Monday, February 27, 2006

Only Forward

Before the flame was lit, I had wanted to find 'something yummy' with which to knit my bookmark. Time got ahead of me (quelle surprise) and in the end, the yarn chose me. For which I'm grateful. When I first started knitting again, after years of not, my first project was a pair of slouch socks for my mother, who has cold feet. When she wore the socks at night, she told me that her feet were warm for the first time in years. This yarn – the Olympic yarn - was from those socks. This yarn has good karma.

After the initial derailing, I got back on track. Exactly one week after the opening ceremonies, I picked up my knitting. Feeling the nubbly bumps of fuzzy stitches in my hands was like coming home. Knitting that first stitch was magic, all over again. Heaven.

By the time I’d knit the third stitch, I knew this was going to be my last project. My muscles were protesting and not the kind of protest that says ‘take it easy, go slow and you’ll get used to it’. No, it was a firm statement on behalf of my upper body that this was no longer for me. So as I knit on, I immersed myself in the process, filled my senses and my soul with yarn sliding through my hands and the clicking of the needles. Memorized knitting.

After I had finished the last stitch, I realized that something was off (some days, I’m blonder than others). Because of that first row knit by my mother, the two tails of yarn weren't on the same end, so the idea of a tassel was up against a problem. I briefly considered knitting one more row, but that didn't feel quite right - it felt almost like cheating. My Olympic goal had been one row, 16 stitches, no more. So I took a mental step back and thought about what the past sixteen days had meant to me.

My Knitting Olympics were about my personal best, about challenging myself to do something I believed I couldn’t do. Deep in my heart, unspoken, it had also been about trying again, about finding my way back to an old love I’d missed terribly.

But here's the thing: you can't go back. In life or with knitting.

I thought about the bookmark, about keeping it after I'd finished. I thought about why I would keep it. Would it be some sort of enshrined paean to a loss? Something to look at and be sad about? Would I remember losing at the Olympics or being there?

Or instead, I could start the next part of my life. Move on to wherever I'll be going, free and unencumbered by old wounds and old baggage. And that's when I realized that this has indeed been about something other than knitting, that my Olympic challenge had to do with saying a proper goodbye and letting go.

And I did.

(title shamlessly lifted... er, inspired by Michael Marshall Smith)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cat in the Box

My cat’s abiding love of bags and boxes is legendary. She once made a basket out of a large paperbag and used it as a combined play area, hang out space and safety net for months. I have two cardboard boxes in my apartment because the trauma she experiences when I try to thrown them out is heartrending.

Yesterday, a little something from Amazon (I can't help myself - it's a sickness) arrived and Mojo promptly adopted the box. She seems to think that possession is nice tenths of the law and as long as she spends a large part of the day sitting in it (while doing her utmost to up the cute factor), I’ll let her keep it.

We’ll see.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Random Day

I could claim that today’s rambling miscellany is inspired by Mamacate’s Random Wednesdays and that’d be partly true. On the other hand, it’s also true that although my brain’s percolating on some more thoughtful things, nothing has simmered long enough yet that it's worthy of you (in case you missed it, that's blatant sucking up). And then there was the writing something for people who pay me that, I’m sorry to say, got done first. (can I just take a moment to marvel/hyperventilate over the people who pay me to write bit? It still freaks me out…) So with no further ado, I'll commence blathering.

I’m a late convert to Grey’s Anatomy, but a fanatic one. That’s some excellent entertainment! Season 1 is out on DVD and I’ve spent the past week immersed in Seattle Grace Hospital. McDreamy is… well, dreamy – how does he do that thing with his eyes? I love Bailey to death, think Izzie is wonderful (how great is it to see a woman who’s sex on legs and not anorexic?), Sandra Cho deserves her award and… Well, I just love that show. Check out the writers’ blog.

