Saturday, November 29, 2008

Once upon a time

There was a little girl; she was known as Pinky for the longest time, because .. well, she had pink hair. When she was 3 she began school in the Lycee Louis Pasteur in Calgary. She picked up a working knowledge of the french language quite quickly, though she never really spoke it in my presence. She was shy...

Mostly because of financial reasons, and partly because she was entitled; at 5, she was moved to the Francophone school system in Calgary. For those years of my life I became extremely adept at Babel Fish... as an Anglophone I wasn't very welcome by some teachers and staff members so you learn to help yourself under the circumstances.

The little girl's first grade teacher was particularly difficult, and almost immediately she was labeled by the teacher as a low achiever. I didn't believe it initially, but in time it became clear that something was amiss. We were fully launched into the world of testing.. by the school, by the Developmental Program at the Alberta Children's Hospital, and eventually by the Calgary Catholic School Board. It all came out the same... she was learning disabled with a low average IQ.

It also became clear to me that we could no longer struggle with the Francophone system; we were not welcome there, it was too hard to fight for what she needed, and also somewhat unfair to expect her to translate in and out of french (since it was not our first language at home, and I didn't speak it at all)... So we arrived at the door of St. Angela school for the first day of grade three, and prayed that they would take her. Grade three.. doesn't sound like much, does it? By that time she'd been in school full time for 5 years. Struggling.

They accepted her.

It was bumpy at first... The Francophone school had no record of her attending grade 2. Somehow it appeared that she had been held back and repeated grade 1. Untrue. Without the help of a specific teacher at St. Angela I would never have known that I had rights as a parent. She told me how to navigate the system, and I did so. Thank God, they placed her in grade 3 with her peers. My mom had just survived cancer, my son had just died; somehow we couldn't face her being outside of norm for even one more second. My ideas of success had changed.. I wanted her to be happy at school. I wanted her to read. I wanted her to play. I didn't really care what language she did it in.

She spent grades 3 through 6 at St. Angela, and while there she was loved and supported by a number of strong, capable women (and one really great janitor who created a dream of her growing up to be a nurse). To be honest, I don't know what we would have done without them. They always went above and beyond the call of duty.

The girl wasn't so little any more, and in time she moved on to St. Alphonsus to attend Junior High. The safety net isn't as wide, and I was so, so afraid that she'd fall through the cracks. How to get this child through high school successfully? How?

Advocate. Same as always.

During the first year of high school, she won the awards for math and health. I was shocked to my very core that I'd been invited to the ceremony... I figured she must have won Miss Congeniality, or something in the realm. While the Principal was discussing the math award I noticed that she was talking to.. me. Facing me. Could it be possible? This child cannot tell time. Cannot count money. Doesn't, in high school, understand the most basic facts. Could she be getting the math award?

She did. She earned it based purely on effort and improvement.

I cried for 3 days. I thought my heart might explode from pride. It was her most outstanding moment, and I thought.. gosh, if we ever have another moment like that it would be so lovely.. yet unlikely. I didn't dream high enough.

Yesterday that same girl came into my work with her report card, and in it was an invitation for her and I to attend the Honour Roll Breakfast Buffet together to celebrate her success in all areas of her classwork. I have one friend who attends these regularly with her daughter, and it has become .. well, normal. I never, not for one split second, thought I'd get tickets to that dance.

When, lately, the girl talked to me about being on the honour roll, I tried to explain to her that it was highly unlikely (under the circumstances, you understand) and that she shouldn't get her hopes up.

Fundamental error on my part. Good Lord, how could I make a mistake of that magnitude?

So next week we go together.. her and I.. and we're going to celebrate her success on a major scale. And I'm going to cry... because I don't believe I've ever been prouder of her efforts and her commitment. I am so lucky to have this child.. not because she wins awards, but because she is a really, really nice person who works hard and reaches for success (amoung so many other good qualities).

Congratulations Mug. We sure do love you.

