Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indian Runner Duck Bodum Cosy

On Fridays at Providence Farm I participate in the Textiles program. One day in early July, I was between projects, I decided I was going t knit a tea cosy and asked the others what animal I should knit it in? The response was swift: An Indian Runner Duck! So I set to designing.

Barbara, the one who made the suggestion, had already decided to buy it when it was finished. She later said (before I got too far on it) that she doesn't actually drink tea and could I maybe knit it in the shape of a Bodum instead? Perfect. Indian Runner ducks are tall and skinny, much more suited to that shape.

I started knitting the bill and the legs, then went on to the head. It took me four Fridays to get him done but I am very pleased with the outcome.

 I knit the bill first. That was easy.

 The webbed feet took a bit of doing too. I had to restart a few times to get the shaping right.

 This is after week two I think.

 After week three.


 I stuffed the leg with some rope trim. I found a bit of fleece to sew to the bottom of the foot to keep it stable.

 I'm very pleased with how the tail turned out.


 Temporary eyes - a pin stuck through a bit of felt until we decided what the eyes should look like.




 Wings!




Yeah, I'm pretty happy with him. The weekend before last he was on display in the Store at Providence Farm during the Folk Festival, and apparently someone came in and wanted to buy it. This means not only did I have to set a price, but I also need to make a second one. It will be much faster the second time around because I don't need to do the designing, but it will probably still take me three or four Fridays at the Farm. The ladies who are in the Textiles program have encouraged me to enter my duck into a local fair, and I might have enough time to organize that. I have never entered anything in a fair before but I think it would be a fun thing to do. The Cowichan Exhibition is the second weekend of September, so I think I could manage it. My duck fits into the "knitting - other" category as well as the "Kitchen Kover" category. Can I enter one item in two different categories?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

a handmade wedding

Yesterday I went to a wedding with Toni and the Skipper. I had met the bride once before and the groom not at all, but at that one meeting the bride said "If you're still here on July 28th then please come to my wedding!" So I did.

It was lovely. My wedding was a handmade wedding so I could appreciate all the thought and preparation that went into this one. The couple lives on a 20 acre farm near Nanaimo and grow fruits, vegetables, chickens and ducks. (WHY didn't I take any pictures of the chickens and ducks? *kicks self*) It's a lovely farm and you can tell right away that a lot of work goes into its maintenance.

There were about 50 people there (I didn't count). We parked in a field, put our potluck offerings in the recently completed barn, and poked around the farm until we were summoned to the tent where the ceremony was to be held. The officiant was a relative of the groom but had legal authority, and it was a lovely ceremony. The bride had made her own outfit and the groom in his Scots attire.

The ceremony referred to passages and stories of the Bible without being too churchy. The bride and groom had written their own vows, which were each put in frames from which they read to each other. The groom's vows were very moving, the brides were decidedly earthy. Yup. The whole darn thing made me cry - not just from all the love present but for missing My Sweety. We got married almost four years ago and I know well that moment of marrying your best friend.

I will admit that I did fall into a bit of sadness after that, so when the ceremony was over I wandered around the property by myself, found the washroom (in the farm house), leered at the bride's three spinning wheels, snooped in the knitting basket, admired the strings of hanging herbs, counted five guitars, pet the sleeping cat, then headed back outside to say hello to the ducks and chickens before making my way to the WINE. After a bit of food, I suddenly felt human again (food is amazing for that, what with having calories and all) and able to socialize. I tried to convey my story (I have been apart from my husband for 14 months, haven't seen him for nearly six months) without seeking pity. People were delighted to hear that I have been volunteering at Providence Farm. I showed photos of my recently completed Indian Runner duck Bodum cosy (for a later blog post).

The dessert table will win me every time. The cheesecake was amazing. The carrot cake was good. Lots of cookies and squares and other sweet things. The wedding cake was a fruit cake, made and decorated by the bride.









Other items of interest: there was maple sap wine! (I'm sorry, the secret is out). Did you know you could make wine from maple sap? They also had blackberry wine as well as a number of other wines. The wedding favors were little jars of homemade jam and a bar of handmade soap. It was a lovely wedding and picnic, and it served as a good reminder to me of just how much I love parties. I'm not the most outgoing of people in a crowd of strangers, but you just never know what kinds of interesting conversations you might get into. I had a good time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

at least two more months

An update on my immigration.

