Friday, December 19, 2014

Off-Kilter

I feel a little unbalanced these days.

I decided to take today off work. It was the last day before we closed up for the holidays, and I was just out of steam. I put the "pro" in "unproductive" this week. I decided I was better off staying away from my desk.

So, I woke up this morning, and for the first time in a long time, I stayed in bed. I didn't hop up and go to the gym/for a swim/for a run. I didn't jump into the shower and zoom off to work. I just... stayed there. That was strange.

We're leaving on Sunday to go to my family's house for the holidays. I'm normally crashing through the last few days of work before we go anywhere, and so my packing method is usually of the oh-whatever-I-can-buy-more-underwear-if-I-need it style.

This morning, apart from my toothbrush and some extra toiletries, I finished packing. That's two days earlier. That's strange.

I have a little poinsettia plant that I rescued from work last year. It was sitting in an arrangement that none of us realized was actually a living plant until the leaves started to fall off. I took it home and put it in a pot and figured it would do what most poinsettias do after the holidays: turn green and busy and never resemble anything Christmas-y ever again.

I looked over at it a couple of weeks ago, and for the first time in my life, a poinsettia is turning red again. Around Christmas time, even.

Strange.


And... for all my protestations and disgust over the whole "ugly Christmas sweater" trend right now, I have a feeling that my latest knitting project is just going to join the theme. I'm not so sure about this one:


I dunno. Maybe I just need some proper time off, totally switched off from work, with enough sleep and nothing pressing to do. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the merriment of the holidays more than I am. Here's hoping it all evens out somehow.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Knitting Towards Contentment

Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it. --Boethius
This week, I threw myself into work. I worked, and I worked, and I worked. I rose in the morning, I went to the gym, I ate food, drank coffee, and then I kept working.

When I went home, I knitted. I wanted to finish my Mehndi to wear to the company Christmas party on Friday, and I knew I had a bunch of work to get done on it if I wanted that. I pulled a couple of marathon knitting sessions, and by Thursday evening, I was stretching it onto my blocking boards. On Friday afternoon, I yanked it off the boards, sent the pins flying everywhere, sewed the final ends in while I stood in the living room with my coat on, and slung it around my neck as I walked out the door.

It is a beautiful finished object: so much loveliness, so many intricate stitches, every single one placed with a purpose. The yarn, Cascade Heritage Silk, is smooth and warm and showed off every single stitch. I marvel at their engineering, and how the twisted stitches create the scrolled effect that attracted me the moment I laid eyes on the pattern. It is exactly as I wanted.



I wanted to wear it with this dress, which I purchased back in September. This is an approximation of what it looked like on Friday, minus the heels and the two hours of wrestling with my hair into something of an elegant updo. I'm surprised any of my hair is left after that tortuous session. Next year, I'm wearing a friggin' hat.






And now, I've reached the weekend, and I've finally let myself rest. All of the work was just a distraction, as you probably have guessed. My brain doesn't seem to want to believe that Rascal is gone. I feel sad, and sometimes I feel silly thinking about it. "He is just a dog, after all," my brain says.

But he was my family.

I had a two-hour nap yesterday afternoon, and when I woke, the hubby opened a card we'd received in the mail. We thought it was one of the obligatory family Christmas cards that appear each year.

This one was from the staff at the vet's office.



After a week of work, I broke down and cried again.

After that, I got up, took out my swift and ball winder and wound a few skeins of yarn to start working on my next project. I knitted a swatch, made some calculations, did a bit of research, and I'm going to start on it later today.

Because what more can I do? I can only keep knitting. This is all I know how to do. And perhaps someday, it won't be so sharp, and I will feel content.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rascal


I knew it was time when he howled in pain at 6am yesterday morning.

Rascal had been coasting along for the last month or so. He was hopping around on three legs, but he was happy and wanted to go out for long walks and to eat his food and to keep wagging his tail at everyone he met. He was in a pretty good cycle, even though he needed to get up every night at least once to go out and poop. We were hopeful.

Two months ago, the vet said that they were mistaken: his tumour wasn't getting any smaller, as we had thought. We decided to put him on another type of chemo drug.

But it didn't work.

Last Friday, while he was still feeling well, I picked him up and gave him lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses... it was a happy day.