I am so. so. so. happy. I cannot even imagine how you're going to surprise me next, but I have total confidence that you will.

Love, Mom
xoxoxo (times 1 million)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maximum Irony

You should have a look at 'Cake Wrecks'. I found the link on Kayla's facebook page. Too, too funny.


It's a word I read today on the Rainey Sisters' blog. I think it's a great word. Just thought I'd throw that in. Speaking of words, *ahem*, I read about 'frenemies' the other day, and that struck a cord, tho I don't think I have any frenemies any more.. I got too old for it.

I haven't been doing anything outstanding.. some simple Christmas knitting (piece after piece after piece), and I've been spinning for Miss Darts and Tori. The spinning took a turn for the worse when I decided that I'd ply from a centre pull ball instead of spinning onto two bobbins. Well, the over-spun single (cuz I'm looking for a particular look, and I need to start this way) decided that it would be best to cling to itself and I ended up with a serious case of yarn barf. It took me ages to work out the worst of it, and I still ended up throwing away yarn. Hate.That. If the yarn works out, it's gonna be very darned groovy, but I suspect that it's worsted weight, not DK.

(Photo illustrates yarn barf only, and unfortunately is not my spinning)

I read some blogs today... there's some amazing writing out there, that's for darned sure. Have a look at a few, right after you vote for our Harlot. Cuz we're her peeps, right?

(Ok.. that might have been stretching it a bit - but I'm feeling delusional)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And my heart was in my throat

By some miracle, I fell upon the flickr photostream of latelierduchatnoir, a woman who spins the way I wish I could, who uses colour in a way I only dream of, and who has an amazing eye with photography. I spent some time last night clicking through her pictures, one after another. Admiring the light, the tones, and wondering how this creativity flows from one person. I know a few people who have 'it'. I think that's pretty lucky.

I love this picture, and this one, and this one.

I also wondered what she liked, so I clicked on her favorites and to my absolute shock and pleasure I saw that two of her favorite photos are MY spinning. How could that even BE? I don't even have words to describe how this thrills me.

And she likes a Tabacheck. Now that's saying something.

I ask you...

Why is it that people can't count to 4? Sometimes they can barely make it as far as the number 2 before they lose count.

5 (yes, 5. I'm sure) days a week I go through a 4 way stop on the way to school, and it just boggles the mind how many times there is a fiasco in the intersection.

(picture above represents #2 as having blown the line already. #'s 1, 3, & 4 are sitting there swearing - but hopefully under their breath, as there are imaginary kids in the cars).

Kick the Ginger day update: There isn't one. To date it would appear that the school hasn't had an assembly. No note has come home. I had a message that the teacher would call, but due to sickie-cell-phone-anemia I didn't actually hear from anybody. Mug tells me that they took her aside again, but instead of the teacher bullying her, they basically said that they thought she was being bullied by, and was covering for, the kicker. So the matter is dropped, tho the accused did get suspended.

When Mug was in grade 3 in the Catholic system a kid brought a knife to school, which he brandished while in line. The only way I knew this was because I happened to BE in he lineup with Mug. The Principal didn't think it was necessary to alert parents about the incident. I thought she was wrong. There were discussions.

I feel the same way now. I'm expecting a note saying.. geez.. sorry we were in the news the other day, here is our plan for the future.

At very least.

I'm spinning some neutral coloured soy silk for she of the Tangled Arts. She has a plan for Tori, and I'm helping out. I'm really excited about it.

Flickr seemed OK there for a while, but now it's busted again. Geez. Think they'll give me a rebate? ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh dear, I'm having a problem

Something has happened to Flickr on my computer. If using Safari or Firefox, I cannot see any pictures that are on Flickr. Mine, or others. It takes forever to cycle, but eventually I just get the words that are associated with image files. I cannot see anything but words on the Flickr site itself.

I'm thinking one of the darling children have somehow changed a setting, but I have no clue what. I clicked on Help, and it won't load.

Any ideas?

