluelet he has absolutely nailed it. I couldn't really tell you how it's prepared, I just know that it needs about three or four hours. Is is boiled? What spices?

What I like about this meal, particularly now that I'm losing weight, is that this meal is only 300 calories. The fat is basically boiled or steamed out of the beef and I think the veggies are boiled or steamed in this same water. It has a vingegar-like astringent taste that I just love. Sometimes Dan makes it with carrots and yams as well as cabbage and potatoes, but it is always full-on flavour. It packs well as leftovers and when I am eating my leftover lunch in the hospital lunch room, my coworkers are all jealous. :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spontaneous trip to Town and Stamp Falls

 It's been a while since I've had a full photo of me, and since I'm all proud of my weight loss, I thought I'd caputre the progress so far. 26 down, 23 to go.


 Our first stop was Canadian Tire. For those of you who don't live in Canada, it's basically a nation-wide hardware store that specializes in automotives but also sells housewares and gardening stuff. They also to camping gear.

  I've lived in quite a few places in western Canada and CT often has a reputation that warrants its nickname, "Crappy Tire". They generally have young not-so-swift people work there. Last month we went to the CT in Courtenay and Dan was looking for a Thing. The guy Dan spoke to said the Thing didn't exist. Dan said "Of course it exists, I've used it". The guy repeated himself, no such product. Dan pointed out that on the packaging of another related product, the thing exists. They guy still denied it. ?? It's one thing to not be familiar with something, in which case the correct response would be "I've never heard of that, I'll have to look into it", but to deny that it exists suggests deeper issues.

  Another time recently, a friend went to the CT in Port Alberni asking for a headlight for her 2008 City Golf. The guy behind the Parts Counter scratched his head and said "I'm not too familiar with Golfs, are they Chevrolets?" My friend knew then that there was no hope if the Parts Guy at the Parts Counter at the automotive parts store didn't know that a Golf is a VW. (Seriously, where do they find these people?)

  All this is to lead up to the photo below. I was standing with Dan while he was asking about spark plugs for our Nissan. I noticed this memo to staff about how to do something with Batteries or Warranties, but it wasn't clear which:


Do you want to know what happened next? We went to Dollarama! We had been going to the Dollar Store in the same mall as Canadian Tire (with Mark's Work Warehouse in between), but we decided to go to the other dollar store for a change. We didn't need much, but a friend asked us to get some plastic bins. We walked in and were smacked with a really very good CANDY section. (O no). Well, we'd better get a basket.

We spent the next ten minutes reliving our childhood via the candy we saw in front of us. Fun Dip. Nerds. Remember Nerds? In impossible flavours? We somehow managed to get away having spent only $4 in candy. (At a dollar store. Quite a haul, really). Our other reason for going there was to replenish our depleted drinking glass supply. They keep on falling on the floor and breaking.

After Dollarama we went to a parts place for some very special spark plugs (Canadian Tire didn't have them). The parts place was next to a cheapy-cheap grocery store, so Dan went to parts shop and I went to buy cabbage. But I had no cash and I felt silly getting my debit card out only for a head of cabbage. So I bought a bouquet of flowers. And a couple of Oskri bars. And some drinks. Dan got his spark plugs and away we went. To Stamp Falls! 



What you'll see in some of these photos here is a salmon ladder. This is a steep waterfall so when the salmon return to do their spawning, some of them can't quite make it up to the good spawning place. Humans have created this system of ladders so the salmon can get up stream, rest along the way, and not have to die trying to get past the 9m waterfall. 





I found this sign rather amusing. I don't know why. Probably because of the "Caution" bit. 





It isn't a very long trail and we were there for maybe half an hour. But the trail that goes in the other direction is an excellent day's adventure, I'm told, with a 17km round trip hike.

Monday, April 18, 2011

well now I _have_ to blog today

O gosh my dear readers, I'm so sorry I haven't posted in nearly two weeks. Really? Twelve days?

I actually started a post telling you all about my visit with my sister & her daughter. It was tremendous fun and I have lots of pictures. That will have to wait.

Something happened today that made my day. I was driving home from Tofino, listening to the KnitWits podcast, when I heard Rick mention some of the listeners "there are even people with names like yarnsalad..." I was delighted! That's the third podcast now that I have been mentioned on (the other two being Caithness Craft Collective and Cloudy with a Chance of Fiber). Imagine how silly I felt when I discovered that this podcast that I had been mentioned on was released on March 11th. As in over a month ago. Sorry Rick & Carin. I love your show! I'm just working my way through it is all.

