Friday, October 30, 2009

Reinventing the wheel.

My cousin came to my door the other day with her favourite sweater in hand. "I was at a client's," she said, "and her cat chewed a hole in it."

She was very specific - she wasn't asking me to fix it, she was asking me to show her how to fix it, but...this is a beginning knitter, never darned a stitch in her life, talking to me about a hole in her sweater. Just the thought of explaining exactly how to do it made me tired. I did try, but after a few minutes I said "Y'know what? leave it with me."

I pulled it out this afternoon and examined it, reflecting with a frown that I don't think I have anything remotely like this yarn in the stash...I'm certainly not going to use contrasting yarn...what to do, what to do.

Wait a second - do I have roving in this colour? I'm pretty sure I do.
So now I can say I've drafted, spindle-spun, and plied a .7 meter long piece of Twist of Fate top in order to fix a cardigan bearing this tag:
(Made in China. By Joe. 70% acrylic, 20% wool, 5% mohair, 5% alpaca. At least they got 30% of it right.)

That's me: needlessly complicating things for over 30 years. A fine tradition of pointless excellence.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Braids, buns.

I finally tried the Latvian braid from the Lizbeth Upitis book…it turned out pretty well.


And doesn’t my breakfast look good?


Friday, October 16, 2009

18 Plus 18

Today is International Day of Shan. Today I am thirty-six.

I am going to have a great day. Schedule:

1030 - Yarn sale at the LYS with my friend. I have a sweater bag of Jo Sharp Silk Road DK (50% off) in my cross hairs.
1130 - Coffee (with chance of lunchy stuff), with said friend and my children.
1300-1600 - Tea party/knitting frenzy with Mum.
1730 - OUT for dinner! Amazing! I plan on jasmine rice with coconut madras. I will wear my new vest. Knitting pics later when the sun returns (April-May).
1900 - Home for cake. CAKE, BY ALL THAT IS HOLY. I was going to make one, as usual, but Mr HSB walked in while I was planning, and said "I can buy you a cake, you know."

Yes, thank you, I will take the chocolate mousse.


* Time passes slowly until you're about 27. Then one day you make another pot of coffee, pay a bill, watch a little TV, and when you check the clock you're turning 36.
* When you're 36, stuff that happened 18 years ago is surprisingly vivid.
* And it's weird to clearly remember events of three decades ago. One of these days (like, tomorrow) I'll be able to remember events of six decades ago. I'm betting it'll be weird then, too.
* I used to assume that when I was in my thirties I'd have it all together. I don't, though. You won't either. (Link is to a sound clip, language warning.)
* Gravity and evaporation are not your friends. Hydrate, people, hydrate.

Enjoy my birthday, peoples! Maybe there's a pint somewhere with your name on it and you can heft it in my honour.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Three Day Road

I have this theory that a book cannot be published by Penguin and be bad. Some would disagree – I mentioned my theory to an older relative recently and he sighed about how nice it must be to be so naive, to have intact illusions.

And he’s quite right…it is nice. Someday I might meet a bad Penguin, but that day hasn’t come yet, and in the meantime I am basking in the bliss of ignorance.

I spent the last three days reading a most rewarding Penguin. Three Day Road is a story of two Cree boys (bush Cree, they clarify, not plains Cree) who join up to fight with the Canadians in World War I. The book is written as a retrospective – again, my favourite structure. I love it when you know the end, but you have to read the book to find out what led to it: how the characters got to their destinations.

Niska, Xavier’s aunt, is an Ojibwe-Cree woman living alone, and off the land. In 1919 she receives word that Xavier, who she raised from childhood and who is her only surviving relative, is returning from France. She goes to the city to meet the train. On the three-day canoe journey home, with Xavier broken in mind and body, they unfold their stories to each other.

There aren’t many characters in Three Day Road…or, more accurately, the three central figures are so intense, so absorbing, that the other people seem washed out by comparison. Xavier, Elijah, and Niska, their internal conflicts, their memories, and their actions, dominate the emotional landscape. Boyden has drawn them with impressive skill, using their voices carefully and consistently.

Three Day Road is a glorious novel. There is a lot of pain in its pages, but the stories of trench warfare and the slow erosion of sanity and dignity are not what haunt my memory most clearly. What survives in my mind are images of the Northern Ontario forest, the glimpses into the traditional ways of the Cree, and, most important of all, the characters’ internal beauty.

Three Day Road was passed to me from my uncle, and normally in situations like this I read the book and then pass it on to someone else in turn. This book, though, isn’t going anywhere. It’s getting a bookplate, and I’m already planning a re-read in the New Year.

Thanks Joe and Dave, for such a wonderful Penguin.

HSB Highly-Specialised Book Rating System

Three Day Road gets:

Reread: Yes
Bookplate: Yes
Given to Others: Yes


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Watch the birdie, now! Watch the birdie!

It’s come to my attention that at least one of you thinks I ought to get busy, do some kind of song and dance, put up a post, whatever. But the spirit hasn’t moved, and in fact I’m in an utterly foul and wretched mood at the moment, so the best I can do is to tell you a joke.

Once upon a time, there was an offer of the Royal Navy. Captain Bravado showed no fear before his enemies, even in the heat and chaos of battle, and had earned the respect and admiration of the crew for his unflinching courage in the face of danger. One day the man in the crow’s nest spotted a pirate ship approaching, and the crew became frantic as the lookout screamed his warning. Captain Bravado bellowed, “Bring me my red shirt!” The first mate quickly handed the Captain his red shirt and, while wearing the brightly coloured garment, the Captain led his crew into battle, defeating the swarthy pirates.

That evening, all the men sat around on deck recounting their day of triumph. One of them asked the Captain, “Sir, why did you call for your red shirt before the battle?”

The Captain replied, “If I were to be wounded in the attack, the shirt would not show my blood. You men would continue to fight, unafraid.”  And all the men marvelled at the courage of their indomitable leader.

As dawn came the next morning, the lookout spotted not one, not two, but seven pirate ships approaching! The crew stared, trusting and expectant, at the Captain, waiting for his usual orders. Captain Bravado gazed with steely eyes upon the motley armada arrayed against his ship, and, without a sign of fear, turned and shouted:

“Bring me my brown pants.”

Friday, October 02, 2009

The dream world of millions.

Yann Martel has sent the Prime Minister a Harlequin romance novel….I love it.

(The sending, not the novel.)