The zen of spinning

Warning! I took these pictures on BF's camera, and his setting takes a picture as big as a house. Bigger than real life! So unless you want to count my wraps per inch, and really check out spinning errors, don't click! Or.. click to enHUGEen.

Flickr isn't flickring tonight.. so this is gonna take a while. You've got the time, don't you? Me? I'm up at 2am, tho I'm totally exhausted, because Roxy had a bath tonight and she feels it is imperative to nibble her feet all night. I cannot get her to stop. If she's not asleep when I go back upstairs, I'm going to find alternate sleeping arrangements that does not include dogs on the bed.

Anyway.. you might know that things have been a bit stressful for me lately, plus I have strep and an ear infection again. I think I'm wrung out. The solution? Spin. And spin. And spin.

I had 6 bobbins of a jacketed hogget cormo that just needed to be plied, so I dragged them out and gave them a whirl. Now, here's what I have.

1. Skein of scoured, unprepared in any other way... just spun from the locks.

2. Skein of scoured, hand carded locks.

3. Skein of scoured, flick carded locks.

All three skeins have been spun thick and thin, finished, and tho there is still minimal VM (especially in the natural locks), they are a pretty cream colour, and I'm very happy. I won't dye any of it. This yarn is so soft and bouncy I don't have words to describe it.

What I learned is:

- I am a pretty lousy hand carder. Must practice that.
- It's hard for me to spin art-type yarn... If I lose concentration, my spinning reverts to consistent fingering weight. Then.. ooops!.. back to art yarn.
- A dog comb used as a flick carder will go straight through your jeans. It won't take long either.
- I absolutely adore cormo. It might be my favorite fleece ever.
- I learned a lot about how NOT to wash a fleece. I basically have a cloud the size of a laundry basket, but, it's not a total loss, and in fact it hasn't been a loss at all, I just altered my spinning.
- I think i'm going to flick card the rest, and I think I'm going to force myself to start throwing out short and really dirty parts. We have a compost. I can use it. The world won't end if I don't spin every single inch.
- I think it might be ok to cut off the tips of a hogget fleece sometimes. They are too little to be jacketed at first, so the tips are a bit frazzed.
- Starting from a fleece is hard, but worth it. Times a thousand.

OK.. moving on.

2 skeins of Llama-down, purchased carded from Lars of West Mountain Farm, Inc., Stamford, Vermont. I met Lars Garrison and his wife Gaye at Rhinebeck. They have decided to sell off their animals. If you can get your hands on any of this fleece, do so. It is amazing, and I could just kick myself for not buying more. This is my first real attempt at unsupported long draw. I'm very happy with my initial results. The takeup on my wheel isn't strong enough, so it's kind of a tough go... but I did as well as I could. The yarn is soft and very springy.

Coils! It's my first try, and the skein is loaded with errors.. I did everything wrong I think, but I'm still stupid thrilled with the results. I think the singles needed to be spun tighter and I need to figure out how to do this without coiling up the core thread so bad that it breaks. Technique = 0. Pretty = 10.

I picked the roving because I thought the dye job sucked. In reality, it kicks butt.

Now. Can somebody tell me what the heck one does with a coiled skein???

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kick a ginger day

Sometimes the internet is a terrible thing. Do a search on 'Kick a ginger day', and see how many reports you'll find on red headed kids who were battered last Thursday. Unfortunately Mug's school is one of those you could read about. And, she falls under the sub-heading of 'ginger'.

So here's a twist...(I reserve the right to adjust this story, as I haven't spoken with the school yet). She wasn't kicked; yet a girl at school is accused of doing so (kicking Mug, I mean) and seems to be under threat of suspension, or expulsion, or in Mug-land, a fine (hmmmm, that's a new one). If I understand Mug correctly, she said that the girl is innocent.

To the South Park writer who started this, and the goof-ball who decided to make a Facebook group, thanks so much. Lots of kids got beaten over your brilliance. Mug could easily have been one of them.

Scares me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A boy and his dog

Mutual devotion at its finest.