That night, he began to whimper as he lay in bed. He was restless and in pain, and he wanted to get up and go outside a lot. I noticed he was having trouble walking, even on his good leg. By morning, his walk was extremely awkward, and he couldn't hold himself up on the hardwood floors. I made a path with my blocking boards for him to walk around on so he wouldn't fall and hurt himself when he went from his bed to his dish.

He stopped eating on Wednesday. The pain continued, even with the new painkiller we got from the vet. He was quiet during the day, but he wasn't very comfortable at night.

He started eating again on Friday... he was hungry and thirsty, and we filled with hope.

Friday night and Saturday morning, he whimpered and cried.

And then he howled. And I knew.

He had an appointment at 11am, but we got ready and carried him in his bed into the car. We drove to the vet's office and waited for them to open at 8am. We knocked at the door at 8:01, just as they were switching on the "open" sign.

Adele was playing on the radio when we walked in. The hubby told them Rascal wasn't doing well, and the receptionist looked over and went off to find the vet to tell her we needed to see her. They hustled us into an examination room. The vet, a different one who I'd never met before, came in and looked at Rascal.

She knew as well.

She and the hubby talked through Rascal's history while I sat silently. Rascal was up on the table, doing the usual thing he does at the vet: pressing against one of us because he doesn't like the needles.

I didn't want him to be afraid.

She examined him, took his temperature, felt for the mass... discovered all of the things I knew to be true.

Nothing could be done.

She then did what she knew she should do: she kindly talked to us about the decision we had already made. Then she left us for a few minutes to think about this decision we had already made. Rascal whined and whimpered and moaned in pain some more, even while we held him.

I didn't want him to be afraid.

They took him away and put an IV into his arm. The vet tech was in tears when she carried him back in within his own bed. She and the others in the clinic all loved him, too.

He became quiet as the anaesthetic took hold. We stroked and petted him as he settled. He laid his head down. The vet asked the tech, who was weeping silently, to cradle his head while she finished the injection. She finished, and the tech rested his head on his bed.

He didn't look like he was dead. I told the hubby so when they left us alone. It disturbed me more than anything.

We went home. I looked outside and saw his footprints in the snow. I went into work... I'd been asked to come in. I figured it would be the best thing, to keep me going.

I cried secretly all day.

What are you supposed to do when your dog dies? Are you supposed to put his things away, throw out his dish, wipe him clean from your home? Or are you supposed to keep his things so that your heart breaks every time you see them? And what do you do about the guilt when you think about all of the things you can do now that you don't have a sick dog to look after?

I know it's for the best, that the pain is gone, and that we gave hm the best life we could. He was the best dog I could ever imagine.

But when I awoke in the middle of the night last night, I thought I could hear him. And my heart broke again. And I cried some more.

I want him back, for heaven's sake, I want him back. It's not fair, and I'm angry and sad and crying even more as I write this. I know this pain will dull someday, but I'm having trouble believing it right now.

The hubby is going out for part of today, and I'll be alone here, and I'm afraid to be alone. I'll keep thinking I can hear his tags jingling as he bops around the house. I think I might go out for a bit, take my knitting, have a coffee.

I know I'm supposed to end with some kind of wistful, hopeful, grateful thought. I'm grateful for the time we had with him. I remember turning to him one summer's day, lounging on the couch together, and saying, "I'm glad we got to be alive together at the same time." And I am. And I suppose that is what matters.

Goodnight, my baby.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pumpkin Inspirations

And just like that, it's mid-November. Fall/winter... whatever. It's getting colder and darker, and therefore it's time for warmer things... handknit hats and mittens and sweaters... movies on the couch... mid-afternoon naps on the weekends...

And cute little pumpkin squashes. A friend gave me these out of her mother's garden. Such lovely colours.


Rascal was intrigued.


At least, he was until I made him sit through a photo shoot with them.




He wasn't so impressed after a while. It's hard to be excited about vegetables when you're technically a carnivore.


Anyway, one of those became a pot of soup today, and whatever didn't make it into the soup was roasted to perfection and picked at all day by yours truly.


And then I took the pumpkin seeds and roasted them in Worcestershire sauce and salt, also picked at all day by yours truly.


It's funny how a few squashes bring such welcome colour into the dark, dreary days. It inspired me to wander up to my yarn stash today and gather these skeins of merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn, all from my friend Tara's yarn business, Dragonfly Dyewerx. They're from some of her first dye batches (can I call these vintage, yet, Tara?) and every time I see them together, I think that I really need to make something with all of these colours all in one project. Clockwise from the top: Pumpkin Spice, Honeydew, Killer Tomato (which is more orange-y in real life) and It's Grape to Be Me. Prettee.


I can't wait to start playing with these. I'm thinking I've got enough to make a cardigan, if I play my gauge right. I've been scoping out patterns and playing around with it in my head. It could be a fun winter.

For some of us, anyway. I think he's hoping I don't get any other winter vegetables. He might want to renegotiate his modeling contract soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sickly

Turns out that I am one of those lame people who call in sick the day before a statutory holiday.

But like, I really am sick. I thought I could head it off at the pass, get lots of rest at the first sign of weakness, do my usual bath-footscrub-yoga thing to get it out of my system. I fought it all weekend, stayed home and nursed myself with lots of tea and hot baths, But I awoke this morning feeling like I COULD go to work, but that I would deeply regret it if I did. So, I'm home, one day before a mid-week holiday, feeling guilty as heck, but glad that I didn't go out to spread the germs.

It's a blessing and a curse, really. I go hard at life, from dawn till dusk, exercise, work, cooking, stretching, then sleeping. My yarn projects and creativity, and thus, this blog, have all been taking a back seat. It's a bad sign when I'm not here. It means that I'm somewhere planning my life away.

So, my body seems to have dragged me kicking and screaming back to myself, at the cost of a lot of tea and tissues (Seriously, I'm on my last box. This is not going to be pretty.).

I thought I felt good enough to drive down the three blocks to the tire maintenance shop and get the tires re-torqued. And you know what? It is not a good idea to drive when you've got a headcold that gives you sudden sneezing fits, even if it is only three blocks away.

I felt sorry enough for myself to go to the store and buy myself some treats at the corner store:



And, in case you didn't know: marshmallows have a tendency to alight at an alarming rate when you try to toast them over a candle. Don't ask me how I know that. I'm not sure if there's an insurance company in the world that would cover you for accidental marshmallow blazes.

So, while I've been at home, when I haven't been setting marshmallows on fire, I've been taking naps, drinking tea, doing a bit of work from home, doing some knitting, and napping some more. And during one of my wakeful moments, I was putting away some of the clothes that have been strewn around the house, and noticed that I seem to have amassed a great number of black clothing:


... which inspired me to go find a bit of colour to wear with them. And so I put on a pair of my most brightly coloured socks and put them on in defiance of all the black (and yeah, I know I've got black leggings on as well):


And then I dug out this hemp scarf I knitted a couple of years go, which has been languishing in a basket because it's just a bit too short and skimpy for wear. I sewed some buttons on, and declared myself useful before I lay down for another nap:


Probably the best result of this cold is that I've managed to sit down to work on my Mehndi scarf. I've finished one side of it, and now that I'm starting on the second side, it feels familiar and simple enough to be able to work steadily on it, even while I'm sniffling through a cold. Perhaps it will get finished before Christmas after all:


Ok, that's enough babbling. Brain is telling me to go rest for a while. Keep warm and sanitized, my friends.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rain, With Periods of Inertia

inertia (in·er·tia)
noun
1.
a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
"the bureaucratic inertia of government"
synonyms: inactivity, inaction, inertness; More
2.
PHYSICS
a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.
It's raining. A lot. It's been raining most of this week. A lot.

Yeah, I know everyone: According to the rest of the world, this is not unusual in British Columbia, Canada. I KNOW. But after the summer we had, getting the dregs of Hurricane Ana is kind of hard for me to adjust to.

I am a pile of mashed potatoes. I can't think of anything more inert than that. That's how I felt when I looked out and took this photo of our deck. I even turned it artsy-fartsy black and white in an effort to show how motionless I've been.


I don't know if it's because of all this rain, or the darkness in the mornings and the evenings, or not being able to get outside much this week, but MAN have I been doing nothing. I mean, I've been getting up and going to the gym and going to work, but apart from that, yeah... no. I am someone that usually had something that needs to be done: if it's not my yarn projects, it's packing my gym bag or making my lunch or making my morning smoothie, or cleaning something... or, more accurately: thinking about cleaning something. But nope. Just a whole lotta sittin' goin' on after work this week.

My inertia seemed to last until about 5pm today. Before that, I went out and did the grocery shopping (or rather, I went with the hubby and moped the whole time), and then after lunch, I sat on the couch and watched a bunch of YouTube videos (managed to wrench myself loose from watching pimple extractions to switch over to a steady stream of The Voice auditions).

