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Family Changes, Part One

Forgive me if I’m a bit scattered.  I’m coming off the end of a migraine and my brain is more aphasia-prone than normal.  (Incidentally, I find it funny and ironic that I can usually remember the word aphasia*, even if I’m feeling it.

Anyways.  This is the first in a series of three about some recent changes in our little family.  About a month ago, my darling niece Z___ came to live with us.  She’s 16, and entirely funny and wonderful.  I have guardianship of her, so she and I have been explaining things as basically, it’s like we adopted her and now she has bonus extra siblings and parents.  I’m not sure how much of a bonus the siblings seem like sometimes when they are fighting with each other – or lamenting whatever**- but she seems happy here and we are very happy to have her around.

She’s going to be finishing up her high school – if we ever get in to the guidance counsellor at her school! – and that will be online courses.  And more exciting (for me), she’s started running!  I have a running buddy!  We are very slow runners; and although we are both tall and fairly lean we each seem to have sad, asthma afflicted lungs, so our cardio is our weak point.  We did run one 5K; and we run every other day.  While we aren’t tearing up the track with our speed, I know that I for sure feel better after a run.  That’s my whole motivation for running, actually: I just feel so good after a run.  I know the cardio benefits are good, and the impact bearing exercise is a good preventative for osteoporosis, and blah blah, but really: I’m running for my brain.  Other benefits are secondary.

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This is me at the end of the the 5K colour run, and that wore the new right off those sneakers!  Z____ got new running gear at the same time (it was her back-to-school outfit), and while they used to be incandescent, they no longer hurt the eyes when you look directly at them.

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I did get all the colours out of my white running bra, but those shoelaces are still turning my fingers turquoise.

All right, I’m going to go make a pie.  It’s random, I agree, but I’m not quite focused enough for clever segues.

*Aphasia – it’s basically when something is up with your brain and you can’t word very well.  Transient aphasia is common for migraine sufferers and thankfully it’s mild for me.   No long term brain injuries here, thanks.


The Things That I Already Know…

Every so often I get a chance to relearn things that I already know.  I’m not talking about the lessons that haven’t quite stuck yet – something that I have yet to learn is to wait a moment when I open the oven door.  There is always a poof of steam and it always fogs up my glasses.  Although I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five, and cooking with varying rates of success since I was ten or so, I have yet to not fog up my glasses when I go to check on something in the oven.

No, I’m talking about things that I really do know.  In this case, it’s the fact that it’s a good idea to switch to a smaller size needle to do the ribbing at the hem of a sweater.  I’ve learned this through reading (Elizabeth Zimmerman, you darling), and the hard way as well.  “Why does that flip up like that and look floppy?… Maybe I’ll pick out the bind off and re knit the hem…  Hey look that worked… Huh…”

I’ve had that one figured out for a long time, like, a decade plus.  And given the amount I knit, I kind of feel like it’s the equivalent of knowing that a letter “t” needs to be crossed.  It just does.

So imagine how agog I was when I looked at the sweater I’m working on* and realized that I’d charged through 2″ of ribbing at the hem and NEVER EVEN THOUGHT about changing needles.  I did mull garter vs. seed stitch vs. ribbing; but changing needle size?  It literally NEVER CROSSED MY MIND.  I don’t think the capslock button is accurately reflecting how agog I am that.  I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

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I’m proud to say that at least I DID actually look at what I was doing once I realized it, and evaluated it, instead of just telling myself that no, it will be perfectly fine just like it is, then casting off, then hating it.

Instead, I looked at it, yanked the needles out, yanked the ribbing out, found a smaller needle, picked up all the stitches, and resumed my K1, P1 rib.  Although I’m filled with resentment about it**, I am almost done (again).  Hopefully for reals this time; words don’t do this garment justice.  It really needs pictures.

