Monday, May 18, 2015

Tired vs. Hungry

There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep. -- Homer

Time seems to have warped on me. All that extra time I talked about in a previous blog post? It didn't last long. It ended up being taken up with one thing:

Being tired.

Training for a half marathon doesn't necessarily make you faster, nor will it necessarily make you thinner. It won't necessarily make you look younger, either.

But it will make you tired.

It's the kind of tired where you are sitting in front of your dinner in the evening, and suddenly realize that you could join those tired kids you keep seeing on the internet who have face-planted right into their mashed potatoes.

It's the kind of tired where you keep finding your pyjama pants on the kitchen floor, and you don't know how they got there, nor do you care.

It's the kind of tired where you force yourself to get up at 5:00am, even on the weekends, because you know that it's going to be a heck of a lot of work to get back into the habit if you don't.

So, the few minutes I might have spent knitting during the week have dissolved into a blur. I get home, make and eat dinner, then get down on the yoga mat to do some exercises and stretches before I go upstairs and go to bed. I dare not knit. I've said it time and time again: friends don't let tired friends knit.

It's a long weekend here this weekend. Not surprisingly, having a long weekend has been great for me... but I haven't been knitting as much as I'd hoped. On Saturday, I made some banana oat cakes to have for snacks this week at work. I've started making them with avocado instead of butter. I also use muffin liners for a quicker baking time and so that I wouldn't have to fuss about trying to cut them into squares:

After that, we went out for lunch and then went kayaking in and around the harbour. We saw sea lions and lots of little fish swimming beneath us. I don't have any photos, though: I'm too paranoid about dropping my electronics into the salt water, even if they are in a "water tight" pouch. Suffice to say that it was a beautiful way to get some fresh air, sun, and exercise. I wanted to come home and knit afterwards, but I think I got a bit too much sun and ended up sleeping for an hour on the couch and was groggy for the rest of the evening. Heh.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early and had some pre-run fuel (peanut butter on toast and a banana), and then did a few little chores while I waited for it to digest. I decided to soak the military bag I wrote about in my last post in some diluted vinegar, because it seems to have a developed a mouldy, musty smell. Then, I went out ran 17 kilometres (10.5 miles). I came home, sat down on my yoga mat to stretch out my hips, and to eat my post-run porridge (which is so yummy, it's worth eating whether you run or not). And, as much as running makes you tired, it makes you hungry ALL THE TIME, which means I eat a snack every 30 minutes for the next two or three hours. By noon, I was so sleepy that I decided to eat a larger lunch so that I could take a long nap without being woken up by a growling stomach. It's not easy to be in the middle of a war between your weariness and your hunger.

Admittedly, the weariness is possibly another excuse to procrastinate. I mean, I could be knitting right now, but I chose to write this blogpost. And in the middle of writing this blogpost, I went looking for the link for the porridge recipe above on my Pinterest, during which I decided to reorganize my Pinterest boards (because alphabetizing things is important).

And I won't tell you how many YouTube videos I've watched this week while lying on the couch after work. I've seen more singing dog videos than I care to admit.

I will add, however, that this weariness I'm feeling is nothing compared to what you feel when you are struggling with chronic or terminal illness... which is why I am training for this half marathon in the first place. More info on that here.

Luckily, the hubby had the great idea of downloading Season 5 of Downtown Abbey the other day, so last night, I FINALLY sat my butt down, put my feet up, and actually did some knitting. My bolero is getting closed to being finished. If I give myself a couple of hours today, I might actually finish it. I'll sit out on the deck next to my military bag as it dries in the sunshine and get a few rounds in.

But I might need a nap this afternoon first... after I eat some cream cheese and blueberries on a homemade roll with my cinnamon latte. I might actually be able to stay awake long enough to eat it all. And the hubby made the rolls this time, because I was too tired (and grumpy) to make them myself:

41 days until my half marathon. Wake me up when it's time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Walking the Same Way

Someone told me once that sometimes, when you're walking though life, you meet people who are walking the same way. And these people you walk with... they usually have their eyes on the same things that you do.

My friend, Linette, came for a visit a little over a week ago. The funny thing is that Linette and I haven't even really known each other all that long: we're friends of friends who meet once a year for a coffee at Christmas time and talk yarn. On the surface, it seems strange to open your home to someone you've only really spent a few hours with...

...but we're walking the same way with our eyes on the same things.

