Monday, February 8, 2016

Inspiration Mondays: Telling People About Your Droopy Socks

I found this little book in a vintage shop a couple of weeks ago. I decided $3.00 was a great price for a little booklet of thrilling moments and profound passages. It was a bargain for sure:

Last night, while waiting for dinner to cook, I sat down and opened it and read through a few passages, and I came upon this paragraph:
To live, is to understand. To live, is to smile at the present; it is to be able to see over the wall of the future. To live, is to have in oneself a balance, and to weigh in good and evil. To live is to have justice, truth reason, devotion, probity, sincerity, common sense, right and duty welded to the heart. To live is to know that one is worth, what one can do and should do.
It made me remember this quote, uttered by the Man in Black from one of my favourite movies, The Princess Bride:
Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something
It got me thinking.

I think we believe that there are people who believe life is like how Victor Hugo described: a time to learn what one is worth, and what one can do and should do.

And I think we believe that, on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who believe that life is all about pain, just as the Man in Black said.

But I think the truth is that we are all sometimes like Victor Hugo, and we are also sometimes like the Man in Black. We are all swing back and forth between those two personalities week to week: sometimes rising upward with duty and strength beneath us, and sometimes crushed by the difficulties of life, or by the weight of shame or depression or guilt.

The thing is, in this Facebook world of sharing our highs, we don't see anyone's lows. And we believe everyone else is doing so much better than we are, and we wish we could be so lucky. And there are people out there who are really, really suffering because of it. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't one of them. It's hard to remember that everyone is in the same boat, paddling as hard as they can.

Today, I'm inspired by people who are trying their very best to be real. And what I mean by that is: they're not walking around chanting, "Oh man, life sucks, I'm suffering, feel sorry for me." They're simply not afraid to say that, no, things are not ok, and maybe I need some help and someone to talk to. And I'm inspired by those people who are wise enough not to say, "Oh, it's not so bad, chin up."

They're wise enough to say, "Hey, me too. Let's get a coffee and talk."

Here's to your socks falling down and telling people so.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where I'm Not Wearing Pyjamas

"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
Sometimes, I reach the weekends thinking about this blog and I wonder, "Well... have I got anything interesting to talk about?" I always feel a bit sheepish (heh, get it?) when I don't have anything wool-related to talk about, or when I have a week when I haven't made anything or done anything particularly artistic or creative. I suppose the truth is that I make and create things every day... but perhaps not all that blog-worthy.

So I said to myself, "Should I talk about the cute egg coddler I found in a vintage shop last weekend?"

Or the awesome stalks of brussel sprouts I got at the farmer's market yesterday? And my new-found love of brussel sprouts after having plate after plate of amazing grilled ones in San Francisco? Man, those people know how to make an unpopular vegetable sexy:

But here we are: Sunday night of a long weekend (it's Family Day tomorrow in British Columbia), and I'm not blogging about ceramic egg gadgets nor little cabbages. I'm always glad to see the weekend, blog-worthy topics or not. And it's my favourite kind of weekend, where I had absolutely no plans: nowhere to be, nothing to do, apart from the usual chores: grocery shopping, laundry, whatever. I have a secret goal of having a weekend where stay in my pyjamas for the entire time... except maybe to bathe. I sigh just thinking about it.

Luckily for you, I actually have a finished project to share, and I actually did put on real pants to share it. Well... sort of. I put on leggings, which are kind of like pyjamas, except they are deemed acceptable for public appearances. Mostly.

I love the look of this bubble wrap stitch, even if it did start to bore me about halfway through. It's like a bobble stitch, except there are no knobbly, gathered, knotted wads of yarn that are charming in small doses, but tend to give you flashbacks of 70's orange shag carpet in large quantities. This stitch, in contrast, is smooth under the fingers, but interesting enough in texture to make you want to keep stroking it, especially in this alpaca blend. Call it a sophisticated bobble... if you are so inclined to talk to your yarn... which I am...

And the shock of discovering that the third ball was a different dyelot (or perhaps even a different colourway, given how different they are) actually turned out to be completely lovely once the whole thing was finished. Yeah... loving the grey on grey action here:

And when doubled, totally cool. It's like I planned it:

I'm looking forward to wearing it to work, where the office temperature is grounds for warfare (decidedly Baltic in the morning, near-Sahara by the afternoon). It's the perfect place to wear sophisticated bobbles or any other warm neck-thing. And if I could get away with it, I'd wear pyjamas, too.

A girl can dream, right?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Lament of the Cowl

It started out a small distraction,
My sweater plans were stalled in action,
"I'll make a cowl, or something easy,"
But something made me feel uneasy.

I took some time to be precise
To match the yarn with something nice,
I read through books, I searched the 'net,
But nothing proper surfaced yet.

I came upon a knitting stitch,
That pleased my eye, without a glitch,
I started knitting right away,
I knit four inches in a day.

But then, the work became quite dull,
The days went on, my progress null,
I worked with grim determination
To move on through this situation.

It travelled down to San Francisco,
I could have brought it to a disco!
It weathered being dragged with me
Through airports and security.

But when the third ball joined along,
I knew the colours were all wrong,
A grey it was, but not exact,
My dye lot differed, that's a fact.

I groaned, I wept, I sighed, I whimpered,
I can't believe that dye lot differed.
I paced and huffed, and yes, I pouted,
My progress stalled, the cowl was stouted.

I shrugged my shoulders, wiped my brow,
"I dare not rip this thing out now,
This yarn will break when it is stressed,
I'll carry on, and hope for best."

There it sits, unfinished still,
Despite my efforts and my will,
I check the ball, it still exists,
And so, I sigh, and stretch my wrists.

It's beautiful, a lovely thing,
I'll finish it before the spring,
Until that time, I do intend
To follow through until the end...