*Sweater is perhaps a generous term.  It started off as an Enchanted Mesa, by Stephen West, but it’s taken some left turns and now is more like a tunic.  I hope.  The yarn is a 50/50 cotton wool that I overdyed a long time ago.  Deliciously soft.

**My own darn fault.  It never even crossed my mind!

Fruit, Jam, Pie, Oh My..

I spent a happy part of last week at a farmer’s market, showing great restraint.  I really felt sad that I’d missed the Rainier cherries in July… imagine my delight when I found them in mid-August!

They cost about one million dollars, but I bought them and promptly ate an irrational amount.

I also got a flat of rasperries to make freezer jam; a box of blueberries which I turned into pie filling (also frozen), ten pounds of saskatoons, some peaches, some dumplings and some curry, pea shoots for salad, and that’s all.


Like I said, I showed restraint.  The raspberries were promptly turned into jam, and a couple pounds of saskatoons* became a pie.  I pre-cook the filling, and the leftover syrup was lovingly drizzled over the maple-vanilla ice cream.  (I got an ice cream maker.  Have been making all the lactose-free ice cream all summer.)


Everything turned out so well!  The maple/saskatoon was a particularly beautiful combo, although the saskatoon pie was possibly my best pie ever.  I’d post a photo of that, but after an hour of wrestling with the ipad and the laptop, to try and figure out the easiest way to post photos, I’m out of patience.  So imagine a delicious pie instead.

I have been knitting too, of course, but more about that later.  Off to the day’s to-do list!

*Saskatoon is both the name of a city in Saskatchewan** and a kind of fruit.  It’s a berry that’s delicious.

As I Drift Off, Almost Every Night…

Almost every night as I’m falling asleep, my brain starts popping up with clever ideas for blog posts.  Inevitably, I wake up to a busy day and completely forget whatever it was I was going to say…

(Spoiler alert: I had a great idea but it’s gone now so this is just going to be a rambling post.)

It’s been a while.  In short, Italy and France was fantastic.  Truly lovely,  and I’m looking forward to going through my photos and memories and posting about some of my favourite experiences.

We got back from holiday, and fell into the mad swoop of the end of the school year.  Both girls are doing well, although I think E’s heart might break a bit when kindergarten starts and she doesn’t have her (much-loved) pre-K teacher.  I’ve tried to explain, but it’s hard to say how much her busy little four year old brain has processed.

Summer holidays are going well.  We spent most of the first two weeks at splash parks here in town, then we went to Saskatchewan* for a couple weeks.  July was the quieter of the two months; August had a wedding we travelled to, and there’s a family reunion this weekend (again in Saskatchewan**).  Next weekend is the playground build here on our cul-de-sac… Did I not mention the playground?  I’ve played a very small part in helping to replace the playground here on our block.  Raffle tickets, grant applications, and planning, oh my.

I’ve also reorganized the kids’ rooms – from having seperate bedrooms to sharing one!  They are both very excited about it; it’s a big thrill and a treat.  I suspect the double bunk beds help. :)


This is a panoramic of their room – I didn’t repaint, but the furnishings are new to the room/repurposed.  Each bunk has a curtain that can be closed.


These are the steps for the bunk bed – I had one of the step chests from Ikea in E’s room, and I got another (which I merrily chopped down one step), and now there are stairs AND storage!  Book shelves for the win!

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Each of the dressers are new, and above them I put some of the artwork I feel is special for each of my girls.  Their names are really neat – when we were in Hawaii four years ago, there was a street artisan who painted them for us.  Each letter is made up of different images.


And the piece de resistance – a disco ball.  It rotates, and has little LED lights that are quite hypnotizing.  I admit to wanting one for myself, too.  Disco ball and dressers and steps are from Ikea; the bed is from a company in BC that ships to Calgary for free.  All in all, everyone is delighted with the room.