Last Monday, a week ago now, we found out that I do in fact have to have my police certificate from Japan. The website says it takes two to three months to acquire.

Dan was gutted.  I was, well, I don't even know. Sad, I think, but it didn't even really hit me until I got home that night and started thinking about the implications of that. Months. We thought, once again, foolishly, that we were only weeks away. When will this end? What can we do? I went into panic/overreact mode. I applied for a bunch of jobs. Why? I'm not sure exactly. My mind went to worst case scenario and it just felt like there was no end in sight to this saga.

The next morning, Tuesday, I went to the website for the Japan Consulate in Vancouver. Website said I had to go in person to apply for this document, but contact us first. I called at what I thought was a reasonable business hour for a government agency, 8:30, and they don't open until 9:30. So I called the Toronto consulate - I figured the procedure would be the same and since they are three hours ahead of us, they would be open. I was told that yes, I have to go in person to apply because they take fingerprints, bring my passport, and a document saying why I need a police certificate. I needed the latter because my reason did not fall into their list of reasons. Well, it just so happened I had one from the National Visa Center, so at least that part would be easy.

Then came the logistics. When would I go to Vancouver? At first I decided to go on Wednesday, the next day, but then I thought wait - if I leave right now (just after 9am) I could make the 11:00 ferry. With public transit I could be in downtown Vancouver by 2:30, and their office closes at 3:30. I could make it.

So that's what I did. I called Providence Farm to tell them I wouldn't be in that day, grabbed my water bottle and a few things and hopped in my truck, thankful there was enough gas in it that I didn't have to stop. It took me just over an hour to get to the ferry terminal, I arrived with just enough time to get a ticket and get on the ferry.

The ferry ride is an hour and 40 minutes. We docked at 12:40, the bus that goes to the transit station to catch the skytrain leaves on every hour. We left at 1:00 and I remember thinking to myself, "my, we sure are going fast. I wouldn't be surprised if we arrived early". We were scheduled to arrive at 1:37, we arrived at 1:24. I ran up the stairs and caught the train that was just about to leave. I got downtown and was in the Japan Consulate before 2pm, which pleased me.

It is a very quiet and comfortable office. The staff are efficient, friendly and gracious. It reminded me how much I loved the Japanese people. The process was very easy and I was finished before long. I asked about the two months thing. The woman I spoke to from Toronto told me that sometimes it takes less than two months, but they have to tell people "two months". So there is hope. The man who took my fingerprints told me that the time it takes is out of their hands and there is no way to expedite. O well. He also told me that when the document comes, it will go to the consulate, so I can either pick it up in person or they will send it to me.

From there, I could have taken public transit back to the ferry and driven home that night, culminating in a long and tiring day of travel, but I instead opted to visit some friends of mine who live just above the Chinatown skytrain station. They were happy to have me, even though they thought I would be gone (to North Carolina) by now. We had a simple dinner of prawns and sushi, and I pretty much retired early, being knackered from all my to-ing and fro-ing.





My friends cooked their prawns with the heads on. Do other people do this? I had one, then wasn't really excited to see all the cooked guts and eggs still inside, and focused on the sushi instead.

I had planned to take the 9:00 ferry back to the Island the following morning. That would mean leaving my friends' condo at around 7:30am. It would also have meant that I would arrived back on the Island around 10:40, and my parking expired at 10:30. I don't know how militant those parking attendants are about giving tickets, so I was a bit nervous about leaving so late. In the end, I was awake anyway (who can sleep in Vancouver with all that NOISE and LIGHT?), so I was out the door before 6:20 and left a note for my still-sleeping friends. I caught the 8:00 ferry in plenty of time and had terrible ferry food for breakfast.

My truck was still there on the other side, I came straight home and spend the day hanging out with Sam, who had missed me terribly during my night away. You might say we have a co-dependent relationship, and that would be true. I missed my kitty too.