It's always nice to have visitors who have similar interests to your own. Having Linette over meant that I could indulge in exploring antique shops, markets, and of course, yarn stores, without having to rush and with someone to muse over our respective discoveries. I joked that I might have bought more souvenirs than she did, and what of it? How often does one have a "staycation" anyway?

I hadn't had anyone stay over as a guest since we moved here nearly two years ago, and so my brain was full of things we could do. The planner in me made an itinerary, complete with rest stops and necessary cafes. The dreamer in me just said, "Whatever. There's so much to see and do. Let's just see what happens."

The first day, we went to Coombs, and wandered through the mishmash of stores along the road by the market. I brought home a lovely vintage military shoulder bag, something I've been covering for a while. It'll be a good bag for hiking this summer, perfect for a water bottle and a sandwich:

It's where we found City Style Barbie.  Imagine Barbie in Canada in the 1980's, power shopping at The Bay, and then giving her hair a quick tease and hairspray spritz before she meets up with Ken for a drinks and dinner.

The box is unopened and priced at just over $150. She's In there, waiting in her Chanel suit. We wondered how many little girls had one... and the disappointment they felt the first time they tried to run a brush through that hair. What a world.

I managed to bring home slightly more useful treasures (even though Barbie would have made a great conversation piece). I found this cute ceramic egg separator, which I appreciate as much for its looks as for its function. It'll be a good excuse to make some custards and angel food cakes. It's a great world when you are given excuses to make cakes, eh?

We visited a lot of antique stores while she was here, and we played a lot of, "what do you think this is?" I learned that this is a cast iron pan for ebelskivers, which are Danish-style donuts. You can buy new ones at Williams-Sonoma, but I think this one is cooler... even if it's so heavy that you need to bend your knees to lift it.

Linette is also a foodie like me, an therefore supported me fully when I decided to buy a 10 pound box of red peppers (it was $10, how could I turn it down?) Our collective cooking skills allows us to get through about a dozen during her visit before we admitted defeat and froze the rest:

And, as foodies, we appreciated the cute little fox in the lemon poppy seed muffin she got at one of the many cafes we visited:

We went somewhere new for me, which made it a true staycation. Damali Lavender & Winery was a site I cycled past last summer during my bike challenge, but never had a chance to visit. It was well worth the wait:

That house is the b&b you can stay at, and all those shrubs are lavender bushes getting ready to bloom. Even without the flowers, the place smelled peaceful and lovely, and made us talk with airy voices until we drove away. I brought home a bottle of dessert wine, flavoured with berries and lavender, and a vial of lavender oil. I've been putting drops of it on cotton balls to put in a dish next to me while I do my evening yoga:

And I might have bought a little yarn. I mean, what sort of knitting friend would I be if we didn't visit a few yarn stores along the way? And what kind of knitting friend would I be if I didn't pave the way to the till? This skein of 100% laceweight silk from Handmaiden crept into my hands and stayed there. The colourway is called Raven, and it is a perfect name: the blacks and blues on the shimmery silk are exactly like the raven's wing:

And a bargain buy of discontinued Marvel for $3.00 a ball. I'm picturing a swingy little cardi to keep me warm from the dreaded air conditioning of the summer. Gah, I hate air conditioning:

And, of course, we sat about an knitted and talked about our families, our jobs, and our dreams. I've made lots of progress on my shrug, and she made a lot of progress on her shawl.

As I sit here, I realize that I have yet to photograph the pair of socks she made for me as a gift. Socks! For me! Without even knowing my shoe size! And, and and... they fit perfectly! I must make sure I get a good photo of it in daylight to show them off. What a lovely gift.

And yeah, that's what it means when you are walking the same way: you appreciate the same things, and you feel grateful for any time you get to spend with someone who is striding along with you. What a great little holiday for the both of us.

And I even get to walk a bit of the way in my own handmade socks. Woohoo!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Trouble with Baking

I had every intention of taking today to sit down and blog about all the fun stuff I've been up to. I had a rare day to myself: no obligations and no major errands to run. I walked up to the pool, went for a swim, came home and made coffee, did a load of laundry while I wandered around YouTube, ate lunch, and then took a nap.

I woke up and thought to myself, "I'll just make myself a batch of muffins to take as snacks for work this week."

And while those were baking I decided to try a new cupcake recipe.

And then I decided to try a new frosting recipe.

And here I am, just after 5:00pm, and I've run out of time to write what I wanted to write because we're going out for dinner and a play.

Ok, ok, TOMORROW, I'll get it done. After I go for my 16 kilometre run and do the grocery shopping. And after a nap. I PROMISE.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Books and Flowers and Running and Knitting

What day is it, anyway?

It occurred to me the other day how mixed up my days were when I opened my my timesheets for work and realized that I had been submitting them a week in advance. Apparently, I was in the future... and yet I was still running behind. A busy week does that to you.

I arrived back from Winnipeg last Saturday evening. Sunday morning, I got up and did some training, then got busy making lunches and packing up stuff to back to work. While I was away, our company moved into a brand new building, so the whole week was really a whirlwind of unpacking, organizing, learning new things and trying to catch up on unfinished things. Somewhere in there, I managed to pack a bag, and on Friday after work, we headed off for a weekend in Victoria.

Saturday looked like this:

A browse through Munro's Books:

A walk through East Sooke Park:

Lunch at a cafe in Sooke, which had these interesting plants growing outside:

A stroll through the grounds at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where they always have the most impressive flower gardens:

And then I stopped by the conference centre to pick these up:

And on Sunday, I did this:

That's what it looked like to be right in the middle of the pack getting ready to run the Times Colonist 10k Race. I registered for it a few months ago to practice running in a big race in preparation for my half marathon in June. I've never run with 9000 other people before, but it was surprisingly fun. And I was surprisingly emotional at the beginning... being around so many excited people really hyped me up, and when we sung the national anthem, I looked up at the flag and started getting choked up. I had to really breathe through it to make sure my throat was open for the race.

I ran a good one, faster than I thought I'd do it, and learned a lot of things about me. Kilometre 6 always makes me feel like giving up. I seem to come through it near the end of kilometre 7. And it turns out I can really switch it on for the last two kilometres.

I ran next to two people dressed as zebras for most of the race (I think I left them behind somewhere... I can't remember now). And I saw a lot of children running with adults. There was one family that I recognized on the news later this evening: they were running together to celebrate their dad's heart surgery recovery. And there was one sole racer in a wheelchair. And a few visually impaired runners.

In all, it was amazing.

And somewhere, in the middle of this, I worked on my knitting project. I don't really want to show it right now, because I'm almost finished one sleeve, which is currently a mess of improvised decreases, and I'm really not sure about it. But it's there. And I'm still knitting.

It's during these busy times that I worry sometimes that I won't want to knit anymore... and that I won't want to keep up with this blog. But you know, I find myself drafting sentences in my head every day for this blog, even while running a race. I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to share my adventures.

And I kinda have too much yarn to stop knitting now. How's that for motivation?

I'm off to stretch a bit more and relax. I've got a knitting friend coming for a visit this week, so that's going to be fun. There'll be some adventures to share from that for sure!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hospital Yarn

It has been a strange week, upside-down week.

My father had been feeling fatigued since around Christmas, and my mother had been noticing that his appetite was really poor. I didn't really think too much of it: I figured it was the long, dark days of winter that were affecting him, and that, as soon as the days got brighter, he'd perk up again.

I don't know what it was, but it finally dawned on me how ill he was on Sunday of last week (the 5th). On Monday, I texted my brother (who lives in Winnipeg) about him, and he told me he was fine. On Tuesday, I asked him again. 

"Did you talk to Mom?" his reply said.

"No," I said.

"I took him to the hospital this morning."

Then, my phone started ringing. I could see it was my mom. She almost never phones my cell phone.

I answered, but I couldn't hear anything on the other end except the sounds of people talking, some beeping, and the some echoing footsteps: the sounds of a hospital.

I hung up and called back.

No answer.

My heart was in my throat. At that moment, a coworker appeared at my door. I looked up at him, and I must have looked like a ghost because he shut my door and came over to me immediately to put his arm over my shoulder to ask what was wrong.

I can't really remember all that happened next, except that my boss had someone book me a flight home. Two hours later, I was on a plane, and the next thing I knew, my brother picked me up at the airport in Winnipeg around midnight.

I went to the hospital in the morning where my dad was under observation. He was asleep sitting upright in a chair, since he was having trouble getting his breath lying down. He looked pale and small. 

That was hard.