That is one goofy dog, I have to say. He thinks he's a people. We think he's a cat.

As an aside.. the BF's head is too small. I knitted him a Turn a Square hat today, and it's too big. You and I both know that it has nothing to do with gauge. Not a thing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It snowed

This morning when I woke up I heard the strangest scratchy noise outside.. turns out that BFML was leaving early to attend a hockey coaching workshop and he was scraping the ice from his windshield. It's been quite a long time since I last heard that sound.

Later in the morning I had to pick up Mug from a sleepover, and on the way there was a vehicle vs. C-train accident (C-train always wins these). By the time I was on my way back home there were more emergency vehicles than you can even imagine, plus a number of lane closures.

This evening we were coming back from customer appreciation day at Chapters (seems they don't appreciate me as much as their flier would indicate) and there was a big 3 vehicle pileup.

So.. hello snow. It'll be a while yet before we remember how to drive in you safely.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some really great links

(Note to some sisters: Does Blogless-C have a laptop? It would be so good if she did)

Ok.. at the retreat I missed Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's class on Knitting for Speed and Efficiency (a long story involving a teenager and complete lack of sleep on my part). I have been asking people to show me what they learned, and I have a basic idea of how to do it with a 14" straight (I haven't attempted her method on DPNs yet). At first it seemed really natural and almost second nature. I feel that it might have been the way I was taught when I was 4 years old, and that somehow I created a less efficient knitting style as the years went on. Anyway.. after some practicing, I am getting worse and worse. I'm going to master it though, because I want to. Period.

Because of the 'can't turn off the head' issue, I'm now looking at gazillions of posts and videos on knitting techniques. YouTube is a wonderful place, is it not? If you aren't a member of Ravelry (why aren't you?) you could visit YouTube, and search 'How I Knit'. If you are a member, then click on this link. You'll need some time. Bring a snack.

If you don't feel like watching knitting technique videos, then do visit Amy Singer's November 14th blog entry and have a boo at an amazing little story teller. My head is still spinning with the pure enormity of a child's imagination.

Once you are finished hearing Capucine's story, perhaps you'd like to enjoy Djembe Man for a little while.

Djembe Man from Capucha on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Since I last wrote

I received the bill for the Rhinebeck UTI. $800 something, USD. In case you've ever wondered if travel insurance is worth it, the answer is yes.

The Border Leicester fleece (1st 6 mos. clip) that I bought in Rhinebeck arrived. Yay. S'lovely. I bought it from Meadowland Farm (Hinesburg, VT), and Sue's business card has neither a website nor an email address. I kind of love that.

I went to the Make One Retreat in Kananaskis... what a beautiful, marvelous, amazing place. I met lots of fabulous people, ate THE very best veggie burger ever (thank you Stephanie for hooking us up). And Scarlett slept with me. For those of you who are unaware, Scarlett is the queen bee of all dogs, and she doesn't just hand out affection to each and all. We have a special relationship now.. I'm not allowed to look at her, or acknowledge that she's in my sphere, and in exchange, she lets me breathe the same air as she does. It's an amazing victory on my part.

View from our room, Delta, Kananaskis

Nancy Bush borrowed my lace weight drop spindle for the weekend. I don't think she actually used it, but I'm going to imagine that she did. (It's the little one on the left)

My spindles

I was the person who handed Cookie A the very first copy of her book. For real!

I've knitted mittens and mittens and mittens. Many more rights than absolutely necessary, to be frank. Apparently I am an unconscious right-knitter.

I saw my Nini tonight. She is completely and absolutely enthralled with Dora... so we watched it 3 times. What are Nans for anyway, if not for giving little girls the world on a platter?

Teenagers are stressful. Take my word for it. Teenage girls take the cake some days/weeks/months. If teenage girls were an earthquake, ours would be a 7.5. I thought I should mention that our kids are: 26 (married, and gone...), 14, 13, 12, and 9. All but the 9 y/o are girls. My house is a cloud of estrogen.