So it's been a week now since all this has happened and I've had some time to let it sit with me that I would still be around here until at least September. I observed to Toni that I was sad but not depressed - so that was good. No one would fault me for either, I'm sure, but it is WAY easier to bounce back from being sad than from being depressed.

Normally I would have blogged about this right away, this immigration update, but quite honestly I haven't had the time or inclination to blog. I'm at the Farm three days a week, have a little job helping with some landscaping/reno stuff two days a week, and am spending the rest of my time reading, knitting, gardening and resting. There is a lot going on and at the moment it seems I only turn on my computer twice a week or so. I'm sure you all would love more detail about my life, but alas, there are only so many hours in a day and I am making a concentrated effort to be gentle with myself. I'm sure you understand.

a day trip to the west coast

I know what you are thinking. Am I not already on the west coast? Well, not exactly. I'm on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The west coast is a three and a half hour drive from here. So, on Saturday, Toni and I headed west!


The first place we stopped was Coombs. Coombs is this lovely little touristy town set in the middle of agricultural land. It is the setting for a number of interesting and quirky shops. I've been on the Island long enough to not be to drawn into all the quirk, but I do love stopping in at the Coombs Country Market, where, in the summer time, you should be able to see the Goats on the Roof. The goats weren't on the roof of the main shop on the day we went, but I knew they lived out back, so we had a look. I saw this sweet little guy itching himself on the fence and went over to give him a scratch under the chin. They see people all the time, and because they are kid-height, probably get a lot of loving.


Here is is his buddy, overlooking a very steep ravine. 


 The washroom at Coombs Country Market.


 The Market is a neat place for all kinds of reasons. Their schtick is to have lots of interesting import food, some of it healthy, some if it just interesting. Dan and I have a habit of looking for the latest in new beverages. I hadn't seen this one before, different flavors of ginger ale.


 We arrived in Ucluelet some time after 1:00. We stopped in at our friends' house, then the four of us went to the aquarium. It used to be just a little trailer, probably not more than 200 square feet, with no heating or bathrooms. It was a long time fundraising goal to be able to build a new aquarium. When I left in July last year, they had reached their goal and had started pouring concrete. It was finally open!


 They did a good job of the buildings and displays but I have to say, I found the selection of species featured here a bit disappointing. Above is the octopus, which of course is sleeping (she is always sleeping!) but it is much better to see her here than how they had it set up in the old trailer.


 Suction cups!



 One of the two jellyfish displays, this is one of the tanks from the old aquarium. Kind of boring.



 With the lighting coming in from the windows and creating glare, and with my little iPhone camera, it wasn't easy to get a good shot. The above photo is taken from the back of the aquarium, looking towards the door. It's all one big room with a main display in the middle. They used as much local wood and materials for construction as possible.


 I think the flatfish display was my favourite. Mostly it was Starry Flounder but the guy with the big dot on his side is a C-O sole. Why is it called a C-O sole, you ask? Well, it's because when they first identified this species and were thinking of a name, they couldn't decide if the spot looked like a 'C' or an 'O'. I know, right? That's what I was told when I was training for my fish job a few years ago.


 At one point I felt like I was communing with these guys. A bunch of these flat fish with buggy eyes came near to where I was sitting. It's a low tank, maybe no higher than my knee, so I could squat down and be really close to them. I know they could see me. I wonder what they were thinking with their swively eyes?




 I don't think I caught it very well but there are two sculpins leaning on the starfish, having a conversation.


 Same tank, different sculpin.


After the aquarium we headed to Tofino to visit Ellie at Knits by the Sea, the yarn shop I worked at when I lived in the area. Then to Tacofino for fish tacos. Stopped back into our friends' house for a snack and to look at photos, then Toni and I were back on the road.

Oh yeah! This is the bread I bought at the Coombs Market. When my sister was visiting last year, she bought this loaf called Triple Spiral Rye bread. We loved it and it has since been made into legend in our family. I got another one in her honour. Also: fudge. This helped fortify me and Toni as we spent Sunday gardening and laying around, the Skipper had some when he got back from fishing.