Their room is the biggest project I’ve finished lately – I keep trying to pick raspberries from the yard, but I tragically forget to take a bowl so I have to eat them all!  There aren’t really enough to do anything but eat anyhow.  It’s a memorial garden for my Gramma – she had the most extraordinary raspberry FOREST when I was little.   The patch is only in its third year; next year I think it’ll produce enough to maybe make one little batch of jam.  Until then, it’s berries from the farmer’s market for me.  Or a U-pick farm, although I don’t think there’s enough time to accomplish that…

So, this isn’t quite an essay about how I spent my summer, but it’s pretty close, and the laundry is waiting for me.  Hopefully I’ll remember the clever blog ideas in future, although you, dear reader, may be stuck with a random slapdash*** for a while.

*This trip, the man and I divided and conquered which means that I drove the kids down seperately.  It’s a LONG DRIVE when you aren’t knitting or sleeping…

**This time, we are all travelling together, so I’ll be knitting! Hurray!

***I know, I know.  Random slapdash is one of my strengths.

Happy Long Weekend!

Well, if you’re in Canada, it’s a long weekend.  If you’re me, it’s a holiday… We’re in Italy!

I love Venice!  I have to say it.  Despite all the problems and concerns, I love Venice.  Sure, it smells, it’s overpriced and full of tourists… But it’s wonderful.  We spent several hours at the Lido today and it was a really fantastic beach.  The sea was a tad cold but I guarantee that it was warmer than lakes in Alberta!


(Mithril and my pale pale thighs at the Lido.)

The littles are delighted this far, and I’m excited to have holiday time with my family.  The fact that it’s in Italy is so very much a bonus!



Happy Mother’s Day

I say that because I am a happy mother, and I am fortunate enough to have a happy relationship with all the mothers that are in my life.*

But what really fills me with joy is gratitude for what makes me a mother – my man and my girls.  They are splendid and I adore them.**


We had a wonderful day today.  The ground in the garden is still too frozen to work and there was ice frozen onto the deck cushions, but it did not snow today so I’m calling it a win.

I hope you have as much happiness (but maybe less mud) in your life.


*I know that this is not the case for all of us.  Mother’s Day can have almost as many emotional landmines as mothers themselves.  Plus, all the twee “Mothers love you unconditionally forever” dreck on facebook is irritating, at best.

**They are not perfect though.

Slightly Different Crafts Than Usual…

Well.  The Smart Cover of my iPad busted, and long story short, there are not a lot of iPad accesories out there. Everything is for the iPad Air, which is lovely, I’m sure, but not what I have.

So instead of getting nothing, I sprang* for a quite fabulous cover that has a keyboard too.  And I’m in love!  I haven’t been blogging much, and part of that is because there’s been a disconnect between where my pictures are (hi apple products) and where I prefer to type (hi laptop).

So now, theoretically, I can insert pictures more easily.  The keyboard is more compressed than I am used to and I’m sure that will take some getting used to… but it is easily one million times better than a touch screen for anything longer than a paragraph,

I’ve been knitting away, but today’s crafting has been ornamenting things to get ready for a holiday… first, to customize Hello Kitty ballcaps for the girls.  This is the ‘before’.  Permanent fabric markers in purple, pink, orange, blue, and green have all been used.


And then some cool patches for their backpacks.  Amoryn is quite taken with hand sewing, and insisted on helping with hers.  She did a very very fine job, although she did need help with the tangles a bit.


You don’t like appliques of cupcakes?  Clearly you are not seven.

*I anticipated that the Smart Cover would be forty or fifty bucks… and this is roughly twice that.  But!  Does everything that the Smart Cover would have AND has a functioning blue tooth keyboard.  We’re living in the future!!!!!

His Golden Lair Errata (v2.9)

Well, this one is all mine.  Actually, all of the errata are my fault – but this one smarts because I “corrected” something in v2.8 and instead of fixing up one small error in a line, I added another error to it.  Which does not actually fix anything.

