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

Nadir


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.