We left for our trip just before 9am. With all the stops and the construction on highway 4, it took about four hours to get there, then three and a half to get back. It was a l o n g day, we got home just before 11pm. I think if we do it again before I leave, we'll do an overnight trip.

Also, if you are reading this and you live there and I didn't visit you, it's because we didn't have time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

two steps forward, one step back

Turns out I do have to get a Police Certificate from Japan, even though I lived there less than a year (49 weeks, to be precise).

Average processing time: 2 to 3 months.

Plus about 48 days after that for my visa interview in Montreal.

GOD DAMN I miss my husband.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

just one document away

As of today, I am now just waiting for the police certificate from Korea and then I will have everything I need for the Visa Center to tell me when my immigration interview will be. I received my notarized and authorized document back from the Korean consulate today, then headed straight to the post office to send it to Korea. It hasn't been cheap!

Almost there. We are reasonably certain my departure for North Carolina is only weeks away.

Monday, July 9, 2012

convince me peak oil and climate change isn't happening

For the past few weeks now, Toni and I have been immersed in discussions around peak oil, climate change, a post-industrial world, the collapse of civilization and other fun topics. We have been reading and sharing everything we can get our hands on (and there is quite a lot of material), and most of our conversations of late have turned to this topic.

Basically, life as we know it now is about to come to an abrupt end, we will all have to live on less, much less than we do now, and that is going to mean living with less electricity. Less gas. Less money. Less manufactured food.

The midwest has been experiencing extreme heat coupled with no electricity. I read a story about people who had no food in their pantry so they went to the nearest gas station - all that was left was Cheetos and Gatorade.

If you found yourself without power for an unknown amount of time, how long could you last? How much food do you have in your home? How much water? Not just for the people in your house, but your pets?

In the news tonight, there are rolling blackouts in Alberta - as in people are being asked to reduce their energy usage in the Canadian province that produces the most energy in the form of fossil fuels. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

 My sister lives on a chicken farm in Alberta, where even a five second interruption in electricity, especially in the heat of summer, could be catastrophic. The birds live (well, maybe not live, but "are raised") in barns that have fans going to maintain a steady temperature. This is, in fact, how most mass-produced poultry is raised - not in green pastures but in buildings that require fossil fuels to power. Without fossil fuels, this type of agriculture is not possible. (Admittedly I see this as a good thing, as I have now seen how happy chickens are supposed to live).

I don't want to sound alarmist, but this is alarming. Climate change is real. And yet, I forget that even though I now have a fairly decent grounding in understanding the reasons why solar and wind energy won't save us (they require massive inputs of fossil fuel and there is no real infrastructure to get them up and running, much less material to maintain these modes when they begin to deteriorate), I realize that not everyone else has also come to realize this or even wants to believe it is happening. North Carolina, the state I'll be moving to soon, has passed a law banning evidence of rising sea levels. Figure that one out.

To add salt to the wound, everyone knows that economies are collapsing left and right. People are going bankrupt. Municipalities are going bankrupt. If you ever wondered what your municipal taxes paid for, you (if you live in a town that goes belly up) will soon see what that money paid for. Garbage collection. Recycling. Policing. Parks. Libraries. Water and sewage. What will happen if cities can no longer manage these things? You can bet some enterprising corporate entity will swoop in and demand high prices for these services that no one can afford.

If provincial and state governments or federal governments go this way, what then? Say goodbye to health care, education, social services, always the first to go in Canada and the US in a crisis.

I'm not really doing any of these major topics on which volumes have been written much justice here, but my point is in wanting to convey, just as Toni did in her post, that collapse is not some thing in the future, it has already begun.






I am taking this summer as my summer school to get immersed in collapse preparedness. I have time to read, after all, so I am reading much of the same material that Toni has been reading.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

and now I wait... some more

Goodness. This whole certificate from Korea thing has been a bit of a hassle. Dan mucked around with my photo and managed to fit nine 3x4cm images of me that would print out on to a 4x6 inch sheet. I downloaded this to my phone (where all my other photos are kept), and when I got to Wal-Mart (yes, I admit I went to Wal-Mart, but that's where they have the DIY instant printing of photos), I discovered that I couldn't retrieve the photo. That meant I had to go home, download it to a memory stick and go back.

That was yesterday. However, I don't know what I had done but it seems I threw my back out and even though I did do my volunteering stint at Providence Farm, by the time I got home I was exhausted. I didn't feel like making the drive all the way back to north Duncan (about 20 minutes from here) for a 30 cent photo. So I came home and got out my hot water bottle and took some muscle relaxants. The day was shot.

Today was my big day to go back into the Victoria RCMP to get my police certificate and fingerprints. Remember now, this ONLY happens on Wednesdays at 1:00. That's what I was told. And yet the sign said 1:15. At any rate, last week the nice lady told me to show up early and take a number, so that's what I did. After my huge frustration about parking last week I was delighted to find a great 2-hour parking spot right out front. I took my number (turns out, there was one other person ahead of me), and waited. Meanwhile, about 18 other people showed up behind me. It was a bit confusing because there is no sign telling you what to do, so normally a person would just approach the Inquiries desk. With nearly 30 people standing in the lobby, anyone just entering would think that we were all waiting in line, which wasn't quite true, because there were three different kiosks running. And then the homeless guy comes in with a chip on his shoulder about his stuff being confiscated and NO YOU DON'T NEED MY NAME OR ID I JUST WANT MY STUFF BACK and he was going on about how SOMEONE IS LYING etc. It was very nerve-wracking. I don't do well with confrontation, even if I'm not involved in it. I suspect the fellow had issues of mental health because he was being quite abusive to the clerk unnecessarily, and she just kept on saying 'how can I help you?'.

The first Criminal Record Check window opened up, and the lady processing the paperwork was lovely. The fellow before me was quick, and when I told her I needed this done because I'm trying to immigrate to the United States and I haven't been with my husband for 13 months... she said "I'm sorry". I'm getting that a lot these days. Apologies. Well, that's sweet. I have to say, through all of this gathering of documents stage, I am thanking the heavens that I didn't change my name when I got married and that I have only ever had the one name I now use. It sure makes things easier...

So I filled out some forms for the first lady, and then about 20 minutes later the fingerprinting guy (a uniformed officer) showed up. He set up his room, snapped on his latex gloves, looked out into the room as if he wanted to give us all rectal exams and said cheerfully "who's first?"

Again I was second in line. It was pretty straightforward. Have you ever had your fingerprints taken? It's an exercise in awkward physical intimacy. I experienced this too when they fingerprinted me at the border last September. The border agent or police officer takes each of your digits, rolls them in ink, and then rolls them on the paper. That sounds pretty benign but just imagine how close you have to be standing to a person if, say, they are to your left and you are reaching your right arm across so they can hold your hand. Awkward. They are used to this of course, and I'm sure they are trained to use all kinds of distracting tricks such as engaging you in conversation. I know how this works. The guy today asked me why I am immigrating. (Last fall the nice border agent asked me about the origin of my last name.) Afterwards he directed me to the sink where I could wash the ink off my hands. It wasn't coming off. I suggested they put some GoJo there (or Fast Orange or some other awesome de-yuck-ing agent).

I took my paper with fingerprints with me, and I will return next week to pick up my criminal record check.

Meanwhile, with memory stick in hand I went to the Big Scary Wal-Mart in Saanich. Luckily, I know where to park where I don't have an issue with my big truck. I went in, fount their photo finishing department, plugged in, boom, done. I love it when things are easy. Getting out of the store was also easy. This new store they built is SO ugly I don't know how people can go there but it is always busy. All I had to do from there was to cut out two of the nine 3x4cm photos, drop them into the ExpressPost envelope, take them to a postal outlet (in Mill Bay, on my way home), and it's done.

So now I wait for all the things. Hopefully my birth certificate will be within two weeks, my police certificate for Canada will be next week, and then the thing from Korea - that will take the longest. When I have these documents to hand, I will scan them and send them to Dan, who will turn them into PDF format and submit to the Visa Center. Once all these items are gathered, then they will give me my interview date. I'm sure I've told you this before, but I reiterate it to make it clear in my own head too.

Meanwhile, we are in full swing with harvesting stuff from the garden every day. I'll have to start posting about these things.