So, version 2.9 is now correct to the best of my abilities.  Again, I sincerely apologize if this caused any of you confusion or irritation.  I certainly hope that I am humble, and it certainly seems like His Golden Lair is here to make sure I stay that way.  It was ambitious to include fully written instructions in such an intricate pattern, and while I’m glad that I did*, I’m trying to figure out a better way to proofread in the future.

So, please stop by Ravelry ( http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/his-golden-lair ) or your Ravelry library to download the newest version.  The exact errata for v2.9 (and anything downloaded after Apr. 27, 2014) corrects the following error in the written instructions:

In Section VII, R5, the both repeats should end with a “p3” not a “k3”.

Hope all is going well and you are enjoying spring – I myself was just debating whether I feel stronger about snow in April or errata I’ve made myself…

*I’ve actually gotten lots of feedback from people that they wouldn’t have tried knitting HGL from the charts, that they are not comfortable with charted knitting.

Knitting Classes!

Are you in the Calgary area and want to add to your knitting skills?  This Saturday Apr. 26 & next Saturday May 3, Alana will be teaching a class at the Loop using my Praline pattern.

You’ll need to call the Loop to register, a copy of the pattern, 180 6/0 seed beads, and 400 yards of fingering weight yarn.  (And  a 0.6 mm crochet hook & a 3.25 mm (US 3) 24″ circular needle).  I do believe you can get most all of those things through the Loop… 403-457-3020 or theloopkensington (at) gmail.com

The class is noted as “Advanced Beginner” and you can work on basic skills plus repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.  And adding beads!

Full information is here:


PS: I’ve taken several cracks at adding in images as Praline is one of my favorites, but the technology is set on foiling me today.  Sigh.  Here’s the Ravelry page, if you care to follow the link you can feast your eyes on the beauty… http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/praline-2

Confession Time.

There’s something going on that I haven’t shared with many people outside my family.  I’ve felt a little awkward about it, but I think it’s time to share this information.

I’m taking Grade 12 English and it’s kicking my spare time around like nobody’s business.  I’m contemplating re-education and a major career shift in the next several years, so I started upgrading high school English to try and get my mind into the swing of learning.  I also hoped that it would be the easiest class to compress – there’s a trip to Italy in a month*!  The tentative plan is to do other classes over the next year, so when the kids are both in full-time school, I’ll have the potential to do the same.

English Language Arts 30A is quite different than what I remember from twenty years ago in another province.  Granted, most of my memories of 1994 involved the heartbreak of my parents’ marriage ending and the general angst of being seventeen – but I’m delighted with the lack of Steinbeck.  The amount of self-reflection is interesting; I think it makes for a curriculum the student can feel involved with.  It also makes me a little uncomfortable; I’m used to introspection and sharing information here on the blog or in real life, but I’m not accustomed to sharing based on someone else’s assignments and timelines.

The biggest challenge has been coordinating the littles’ schedules and my man’s travel schedule with my homework schedule.  I tried to anticipate this, and went through and customized a schedule which took into account the travel time and any long school breaks.  It worked well for the first month… then there was the flu for all of us, and a cold that turned into a sore throat which was really tonsillitis for the smallest.  Now, I am still technically ahead of the deadlines, but I’m quite far behind my personal deadlines.  This is dual-purpose writing; I couldn’t get my mental teeth sunk into writing a narrative about myself as a learner until I mentally rephrased in terms of writing a blog post.  I’m killing two birds with one pencil, so to speak.

My other challenge is not overthinking.  I’ve decided to upgrade my (previously terrible) high school marks, and all I need to focus on is the next assignment.  I don’t need to roll myself up into a ball contemplating what I really want in life, what my family currently needs, what it will need into the future; if going to University full-time would make my children feel unloved, how much the man’s work is going to intensify in the next decade, if that will impact… I think you see the morass I can think myself into.

So, in the interests of staying focused, I’m going to sign off on this assignment/blog post, and get to work on the next projects for today: getting the kids from school and then finding a turkey.  Have a great Easter weekend!


*I’ll be back just in time for the final.