Monday, December 08, 2014

Liebster award.....

I was nominated awhile ago for the Leibster award - an award for bloggers to help bust their "hits" and the "hits" of others that they nominate and I took so long to respond that I have been nominated again by a blogger in another group. First I would like to thank Caro Ness for the initial award and then _____ for the follow up.

The rules are:

So here are 11 things that you may not know about me.

1. In the late 60's I spent two years living in England and taking trips on the continent mainly by hitchhiking from place to place. Everyone was doing it and it seemed quite safe. For the most part it was.

2. I hate liver, but I love pate.

3. I have 3 children - all adopted. My mother was adopted and I have two adopted sister. It's genetic in the family.

4. I taught English in high school for 15 years. I also taught Theatre Arts/Drama - loved them both.

5. I am particularly fond of poetry.

6. My favourite poets are: Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

7. I have never watched a soap opera in my life, but then I'm addicted to CSI.

8. I am an introvert, who loves parties!!

9. I have read Pukoon by Spike Milligan. I would love to know if anyone else has.

10. I actually love driving in heavy, city traffic and avoid traffic lights, so I can "force" my way into traffic from obscure side streets. It's all about keeping the adrenalin going!! I love a challenge!!

11. I  have been married for 30 years and have no complaints. Now I've never asked him, if he has any complaints - I'm sure I would have heard :)

I will answer the first 11 questions from Caro, first:

1."Have you an ambition that you still want to complete.?" I would love to go on a very long walk - like the Camino. I will be practising in Cinque Terre in June this year.

2. "Which 5 famous people (dead or alive) would you choose to have dinner with in a virtual world?" This is tricky, but I would love to chat with Pierre Trudeau, Maggy Smith, Ogden Nash, Mother Teresa, Pete Seeger.

3. "What is your favourite book?" I don't read a lot and I have never read a book twice except a poetry anthology. Probably it's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." T. S. Eliot.

4. "Do you have a phobia about anything?" As an introvert, I had trouble with public speaking. Teaching helped me overcome this. I have always had trouble phoning people and I am particularly bad at meeting people for business.

5. "If you could choose to travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?" It would be somewhere warm and sunny. I have never been to Indonesia, so maybe someplace there. I would have to do the research. Someplace interesting, like an artists' community - nothing too commercial.

6. "If I could wave a magic wand and grant you a wish what would it be?" That my kids turn out alright and lead happy successful lives!!

7. "If you could be the hero of a book or film, which would it be and who would you be?" I would be Judy Dench in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

8. "What is your favourite smell and why?" This is difficult. I love the smell of a florist's shop. My mother owned one and I did as well. As crazy as it is. I could work in one every Mother's Day!

9. "What is your favourite meal to cook and eat?" Probably pasta with clams!!

10. "What is your favourite colour?" Red - though I don't have enough of it on myself or in my home.

11. "Favourite Quotation." The more things change, the more they remain the same."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas Challenges....

All festivities have their own particular challenges, I'm sure. However, as I was hanging out of the second story window of my house the other day, in the bitter cold, trying to reach the top of a twelve foot cedar tree, with my three-pronged cultivator, I decided that celebrating Christmas, in North America anyway, had more than its share of challenges.

Let me explain. Every year we put lights outside to decorate the house for Christmas. It's more about keeping up with the neighbours, or at least the more colourful and theatrical of neighbours, than it is about faith. It's also about cheering up those long cold winter nights with a bit of sparkle. Pagan rituals duly assimilated.

In other years, we used to decorate a small cedar tree on the front lawn with blue lights - OK, we are the more subdued neighbours. However, trees grow and what was once a child sized evergreen, is now a fully grown adult conifer, with attitude :) Yes, we could just wimp out and decorate the bottom part of the tree. But no, to do it right, we really have to start at the top.

This is how I came to be hanging out of our second story bedroom window in -5ÂșC for an audience of neighbours wondering about my sanity. Yes, I was still quite sane, although a little giddy from the height. Here was my logic:

1. a. The Plan - Throw one end of a string of lights into the top of an Emerald Cedar that was almost close enough to reach from an upper window. 1. b. The Problem - first, it took three of us just to open the window, after we had moved all the bedroom furniture to one side of the room. Fortunately, no one slipped a disc, pulled a muscle or sprained a something, however, we did bend a screwdriver or two!!

2. Adjustments to the plan - Just throwing the lights at the tree didn't work and I didn't happen to have a spare grappling hook in my back pocket. Sigh! What I needed was either longer legs or longer arms. Enter the three-pronged cultivator a.k.a. arm extender.

3. The re-purposed garden tool worked!!. The lights were anchored very close to the top of the tree. Now, all my husband (who was safely on the ground) had to do was wind the strand around the tree. Well, this bit of logic, needed some more thought as well. In fact, I had to use the cultivator more than once to lift the lights higher in the tree, at regular intervals, in order to get a decent spiral. This meant more precarious leaning out of the window. Maybe I was really losing my mind!!

Tree, upper window and moon :)

Finally, in a scene worthy of Romeo and Juliet, I leaned out of the window and said to my husband, two stories below, "You don't need me anymore."

He looked up and answered, "So, is this the end?"

Thirty-five years of putting up Christmas lights and we are still together. It's all in the obstacles and the surmounting there of...and maybe a spare cultivator and/or a grappling hook or two :)

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Ravelled Life.....

I realize that I haven't posted in almost a month. This is so unlike me. After three years of posting at least every other day and every day (sort of) in 2013, I am falling short for 2014. I can explain. You see, I needed a new sweater. Below is an explanation of how ravelling (knitting) in one area of one's life can result in the unravelling of the rest of one's life.

To begin with, the old sweater was still perfectly "wearable." OK, maybe there was an unravelled stitch here or there, but it covered up the "rolls" and kept the heat in. However, I was bored with it. Yes, after 23 years, I thought, really, I need a new sweater!! It's true, I could have gone out and bought a perfectly good sweater, probably for less than the cost of the yarn and definitely in less time, than it has taken me to knit this one. Knitting, though, is more about the journey than the actual product, even though, the product is often the reason the journey was begun in the first place - I know it isn't about reason - it's about escape, creative thought and dare I say Art (design).

The "adventure" actually began last March, when my friend, Julia, decided that I needed to start knitting again. Those who have knit most of their lives, know that there is more therapy in a knitted garment then a wall of psychiatric degrees. After winding a huge skein of yarn into a correspondingly huge ball of yarn, Julia handed me my "pill." Well it was white and it was round, but it was huge!!

I was now under an obligation. I had to do something with this offering. I thought about it for quite a while. I began a few projects, but nothing was ever right. Finally, in October, after I realized that I had arranged my spice cupboard in alphabetical order, I knew that I needed help!!

In less than a minute I decided to knit a sweater in Fairisle, using a pattern I had designed and knit several times before. The base colour would be white - remember that big ball of yarn - and using my general rule of thumb, "what colours do I have the most of?" I chose Coral and Mushroom. I really should have picked a third colour to work the sweater in four, not three, colours, but the other shades were getting low and well, there was the challenge of converting a pattern designed for four colours into a pattern of three colours. Knitters are also masochists, but you have probably figured this out already.

Apart from ripping back the sleeve several times, I am almost there. Today I will begin "and finish" the last sleeve!! It's a knitting thing. If the truth were known, there are more sweaters in closets knit for one-armed-bandits than anyone would like to admit :)

And so ends my excuse for not writing in almost a month. My creativity is obviously limited. If I write, I don't knit and if I knit, I don't write. Sigh!! Oh to be given the gift of many talents.

The pictures? Sweaters I have knit and loved and yes, I still have them. Why couldn't I have just worn one of them instead of knitting a new one?  You had to ask, didn't you :)

Have a ravelled day!