He was admitted officially later that day, and he stayed there until Monday, when the fluid in his lungs had drained and his oxygen levels stabilized. He's home now, feeling stronger and more normal than he's felt for months. He's being referred to a specialist and will also be going for physiotherapy. He's also had his meds rearranged to help him remember to take them to prevent fluid build up in his lungs. It about as "back to normal" as we can get right now, until the specialist visits start and we know more about what to do to keep him well.

Spending days at the hospital is easy and difficult at the same time. You don't do much, but your mind doesn't really rest. I spent a lot of time wandering around the hospital, poking through gift shops, as well as the tables people had set up in the halls were they sold baked goods, clothes and trinkets.

It happened to be the same hospital where my mom and I had our kidney surgeries last year. During one of my walks, I found the kidney donor offices, and visited with the coordinator who helped to organize my donation last year. It was her birthday. She said she never gets to see her patients after the donation is finished. It was a good surprise for her.

She gave me some t-shirts, since it was Organ Donor Appreciation Week.

Of course, I had a project to work on, my Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf. It kept my hands busy when I wasn't walking around, and with all this time on my hands, I managed to finish and block it last night:

I actually ripped it out last week during one of the first days at the hospital. I had used a larger hook to make the first chain, and I wasn't liking the look of it. I re-did it with a single crochet foundation chain to give it a slightly thicker edge, then worked the first round into the bottom of it. I worked the last round in a similar way, working a single crochet foundation chain between each pair of double crochet stitches. It worked out well.

I thought I wouldn't really be able to wear it here, since it's so light and airy, but the weather has been unseasonably warm here. I'm used to being home during the dead of winter. I packed for wintery-spring days: jeans, long-sleeved shirts, fleece pullovers. Instead, we've had a cycle of seasons each day: around freezing at night, but warm and sunny in the afternoons. I had to put the air conditioning on in the car yesterday afternoon when I took my dad out to the mall. I guess I'll get some wear out of it while I'm here after all.

I've booked a flight back to Vancouver Island on Saturday, all being well. It has been a frightening time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about leaving. I have faith that the systems that have been put in place will help, and I feel comforted that I know more about my dad's situation now. I'm glad I came home.

In the meantime, I'm making the best of being with my family. We'll head out to the park later, if this wind ever slows down outside. And, since I finished my project, I stopped by Ram Wools Co-op this morning to find something to keep me busy until I get back to my own place:

Many thanks to those who helped us through this time. Your words and kindnesses have helped more than you know.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Kind of Home Decor

I had been dodging it all week: my too-short Sallah Cowl, in its net-like beauty, sat on the coffee table all week. I knew it was going to be too short, and I was too annoyed with myself to come up with a solution. It would have been nice it the problem had solved itself, but alas, this was the sort of problem that I was going to have to wade through, unless I wanted to waste all that time and yarn.

I picked it up the other night and picked up a bunch of stitches along one of the edges, and then continued using the same stitch pattern until I was nearly out of yarn.

I didn't bind off. Instead, I sewed the opposite edge onto the unbound edge, which seemed to preserve some elasticity, even if it made for a row of large, eyelet-like holes:

This made for an extra panel of fabric to work with, which gave me a couple of extra inches of circumference. I began to hope that I would actually be able to get my head through.

And then, I wove in the stray ends and soaked it. While it soaked, I cast my eyes around for an idea of how I could stretch this thing hard so that it would block out large enough to fit. That's when my eyes lit on my umbrella swift. A few minutes later, I had an interesting lampshade sitting next to my dining table.

And man, it worked. I love it. That extra panel with the stitches moving in a different direction really makes it interesting to me. I wore it out this afternoon to sit down in the sunshine at the marina... it was perfect for the wee bit of chill in the springtime breeze.

It's amazing what a bit of blocking will do. I even went so far as to block my Slipstream Hat a few days ago, and I like it way better now than I did.

And now, we'll break for my obligatory Sunday baking shot (mmmm blueberry scones)...

And a loaf of Dutch oven rye bread:

In the meantime, since my swift was in use as a blocking agent, I pulled out a ball of yarn that didn't need winding, and started working on my next project: a cowl that I fully admit I am copying pretty much exactly from someone I follow on Google+. +Casey L is so good at matching patterns to yarns, and I regularly peruse her posts to see what new beauty she has concocted. As soon as I saw her version of Moogly's Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf, I knew I had to make it... especially since I had the exact same colourway of Katia Jaipur sitting in my stash. It doesn't look like much at the moment, but I'm looking forward to seeing how mine turns out.

