Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Santa

Most years at this time, I am composing a Christmas wish list. This is as a result of me putting ideas to paper many years ago, when working full-time and chasing three children, all three years apart, blew every coherent thought out of my mind. When my mother would call and say "what do you want for Christmas?", at least I had some concrete ideas to give her.

I never meant for this to become a yearly ritual. I keep trying to get out of it - and every year, DH keeps asking for the list. And now my children do as well.

What I have tried to say, every year, is - you guys should know me well enough that finding something that would thrill me to no end should not be that hard. Because, frankly? You can look around and see that the house is filled with my touches - and if you are observant enough, my needs become very simple.

Two years ago, our now 16 year old did that. He observed me watching Glee in its inaugural season and bought me the Season one soundtrack. I was thrilled and touched. It wasn't on the aforementioned list - but he used his heart and head and got me something that he thought I would love. And it was simple.

(Before you ask - I have tried saying "Surprise me." It doesn't work.)

But I hate getting specific - because when I do, it becomes apparent that if the specific item in question is not found, people go into a panic. And then there was the year my husband bought everything on the list. Which made me feel very materialistic. I really am not. OK - maybe when it comes to yarn and books. But I am wearing the same boots I bought in 2001 - I have re-heeled them twice and given them new soles once. I am carrying the same purse I bought 5 years ago. I believe if you buy quality, it lasts. So I don't want a lot of stuff. But if you want to buy me something, then it should be something that speaks to who I am and what I believe in.

So Santa- here is a list. Nothing too specific, everything related to my passions.

1. Anything woolly. Yarn, pattern books, a gift card, stitch markers. Something that acknowledges that I am rather passionate about knitting. Check out the Yarn Harlot - she is doing a "Gifts for Knitters" every day. It has great ideas.

2. Anything related to running. Take the picture of me coming over the finish line in Niagara Falls and frame it with my number. Buy me some running gear. Enter me in a race at a destination unknown (but a little exotic - and by a little exotic, I mean, not in Calgary. Or Alberta either.) Running is important to me.

3. Tickets to a Flames game. And dinner before hand. Yes, I know they are in a slump. But I am a fan. And I love live games. And it could be a date.

4. Deep inside, I am a bit of a geek. I would love some new technology. Like an iPad. Or an iPhone.

5. Make a donation to a charity or not for profit I care about. The YWCA: DDRC: the Calgary Public Library. These are all things I support.

6. Books. And more books. For title suggestions? See my account in Goodreads. Password is as usual.

7. Music - Emmy-Lou Harris. John Hiatt. Or check out my iPod for bands I like.

8. I would love for my family to develop the ability to see. Everyone walks by the laundry on the line. But I am usually the one to bring it in. The baskets of laundry in the hall? Surely I am not the only one to see them. I know you take your own stuff and put it away. How about taking the towels upstairs and putting them away? The cookie sheet that has been in the sink for three days? It just needs a wipe to be put away. Piles of stuff around the house? You can put it away too, you know. Just saying. Don't leave it out - or worse, stack it in the front mail basket because you don't know where else to put it. Sort through it, put the junk in recycling and store the other stuff where it belongs. Hint - it's not always in MY basket in the office.

9. How about everyone giving me a firm answer when I ask "What do you want for dinner?" instead of "I don't know". Or "I don't care". (Because you do - if I serve something that I like - but you don't, you care enough not to eat it. So don't lie.) I am happy to prepare it. I just get tired of thinking up ideas.

9A. Ancillary gift to number 9? Try a taste or two of the new recipe before you say "Eww" Or "I don't like this". (When you have never had it - unless you are cooking things when I am not around, in which case, (BIG HINT) a key to my heart and eternal devotion would be preparing dinner for me occasionally.)

10. Notice that the bathroom (or the living room. Or the dining room. Or the family room. Or the bathroom. Or the bedroom) needs a little tidying and do it. Without a critical air and saying "Gee, there was a lot of dust in the living room." Like I don't know that. Or it's surprising.

Santa - I know that the last four might be beyond your reach. Especially if you are busy solving world peace or staving off famine in Africa. Which is why I have provided you with items one through six as an alternate.

Merry Christmas


Friday, December 2, 2011

November Wrap-up

1. November has been a rather blah month, heralding the coming of winter.

2. It has been accompanied by wild weather in Calgary. (Wildest to date? The wind storm on Sunday, with winds at the tops of buildings as high as 149 km/hour – see here for cool pictures).

3. Only damage at our house? The clothes line and pole fell down.

4. Luckily, no laundry on it.

5. Not the case yesterday, when there were winds again – and the sheets blew off, because even though they were dry, no-one (I’m talking to you, boys) thought to bring them in.

6. Until this morning, when I went out and saw one of the sheets wrapped around the lilac tree.

7. This means....more laundry.

8. We are on the edge of yet another wind warning today.

9. No laundry on the line - yet.

10. Wind warning is complicated by the fact that there is now ice and snow on the roads.

11. Sometimes winter is a b****.

12. Summer here is often not much better.

13. Spring can be iffy too.

14. The only season we can count is fall.

15. It heralds…the onset of winter.

16. Sometimes? I wonder why we live here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Apparently, Tuesday was a bad day....

To whomever is in charge of the world:

I am generally a low maintenance kind of woman. But I am having a bad day. Do you think you could do something about the following 6 things before I get (even more) cranky?

1. People who use the self checkout line for a cart full of groceries. I get that you like to scan the groceries and pack them. But come on - when there are clerks with 1 person in line - and there are 6 people with two items each standing in the self check out line, do us all a favour and go to the clerk who will scan and bag your groceries in half the time - I promise everyone will be happier.

2. People who use the outside lane to sneak up and try and get in to the traffic line-up when the lane ends. If the lane ends because there is street parking or because 500 yards previously there was a sign indicating a move from two lanes to one, please don't try and pretend you didn't see it and then nose in in front of me. That's just rude.

3. Weathermen who predict that snow is going to come.....and then it doesn't. We live on a designated snow route, which means when snow comes, we can't park in front of our house for 72 hours or until the city says we can. I have to move my old car (not yet sold) to a side street for the duration. But then the snow doesn't come. Either be winter or don't - but I am tired of this fussing around. Just saying.

4. Why can't Starbucks have a "This line coffee only" line-up? I only want a cup of dark with room for cream. Having to wait for the person in front of me to order her double-double (wait, that's Tim Horton's) - her vanilla non-fat extra hot grande with double whip on it - and then pay with the debit card that she has forgotten the pin to, and then decide she also wants a muffin and spends 3 minutes debating the merits and calorie counts of the ones in the case? This just makes a caffeine low even worse than it is.

5. People who wish me Merry Christmas- it is November 29. Christmas is still 26 days away. Can we stop already??

6. Four-way stops - these are very popular here in Calgary - but it appears that many, many people have forgotten how to use them. Today, I was stopped - and then started to go when it was my turn, only to have a car turn left in front of me. The guy behind me rammed my car, because he "thought it was your turn to go" - it was, but someone else thought not.

If you could manage these things? It might make life a little brighter for everyone - or at least better for me - and that's what really counts, isn't it?

Thanking you in advance, I remain

Yours sincerely


Friday, November 11, 2011

October wrap-up

1. Finished my second marathon ever!

2. Took 29 minutes off my last time.

3. Any improvements from now on will be in much smaller increments, I feel sure.

Do I look happy, or what??

4. I promptly took 2 weeks off from running.

5. I am worried it will morph into 2 3 weeks if I don't get going.

6. Sadly, I have a very busy week this week.

7. My choice for running with the group on Saturday is 10k or 22k.

8. 10 K seems more reasonable - but that is only if I want to start at 10:00 a.m.

9. I have to work at noon.

10. This might mean I take off several more days.

11. Judging by the amount of Halloween candy I have been eating, I should have started running - say last Wednesday.

12. On other points - we got a new car.

13. It's a Subaru Outback.

14. Apparently, if you want to drive a standard, you don't want a car with leather seats (or vice versa).

15. We had leather seats in the Volvo because we had small chocolate-smearing, cookie-crumb-dropping, muddy-boot-wearing children and the leather was easier to clean.

16. Our children are older, so perhaps that means less mess.

17. Judging from the state of their rooms, perhaps we should have gone with the leather seats.

18. On a knitting note - socks are done!!

19. Sweater is just a time-sucking piece of crap.

20. But it IS a pretty colour.

21. Perhaps it needs a time out.

22. Or perhaps I need to start working on it and stop procrastinating.

23. On another note - I started this on November 1st. I am posting it on November 11. In between, I have spent what I consider to be an inordinate amount of time trying to get on a computer and folding laundry. Not sure why the two are connected - but whenever there was a load of laundry, I was folding it - and everyone else was on a computer. Coincidence?

24. I think not.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Could the apocalypse be near??

I was at the car dealership changing over my tires from summer to winter (because apparently, winter is coming - who knew?) I was knitting. A pair of green socks (which I have been knitting forever, but that's beside the point). A woman came in, sat down, opened her purse and pulled out her knitting. Which was a pair of socks. Which were green.

Perhaps it's not the apocalypse. Perhaps it's just winter.

October update coming soon - I promise.

Friday, October 7, 2011

September wrap-up - I know, I know - it's rather late....

It's been a month of getting back on an even keel with life. Kids back at school, students back at university, fall leaves etc. (blogs not getting posted on time)

1. As I previously mentioned, child number 1 is back at university.

2. Sending your child off to university is expensive.

3. Hope she'll remember that when she picks out my nursing home....

4. Sending your oldest to public school is not too expensive. Especially because he feels like he needs nothing except a box of pencils for school supplies.

5. Which was a good thing because this is the year that the football team goes off to California for 5 days. And the final payment was due in September.

6. Child number three is in private school. And HE had an extensive, expensive supply list.

7. Fortunately, his growth spurt was confined to his legs - meaning he only needed new pants.

8. And his feet have stabilized for the moment, so last year's shoes fit.

9. However, my car has chosen this month to need a new clutch.

10. We have started down that path of "Do the expensive repair on the 10 year old car or buy a new one?"

11. We seem to be heading towards "Buy the new one"

12. There goes the winter holiday.

13. It is supposed to be even colder and snowier than last year.

14. I guess (being a sensible adult) that a new car that won't leave me stranded in
-35 C weather is important.

15. I think I am tired of being a sensible adult.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And another year gone

So 16 years ago today on September 23rd, I became a mom for the second time. (Many, many people have commented on the similarity in birth dates between the oldest two - both the 23rd. Honestly, neither of them were was likely the long cold winter months that did it.)

Although my pregnancy was completely unplanned, it brought some light to a very dark time in my family - my dad had died almost exactly 9 months to the day that CW was born. My mother had become quite ill in the ensuing months. CW brought us happiness and joy in a year that had not had much of either.

Unlike his sister, he was a quiet content baby - literally only fussing when he was hungry or wet (and really, mostly only when he was hungry). And that has been his modus operandi for the past 16 years - never fussing, never (or very rarely) bad-tempered, and a nice kid who, at least once a day, tells his mother he loves her - even on the days when he likely thinks I am not the brightest bulb around. In turn, I am trying (very hard) not to nag him - he is so bright and I wish that he would realize that with a moderate effort, he could be at the top of the pack in everything he does. But that is not how he operates - he is going to do things his way - and "really, mom, let ME worry about it" - what ever the particular It is at that moment.

Since AE went off to school, he has become a fabulous older brother - she was always around to buffer his and MH's relationship. Now they have to work it out together - and although it has sometimes come to fisticuffs, they usually make up in a few short hours. I think he is actually incapable of holding a grudge. He shows such a genorosity of spirit - even when he thinks his parents are being jerks. Once he calms down, he usually sees our side of it - or if he doesn't, he will, at least, apologize for his behaviour. Many adults I know could take a lesson or two from him.

So happy belated birthday - middle kids have it a little rougher than those on either end of the birth order (speaking from experience). They often get less attention, less time and less parental energy. This can help - or hinder- their progress, depending on their personality. For you, CW - it is all good. You seem to blossom and do the best when you are left to handle your life the way you think it should be. And if it is not the way your parents think it should be - well, I am happy to say that you often prove us very wrong.

Love Mom

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I have nothing....

So my daughter who is away at university was the person who got me started on blogging. She blogs (it's that one called "Some strange tide" over on the right) about her life away at university. (By the way, AE, glad to see that you took your mother's advice and changed back to the " 'cause how else would a prairie girl get to the Maritimes? ) Anyway, last year, I guess I nagged gently reminded her many one or two times about posting.

Shoe's on the other foot this year - she harassed me last week about blogging and how it has been far too long since I posted.

But here's the problem - right now, I got nothing.

I could talk about running and how we are into our last long run before starting to taper for the marathon in October. Yawn - been there, done that. I am learning that many people don't want to hear about me training for a marathon the second time through. So, yep, nothing there.

I could talk about what I am reading- but right now, it's a YA Alyson Noel - and I have discovered 1/4 of the way into it that I have already read it. Tedious.....

I could talk about knitting, but still on Flint, still on Boating socks, still not much further along. So nothing there either.

I could talk about my broken finger - but it's not broken any more - just crippled up and I have to have therapy. Kind of boring.....

You know - I seem to be leading kind of a boring life these days. I have a friend who is about to have a book published (consulting manual, but still....) and another friend who just got back from Italy. And another friend who is off to Houston for the weekend. And another friend who has gone to New Mexico (with her husband) for a week. Even my husband (who should stay home and share in my boredom) is off to Halifax and gets to see our daughter and go for dinner and meet her friends.

Sigh - I guess I could write some more blog posts. At least that would fill my time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

August Wrap-up

Already? Seems like I was just in June....

1. Child number 1 leaves has left for Nova Scotia tomorrow last Saturday.

2. She will (fingers crossed) did take be taking her mess with her.

3. She leaves her two brothers and THEIR messes behind.

4. My mother would say this is history coming back as destiny.

5. Not that I was ever that untidy (just ask my sister!!).

6. We had a lovely birthday celebration for said daughter at the GlobalFest Fireworks Festival.

7. It was Canada's night to shine.

7. The competitions are judged, in part, on music content of said country that is competing.

9. Apparently, Justin Bieber is what the competitors thought of when they thought "Canadian".

10. Judging by the reactions of the people around us, that's not who THEY thought of. (How about Tragically Hip, Great Big Sea, Shania Twain etc. etc.) But I did like Nikki Yanofsky.

11. It has been a glorious September so far. Lots of lovely warm weather and sitting time on the balcony with my knitting, my I-pod and a beer.

12. I have discovered the beauty of audio books and Audible.

13. They are the ultimate when it comes to multi-tasking.

14. I will do anything (just about) as long as I can be reading a book. Even if reading a book means listening to one.

15. However, I can't hear it over the drone of the vacumn.

16. So it is a good thing Child number 1 vacumned (sort of) before she left .

17. In knitting news, I am busy with "Flint". I love knitting top down - no seams. And with very few ends to weave in, this sweater actually stands a chance of getting finished and worn - say by October.

18. Socks are going well too. (Edwardian Boating socks - not that I wear socks when I am boating, but I like the illusion.)

19. A Looong run tomorrow - 200 minutes (3 hours and 20 minutes).

20. I am tired already.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby

19 years ago today I became a mom for the first time. As I write this , I was struggling through the last stages of labour and delivery, convinced that somehow they lied to me in pre-natal class because I did not remember them mentioning anything about PAIN.

And then she arrived. And as the doctor held her up, I was sure she was a boy (lack of sleep + the aforementioned PAIN + the position she was held in + the umbilical cord looking somewhat male - like = boy) And then I clued into my husband saying "It's a girl, Jan, it's a girl" and my heart exploded.

See, I really wanted a girl. But all the indicators were boy. The pre-natal heart rate, my shape, all the women on my case-load (I was in social services at the time) said "You're going to have a boy". Really, I was just so happy to be having a baby, that I said it didn't matter. And I am quite sure that it would not have, once s/he had appeared. But I REALLY wanted a girl in my heart of hearts.

And she was a lovely baby (I mean, once she got over that crying thing). She has never been what I would call a girly-girl - she has a normal (read not obsessive) like of feminine things, but she has always preferred books to fashion magazines (in fact, I don't think she has ever read one. A fashion magazine, I mean. But I can't be sure.) She has never, to my knowledge angsted about weight or looks (at least in the open and to my face). I think she is beautiful. And she is smart. And she uses her brains to get by in the world, not her looks. Which is great, because looks can be fleeting, but brains are forever. She is independent thinking, has a great (if somewhat sarcastic) sense of humour (that comes from her dad) and is starting to find her way in the world of grown-up. She is a great student and a wonderful writer. She loves to read (did I mention that already?), play the piano,cook, fence and even likes to knit. She has made good choices to this point, and I believe that she will continue to do so. She has a wonderful soul. She is a good sister (even if she does torment her brothers on occasion) and the best daughter one could ask for.

So happy birthday baby girl. And I am so pleased and proud that the armful of potential that we were handed on August 23, 1992 has turned out to be such a delight.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not running

I have not run in two weeks. I had a cyst removed from my toe that necessitated two weeks off while it healed (actually still healing).

I can't believe how much I miss it.

Some of it is the forced inactivity - while I can ride my bike - the shoe hurts the top of my foot after about 10 minutes. So I am limited to those activities that I can do in my bare feet - like core class or yoga.

And the only reason I do those are to make me a better runner.

Trying to be patient while your body heals is really tough. And I know that mine is a very small problem - others have much more chronic pain and have to put up with a lot more enforced inactivity than two weeks. But it's my balancing force, my go-to place when I am stressed or when I feel the need to challenge myself. It's the friendships and my sense of community. But I could rip the stitches and put myself out for longer than just two weeks. So I am trying to be good.

I ran across this while I was blog surfing this morning - and it really resonated with me. (This came from the blog 3x3x365.)

"It reminded me of listening to biochemist Covert Bailey
speak about how we get fit.
It’s in the repair. It’s when we crawl in a hole.

Here’s an over simplistic explanation.

When we’re out there running, our bodies
are way too busy to think about getting fit.
It’s an all hands on deck freak out when you decide
to start putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s pretty much all your body can do to keep up
with your panting and cursing while on a run.
Despite their best effort, muscles start to break down.
Stuff gets all out of sorts. It’s pandemonium.

When it’s over, and you’re tired, and you want to
crawl into a hole, and you finally settle down,
there’s a foreman somewhere in your center
who blows a whistle and gathers the troops and holds a meeting.
He’s talking to every muscle, organ, and cell.


And so your body gets ready for the next time you lace up your shoes.
All those tears get fixed up, and reinforced, and everything
gets put back together even better than it was before.
That’s when you’re getting fit. It’s in the repair.
The rest. On the crawl in a hole days.

So don’t be so hard on yourself.
I imagine this is true for more things than running."

The idea that when you rest, then you heal is something we need to remind ourselves of (runners and non-runners alike)on a regular basis. Then you can go back out and do it all again - but this time, a little stronger.

I like that.

So I have been in a hole for the last two weeks. I am chomping at the bit to crawl back out there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What I learned on my summer vacation (AKA July wrap-up)

So I spent most of July in Ontario on vacation. It was truly a grand place to be - hot and steamy the way I have not experienced summer in a few years. Herein is the summary of what I learned while away.....

1. Long runs are easier with friends (or as one of my running buddies put it "Less hard").

2. Always take the time to put in your contacts before any run. No matter how short it is.

3. Otherwise, you spend too much time waiting for doctors to see you.

4. The bad news? - one badly broken baby finger. And several facial scars. And one pair of badly scrunched (expensive) sunglasses.

Note the yellowish hue. And if the tape came off? That baby finger would be slipping behind the 3rd finger. Not pretty.

5. The good news? Still looking for the upside.....

6. We visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Cleveland, Ohio.

7. As one child said "Not many people are going to be impressed when I tell them where I went on my summer vacation...."(I am paraphrasing.)(Slightly.)

7.Apparently women rock stars are noted for what they wore. Male rock stars are noted for what they did. It's probably the only time in history that Britney Spears will be in the same room as Joni Mitchell and Carole King.

8. Just as there are process knitters (those who knit for the joy of knitting) and product knitters (those who knit for the joy of the finished product), so too are there process car trips (trips where you take the side road and stop and explore) and product car trips (the destination IS the point).

9. I like process car trips. I am married to a man who seems to like product car trips. It makes for interesting road trips.

10. In his defence, I think the boys like product car trips. Not entirely sure it would be a happy trip if the parents were process and the boys were not.....

11. I did not visit ANY yarn stores. I did try once. It was closed.

12. Despite the lack of yarn store visits and the rather painful baby finger, I got a sweater and a pair of socks knit.

13. The U2 concert was FRABULOUS. Worth every penny (and there were many) that we paid for it.

14. My husband is correct. Experiences matter more than stuff (which is why I think he should like process car trips more....)

15. We visited the site of our first date.

16. Our sons did not appear to be that impressed in ancient history.

17. Finally - if you are visiting Ontario during what seems to be a record-breaking heat wave of proportions not seen in years (if ever)?

18. It's nice to be here......

Friday, July 1, 2011

June Wrap-up

It's half-way through the year - so I think I should look at my resolutions that I posted in January.

1. Book pile by the bed has gone down slightly.

2. I am not looking under the bed, which is where I think some of them have gone.

3. Which likely means I have not been working very hard on tidying more often.

4. At least not in the bedroom.

5. The rest of the house looks - OK, it still looks like a bomb went off. In some rooms.

6. I have been taking more baths - especially after long runs and on cold days.

7. It's summer now - likely less bathing. More showers.

8. Getting to bed marginally earlier. I still wake up at 6:15 a.m.. Every morning.

9. Knitting is very productive. Still slightly addicted to P.vs. Z.

10. But so is my daughter. I guess if you are an addict, it's good to share it around. (It's a time-wasting, but otherwise harmless addiction. I think).

11. I have only slipped once twice in the yarn buying department. That I can see in my Ravelry stash. Both good purchases (Rowan Kid Silk haze and Dream in Color Smooshy).

12. Of course not everything is in Ravelry yet.

13. Speaking up thing is working. In the past month I have confronted a teacher who tore a page out of a book because the content was "immoral" ("but it doesn't change the value of the story overall") and asked that the school consider hiring me for more than one day a week.

14. Post blogs twice a week - FAIL. If you average it out, however, I'm way ahead of the game. March REALLY helped.

15. I like to think it is because my life is very busy.

16. Which is why I am sitting at the computer at 10:47 on Friday morning (Canada Day) - in my pajamas.

16. I have, however, darned the ends in on a sweater, made pancakes, drank 1/2 a pot of coffee, read the Globe and talked to my neighbour for 40 minutes.

17. I can accomplish a lot, it seems, when I am not playing P. Vs. Z.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Birthday to me

Tomorrow I turn 54.

Man that sounds old. But I don't really think of myself as old - more middle-aged. That's probably a misnomer, because that means I expect to live to 108 - which might be possible...but I don't think so.

I think that age is really not important (well, except for legal things like drinking and driving). I have always thought that. But if I had thought about it in my twenties, I would have probably thought that 54 was REALLY OLD and at that age, I would be wrinkled and grey (which I am) and really past my prime (which I am not). (Didn't think about it - too busy carrying on and having what passes for a good time in my twenties - which I shudder about now, but it's ancient history.)

Instead, I think now that this is a really great stage in my life - one child raised and almost out the door. Two more not quite there, but close. Still married and quite happy (still one of the best things I have done - along with having my babies, of course). Taking the opportunity to do things for me that I have always wanted to do (like run a marathon). Giving back to the community when and where I can. Good friends (and not just on Facebook), lots of interests - all the things that help compose a life of satisfaction.

But along the way, I have amassed a few - call them rules if you like, although that is a little strong - for successful survival into your mid-fifties.
They are:
Try and find the humour in every day living - because most of it is quite funny.

Take yourself seriously - that is, develop your skills, work hard at what you choose to do with your life, don't belittle yourself to others - but not so seriously that you suck the life out of a good time.

Find yourself a hair dresser you trust - you will always like what you see in the mirror in the morning - which is truely the harshest time of day.

Aim for balance in your day - work, fun vs.serious, 4 food groups vs.chocolate/wine. Everything in moderation as they say.

Tell your significants (kids, husband, family) you love them. Alot. Every day, if you can.

Stay gender-neutral in your teachings. Boys need to cook and do laundry. Girls need to mow the lawn and hang pictures. Everybody needs to do everything. There's less fighting. Which causes you less stress - and therefore (theoretically) helps reduce grey hair and wrinkles. (All that being said, I never signed up for ridding the house of mice.)

Enjoy your passions - they may be fleeting (Good-bye spinning, wind surfing, hot air ballooning and quilting) or constant(hello, knitting, running and books) - but they help define you as a person and structure your life in a reasonable way. (Although sometimes passions boil over into obsessions - careful on that one....)

All I am really saying, I think, is that my life is made up of my choices - and I am rather liking where I am now. So hello 54 - thank you for letting me get here (because the alternative seems not great an option) - and with any luck, in a year, I will be saying goodbye.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It can't be the end of May - can it?

Well, apparently it is - and that means it is time for my monthly wrap-up.

1. I am cheerfully knitting a spring sweater - in screaming green (607 Lemongrass - Blue Sky Alpaca.

2. The pattern is called "Something Red".

3. Red speaks to me of winter.

4. Since spring appears to have FINALLY arrived, I thought I would knit bright.

5. That does not appear to apply to socks, however, because I am knitting red socks.

6. After I finish "Something Red", I will be knitting something in "Eclipse" (Classic Elite Cotton Bamboo) for my niece.

7. The colour doesn't really speak to me of spring either - but it's not my choice. (Apparently, her mother isn't thrilled about it either).

8. I just discovered that my 15 year old has 9 days of school left before exams.

9. THAT speaks very strongly of summer.

10. What the hell am I going to do with a 15 year old all summer?

11. Not to mention his 12 year old brother.

12. This just speaks of trouble - big time.

13. In other news - I ran my second race of the season.

14. It was the Canmore Rocky Mountain Soap Company Women's half.

15. It is full of hills (including a hill over the last two kilometres (1.2 miles for those not into the metric system). (Click here for a link to the elevation - then tell me if you don't want to vomit!)

16. I did this run, apparently, because they give great loot bags.

17. It was OK - but you get the same loot for running 5 and 12 kilometres, as you do for 21.

18. Lesson learned - next time I will run the shorter race.

19. I am running a half marathon in Seattle at the end of June. I don't know if there is a loot bag.

20. Apparently, I am a slow learner.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An open letter to LuluLemon

Dear Chip Wilson and company

I am a 53 year woman - mother of 3, a 30 year plus runner and a recent marathoner. I am also 5 feet 9 inches tall and I weigh 185 pounds. I wear a size 14. I am not fat, I do not consider myself unfit and I have disposable income at my ready.

Imagine my dismay when I walked into your store on 4th Street in Calgary, in search of a running jacket and found no jackets larger than size 12. Upon enquiring with the young saleswoman, I was told that Lululemon does not carry anything above a size 12. To be more precise , she told me that Lululemon does not carry "large" sizes.

I actually do not think of myself as "large" (although that is often the size I go to in a store). I am, to use a well-worn euphemism, big-boned. But again, I emphasize that I am quite fit - I am currently in training for my second marathon ever, so I run 4 times a week, I lift weights twice a week and I practice yoga once a week. I have not put a pound on in at least 6 years (rather remarkable, given my love of red wine and the fact that I am currently weathering menopausal moments).

When I look at your web site, it tells me that your mission is in " Creating components for people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives" and that you aim your clothing "primarily at active women and men: individuals that work, play and share our vision of creating healthier, happier and more fun lives!" I don't see the asterisk anywhere that tells me *but only if you wear a size 12 or less*.

I acknowledge that you have choices in the market you target and the sizes you produce. But the message I took away from your store is that I don't belong there unless I fit into your definition of an active woman. I find it surprising in an era where the fashion industry has been criticized for using anorexic models, that a company that supports healthy living and active lifestyles seems to think that all that stops at a size 12.

When I cruise around your website, it feels like I should belong there. Your clothing designs, the fact that I can sort by "run" or "yoga", the fabrics that wick and don't hold smell - these all speak to me as a runner. But the sizing does not. So I will take my dollars down the road to a running store that understands that runners come in all shapes and sizes and can accommodate my request for a size 14.

Finally? I really wanted to find a jacket in your store. I like your story, I love your designs and I know from others' experiences that you make a quality product that works. It's just too bad that your sizing makes me feel like I don't fit.

And one last thing? The young woman who served me needs a little bit of work in customer service. Just saying....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because I can't answer in just one word.

So a friend sent me this - it's called "Getting to know your friends and family". I am supposed to answer the questions and then forward it on.

I don't like the forwarding on part - mostly because I never know who to send it to. The people in my book club wouldn't appreciate it (I don't think). I could send it to my family - but one is on a plane coming home (yey! It's my husband), one is sick in bed (and would tease me mercilessly), another would think it was stupid (boys are like that, I find), so likely my daughter would answer it. But I could probably answer it for her.

But I like them, so I thought this was an appropriate place to send it. With commentary, of course.

1. What color are your socks right now? White and blue running socks - my favourite - but pricey! (For a sport that is supposed to be low-tech, I keep racking up the bills at Gord's!!)

2. What are you listening to right now? CBC radio - I'm Canadian like that - and keep your mitts off it, Prime Minister Harper!!

3. What was the last thing you ate? Special K cereal bar. Too busy driving an unappreciative (read male) child around to get dinner. And then I wanted to run, And now it feels too late to eat. But I should.

4. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes - and all my children will too. Because it's a life skill.

5. Last person you spoke to on the phone. My daughter - who was excited because she got her first pay cheque for 3 weeks work. (I used to get like that - now it's just a wee small drop in the bucket.)

6. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes !! It was my friend Nancy.

7. How old are you today? 53 (but I feel....42)

8. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV ? Hockey - again, Canadian like that. I even prefer to watch most games on the TV rather than live. It's cheaper, I can knit, they show replays and because we have a PVR, I can reverse to discuss a contentious call. I can also yell at the TV and not embarrass my kids. Well, I guess they are still embarrassed, but since no-one they know, or might know are anywhere near, I'm OK with that.

9. What is your favorite drink? Red wine - although coffee is a close second - or first, depending on the time of day. Because really, I shouldn't be drinking red wine first thing in the morning. The neighbours will talk.

10. Have you ever dyed your hair? No - natural blonde as a teenager, so why would I? Brown and grey now - God's highlights (as my hairdresser says). Besides, it gives me something to point to when my children are stressing me and say"Here - this hair just turned grey because of your attitude!!

11. Favorite food? At the moment? Curry - but chocolate, prime rib and home-made pasta are right up there.

12. What is the last movie you watched? Hmmm - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , part one. I think.

13. Favorite day of the year? Boxing Day - because while most people are out cramming the malls, I'm in my jammies, listening to the peace and quiet of 3 teenagers and a husband sleeping. And giving thanks that another year has been successful.

14. How do you vent? Mostly talk to myself - but I can get a good rant going with encouragement from just about anyone. And I find that running is very therapeutic (and almost cheaper than a therapist.)

15. What was your favorite toy as a child? My Dorothy doll - given to me by a family friend. I think my mom still has her stashed away. But I'd rather not ask. What if she has thrown her out?

16. What is your favorite season? Spring - it glorifies life in a lovely, brash way.

17. Cherries or Blueberries? Neither, although I eat blueberries for the health benefit - but only in a smoothie. And I like cherries when they are fresh and in season. But how come the limit? Where's the other berry family members?

18. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Well, I prefer that to emails about hair laser removal or waxing or get rich schemes. But my friends have lives, so I don't stress (too much).

19. Who is the most likely to respond to this questionnaire? My daughter. Followed by my sister. If I send it.

20. Who is least likely to respond? My husband - if I sent it to him (which I won't).

21. Living situation? Married, with too many shoes and dirty dishes.

22. When was the last time you cried? I don't cry easily or often - but I did cry after I left my daughter at university (wasn't she just in day care yesterday?) and after my marathon. And I have been known to tear up at sentimental songs.

23. What is on the floor of your closet right now? Shoes,and some shirts that fell - and likely a lot of dust.

24. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to? My sister.

25.What did you do last night? Made dinner (mmm, chicken curry,) read , watched an old episode of Glee and the season finale of The Good Wife, stayed up too late.

26. What are you most afraid of? Something happening to my family.

27. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? cheese

28. Favorite dog breed? If I were to get a dog - a standard poodle - but I also like black labs.

29. Favorite day of the week? Friday-I look forward to the weekend

30. How many provinces have you lived in? 2 provinces

31. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds - because the ones that I have, my husband gave me (for our engagement and for my 50th).

32. What is your favorite flower? Tulips - and I love lilacs.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

End of the month wrap-up

1. Apparently, I can't blog twice a week.

2. That means that either I have a dull life, or a very busy life.

3. I prefer to think the latter, but I suspect the former.

4. Knitting is going well - or it would be if I would sit down and actually do some.

5. A ten hour car ride surprisingly, lets you get a lot of knitting done.

6. But you don't see much scenery (I completely lost Roger's Pass on our way to Vancouver last week. Didn't realize we had passed it until we were in Revelstoke.)

7. Sometimes I worry about my lack of geographical awareness. But then I wasn't driving.

8. Running at sea level totally makes a difference.

9. I suspect the difference would wear off if I moved there.

10. No-one does pomp and circumstance like the British. It makes me want to move there and celebrate a royal wedding.

11. Second best option was a wedding brunch with my book club (and other assorted, interested parties).

12. Thank goodness for the technology known as a PVR. Makes getting up at 5:00 a.m. (instead of 2:00 a.m.) totally bearable.

13. Our daughter came home this week for the summer (hooray!!).

14. She couldn't get up for the wedding, even though she was still on an east coast time zone.

15. There is a new yarn store opening in Calgary.

16. Pehaps my daughter will go with me this weekend.

17. Not that I need any more yarn.

18. But she might.

19. In any case, it would give me something to blog about.

20. Does that reinforce dull or just rather pathetic?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On the road again (stay with me - it's about knitting and running!)

So I start the marathon course again on Monday. I didn't have to register again for it - I am fine with running by myself and there are any number of training programs on line that would see me through to the finish line. There are likely on-line groups that would give me the encouragement that I currently get from the people that I run with.

But I am wayyyy better with this structure and group. I have a New!! Fresh!! focus to my running. I even think I can do a wee bit better time by being part of this group (we're not talking Boston qualifying, just my own PB). The program is based on 4 runs a week - 2 coached and 2 solo. And after one run there is a lecture. I took in some of the lecture material last year, but I am really looking forward to hearing it in the context of my own experience - maybe it will allow me to make some changes and "tweak" my runs. If not, well, then I know I can forge ahead next year without the benefit of the program.

This morning, in my post-run coffee, one of the women said she had never seen a pair of hand-knit socks - ever. I was a little surprised - although if you didn't grow up with knitting relatives and your parents are younger than mine, I guess it makes sense. So I will take a pair for her to see. But it got me thinking about running and knitting.

One is a sport and one is not (the Knitting Olympics aside), but they both involve doing something that brings you personal pride. And it is something that can't be taken away from you. I will always have that experience of crossing the finish line, just as I will always have the skill of knitting something original (because every knitted item is an original). And sometimes my knitting makes me want to cry (like when I can't get gauge. Or I notice a wee tiny mistake, 9 inches before the point where I am currently at). And my running is tear-invoking too (like when every step gives me pain - and I mean the mental kind, not the physical). And there is the thing about taking a run and turning it into a race. Or taking some yarn and turning it into socks.

People who don't knit think you are crazy for knitting something that can be bought at Zellers for two bucks. And people who don't run, think you are nuts for running, never mind running a marathon. Those who do only one likely respect the person who only does the other (and vice versa) because they get where the other person is coming from. It's personal pride and the sense of completion. And those of us who do both? Likely a little nuts - but also likely a little calmer and more fit than the general population (in my opinion).

Then I clicked on this month's issue of Twist Collective - and there is an article that celebrates the kntting runner (or perhaps the running knitter) - and she says it much better than I do. So go on and click on the link - and then if you are like me, go put on your shoes and go out and celebrate the aliveness of running. Or pick up your needles and celebrate the creativity of knitting. Just (as Nike says) do it!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's To-Do List

1. Finish the tile project I am working on with Karen.
2. Have lunch with Nancy.
3. Cruise the new section of Chinook Mall (they just opened an "Anthropologie"....)
4. Run with Brandee and Maureen.
5. Hang laundry on line (spring-time - gotta dry those sheets outside!!)
6. Watch the Flames win (or lose, as the case may be).
7. Finish the gusset on my sock.
8. STRETCH after running.

This is not a typical day - because I usually work on Wednesdays at the school library. But it is spring break - which gives me a rare day to do what I want (Well, except for nag remind the boys about their chores. Because they really like that.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Favourite foods

I like lots of different food - and I go in and out of love with some - but today's favourites are:
1. Really good chocolate
2. Home-made pasta (lucky I have a husband that makes it)
3. Prime rib - done rare.
4. Anything with lemon in it.
5. Home-made cookies - as long as they don't have raisins in them (yuck!)
6. Oddly enough - butter tarts -with lots of raisins. I know. It doesn't make sense.
7. Caesar salad with home-made croutons and lots of garlic - with a grilled chicken breast tossed in.
8. Gelato - especially lemon and grapefruit
9. Home-made cupcakes - with a touch of icing on them.

Love coffee and red wine - but they aren't really foods per se.

Vacations to take

Vacations I have taken - and would take again (I know - it's a sub-list of the list)
1. New York City - so much to do, so much to see....
2. Anywhere in Nova Scotia
3. Boston
4. Vancouver - never get tired of it - OK, except for the rain, I never get tired of it.
5. Seattle (and I get to go again in June!!)
6. Rib Lake - this is the family cottage - off the grid and out of the big city.
7. Montreal
8. Florence, Italy
9. London, England
10. Scotland (anywhere)
11. Mexico

Ones I want to take:
1. Chicago
2. Rhode Island (it has some sort of appeal for me)
3. Ireland
4. Greece (the islands)
5. France
6. Holland

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things I've learned

1. Time is never wasted when you are reading.

2. Picking the baby up when she is crying really is important.

3. There is no substitute for being with your kids - even when they say they don't need you.

4. The food police won't get you if you serve cereal for dinner occasionally.

5. Sometime people who say they are Christian - really aren't.

6. Stuff lasts if you buy quality instead of quantity.

7. Good quality chocolate really is better for you.

8. There is no such thing as too much wool or too many books.

9. Spending time in a service job (like waitressing or clerking)gives you better perspective when you are the one being served.

10. People don't always want to hear the truth - even when they say they do.

11. Saying no (especially when you want to say yes) is hard.

12. Staying best friends is not always realistic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Books I want to read this year

1. All of my book club books (because sometimes I don't) and they are:
Wolf Hall (Got it started, found it...tough)
2. Let the great world spin (halfway through)
3. The help (LOVED IT)
4. The Lacuna - not yet
5. River thieves - forgettable
6. The little book - again half way through
7. Piano teacher - half way through
8. Red leaves - just started
9. The slap - May, so not yet
10. Bishop's man - not yet
11. The given day - not yet
And these are just the books to the end of June 2011. We pick the next year's in late June, so there will be more!
12. Long song
13. Moby Duck
14. Little Bee
15. Faithful place
16. Brooklyn
17. Dark Fire
18. All the Newbery and Caldecott winners (children's lit). The Caldecott are easy - they are picture books - but it is SUCH fun.

And the many more books by my bed, too many to note.

Gotta go read, but before I do, I love this post (it was also on the 30 days of lists blog).

Friday, March 25, 2011

List 25

Things I'd rather being doing right now

1. Reading
2. Knitting
3. Sleeping
4. Having dinner out
5. Leaving for a week away somewhere warm and sunny

Although I spent most of day reading at work because it is year end and so I have nothing to do until everything rolls over - so having cleaned my desk, I finished several books. I think it would be frowned on if I was knitting at work. Or sleeping.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I make lists for....

March 24 (Hey - I am finally caught up!!)

1. Groceries
2. Errands
3. Yarn and things I want to knit (Thank Ravelry for that!!)
4. Races I want to run (that's a new one this year).
5. Books to read next
6. Book club books - I am the unofficial organizer of the yearly list - which is kind of ironic, given that I am not particularly organized.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guilty pleasures

1. Reading way too late.
2. A second glass of wine.
3. Driving my son to school in my PJs and then coming home for coffee and the newspaper.
4. Butter tarts - good ones.
5. Truffles (chocolate, not mushrooms)
6. Knitting in the middle of a week day. When everyone else is at work.
7. A long hot bath on a Saturday afternoon - with a good book.
8. Pizza on Friday night.

List 22 - Today I saw

1. Students rushing to get their work done as the end of semester looms ever closer.
2. Beautiful (and expensive) lingerie - loved the pale blue and white striped nightshirt.
3. Very few adults smiling - must be the unending snow.
4. A kid catching snowflakes on her tongue.
5. Cars stuck waiting for a train - lots and lots of cars and a very long train.
6. No sunshine.
7. My son's thoughtfulness as he chose to take the bus to guitar, rather than having one of us drive him.

Recipes to try (Sorry - forgot to post this one!!)

I love to cook. I mean really cook - like - try new recipes that people will comment on (even if they don't like it) or enthuse over it. I don't particularly like cooking for my family. Although my husband will usually tell me if he likes something or not - and he will even say "This is a keeper" or "Not too fussy on this one" and he never says he hates any dish (although veal stew has gone down in the family legends as a dish he will NEVER try again). Still it leaves a little to be desired in my heart. But I love to cook for friends - and here are some of the recipes I would love to make for them.

1. Anything with blue cheese (mmmmmm!!)
2. Salmon with roasted artichokes, tomato and olive sauce
3. Cedar planked salmon with a maple glaze (I know - a lot of salmon - but no-one eats it with enthusiasm in my house.)
4. Anything with carmelized onions (my taste buds are already watering).
5. White chocolate Frangelico mousse
6. Anything with chocolate

Notice - no hamburger anywhere.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring has sprung

Well, not quite - as I look out the window at yet more snow - and sigh.

So here is what I am looking forward to for spring

1. Wearing brighter colours.
2. Watching the tulips come up and all the possibility that they bring.
3, Rain - and the smell of worms on the side walk.
4. Putting the water barrels back under the drain spouts.
5. Going to the gardening centre.
6. Putting fewer layers on - for work, for running - for just about anything.
7. Not having to (or nag someone to)shovel the front walk.
8. Warm sun on my bare skin.
9. Sleeping with the windows open.

Celebrity Crushes

1. Elvis Costello - I know he is married to Diana Krall - and I am not exactly the marriage wrecker persona - but still.....
2. Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea.
3. Just about anyone from the Calgary Flames - what's not to crush on? (Except they are going down fast in the race to the playoffs - but still.....)
4. Robert Downey Jr.- bad boys have never had a great appeal for me - until now.

Even now, I think my kids might be going " Ewww, gross!!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the road again!!

List 18 Road trip must haves

1. Good music

2. A thermos of coffee

3. A bottle or two of water.

4. Car d'oeuvres - you know - hors d'oeuvres you eat in the car. Popcorn, carrots, licorice (mmm - red!!). Werthers toffee. Or caramels. Or anything that will keep the hungry masses fed until we get to our next destination.

5. Knitting - and more than one project if it is a long (over 5 hours road trip). Not that I can necessarily finish anything. But I am under the delusion that I can. And no one would be happy if Mom ran out of yarn.

6. Camera

7. A list of road stops (not chains or fast food if at all possible).

8. Credit card - for gas and any road needs.

Looking at the list, it seems to me that a list of road side wash-rooms would be good too.

Words that are hard to spell

Funny - when I did the previous post, I spelt independent incorrectly. ANd look what the next list is!!

1. Independent (Usually I spell it independant) - I guess it depends on nationality.
2. Niece (I know, I know - I before E , except after C.....)
3. Commitment. I usually put two Ts in there somewhere.

Can't think of many more.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Places to see in my town

I live in Calgary - and it is a relatively new town on the spectrum of history. But we are developing a "cool" status (I think) and here is where I would take my guests:

1. Top of the Calgary Tower (on a clear day, that is). It was fondly called the Prairie Penis when we first arrived in town. And then there was that whole Eastern plot, when Petro Canada (the government owned oil company) built their towers taller. Muttered comments of eastern domination were heard in all the best offices and clubs. But the tower remains a neat place to go. And once a year, we get to climb it, as an initiative of Alberta Wilderness Association.

2. The Glenbow Museum - beautiful art, great travelling shows and a gallery that speaks to the heritage of the city.

3. Nose Hill Park. It looms over the city, covering 11 square kilometres. It's a lovely place for a walk on an afternoon, a great place for a run - and there is lots of wildlife everywhere.

4. A bike along the city pathways - you can bike from Bowness Park in the northwest, to Fish Creek Park in the south-east. Now if they would only designate more on-street biking routes, we'd be set.

5. Not a shopping mall - because there are no yarn stores there. And who needs more American Eagle or Lulu Lemon?

6. Pudding Yarn - my favourite. That's for my friends who like to knit.

7. Several independent book stores - Pages in Kensington, Owl's Nest in Britannia - and I just noticed a new one on 4th Street.

8. Lina's - the best Italian store in town. Great sandwiches and pizza and a meat and cheese counter to die for.

9. Fair's Fair - a local second-hand book store.

10. Inglewood - great antiques, funky clothes and beads and good coffee and food.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting the groceries

List 15 - What's on my shopping list?

Let's see - my list is minimal. I only list what I know I am out of. The rest is the regulars - you know, veggies, fruit, lunch stuff, bread, milk (why do teenagers drink SO MUCH MILK?).

So this week's list has:
1: Cumin - (half-way through making chicken chili when I discovered that one).
2. Garlic powder - my husband was halfway through making burgers when that was discovered (I suggested he try real garlic. Apparently it is not the same. Who knew?)
3. Coconut - made some yummy spinach coconut soup last week and used up the last of it.

That's it!!

As an aside, it's funny that I would assume groceries. I mean, the blog didn't say groceries - there's lots of other things I could put on a list if it said Shoe shopping list. Or Yarn shopping list. Sadly, you are left with the mundane grocery list instead.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly rituals, DIYs I want to try and things I love about....

So one of things I am discovering is although I like making lists, I'm not great about following 30 days of it. Maybe because the most practice I have is in making grocery lists and To-do lists for the weekend? Most of the time the lists are in my head - and so perhaps I would get more done and feel a different sense of accomplishment if I actually wrote them down. Hmmmm - things to ponder.....
On a different note - here are my catch up lists:

List 12 Weekly rituals
1. Mid-week run with Brandee and Wendy
2. Watching the Flames game on TV
3. Monday catch-up on the PVR (usually House, The Good Wife and Glee).
4. Saturday morning run, followed by coffee
5. Grocery shopping
6. Sunday night soup
7. Weekly phone call with my mom and my sister.
8. Making Sunday morning pancakes for my family.

List 13 DIYs I want to try
1. Reupholstering a chair (I have 3 that badly need it).
2. Making cheese - ever since I read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I have been OBSESSED with the idea of making my own cheese. Also a little nervous....
3. Quilting - I already sew, but I am really keen to make a quilt. I took a class eons ago - just never put the skill into practice.

List 14 Things I love about knitting
1. Watching the item in question grow from a ball of yarn to a finished challenge
2. Wearing something I have made and having someone comment on it
3. Trying new yarns (and there are so many to try)
4. Watching my Projects list grow on Ravelry (OK and my queue of things to knit grow longer)
5. Gives me a reason to sack out in front of the TV - because really, I am multi-tasking.
List 14a (when one list is not enough) Things I love about running
1. Mastery over my body
2. Because even when I am wheezing at the finish line - I still have run.
3. Meeting all sorts of runners who are way faster than me - but it doesn't matter, because we are all members of a common community. O.K., maybe a community with some suburbs in it like the Boston qualifiers and the trail runners and the weekend warriors - but we are all still neighbours!
4. The cool gear -nothing makes me happier than my lap time when it pops up on my Garmin.
5. The clothes - because they make me feel like a runner - and there is something to be said about that. Even on the days when I ache and the last thing I feel like is getting my shoes on - if I get the gear on, then it pumps me up.

Friday, March 11, 2011

9, 10 and 11

So I am just a little behind on my posts - several busy nights behind me left me little time for the making of the lists, although I have been checking on what the next lists are,and making them in my head etc.

List 9 - Favourite web sites/blogs

This is easy - I only have to open my Favourites list to see that a great many are knitting blogs. I do have favourites among them where the writing is at times humourous, poignant or thought-provoking.

Blogs (in no particular order)
1. Murrmurrs
2. Yarn Harlot
3. The Panopticon
4. The more the messier
5. Cast-on
6. So the thing is....
7. Turtlegirl's bloggy thing

1. (Yes - in spite of the violence, the hits and the behind the times management, I love hockey - especially the Flames)
2. Knitty
3. Super Text-twist
4. Calgary Public Library
5. Webs

And I could go on and on and on.....

List 10 Wishlist

I am on record as saying that I really don't have wish list (well, it was actually a bucket list that I don't have) because one should always try and make wishes happen. I had a friend die unexpectedly last year and so I realize even more that I need to do those things that I long to do and not put them off to another time.

So the things that I want to do are:
1. Run both the New York and Chicago marathons
2. Visit Newfoundland
3. Host more dinner parties.
4. Practice my writing by looking for opportunities to write articles.
5. Buy an I-phone - better yet, an I-Pad. (Not sure why, I just like technology....)
6. Go back to England - and while I am there, visit Wales and Ireland.

Hmm - pretty short list - but I am trying to live more in the moment and not wish for that which is unachievable - so I guess that is why it is so short.