TV programs used to be 50 minutes. A few years back, I taped Survivor for a friend without commercials and was shocked to discover that it was only 40 minutes. The abovementioned TV extravaganza revealed that these days, an episode is – get this – 42 minutes. FORTY-TWO MINUTES! No wonder I’ve been feeling like there’re more ads these days. I tape everything, to watch later when I can zoom through commercials. Nothing more annoying than watching an emotionally involving scene, only to be interrupted by some idiot chirpily selling something I don’t need. How do you stay immersed in the storyline when that happens?

I’ve finally found a food that Mojo’s irritable bowel appears to be tolerating (at least for now – I hope it lasts beyond the first can). Organic chicken and lobster. That cat eats better than I do. But she’s running around like a kitten again, so I’m happy.

I have somehow become the kind of person who attends art show openings and book launches. Who’d have thunk? However, it’s without dressing quite as fabulously as the women on Sex and the City. I live in Toronto. We’re way more casual here.

Dancing with the Stars. Lisa Rinna was robbed. Bastards.

Sometime last week, I googled grave wax. Don’t look at me like that, you know I’m a forensics nut (and no, ‘nut’ is not the operative word here). I found this site, on which you should click only if you think CSI should show more procedures instead of wasting time on all that silly ‘plot’ and ‘character development’. I found out that the technical word for grave wax is adipocere. Which is an incredible poetic and beautiful-sounding word. Say it out loud. Amazing, isn’t it?

Minutes after I typed that, I saw a pigeon that’d been run over right outside my building. It lay on the street, slightly ruffled, dead alright. Then it got run over again. Afterwards, it was more ruffled and bright red spattered the asphalt. Based on my reaction, it’s a good thing I’m not a CSI tech. I’d spend my entire workday crying. Fiction only for me, I think.

I’ve found out that, as John said the other day, if I feel in need of external validation (i.e., masses of comments), all I have to do is post a picture of the Tinks. Good to know.

Imagine you (theoretically) stick your hand in a kitchen drawer without quite paying attention. Imagine slicing your finger on a (very) sharp knife. Imagine going to the bathroom to get a Kleenex to wrap up the wound while holding your hand out over the armrest of your (theoretical) wheelchair to prevent getting blood on your clothes. Imagine, once the bleeding has abated, looking back and seeing red drops marking your path, like Hansel and Gretel for the vampire set. Now imagine that you’re in the middle of a supremely creepy book about Dracula. Did I mention that you (theoretically) have a vivid imagination? And are out of garlic?

Ok, dead pigeon, adipocere and vampires… Before you become convinced that I’m hopelessly morbid (which I may be), I should tell you that this past Friday, around 2pm, exactly one week after the flame was lit, I joined the Knitting Olympics and I'm catching up:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Mayor's Chair

The Market Gallery, at the St. Lawrence Market. Currently the home of a wonderful exhibit of photographic, textile and watercolour exploration of Toronto architecture by my friend Linda Goldman.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Loves

Some people say that Valentine’s Day is for lovers, just for celebrating romance. I don’t. A long time ago, I adapted it as a day to celebrate love in a much broader sense – family and friends get cards and chocolate, too. Not only is this helpful during single times (or when dating the occasional clueless man), but really… why should there be limits to expressing warm ‘n fuzzies?

This year, I’m madly in love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I got to meet my lovies for the first time. This weekend, the kidlings and their parents came to Toronto and I’m smitten. I was besotted before, but now it’s quite overwhelming. It was nice to see Janne and John, as well, but let’s face it – for this first meeting, they were really just the Tink Delivery Team (TDT).

This is what I learned about the Tinks this weekend:

Morgan likes to be centre stage and becomes quite incensed when people have fun without her (and have already perfected the “Talk To The Hand” gesture). Liam is more laid-back and can hack not being part of the action, but only as long as his sister is close to him. Once she leaves (to partake of the fun), he’ll want to come, too.

Morgan likes to fly

And Liam looks like a future blackbelt.

Both are very good sleepers, managing to snooze through a smoke alarm and five adults laughing like hyenas.

Liam knows etiquette and Morgan is a messy eater.