Whenever the heck that is.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Inspiration Mondays: Defying Physics

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. ― Mother Teresa
Since I donated my kidney almost two years ago, I've learned something that surprised me: not many people would do it. I guess when you are a donor, it's the sort of thing you never think twice about. I knew the moment I found out my mom's kidneys were failing that I was going to be her donor. And I was scared, but I knew that I needed to know that I had done everything I could to save her.

And you know, not everyone has to do what I did. I think it's important to remember that, it's not what you give, but the willingness to help someone that matters. There are risks in giving: to give means to make yourself vulnerable, and the risk of rejection is real. And if you're a scientist, it's basic entropy: energy in a system stays within the same system, but it constantly transferred to other bodies within the system. To give means to lose something of yourself.

It's funny how physics class comes back to you sometimes.

But what you receive after giving defies all laws of entropy. You end up getting a lot more energy back: more than you could ever imagine.

I watched the video below the other day and I cried. I won't forget the day I learned the surgery was all-go. I was in a meeting when my cell phone rang, and I went outside to take it. After the call, I paced around, but I didn't cry. I didn't cry until the morning of the surgery, when the nurse prepping me cupped my face in her hands and said, "You are a good child."

And the gift I got after the surgery was a perspective I never dreamed of: like standing on a step on a slightly different angle than before. I see things slightly differently, in different lights, in a different time frame. Instead of tomorrow, I think of forever...

Today, I'm inspired by people who give with as much love as they can muster, without looking for recognition or thanks. And those people are actually all around us: even you reading this. You do this more often than you know.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Journals From the Departure Gate

It's a function of travel that going out into the world can become the catalyst for an interior journey. -- Joyce Maynard
We're sitting here in SFO Airport for a flight that has been delayed twice and now does not depart for another two a half hours. I just saw a family with two small children that was on our inbound flight walking the wrong way in search of the gate. If I don't see them again in another half an hour, im debating whether or not I should go looking for them. I have a feeling it's going to be a long day for everyone.

I suppose I could sit here and grumble, but what would be the point? It's about the same as leaning on your horn in a traffic jam: it doesn't accomplish a darn thing except create a whole lot of useless noise. At least it's a Tuesday. I'd hate to be here during the chaos of a Saturday.

So, in the meantime, here's what we did while in San Francisco:

1) The Ferry Building Marketplace

I found out about this from one of Tracy Shutterbean's "What to do in San Francisco" posts. I love markets: I love to see the unique things people are making a living out of. 

This place is large and imposing on the outside:

Inside, the length of the station was populated by stalls that took up every square inch of usable space:

There were plenty of food stalls, each offering a free sample to nibble on. I can't really remember how I ended up with a mouthful of almond roca within two minutes of entering the place, but that's the kind of amnesia I'm ok with. We could have walked up and down a few times and eaten our way through the day:

And there were plenty of other things apart from food, like garden plants, beauty products, and fresh produce:

And all of the things you might need to cook all of this food:

There were also loads of food vans outside, but the rain prevented me from taking any photos. Besides, I was still full from all of the grazing I did indoors. Luckily, we had a bit of a walk to do to work up another appetite.

2) Fisherman's Wharf

We'd visited The Wharf during our last visit to San Francisco a couple of years ago, so I was tempted just to skip it. I'm glad we didn't, because there were plenty of new things to see.

There are the ubiquitous sea lions of Pier 39. There was an article in the paper that night that said that this was the 26th anniversary of them appearing. Apparently, they just turned up when the new docks were built, and they've stayed ever since. There's a "herder" whose job it is to clean the decks and keep them off the boats, but they're still sneaky enough to get right back onto a space they've just been shooed away from. It was interesting watching people watching the sea lions:

You can't visit the Wharf without getting a bowl of soup in a breadbowl. I thought the "half a sandwich and bowl of soup" combo would be a nice, light lunch. I was wrong:

So. Much. Bread.

We wandered around and took more photos of the pier:

And of Alcatraz:

And got photobombed by a seagull:

And then, tummies full again, we decided to tackle some of the hills of San Francisco.

3) The Cable Car Museum

The hubby found this while looking for inexpensive, non-shopping things to do. The Cable Car Museum is free of charge, and it was featured on one of Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs shows. It was a bit of a long, uphill walk to get there, but it was interesting to see the actual cables that are pulling the cable cars around the city:

It's a working site, and there were staff working on getting one of the lines back online:

And upstairs, there were displays explaining the history and inner workings of the system:

I love the ads:

Of course, if we'd really been smart, we would have taken one up the hill, but these are the kinds of lessons that make you stronger... And sore...

What goes up must come down, so we walked through Chinatown to get back to the train. It was a much easier walk with loads of interesting sights:

Including this dim sum restaurant that Obama stopped at to pick up a dim sum platter for dinner. He paid cash, apparently:

4) Burlingham

We were looking for a gentler day after the tiring day downtown, so we headed to the town of Burlingham for lunch and a wander around. I'd describe Burlingham as a high class family town: lots of cafes and shops and diversions for parents to being their children to.

There, I wandered around a stationery shop:

Complete with a huge paper selection for card-making:

And after that, we found Aida's Opera Chocolate shop, where I stopped to buy a few treats to bring home:

And the day after, we went to The Marine Mammal Museum, which I wrote about yesterday. I forgot to show you the enormous biscotti I saw at the cafe we stopped at lunch. That's something writing home about:

Well... we've been delayed another half an hour, and we've changed gates. So far, I haven't seen too many people storming the gate in anger, but the day is young. It's like blaming the rain on your umbrella: what's the point? But I have nowhere to be today, so my point of view is much more relaxed. It's encouraging to see other people comforting those that are in panicked worry. Here's hoping for a gentle journey.

Keeping calm and knitting on: