Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trying to find balance

Busy week socially, so did not make much progress on the loom. Still sleying the reed although with a bit of luck I may finish that tonight. Only 30 threads to go.

I had my needlework group, my book club, my walking group and the writing group all meeting this week, plus a visit to the massage therapist, a book reading by Lisa Moore and a trip out to Waterville to get kindling for the woodstove.

In the needlework group I took a piece of knitting that I have been working on forever, or at least since 2001. That's almost forever. I had not been at the group for quite some time so there was some catching up to do with old knitter friends. One person asked about the weaving and then it turned out that one of the newer members of the group is a retired professional weaver who offered to help me wind the warp on my loom. Winding the warp can be done singlehandedly but is better done with another person, so that offer is fabulous. Hope she's not holding her breath for me to call because I'm nowhere near ready for that step.

In the book club we discussed Room, a novel about a fairly awful situation that does not dwell on the unpleasant details and is in fact quite uplifting. Some members did not want to read the book because they knew the topic and couldn't bear to have to read about it, and then were pleasantly surprised that the book itself just wasn't that awful. A sensitive and insightful look at how one adjusts to "normal life" after having lived a very abnormal life for an extended period of time. Our next book is History's People by Margaret MacMillan which I have already started reading. The second chapter is called Hubris and is about leaders who are so convinced of their own rightness that they cannot brook any compromise or opposition. I've just started that chapter and I have to say the individuals described remind me of no one so much as Donald Trump. The book was written well before the last American presidential election campaign so I'm pretty sure the author did not have that intention, but it is interesting.

The walking group went to the KenWo golf course and we did a circuit that avoided the worst of the ice. Hapi loved it. Someone else brought their dog, a little dog that she kept on leash at first but eventually let loose and he charged after Hapi. He seemed to enjoy following the much bigger dog around.

The massage therapist seems to be doing me some good, at least for several days after the appointment the pain was much reduced. I'll be going back in a few days.

A whole bunch of us from the needlework, book club and walking groups met at the book reading and decided to go out for a drink afterward, it was quite fun. I haven't been out with a group of people for drinks in a very long time.

With all the socializing I just didn't have much time for weaving or writing, so those things are stalled for the moment. It is hard to find the right balance of socializing and getting stuff done that requires a certain amount of solitude. I did meet with the writing group but I didn't read anything. It is just about as interesting to listen to other people's stories. It's like having a bunch of soap operas on the go, I want to hear the next installment.

The trip to pick up kindling also involved walking Hapi in a new location. We were following the rail trail which is long and straight and boring, but there was a side trail onto a large farm. Basically the roads that the farmer uses to get around to his various fields, all posted with signs: Private Property, Stay On Trail. So I turned northward in hopes that this farm extended to the river and the trail would take us there. It actually extended across the river but I only went as far as the bridge and then looped back to the rail trail. It was a cloudy day, not quite foggy but with low clouds that obscured the view so I actually got disoriented by the twisting of the farm roads. I ended up back on the rail trail but headed the wrong direction before I figured out my mistake. On the way back to the car we passed several industrial sites--scrap yards, storage yards, truck depots, the rear sides of woodworking and other establishments. Hapi left the trail to explore those places. Industrial wasteland is more interesting to her than a narrow straight trail from point A to B. I'd catch glimpses of her between the trees loping along looking like a wolf. She got back to the car before I did and was waiting for me.

I didn't get much sleep last night because Hapi decided to sleep on my bed and she takes up a lot of space. If I try to kick her off she waits until I have fallen asleep and then jumps back on, waking me up in the process. I tried to sleep in another room but couldn't do it, I woke up after a few hours and just couldn't get back to sleep until I moved back to the other bed. She could easily sleep in her doghouse outdoors because her fur coat is so thick, but then she would think I was punishing her for something. The older she gets the more she wants to just be with me. The first couple of years that I had her she never came indoors and aside from walking and feeding her it didn't really feel like I had a dog, just a canine presence in the backyard.