Morgan takes after her mother, complete with long, slender hands and feet (we call them skis) and Liam takes after his father and his grandfather. Which is really cool, as John’s father died before we had a chance to meet him, so now I feel like I know him better.

Thank you, Janne and John, for making me a Moster to two such perfect children. Now I just have to work on you accidentally leaving them behind, so I can spend much more time with them.

(pictures that include me are taken by Janne)

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Olympics So Far

The Knitting Olympics, of course...

I love casting on. For me, it’s the most immediately magical part of knitting, the complicated moves of needle and yarn creating the start of potential. Which naturally meant I fully intended to cast on myself, instead of getting someone else to do it.

Until 18 hours before Knitting Olympic start, that is. When I injured my right shoulder and elbow instinctively ramming my hand into my desk trying to slow down my chair, which had gotten the bit between its teeth. FYI? An electric wheelchair has more power than I do.

Not surprisingly, no actual knitting has occurred yet, although yesterday, I roped my mother into casting on and knitting the first row for me. 16 stitches left to go, 13 days until the flame goes out.

I haven’t given up yet.

Friday, February 10, 2006

February Happies

The antibiotics seemed to have started working around Tuesday – after a week, mind you – which is when I got up enough energy to do some paperwork I’d been avoiding with rather spectacular dilligence. Amazing how many things accumulate if you turn your back for a second. Okay, so it was more are like a week or two, but I swear, it procreates in the dark. And then there was all the other cra… er, things I’d neglected, leading to (so far) three days of being highly productive at top speeds (which naturally has caused me to by evening being capable of nothing but sitting and drooling. So attractive).

I'm still not thinking too much – although inroads have been made, the cement and my brain are currently cohabitating in my skull - so consider today's post as slowly ramping up to full speed. I've been thinking - pardon me, attempting to think – that, as the past couple of weeks have been spent most decidedly in Cranky Land, a perfect way of celebrating a return to pseudo-health would be a reinstatement of the monthly Happies post. So with no further ado, these are the things that make me happy:

Having my brain back. You have no idea.

Having a blog where you can shamelessly troll for sympathy when feeling like death warmed over. Thanks for all the good wishes!

Winter’s back. Yes, I know that this sounds like I’ve gone from cranky to crazy, but listening to birds chirping a Spring chorus outside my open window, having lunch on patios, reading in the park and popping out to the store in nothing but a light sweater in JANUARY have, despite also making me very happy, simultaneously freaked me out on a constant basis with worry about the state of the planet. Besides, I missed scenes like this:

Reading a book that takes me on a trip through Europe, with fantastic detail, atmosphere and suspense. Some people have opined that it moves too slowly, but I love the way it takes its time in the grand tradition of historians and gothic novels and slowly, ever so slowly builds the tension without you being quite aware of biting your nails. It makes me want to do nothing but read and I’m only a quarter of the way into it.

What makes you happy today?

Monday, February 06, 2006


There is a block of cement in my head. Throbbing cement. Any minute now, my eyes are going to pop out of their sockets with enough force to smash into the livingroom wall and explode on impact.

Too graphic? So sorry. I’m battling a sinus infection and so far, the blasted thing is hard to dislodge.

I'm feeling kind of sorry for myself. Oh, hell. There's no 'kind of' about it. I've reached that pathetic whiny place you get to when you've been sick for what feels like years, so long that you've forgotten what 'healthy' feels like, lost your sense of humour and just want to curl up on the couch wrapped in a cozy blanket with lots of hot liquids, a good book and perhaps later, a decent movie that doesn't demand too much of you.

Blogging will resume once the cement has vacated and there’s room for my brain again. I'm hoping for Wednesday. In the meantime, I'll be mainlining vitamin C.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Blogger's (Silent) Poetry Reading

Via Grace’s Poppies (through Stephanie), this lovely idea calls for posting a favourite poem to mark February 2, a day of many celebrations. One of my favourites is Imbolc (Creating Textiles found this link to a fantastic explanation of the festival).