And then, I jumped up at 5:00pm and decided to hem some trousers that have been sitting on a chair in the bedroom for about a month. They're so long that I need at least a 3-inch heel to get them off the ground. All that dragging was really wrecking them:


How's that for a nice repair? Another press should make them perfect:


I did manage to do a bit of yarn work this week. I took my freshly blocked Peekaboo Mitts to the local knit night on Tuesday and finished embroidering a simple little pattern on them. I bought the green embroidery floss at the yarn shop that night:


And inner compulsions are trying to get over that the flowers aren't perfectly symmetrical. Still, they're pretty, no? And they fit my hands really well, and will keep this reptilian-handed-always-cold-knitter warm.


And well, they're going to come in handy with a forecast like this:


Hopefully, my mojo will kick in again and will start taking advantage of this weather to park myself on the couch to do some good old knitting. After all, I have a shawl to finish to wear for Christmas.

Oh yeah. That's coming up. Better shut up and get knitting.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Little Bit of Happy

Old books exert a strange fascination for me -- their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt. -- Lauren Willig
A couple of weeks ago, I came home with this little ceramic pot, which I purchased from a vintage shop at Whippletree Junction. I can't decide if the shop is called Myra Inbows or My Rainbows. But I digress:


It's been sitting on my dining table, just kind of taking up space. I sit and look at it while I'm eating dinner, admiring the glaze, picking it up and running my thumb over the unglazed bottom, running my fingernails lightly over the sandy bits that didn't quite melt in the kiln... wondering what the heck it is and why it was one of three that I spied in the shop. I picked it because it had the most varied in colour and had the most visible pattern in the clay. These little details singled it out. Little details make me happy.

So, this weekend, I was walking around another vintage shop in Cowichan Bay, which is just up the road from Whippletree Junction (can we just pause here and just delight in the name, "Whippletree Junction? I usually say it twice, with an emphasis on the 'wh' of Whippletree...). I was actually on the lookout for a cute teapot (which I don't really need, but I'm in the midst of a cute teapot obsession), and I walked right past another one of these little pots. I paused, walked backwards two steps and looked at it again. I picked it up, noticing it was the same shade of green of the ones I'd left behind at Whippletree, had the same unglazed bottom, similar raised pattern. I put it down, mindful of the fact that I'd left the hubby and Rascal waiting outside in the sun and hungry for lunch, but I made a mental note of what I'd seen.

One the way home, I stopped at Whippletree again, to pick up a ball of yarn from the yarn shop there, which I've visited a few times before. I needed it to send to my friend, dkzack, who'd been here for a visit not long ago, and who had pulled a classic "Adriene" (i.e. bought some yarn, but not enough).


And well, Myra Inbows (or My Rainbows - I must find out the name for sure) was open. I stopped in. The other two green pots were still there, and after standing there and staring for a while, I asked the shop owner about them. She explained that they are actually old "ginger jars," and they would have had a cork stopper on top, and that you often find them in old houses that are standing in ruins here on the Island. The lack of glaze on the bottom was to keep them from sticking to the kiln during firing. And, she remembered me... and remembered exactly which one I'd bought and what it looked like, and that made me happy that she remembered.

And then I went home and Googled like the dickens to find out more about them... that Chinese ginger jars have been around for a long time, and that mine was specific to BC, and that they were used for holding all kinds of different foods...

And then I went out to find some napkins for my little pot, so that it could have a purpose again in my little house. I like that it has a life again, even if it is only a little pot. Giving it another purpose made me happy.

This photo is a little truer to the actual colour. Maybe sometime I'll find a bit of cork and see if I can fashion one to fit in top, just so that it can have a lid again.


I suppose it's these little discoveries that make my little vintage discoveries so interesting to me. I delight in knowing that these things had a past, that they were created for a purpose, that they were used and cared for by someone, and that I can use them again. I wonder if the people who bought it in the first place thought it to be as beautiful as I do, and if they knew that it would find a home in someone else's house, possibly a century later. And maybe it's because I love stories that this is why I love old things.

It's nearly dinnertime. I'm off to put a bread pudding in the oven, make some chicken and potatoes, and set the table with the napkins in my new napkin/ginger jar. I know it's only a little thing.

But it makes me happy. And I'm grateful for that.