Since it's worked in the round, it's going to be one big loop when it's finished. I'm thinking that the swift might work to block it, if it's not too large. I could get used to seeing these kinds of lampshades around the house...

... that'd be my kind of home decor!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Updates on Bread, Running, and Miracles

So... I've been training for my first half-marathon. So far, this has resulted in two things:
  1. Forming a much closer relationship with my foam roller. My muscles... they hurt.
  2. Oddly, I seem to have more time on my hands. 
I think the latter may be because I now have to do longer runs than I would be able to do at the gym. Therefore, on my run days, I do morning road runs which depart from and return to my house, which means I'm not having to pack a gym bag every single night. It still requires a lot of planning, but I'm finding myself with time to (lo, and behold) knit! Who knew that running more meant getting more knitting time?

This sudden abundance of free time meant that I had time to give a new bread recipe a try: Peasant Bread, a no-knead bread recipe that you bake in Pyrex bowls. I'll admit it: the recipe was extra attractive to me because it gave me an excuse to go out and buy one of the pretty vintage Pyrex bowls I keep seeing in vintage and second-hand shops. I found one that would accommodate the double-loaf version of the recipe. I was so excited to find it that I stood in the store hunched over my phone, checking the blog to make sure it was the right size:

Here's what it looked like after the second rise:

And here's what it looked like after I took it out of the bowl and let it cool down enough to slice:

And yes, it is as easy as the recipe says it is... except that I screwed up measuring the flour during the first attempt and had to discard the dough in my compost bin... where it has since been sitting and rising... which is a little scary...

My knitting time has been great, but my project has been... well... not so great. It certainly LOOKS great on the needles, but wing-it-all-Adriene here decided to try the pattern with a great deal less yarn than what the pattern called for. This means that, if I assemble this cowl according to the instructions, I'll be lucky if I can get it over my head. There might be some aggressive stretching and blocking to come here...

But things could be worse. I got a bit of good news earlier in the week:

Monday night, I found myself in my office at work in a last-minute scramble to get something finished. Beneath the piles of paper and in-between pages of text flashing past on the screen, I heard my phone ring. I glanced over at it, and didn't recognize the number, so I ignored it. Later on, I saw a message flashing on it from the hubby...

My wallet, which I lost last week, had been found. The person who was trying to call me was my the receptionist at my chiropractor's office, who had been called that day by the person who had my wallet, who had found my appointment card in there. The chiropractor's receptionist passed on the person's number to the hubby, who then passed it on to me. It turned out to be a guy from the main sorting facility for the postal service. He told me he'd send it to my nearest post office, and that it would be there in the morning. He said that someone likely found my wallet, emptied out the cash, then deposited it in the nearest letter box. I guess that stuff happens all the time.

I was grateful to get it back, even if I had already cancelled my credit and debit cards. My driver's license and medical card were still in it... in fact, everything was still in it, including a gift card to a restaurant I'd forgotten about, and my Avid Knitter card from a local yarn store (losing that would have been a DISASTER). In all, I was out-of-pocket a few dollars, but it was nice to have some kind of balance restored.

This morning, during my Sunday long run, I ran past the coffee shop where I thought I left my wallet last week. As I went past, I noticed a person walking around the parking lot, looking around on the ground around the cars and on the ledge of the low brick wall surrounding the lot. She looked like she had had a hard, unlucky life... an older lady, which a face heavily creased with lines, wearing a shabby hat and overcoat that she had wrapped around her to keep her dry from the light rain. Her skin was dark, perhaps a little jaundiced, and she moved slowly, quietly searching.

I wondered if it was her who had found my wallet. And I wondered what she had used the money for... or perhaps, she might have found my wallet already stripped of the cash, and decided to put it in the letter box anyway. How could I ever know? How could I approach this woman and question her, just based on my hunch? It doesn't matter now. I silently thanked her, and hoped I might see her again.

So, that was the week. I'm off to go spend some time with my foam roller, and then I'll make some dinner. My last two runs have been really difficult, which has been scary for me. I'm trying hard to have faith that it will get easier... that I really can do this. Sitting here and writing this post has forced me to remember that I've got a lot of good things going here, and wallowing in my own fear and self-pity is not going to change anything.

Oh, and I might have a slice of bread. Yes... that will be just the ticket...