List 11 Date night ideas

1. Seeing a current movie - spontaneously.
2. Going for a long walk through the park and down to the river - and just talking.
3. Trying a new restaurant and not having to rush through to get some place afterwards.
4. Going to hear some music - maybe in a bar or club (now that they are smoke-free).
5. Bringing home take-out (without me arranging it, opening a bottle of wine and just relaxing.
6. Hanging out at a book store.

Really - my standards are not that high. I think by the time you have been through the years of newly married-newly parents-hanging on for dear life until Friday night comes- type of scenarios, date nights can be really easy. It's the gesture that counts, not the actual place.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh dear...

March 8 - Things in my bag

This could be embarrassing, since I never clean out my purse - ever. (Perhaps this will prompt me to do so.)

1. Wallet - overstuffed with receipts and cards (credit, loyalty and business).
2. Phone - turned on.
3. Notebook - for recording book lists (for book club), music/songs I want to hear, web sites I want to visit, addresses people give me, things I hear on the radio.
4. 3 receipts from the active release chiropractor I have been seeing.
5. A lab requisition for tests from my annual physical.
6. Two small bottles of hand cream - what, one is not enough?
7. One toothbrush (unopened) from the visit to the dentist in January.
8. 4 pens. (Probably only one works.)
9. 1 package triple A batteries (Duracell - the copper top battery!)
10. The book The Giver by Lois Lowry - because one of the teacher's wants to know if Grade 4 boys would enjoy it, so I am re-reading it.
11. A lottery ticket from February 5, 2011.
12. Packaging from a Bay gift card.
13. Coupons from renewing my Indigo card.
14. Ticket stubs from A Drowsy chaperone and Don Felder - An evening at Hotel California.
15. A tube of lip balm.

At least the dead orange came out last week, the tube of lipstick that turns my lips beige is gone and my knitting is (temporarily) being worked on in front of the TV.

Monday, March 7, 2011

List 7

List 7 - Blog goals

This is easy - I already have one (only one) - see #8 on this post but I will re-affirm it, since I have not been following it.

Post blogs twice a week.

List 6

March 6
List 6 - Least favourite words
Loser - because people usually have one or two redeeming qualities
Suck - as in "you suck". Vacuum cleaners suck - people don't.
Retarded - shouldn't even be a word , simply because of the years of labelling applied to people with developmental disabilities.
Moron - because my sons call each other that all the time....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend goals

List 5 - Weekend Goals
Shop for groceries
Get the laundry done
Try and sleep in
Run once
Iron next week's shirts
Read the Saturday papers

The phrase "weekend goals" is a little bit of an oxymoron,don't you think? The weekend should be a time of relaxation and hanging out. Instead of which, we tend to (or I tend to) fill it up with the stuff that didn't get done last week or needs to get done for next week.

Weekends used to be different. They were more civilized - we could sleep longer (although I certainly didn't). I could relax over the paper and a pot of coffee in my PJs until the paper was done or the coffee. We shopped leisurely, went out to dinner or had people over. Afternoons (especially winter afternoons) were for reading or napping or sewing or whatever.

Now weekends just feel like another work day - albeit with not quite the sense of urgency connected to them that a Monday brings, but a workday nonetheless.

I wish weekends were different - the Christian ideal of not working on a Sunday has some appeal, although I think that might mean working really hard to get everything done on the Saturday in order not to work on the Sunday. And if my memory serves me well, the books that I read in which people did not work on Sundays also meant that meals were cold and the only book read was a Bible - or Bible stories. And I would rather read one of the 60 or so books by my bed instead, and eat hot soup or roast chicken on Sundays.

But still the idea of one day a week where choice becomes the operative mantra rather than necessity, is an ideal I will strive for. Which making the list for weekend goals has helped me realize.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm kinda a list person

There are several blogs that I try and visit on a semi-regular basis. It's fun to hear about other people's thoughts and ideas. I even try and comment (when I think I have something to contribute) One of the blogs I like is We do not have a knitting problem (aka Irish girlie knits blog). She is currently doing the 30 days of lists from this blog. So I thought I would give it a try. Except that I have some catching up to do. So here goes.....

March 1
List 1 - A few things about me
Flames fan
excellent cook
cookie lover
coffee drinker
red wine drinker
knitting teacher
board member

March 2
List 2 - Things I'm good at
wifing (Is that a verb?)
being a friend
my job
doing laundry (What? It's a skill!!)
ironing (don't do it lots, but I am good at it - sadly)
making a mess

March 3
List 3 - Things I am looking forward to
The weekend
Finishing the pair of socks I have started
My Saturday morning run
Watching my youngest play basketball this weekend
Saturday nights at home
Visiting my sister in April
Going to see Elton John in May
Hot weather (but not too hot)
My next marathon
Starting a new book
Coffee in the morning
Tea at night

March 4
List 4 - Today's playlist
In the bedroom
CBC 99.1 - Jim Brown and the Eyeopener
In the kitchen
Sounds of the family getting going
In the car
102.1 Radio 2 Morning with Bob Makowicz
A year of pleasures by Elizabeth Berg(Audible book on I-Pod)
In my head
Ain't good enough for you by Bruce Springsteen (Plays over and over and over.....)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The top ten reasons why I am glad my daughter came home for reading week.

Baby girl is home for reading week and here is why I like it:

10. The estrogen to testosterone level in the house is more balanced.
9. She likes to drink stinky (or fruity as my husband calls it) tea.
8. The laundry is no longer overwhelmingly black jeans and t-shirts. It also has frilly underwear and cute little socks.
7. She answers with more than a "Huh?" when I ask a question.
6. She doesn't trade fisticuffs with her brother - just for fun. (She doesn't trade fisticuffs period.)
5. She wipes down the kitchen counter.
4. She WANTS to go to the market with me - and not just because I will buy her something.
3. She never looks into the fridge and asks if we have any food in this house.
2. She will watch Glee and Grey's Anatomy with me and not tease me.

And the number one reason why I am glad she came home for reading week?

1. She's right under my nose and I get to see her - every day!!(Until she goes away again in a week!!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jan? It's about your family.....

It all started Christmas of 1990 when my family came to visit. I have 4 siblings and in 1990, my dad was still alive, so they all came for Christmas. In addition to the two of us, we were 11 in number.

We live in a large house, built in the early 1900s. (You have to know Calgary to appreciate that this is an ANCIENT house - we tend to tear everything older than 50 years down). It is large enough to absorb 11 people and not feel too squished. However, the dishwater backed up Christmas night (let me repeat - the dishwasher, Christmas, 11 people in the house).

Two years later, my brother and his boys came to visit - and the toilet got clogged. Turns out a loonie got stuck (had fallen out of someone's pants pocket into the toilet) and things wouldn't ....clear, if you catch my drift. However, my husband and brother took the toilet off and into the backyard and got the loonie out.

The next time, my family came to visit, one of the children turned the hot water on in the bidet and left it running. (Yeah, I know, a bidet. We didn't put it in and it has since been torn out, but at the time, it was a great diaper rinser.) The hot water tanks both drained - not a big deal, because they do fill up and heat up again (not quickly), but a lot of water went..... down the drain in the process.

The next time? The toilet(s) plugged again - not a loonie, not sure what it was, but not pretty.
The next time? The dishwasher broke (the main seal) so we bought a new one.
The next time? The laundry drain got blocked.
The next time? The washing machine stopped spinning.
The next time? Another new dishwasher.

And on it goes. It gets so that if there is any plumbing problem, my husband turns to me and asks which one of my family is coming to visit.

So I have booked a plumber for this weekend. My brother is coming for a visit and I want to be prepared.

P.S. I know - still nothing about the knitting. Going swimmingly - will report next time - when I find my camera card.....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In which I talk of vomit and the voice in my head (not for the squeamish)

The stomach flu went through our house this past weekend. Actually, strictly speaking, it likely has not finished going through the house, since my husband and I have not been hit.

Okay - I started this post and then felt a wee bit nauseous. Hoping against hope, I walked away from the screen, thinking it might be the power of suggestion.

If it was, it was pretty powerful. At about 3:00 a.m. Monday morning, I found myself hugging the toilet bowl. Enough said.

Sometimes I wish I would get sick - you know, not alot. Not a week's worth and not the flu - maybe just a small cold. Enough to keep me at home resting and not working, running, buying groceries, doing laundry, driving children everywhere. Sick enough to stay home, but not too sick to read and knit and listen to CBC or my Ipod. For maybe three or four days....

But no, instead, when I get sick, I get the stomach flu and feel absolutely wretched for 24 hours. But then I get back up and go back off to work Tuesday - because I am no longer throwing up, although I am not eating anything and so, you know, I owe it to the world to go back out and do my best to save it (or my part of it).