What else can I tell you to tide you over until I can make a proper post.. We have had a few days of sun here in Ucluelet. We know this doesn't mean winter is over. Winter is not over until April 30th, according to the signs on either side of The Pass, which tell you you must have tire chains or winter tires between October 1st and April 30th. Seven months of winter. And sunny days, while good for one's mood, do not necessarily mean warm. I think our high today was 10 - and it's been hovering around 7 for the last few weeks, so 10 isn't much of an improvement. O well. Soon we will have spring.

Knitting-wise, I have not actually been knitting very much since the Sock Retreat. Really. I have finished a piece for a secret project, and am working on another piece for that same secret project, which I obviously can't tell you about yet. But that is really fun and I can't wait to see it all come together. Don't worry, I'll tell you all about it. All of my Cookie A socks are on hold. I have gone back to a pair of socks I started almost a year ago and I really must get them finished. I only recenlty figured out how to manage the intarsia bit (thanks to a friend's help) so once I get that section done, I think these socks will fly off the needles and will be given to their intended recipient. Then I'll be on a sock-finishing streak, I'm sure. I hope. Just in time for flip-flop season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

 So here it is. The story of the retreat with Cookie A, presented by Knits by the Sea, held at Long Beach Lodge. Above pictured is a big pile of Sweet Georgia yarn. Each of the retreat's participants received a skein of this yarn. Can you imagine how difficult it is to choose from dozens of colours? Solids or varigated? light or dark? I hemmed and hawed for about fifteen minutes over which one I wanted. I ended up with something called Dark Olive or Deep Olive or something like that. It's a pretty safe gift-sock-giving colour.
Here is the room we had the retreat in, this is just before the first morning before we really got going (read: before coffee kicked in).

 I sat near the front, of course. Just here Cookie had plopped down a whole bunch of the socks she has knit to use as examples. There were really a lot.
 Here she is telling us how lines can flow smootly in from ribbing to a pattern.

 She gave us (lent, really) a stitch dictionary to pick a pattern from and then design a rib to flow into it. Our choices were either Japanese or German (there may have been one or two English books but I didn't see them). Let me tell you how what a challenge it is to read stitch patterns in a foreign language. It takes a bit of finagling.

Here is another diagram of the lines she was talking about. Apparently how the knitted line sits depends on which side of the knit stitch the purl stitch falls. 

 O look! It's Ellie. And other gals!


Another view of the attendees. 
 A German stitch dictionary. This is not the pattern I went with but I may give it a go someday.
 This was cool! I was going through my Knit. Sock. Love. book and saw that several of the socks in the book were right there in front of me! Now I don't want to get in trouble for reproducing any copyrighted pictures so I'll just stick up a couple (and if I do get in trouble, I'll gladly take them down). It was just SO COOL. 


The evening of the first day of the retreat, participants were invited to the Wine & Cheese in the Great Room at Long Beach Lodge. We started with wine and cheese. 

But there was also bread and crackers. What I didn't get photos of were there rest of the platters that seemed to keep on coming. The three pizzas. The chips and dip. The mussels and clams. More cheese. We weren't able to put a dent in the later dishes because there was SO MUCH FOOD.


Here is Ellie, our illustrious hostess, thanking us all for coming.

Morning of day 2, this is what showed up in our retreat room.

Here are all our socks on display. We started these all on the Saturday and were given homework: knit 1-3 inches before Sunday morning. (This was loosely assigned; for some of us there was no way that much knitting was going to happen). After we'd gotten into socks we designed ourselves (with the help of the stitch dictionaries) we gathered to talk about them. But really what happened was Cookie told us about them. Boy o boy can she ever read a sock. 
Quite a few of the participants had Cookie pose for a photo holding their sock.

So I'm realizing this isn't a great retelling of what happened. Here is more detail:

Dan dropped me off and I headed straignt for the coffee. I was really hoping Long Beach Lodge would have good coffee. I sure needed good coffee. See, the night before I went to stitch night at the yarn shop. Normally Knits by the Sea's stitch night is on Wednesday but Ellie moved it to the Friday night before the retreat. It was quite a lively stitch night. I even had wine. Two glasses in fact. What the heck, said I, I wasn't driving. It sure was fun. But the next day, having had two glasses of wine that probably had sulfites in them, I remembered that I am on antibiotics and that mixing cloxacillin with alcohol is a BAD idea. I started feeling really ill about an hour into the lesson.