Speaking of exhaustion, I have been wiped out since Rhinebeck. 'I can barely function' kind of exhausted. I keep saying that I'm going to the doctor, but I'm too tired to get there.

My glasses arrived. The left eye is perfect and I really love the frames.

I now own 7 tiaras. One came with a wand. It sparkles.

After the retreat, BFML, the kids and I went to the Banff Hot Springs. It was hot and springy. It was snowing a little bit, and we really enjoyed it. I wore a t-shirt into the pool and felt just as fat as if I hadn't worn it, plus extra stupid because I was the only person in the pool with one on.

Banff Hotsprings

I also went to Jacques Cartier and bought a little more Qivuit fiber. Perhaps we bought a little fudge on the trip. Maybe.

Big Bear at the fudge store in Banff

I have the yarn all picked out to knit THE JARED SCARF. I never, ever would have guessed I'd fall into that one.. but the Silk Garden threw me over the edge.

And last.. but certainly not LEAST.. because it's actually so flipping amazing that I could weep from joy. The Twist Collective finally accepted my $7.00 US, and I have the pattern for Kingscot in my hand. I.SO.DO. Tiny glitch: I thought I had yarn for it, but I don't. I'm going to imaginary knit until I get that sorted out.

So there you go. Some stuff since I last wrote. How were you?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fixing things

I had a number of projects in various stages of dire straights...

For example, the set of 3 right mittens now have one right and one left. Fixed 'em.

Basic Mitts

And a pair of 'Noro Silk Garden Sock' socks... The second one just didn't want to be knitted; it'd been on and off the needles a half dozen times as I made every kind of error known to man. Fixed 'em.

Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn

Most importantly, I had been having a rough time with the Secret Garden. I had completed charts A and B, and realized that I had a dropped stitch that had slipped all the way through chart B. While I was on the flight to Newark, I tinked it back. Stitch by stitch. I re-knit and while holding it up to celebrate my success, I noticed that I had missed two rows. Aunty Tink.. well.. tinked (actually, she frogged). Yesterday I finally felt well enough to knit, so me and chart B are finished with each other. Three times lucky, right?

Secret Garden, Charts A and B

Secret Garden, Charts A & B

And finally? I fixed the twist on some spinning. I bought this Mulberry/Superfine Merino fiber from the Fold at Rhinebeck. I'm really happy with the results, and wish that I had more.

2 ply merino/silk blend handspun

And psssst.... Pumper #1 was parked down the street from me. All those fellas seemed to be having a break in the park. As they should.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

He loves waffles, and I love him

belgian waffles
Originally uploaded by spinknit

He's not even here right now (bgaidan, that is), but he'd told me last week that he was running low (I make a big batch, and freeze them for his breakfast each weekday morning). Now I have enough in the freezer to keep him happy for 2 weeks.

Last weekend I heard him tell his dad to never, ever, EVER buy eggos again. It made me so darned happy.

Just incase you'd like waffles too, here's the recipe I came up with. I healthied them up a bit, and I'm sure you could tune them up even moreso.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2 beaten eggs, 1/2c oil, and 1-3/4c milk. I add about 1/2 tsp. vanilla. The real stuff.

In another medium bowl, combined 1-3/4c flour, 1 Tbs. baking powder, & 1/4 tsp. salt. I add about 1/4c or more of ground flax seed, and 1/4 tsp or more of cinnamon.

Mix the wet into the dry all at once, stir until moistened. Cook in your waffle maker..

No sugar so far!

The serving part is the kicker, don't you think? Jim likes to make a syrup with fresh fruit. The kids like that and whipped cream. I like it the Swedish way that my grandmother used to do it... a dollop of sour cream and a heaping tablespoon of cranberry sauce (Swedish soul food, she said)

Like to cook? BF and Dida were enjoying this website, and I think it's high time that we saw it too.

Knitting hasn't been going well. I knit a right mitten for the third time. It was about then that I figured out that I was really, really, really not feeling well. It's run its course today tho.