I did, out of respect for that message that Mother Nature might be trying to pass on, forego my run on Wednesday. You think I would, oh I don't know, forego the flipping laundry or something. Not me - I go back to work and forego my run.

It's the guilt complex I think - the little person who sits in my head (we all have one - mine speaks in a tone reminiscent of my Grade 4 teacher who happened to be our neighbour, commenting on the fact that my older brother was late for school AGAIN - like it was my fault).)The little voice said "Come on Jan, you can get up and go to work. Yes, your head is achy, but you aren't throwing up and you KNOW they are short-handed at work and someone will have to cover your late shift because it is YOUR DAY TO WORK UNTIL 6:00. (Yes, my voice speaks in capital letters - doesn't yours? Especially when it is ANNOYED with me).

Of course, if I did get a little cold, I would not even stay home - I would drag myself off to work (where everyone would PRETEND to be glad that I came in, but really wished I had stayed home - which of course I wouldn't have because it is only a little cold).

And of course, if I did get a little cold, no-one at home would be at all sympathetic, because I am Mom and Mom doesn't get sick - and even if she does, she will still make dinner \take me to music \pick me up from practice \empty the dishwasher \nag me to tidy the kitchen until I go stomping off upstairs, muttering about how Mom NEVER made Alessandra tidy the kitchen when she was home etc., etc. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

Really - I've decided it is just easier not to get sick......

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Designing Women

I was at my wrap-up marathon party on the week-end and I wore a sweater that I had knit (the Sunrise Circle jacket by Kate Gilbert). This is a sweater that I love. I loved knitting it - it was a simple stockinette stitch that morphed into this most incredible design, created by strategic increasing (and some decreasing, but really, mostly increasing). There were no sleeves to sew in (the bane of my knitting existence) and still, it is one of those sweaters that people just love. But when people say "You are so creative" I really want to say - "No, not me", because I think that the creativity is in the design, not the execution. And I know that this is at some level really wrong - we women always downgrade out talents and skills with a "Pfff - this old thing" kind of attitude.

But if I can put that thought aside for a minute - the designers out there in knitting land - there are some wicked talented people there. Kate Gilbert (Sunrise Circle, Samantha Roshak, Ysolda Teague (Vivian) - these are just three that I can think of at the moment (oh, I just thought of several more - Anne Hanson, Cat Bordhi,
Kirsten Kapur) - and these are just a few whose patterns I have knit or have queued in Ravelry. (Now the hamster is running - Fiona Ellis, Cookie A., Norah Gaughn, Jared Flood). Every time I knit a design (really, almost any design) I am blown away by the thought that has gone into the design process - for example, in this sweater that I just finished (Vivian), the body is knit to the underarms and then the sleeves are knit and then they are joined together in a really cool manner that incorporates the cable pattern and then slides into the shoulder, which turns into the hood - you really would need to think outside the box to put this all together. Well, I would have to think outside the box.

See I don't think I have a design bone in my body. I am one of those "follow the pattern" - and if I incorporate a change, it is not because I thought about it ahead of time. It's usually because I made a mistake and rather than rip it all out, I incorporate it into my garment. And I would really like to be able to create in that manner or really, in any manner, since I can play the piano (but not by ear and certainly not my own compositions) and I can write a little bit - but I have never really had a thought about writing a book or anything. This blog is my first foray into any kind of public writing.

The only thing I have created has been my children (in collaboration with my husband) and they are still a work in progress (I guess we all are, when you think about it). When I read about people who are "thinking" about starting to design things, it really takes my breath away, because it never even occurs to me to think about it, let alone try.

I suppose like most things, it starts small - there is an urge to find just the right garment (be it sweater or cowl) and when it can't be found, the person in question sketches out her own ideas and after some pain (probably a lot of pain) and lots and lots of ripping and re-knitting (and swearing) then the whole thing comes together.

Sometimes, I want to say "Why, yes, I knit this. Oh, and I designed it too." (I draw the line at saying I spun the wool. Despite having a spinning wheel, I have never gone beyond the rudimentary stages of learning to spin - for me that would be crazy making.) But really? That is not me - so I guess I should just say "Thank you - I did knit it" and leave it at that.

The world has to have everyone in it - the people who design, the people who spin, the people who knit. If we all just designed, there wouldn't be much of a market to cater to. Ditto for the spinners and the knitters.

But I do wish that the muse had given me just a tetch of the creative mode - just a bit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's with this cold??

So I am starting a campaign for "Stupid Cold" days - where you are stupid if you go out. The weather in Calgary this week has been downright chilly. Yesterday was -29 (with the wind chill) and today it was -20 when I got up. There is minimal wind however, so the radio stations are not reporting the wind chill - and it even looks like the sun is coming out.

I only want "Stupid Cold" days from Monday to Friday, mind you - so I don't have to go to work - just stay at home where it is sensible, to drink coffee and knit or read or nap. Since I am not in one of those jobs where the world would fall apart if I did not show up (say, like a doctor or a bus driver) I suppose I could call in sick - but I am haunted by an exalted sense of responsibility, so I haul myself out to the car and into traffic to get up to the university to do my thing. But the chair and blanket and yarn beckons relentlessly.

The local drive-home CBC show has been running a "It's so cold...." phone in this week and I have my own completion statements. It's so cold.... that my "designed in Sweden built in Canada" car window stopped working and needed an extensive, expensive repair before it would go up again. It's so cold..... that my computer hard drive got sick (i.e. developed a virus) and at last look appears headed for Mexico. It's so cold....that no one wants to run - even with all their cold weather running gear. It's so cold..... that even the teenagers are putting on hats and hoods (but no mittens - has to be -45 for mittens to appear, apparently.)

It looks to be warming up for next week, for which I am eternally grateful - people will want to run again, my car will be happy - and maybe even my computer will work again.

But I still think "Stupid Cold" days are a good idea.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I hereby resolve....

So I typically don't make resolutions. Through a long process of self-discovery, I have realized that as soon as I make a resolution, I break it. Not because I want to, as my intentions are usually pretty good. I think it is more about the things that I want to accomplish the most, I do anyway - and putting them to paper seems to somehow mean that I can rest on my laurels as I have resolved to do something - and so I don't really have to do it. (If this makes sense in any sort of convoluted way, please let me know!)

This year, however, I have decided to make them again - but make them with a goal in mind - so they are not really resolutions, but more steps towards accomplishments that I want to do anyway.
So here I go:

In 2011 I resolve:

1. To reduce the pile of books by my bedside by 50% (currently numbers somewhere in the 45 - 60 range). Why I have that many, I am not sure - it's not like the book is going to disappear the second I don't buy it (well, except for second-hand books, because someone might just snatch that bargain away from under my nose if I am not careful!) And besides - there will be less to dust....

2. Which brings me to my next resolution. To try and tidy just a BIT more often. My house generally looks like a bomb has gone off - between 2 boys still at home and lots of things to distract me AND the fact that I don't really like housework, things like dusting and vacumning never get done. I don't want to go overboard - I like a house that looks lived in and inviting - but I think the laundry on the dining room table (for 2 weeks at a time) could go. And in case any of my children are reading this? You get to be part of this too!! (Sharing is part of any good resolution strategy.)

3. To take more baths. Which will help with resolution # 1. If I don't fall asleep in the tub. Which I do. Alot.

4. Get to bed earlier. Sleep "that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care". Besides being good for me, I think it might help my productivity and my running. And maybe my weight (but I am not counting on it). Besides, sometimes I am just plain tired.

5. Knit more, instead of wasting my time playing Plants vs. Zombies. You wouldn't think a non-violence sort of person like me would like a game like that, but I do. Perhaps it relieves some latent hostility I have towards gardening. (By the way,I don't think I have latent hostility - but the zombies win more than the plants, so perhaps I need to explore that.)

6. Try (really hard) not to buy more wool. OK - why am I even writing that? Maybe I should say - only buy wool that speaks deeply to me and begs to be knit into beautiful things.

7. Stop biting my tongue so much. I think I always want to be seen as the good person - which means I often swallow my opinion instead of speaking my mind. Then I mutter (alot) under my breath. In the interests of preserving my tongue, I am going to let some of those thoughts out. I will still be nice - just a little more candid.

8. Post blogs twice a week. Just trying to set an example for my daughter - if she is reading this.....

I think that's enough. If I can achieve these 8 and feel satisfied, then it will be a good year.

Happy New Year!!