I excused myself from the table and went off to one of the comfy chairs along the side of the room. I was shaking and nauseous; I was worried that I was going to pass out. (I have a history of passing out.) Ellie, ever the gracious hostess, made me some peppermint tea. Someone went to their hotel room and grabbed me some Gravol for the nausea.

I persisted with our knitting activity because dammit, I paid my money and I was determined to have a good time, illness be damned. We all figured that lunch would help me to feel better. It did. I had the salad and the burger. The salad was great. The burger was disappointing. But I felt much better for having eaten.

Then when we were in our afternoon session, the Gravol kicked in. Here I started feeling really dumb because now, even though I was not nauseous, I had a hard time staying awake. Turns out that after that heavy lunch, I was not the only one. (Most of the other particpants had fish & chips).

After our first day we all felt a bit pelted with information, but pelted in a good way. We all had lots to think about. But we sashayed ourselves over to the Great Room for the neverending stream of food that was the Wine and Cheese event. Cookie A signed all our books, there were photos, conversations, knitting, and a bright setting sun shining into everyone's eyes through the massive picture window at Long Beach Lodge.

Ellie had Faye looking after the shop while we were at the retreat, so when the shop closed, Faye joined us. After Wine and Cheese, we had no idea how we would fit in dinner. We joked that we four of us (me, Ellie, Faye, Cookie A) could share a salad. We headed off to Shelter where we met with Stellar Coffee gals.

With respect to those at the table, I'll simply say our conversation was under the rose. It was riotous good fun and the food good. I just has a Caesar salad, I couldn't even finish that.

That was the end of a long but good first day.

The second day we worked on our socks some more, had some more treats, shared contact information, took lots of group photos. The poor hotel gal - we called her in to take our group photo and she had a line of something like eight cameras and two iPhones to take photos with. I opted to get photos from others, and Ellie has posted them on the Knits by the Sea Facebook page. 

Cookie had to rush off and catch a ferry (she had flown to Seattle earlier in the week, taught there, then rented a car and drove up. It took about eight hours from Seattle), so we dispersed quickly when it was time to say goodbye.

When I got home, I was absolutely at loose ends (no pun intended) about what knitting project to work on next. I have something like seven sock projects now that are 20-50% done.

O well. It was a good weekend and we were already talking about who to get next year. Alana Dakos? Spilly Jane?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

what a weekend!

Photos will have to wait until I have a bit more time and attention span. Suffice it to say, it was a full busy weekend with yarn and knitting and socks and Cookie A and learning how to design stuff. I now look at knit stitches in an entirely new way. Ellie fed us very well via Long Beach Lodge and we were really spoiled rotten. It was a great weekend and I made some great new friends. We are already talking about who we might get next year. Alana Dakos? Spilly Jane? (Those are my votes...)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Real People Read My Blog!

Some weeks ago I passed along the URL for this blog to someone I work with. Most people I know aren't blog readers so when I say "I have a blog!" I fully expect rolling eyes. But my coworker acknowledged having read it and said "do you write about everything?"

Um...

Well yes, yes I do. Some of it goes here. What I can't put here, either lives in my head or goes in my journal.

See, I love to write and I love to share stuff. I also happen to think I'm hilarious. Some things I would love to write about are simply not appropriate for a public audience. I would love to tell you about lots of the stuff that happens at work but I signed some confidentiality thingy and I live in a small town. But twenty years from now you can bet some of these stories will surface in short stories and novels.

But maybe he meant every topic. I mean, if I'm going to write about catheters, for crying out loud. there are no limits to the things I'll write about. Well, as you can see by the lengthy list over there --------> you can see there are many topics I can go on and on and on about. They always say "write what you know" and that's what I'm doing. I write about what I experience, what I think about, and sometimes I throw in stories.  I even write about my knitting on occasion.



OH speaking of knitting, I'm going to tonight's Knit Night in Tofino (yes, going to Tofino for the second time today), and will spend tomorrow and half of Sunday at Long Beach Lodge learning from the master, Cookie A, on designing.  So it's possible and even likely my next few posts will be about knitting.