Today I am simmering the carcass of a Christmas turkey that a neighbour gave me. She was going to throw it out so I asked for it. It's not nearly done yet but smells wonderful. There was quite a lot of meat left on the carcass so I will probably eat some of that tonight, maybe make a couple of turkey sandwiches and then throw the rest back into the broth after I've removed the bones.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Wolf Moon

We had a blizzard with lots of snow. I went snowshoeing.

Then we had a thaw and it all melted. I went walking.

This latest full moon was called the Wolf Moon. Full moons always bring higher high tides, this afternoon I was out on the dike along the Cornwallis River with my dog and took some photos of the high tide.

This was higher upriver than I usually go, it is strange to see the river almost overflowing its banks due to a high tide.

I was there for the turning of the tide, shortly after I photographed the high water I could see it visibly ebbing and the current of the river became quite strong again.

My latest weaving project is still progressing slowly. I have threaded the heddles and have started sleying the reed. That is going only marginally faster than threading the heddles.

I am working on my fantasy story again, I wrote a chapter for my last writing group meeting and started a following chapter but quickly bogged down. My main character is confused about what to do next and apparently so am I. However I got some encouragement and suggestions from the group which I will work on.

One of our members started this morning's session by telling us what happened to him last week. He read his story to us and then he says he remembered nothing after that until he was standing outside looking for his car. He said he was confused about where he was, what he was doing, even what day it was. He managed to get home and told his wife about it, she was concerned. Then he phoned one of our writing group and asked her if he had been behaving oddly, because he had no memory at all of how our meeting went after his turn reading out loud. She encouraged him to call his doctor which he did, and the doctor thought he had had a mini-stroke. He has decided to do nothing about it; aside from the memory loss he doesn't feel anything else happened to him. His doctor thinks the mini-stroke may have been triggered by stress due to the nature of the material he was reading to us.

I don't remember anything odd about his behaviour or appearance last week. I was sitting beside him and I noticed nothing. I know we spoke briefly to each other but I can't actually say whether it was before or after he read his piece. It is disconcerting to think that he was having a significant health event only a few feet away from me and I noticed nothing.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Another year

I have been thinking about making changes in 2017. I think that my best chance at success is to not be too drastic.

Two things I want to address are sugar and TV. In the evening I watch more TV than I would like, and while I am watching I snack, often on sugary stuff. I never used to have a sweet tooth, but it seems to have grown over the past few years. I think that sitting around watching TV is conducive to mindless snacking. So my goal is to reduce the TV time and the sugar consumption.

So far I have to say that cutting out sugar is at least as hard as, if not harder than, quitting smoking. I tell myself one day at a time, and, I don't have to eliminate it just cut it back. I think that finding something else to do in the evening than watch TV is going to be key. If I am busy I don't snack. I thought I would try not watching TV every other night, but judging by tonight I think that is going to be harder than I imagined.

On another topic, I had a helluva time with the warp on my loom. It got quite tangled and took a long time to untangle. At which point I realized I was missing half a dozen threads. I think I have it fixed but it is still a long way from finished and I won't really know if my fix worked until I get it all on the loom. Slow progress.

I took a break from my writing group (and writing) over the holiday season but went back last night and this morning. Which meant I had to write something. I decided on another Bedtime Story, which worked out pretty well. So far I have three Bedtime Stories, although one is divided into three parts (three nights), so I suppose I have five Bedtime Stories. Sort of. I am aiming for ten. I started rereading The Wheel of Time and was kind of surprised at the similarities between that and my own fantasy story, a little dismaying. You think you have totally made something up out of thin air and it turns out you didn't.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Hapi on the earthen dam of the Wolfville watershed lake

I often take Hapi to the Wolfville Reservoir, which is really only an emergency reservoir now as Wolfville gets its water from drilled wells near the dykes. When I lived here in the '70s and '80s there was no public access because it really was the town water reservoir. But the real source of water was the Wolfville Reservoir up on Gaspereau Mountain, which was piped down the mountain, across the Gaspereau Valley and the Wolfville Ridge to the town. I don't know if it fed the in-town reservoir or went somewhere else, but the pipe is no longer maintained and the old reservoir on Gaspereau Mountain became the Nature Conservancy, or Wolfville Watershed.

The photo above is the Old Wolfville Reservoir at the heart of the Conservancy/Watershed, which Hapi and I visited yesterday. We followed a couple of trails along the lake and into the woods. It was a cold clear day and there were quite a lot of other people (and dogs) there too. The trails were quite icy. I met three people and their two dogs on one trail, they asked if the trail circled around the lake and I told them that it did not. I've been on this trail several times, initially in hopes that it did circle around the lake but now I know that it does not. So they said that in that case they would head back to the lake and follow the Havey Trail. I'd never heard of that trail so I asked them where it was and they gave me directions. We didn't go, but I made a note of it for another time.

On the trail

At one point I lost Hapi and had to backtrack to find her. She'd found a frozen rabbit carcass and was busy scarfing it down, ignoring my insistent calls to Come. She did not eat her supper last night and this morning her tummy is growling loudly, I do believe it is the rabbit.

On the way home I deeked into the grocery store one last time in 2016 and met a couple, Peter and Anne, that I hadn't seen in a while. We chatted about various things including weaving (turns out Peter is a weaver which I didn't know before) and various aging issues. They had moved from their farm into town and I asked them how that was working out. They found living in town a big adjustment but the town they moved to was a good choice. Anne invited me to drop in any time, "the tea kettle is always on."

I have survived Christmas and New Years for another year. I was invited to two parties for New Years Eve, one of them was a group of single women and the other a large group of Gaspereau neighbours. I did not have the emotional stamina for a large party of mostly couples so had my heart set on the other party, but unfortunately the host came down with a fever and had to cancel. So I didn't go to any parties. I did go for an hour up the street to a neighbour's place and we shared glasses of The Captain (Captain Morgan rum, her favourite). Edna urged me to drink more and was appalled that I put more coke than rum in the glass, but her son admonished her to stop bullying me and let me set my own limits. He's a teetotaller. He had a late Christmas present for Hapi, a squeaky tennis ball, but it was way past Hapi's bedtime and she was only marginally interested.

I went to bed before midnight and there must have been fireworks because when I woke up at 3.00am she was camped outside my bedroom door (she usually sleeps in the basement) and had peed in the kitchen. I invited her onto my bed, she would never come in or get up on the furniture without being invited. But she did get up on the bed and hung out there for maybe half an hour. Then I guess her courage returned and she spent the rest of the night outside in her doghouse.

Hapi recovering her courage

I have started dressing the loom for another project, I will post photos another time. Basically a warp for two small rugs in a goose eye pattern with a warp in two colours, a dark blue grading into a dark red from one side to the other. It is experimental in several ways: the warp colours, the sett which is tighter than it should be in hopes of making a stiffer rug, and the width which is actually wider than the loom itself but I think will shrink down to the allowable width (27") hopefully before it winds around the cloth roller at the front of the loom. Since the warp is long enough for two rugs, I may vary the basic goose eye pattern for the second one to something else, we'll see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The ice, the mail and a rug

We had a large amount of snow on the ground last week, I thought we were in for a white Christmas for sure. But over the past weekend we went from -15C to +15C (with rain) and then back to -15C (briefly) so most of the snow is gone and what remained froze. Most of the trails are now quite icy. But with sun and temperatures this side of zero in the daytime I expect we'll lose the remaining little bit of snow before Christmas.

I took the picture above at the reservoir; the pond that used to be full of ducks is now covered by ice so smooth and glassy you can see the reflection of surrounding trees in it.

In October I ordered a used book online that just arrived today. Very disappointing because it is not what it purported to be. I wanted the revised edition of A Handweaver's Pattern Book and got the first edition, which is a very different book. The revised edition is more extensive and errors in the first edition have been corrected. I ordered it form Abe Books but it came from Powell's Books in Portland Oregon. I called their 1-800 number and they apologized for it not being what it was supposed to be and told me they were unable to fulfill the order correctly, so they would refund my money and I could keep the book and perhaps pass it on to someone else who might like it, since I already have a copy. Very nice of them but still disappointing, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book.

I have now emailed a place in Ontario that says they have the book, both in new and possibly used copies. The used copies would be cheaper but at this point I am prepared to pay the extra for the newer version. From their online description they at least seem to understand the difference between the first and second editions so I await their response with optimism. Unfortunately they are closed over the holiday season so I doubt I will hear from them before January.

In my town we don't have door-to-door mail delivery, we pick up our mail at the Post Office. I read and hear about the controversy around discontinuing home mail delivery in favour of group postal boxes, and how it will be so hard on disabled and elderly citizens. But here, we have never had home delivery, going to the Post Office is the accepted way to get your mail. And it is such a social occasion: you meet people there, it's a great source of local gossip, and they give biscuits to dogs. My dog is hugely in favour of that. I would be far more concerned it they shut down the local Post Office. A Postal Outlet has opened in the neighbouring drugstore but it is not the same thing at all, all you get is mail and postal supplies, no socializing, no gossip, no dog biscuits.

I have devised a rug pattern in my head for my next weaving project. It is too difficult to draw it on paper (I wish I had software to do it for me) so I can only go by numbers (how many warp threads of each colour in what order, which heddles they must be threaded through) and hope for the best. It will be quite wonderful if it turns out more or less how I imagine it. I was just going to do a short warp—one rug—but then thought I might go for broke and make it a long warp. Once again I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I have a hard time keeping things simple.

I've been sick with a cold the past week and quite lacking in motivation so consequently I have not done the necessary sewing to complete the first project. I should really finish that before starting a new project I guess, but I am concerned that if I leave warping the loom for too long I will forget my hard-earned knowledge of how to do it.

Friday, December 16, 2016


This is the sun just after noon today, on a really snow-squally cold day. I'm not going anywhere today, Hapi is sleeping in her doghouse and I am nursing another cold. I am supposed to usher for two shows tonight and tomorrow night but I won't make it, too much coughing and snuffling. I hate being sick, it's right up there with hating Christmas, so I guess this is all very well-timed.

I have all these things I could be doing but being sick just saps the motivation right out of me. Look at that photo of the sun, look at how low in the sky it is! At noon! Everything is at its nadir: the sun, the weather, my health, my mood.

One of my neighbours dropped by yesterday to ask if I was thinking about going to the Community Christmas dinner, and it turns out we're both equivocal about it. I think it got left at, if one of us feels the urge to go we should call the other and we'd go together. If not, then we wouldn't go. Then later in the day a friend phoned to invite me for dinner just before Christmas. That would be nice but will hinge on whether I'm any healthier by then. Based on how long my last bout of illness lasted, I am not optimistic. However I had a fever last time and not this time, so perhaps I'm not as sick and will recover faster.

Last night I wanted something easy and tasty for dinner, I thought I'd have baba ganoush on pita bread with a ginger carrot soup. The soup took a little effort but I thought the pita bread would be easy (and tasty). Turned out the pitas were mouldy so that was a no-go, but I had been thinking about how good it was going to taste for so long that it was really hard to give it up. I tried to think of a substitute for pita bread that did not involve baking or shopping. So I ended up putting dollops of the baba ganoush on corn chips and topping them with cut up lettuce leaves. It sort of worked, but I wish the pitas hadn't gotten mouldy. The carrot soup on the other hand turned out really well.

The carrots for the soup were from my garden several years ago. I left them in the ground and in the spring I dug them up but they didn't look like they would keep very long so I cooked and froze them, some as chopped carrot and some as mashed carrot. The soup was from some of the mashed carrot. There is still more in the freezer so I will probably have some more ginger carrot soup this winter. I also added coconut milk, onion, garlic and thai curry mix, and put a dollop of yogurt on top. Could have put some parsley on top, but this was supposed to be an easy meal and I had run out of energy; the thought of cutting parsley was just too tiring. I cut the lettuce for the pita and baba ganoush substitute instead.

Monday, December 12, 2016

End of season fatigue

Weaving project uncut: this only shows half the length.

Weaving and Writing Fiction classes both ended last week. Managed to get the weaveing project in class done and off the loom. Not totally done, it still needs to be cut up and hemmed, which hasn't happened yet. The instructor insisted that I not try to hem by hand but rather sew it up by machine; I have a sewing machine but have never used it, never learned how to. When I bought it free sewing lessons were thrown in to the deal, but I never took advantage. And never learned in school Home Ec courses either because I was so scared of the machine that I always traded off any necessary machine sewing for hand sewing with classmates. I only bought the sewing machine because I thought I should really come to terms with my fear and learn how to sew, but beyond buying the machine I never took the next obvious step. Until this week.

I told a friend about not knowing how to machine sew and she immediately offered a sewing lesson, going so far as to actually book a time to do it. She came over to my house this week and proceeded to show me how to use the machine. She actually got me kind of excited about the idea of learning to sew, she was looking over my machine and its accompanying manual and expressed admiration for all that it could do. Apparently it is even capable of serging, as well as machine embroidery and regular straight and zigzag stitches. Who knew. So now it sits on my dining table awaiting my attentions, I even have an old bedsheet to practice on before I commit to actually cutting and hemming my weaving project. However it has been a busy week and I have not had the time. I hope I don't lose enthusiasm for the project before I finally have the time to engage with it.

The writing class is one I have been in for several years now. I'm working on a never-ending fantasy story. It is so long that it will have to be a 'trilogy' or some other mode of dividing up a very long story. I wish I could have started my writing 'career' with a short story, or at least a novel with a beginning, middle and end in some sort of real time. My interest in completing it waxes and wanes, but since I have nothing else to write about, it's kind of that or nothing. I am nearing an 'ending' (of the first book of the series), I wake in the middle of the night thinking about how that will happen. I'm planning to take a break from it over the holiday season, too many other things I want to do.

The writing class has now spawned several writing groups, one of which I belong to. We call it The Sobey Sessions, since we meet in the community room of a local grocery store of that name (Sobey's). Initially it was just to keep some of us going between classes (the course runs for a couple of months once a year), but it has taken on a life of its own.

I am not particularly well. I think I know what is wrong and I don't think it is anything a doctor can help me with so I haven't bothered to go. It involves extreme fatigue, which means that I really have limited energy and can accomplish only so much in a day. My dog relishes her long walks and that pretty much uses up the limited energy I have, making me a little resentful of her but also guilty that I can't do more for her. She spends many hours lying around looking bored. I hate that I can't just let her run loose, that I have to be her jailer.

I have been taking her regularly to the reservoir park which is an off-leash dog park with two large ponds. Used to be the town water reservoir but is now kept only as an emergency backup. A whole lot of mallards have been staying there this fall in two groups, one on each pond. The larger pond froze over a week ago, the ducks in that pond moved over to the smaller pond.

Before: the ducks on the small pond before the ducks on the larger pond joined them.

Then it turned quite cold and Hapi and I went elsewhere for her walk. Saturday morning we went back to the reservoir and most of the ducks were gone, maybe twenty or so still left on the small pond (there were hundreds before).

After: all that's left of both ponds of ducks.

There was ice forming around the edge of that pond, it may be frozen over by now. I will miss the ducks, their cheerful quacking brightened my mornings.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas calls

It's the Christmas season. I hate it.

The other day I was talking to a friend who said that her daughter was married to a Muslim man who refused to celebrate Christmas, even though she (the daughter) participated in various Muslim holy days. She (the friend, mother of aforesaid daughter) said it was kind of a damper on Christmas celebrations in her family.

Personally, I'm with the Muslim husband/son-in-law. I don't like it and would rather not celebrate it. I'm in survival mode now, just trying to get through it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A day in the city

I finished the weaving project on my loom at home a few days ago. Took it off the loom, knotted the fringe and cleaned up the loose ends. The loom is empty and ready for a new project. I'm thinking another rug, wider but maybe not as long, not sure yet. I can use at least two more rugs in the house, one for the bathroom and one for the hallway. This one I think will go on the floor of the loom room. And if there is still yarn left, then maybe another one for the bedside in the basement (true confessions: I sleep in the basement because it is dark and cool and it is my dog's preferred sleeping room).