The first time I heard a part of this poem was in the Movie “Truly, Madly, Deeply”. Its sadness and determination spoke more deeply to me than any other poem I’d ever heard or read. I looked for it for ages and finally found it in this book, where I also discovered that the poet – Pablo Neruda from Chile – wrote heartbreaking, soul shattering poetry of such transcendent beauty and truth that they penetrated deep into my heart. I am (slowly) learning Spanish for one reason only: so I can read Neruda in the original.

The excerpt I first heard, and am posting, is snipped from two places in the poem The Dead Woman (La Muerta). Years later, when I read the full text, it spoke to me even more.

The Dead Woman

If suddenly you do not exist,
If suddenly you no longer live,
I shall live on.


No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
If you, beloved, my love,
If you have died,
All the leaves will fall in my breast,
In will rain on my soul night and day,
The snow will burn my heart,
I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow,
My feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but
I shall stay alive […]

- Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sequins and Spandex

The best bit of television these days is Dancing with the Stars. B (and C and D) list celebrities are paired with professional ballroom dancers and the results are astoundingly entertaining. It’s cheesy, it’s funny – both almost-intentionally and not – it’s got great dancing and horrible dancing and it is the perfect cure for a bad day. If you haven’t watched yet, tune in to ABC on Thursday at 8pm, bring popcorn, chocolate and a feather boa and prepare to go on a vacation from it all.

The hosts are incomparable. Tom Bergeron’s naughty jokes are oddly funny and if you had a drinking game around the times he says “very nice!” to the couple coming off the dance floor, you’d be slurring halfway into the show. Samantha Harris is a mesmerizing trainwreck with her flapping arms, oddly booming voice and agonizing, absolutely cringe-inducing interviews.

The judges? Well, the judges add to the perfection. Len Goodman’s British fussiness, Bruno Tonioli’s excitement (I swear one of these days he’ll explode with exuberance) and Carrie Ann Inaba? Well, actually… let’s sidetrack a moment. In the first season, Inaba was DSW’s Simon Cowell: harsh, blunt and always right. Apparently the focus groups didn’t like that in a woman, so now she’s all about the feelings and being nice to the contestants. Blatant bit of sexism, but I don’t care enough to stop watching.

And the “celebrity dancers”? Oh, my… I used to think Drew Lachey and his partner were good in a bland way, but then last week, they did a sizzling paso doble. Tia Carrere is a vision of elegance and loveliness (and the bastard producers have it in for her), Stacy Keibler (professional wrestler) is being set up to win – yes, it’s probably fixed, but again, who cares? She’s technically great (although I wish they’d stop with the “stretch-Stacy’s-long-legs” pose), but dances too much with her head and not at all with her heart. Lisa Rinna is high on life, a hoot to watch and a surprisingly good dancer, Jerry Rice is still geriatric and George Hamilton makes me laugh every time he’s on screen (and at 76, he’s giving some of the others a run for their money). Thankfully, last week Master P got voted off after 4 weeks of lumbering around the dance floor like Frankenstein’s monster (but with less rhythm) while his partner Ashly DelGrosso worked so hard she managed to make him look… well, not good, but less catastrophic.

As for the professional partners? Wow. Incredible. I took ballroom dancing lessons as a child (before the wheelchair) and let me tell you… these people ROCK!

And then you get to do it again on Fridays for the result show, which is an hour’s worth of the most inane filler, interspersed with stunning professional demonstrations of how dancing’s supposed to look, before the last 5 minutes of booting off a contestant. Last week, The Pussycat Dolls were on. I think they’re supposed to be a girl group – singers, y’know, but to me, they looked like more like one sort-of singer, with a backdrop of gyrating exotic dancers occasionally moaning into microphones.

How much do I like this show? Not only do I not answer the phone on Thursdays from 8-9:30, except for when my mother and I talk in commercials to discuss the performances (sorry for outing you, mor), but – get this! - I’ll be taping Survivor.