Yesterday I went to the Big City to do some weaving. I realized that I was not going to complete my project by the end of the last class (next Wednesday) and was going to have to come in another day to do that, but parking is only free weekends and evenings and all my weekends in December are spoken for, so that meant I either had to come in the evening or this weekend. I hate driving home late at night, it is the one thing I loathe about going to the city for this class. And Sunday (today) the weather was supposed to be bad, so by process of elimination I had to go yesterday, on Saturday.

I took Hapi with me. She had to stay in the car while I did my weaving, which took about three hours, by the time that I got a snack at the Farmers' Market next door and waited for the centre's doors to open at 11.00 am (the website said 10.00 am so I arrived at 10.30). I got enough weaving done that I think I will be able to finish my project on Wednesday. If not, then I don't know whether I will find time to finish before 2017.

After I completed the weaving I took Hapi for a walk through the city downtown to the NSCAD art supply store to see if they had yarn I could use for weaving at a good price. Specifically, I was looking for 2/8 cotton thread. They did indeed have it but in a limited range of colours. I bought seven half-pound spools.

Hapi pranced regally the whole way, garnering lots of stares. She is a large proud dog, beautiful and she knows it. We returned to the car via the waterfront walkway. Then I drove to Point Pleasant Park, a very large park on a peninsula with views of the harbour and out to sea. The interior of the park is wooded with lots of off-leash trails. In fact, the only place dogs are required to be on leash is the trail along the shore of the park, the rest is pretty much an off leash area. It is wonderful, in my opinion as a dog owner. Dogs run around free and there are many of them of all shapes and sizes. Hapi had never been there and was I think quite amazed. So many dogs, so little time! They all have to check each other out and Hapi was zigzagging from one dog to the next. Lots of garbage bins for disposing of doggie-do, which makes the walk so civilized for owners. Dogs off leash are happy and the whole space has such a joyful air. I can appreciate that non-dog-lovers might not appreciate this but I do.

Finally, to complete the Big City trip, I stopped at the Lebanese Bakery to pick up some food items available only there. The aroma of spices that greets you when you first open the door is wonderful, I browse the shelves slowly to enjoy the scent as long as possible. Since it was late in the day some of the items I wanted were sold out but I expected that. Will have to go back another time, not a hardship. Across the street from the bakery is a Latin cafe that sells Mexican food in a tiny grocery attached to the restaurant. I picked up two packages of frozen corn tortillas, one for me and one for a friend (if she doesn't want the package then I will have to eat them myself, also not a hardship).

I got everything done that I wanted, and I think I made it up to Hapi for having to sit in the car for three hours with a prance through downtown and a social outing in the park. I went home and had pizza and beer to cap off a perfect day.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Oh my aching back, it must be Thursday.

Thursday morning, tired and sore. Got home late, went to bed late with back pain from three hours of driving and three hours of weaving, didn't sleep that well and woke up early hardly able to move. So I'm in no rush to get out the door and walk the dog, even though I have run out of milk and coffee (!!!). Good news is that this past summer I managed to wean myself off of milk in my coffee so running out of milk is not so bad, and there was just enough coffee grounds for this morning and maybe tomorrow. Which means I can postpone the milk (and dog) run until this afternoon :-).

I did remember to take a picture of the weaving project:

Now you can see the plaid. Already I can see "room for improvement", if I do this again I would arrange the colour blocks a little differently. And definitely change the sett to something a little looser. But I guess the day I stop seeing room-for-improvement I'll be dead.

Here are some duck pictures from yesterday's walk:

There were a whole bunch of ducks perched in this tree, but by the time I got the picture set up there were only these there left, The Fearless Three.

My dog is out of the picture frame but that is what these ducks are interested in. They could care less about me, it's all about the dog.

I was watching some of them playing, they like to skip along the surface, as if about to take off flying but they don't. One duck had a variation on the theme, she swam under the surface like a loon between skips. Looked like she was doing the Australian crawl, impressive.

I used to watch duck families in a lagoon on the waterfront of New Westminster, the baby ducks could swim under water but the adults couldn't, all they could do was bob around with their tails in the air. I think as ducklings grow up they become more buoyant and can't swim underwater anymore, so instead they do that bobbing thing, trying to reach down with their bills. So that duck swimming underwater yesterday was very talented, very unusual. Or just not that buoyant.