30 December 2007

Has it been a whole week?

I did try to write something earlier in the week, but I have felt rather... drained this week, so blogging took a spot close to the bottom of the pile. Instead, I have been social, I have celebrated, I have photographed things, listed stuff on etsy, done some reading and some writing, tidied, completed lots of online jigsaw puzzles (through Puzzle Bee on Facebook), watched some movies -- including going out to see Sweeney Todd (which I liked but didn't love)-- and just hung out with family and friends.

I guess really it's been a typical Christmas break, after all.

Here's a few of my favourite photos from the last few days....


set_for_xmas_dinner

lifeboat


coffeehaikunumbered

23 December 2007

The twenty-fifth approaches.

It's funny. This year, when it was late November and Christmas decorations were up, I was OK with it (usually I maintain a shield of humbug until mid-December) but now I think I am all Christmas-ed out before the big day.

I had Thursday and Friday off, and they were very nice days off indeed... did some last minute shopping, took a few photos, had lunch out both days, and generally relaxed and enjoyed myself.
Yesterday was a little more chaotic... we risked shopping in the eye of the storm (i.e. we braved Mayfair Mall at mid-day) but were able to find a parking spot near an entrance, get what we needed, and get out (after pointing and laughing at all the over-stressed parents in line at Toys-R-Us).

Today, despite sleeping in, I have been tired all day... and little things have added up to make today seem very, very long.

Tomorrow, we head for the mainland for a short visit then back for Christmas night. We have a ferry reservation to get there... but not back... so I am expecting a considerable wait at the terminal on Christmas Day. Sigh. I will have a book and some knitting handy.

Until then....



"Merry Christmas and belated wishes for Solstice and Hannukah."

21 December 2007

Box Lunch


nautical_nellies_box_lunch
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
This amazing little bookshelf held my lunch today at Nautical Nellie's.

On top is tuna tataki -- sesame crusted and just barely seared then thinly sliced so that it is almost like sashimi. It was drizzled with hoisin sauce and served with pickled ginger and watercress. Next were two delicate ham and cheese biscuits, then a mixed green salad with a fruit vinigarette dressing and the soup of the day -- this was a tomato bisque. The "box lunch" was reasonably priced at $12.50. I also ordered a side of sauteed BC wild mushrooms ($5) which were equally delicious.

I'll admit, I was shocked from the moment my Mom and I walked inside, because the last time I passed by (and was paying attention) the place looked like a cheezy seafood place (I swear I remember seeing fishing nets on the ceiling). Now, the place has fine dining written all over it, and food that more than matches the decor.

Nautical Nellie's has been serving steak and seafood on Wharf Street for a decade, and I am now kicking myself for not having paid more attention -- because the meal was fantastic.

Seriously, if you haven't been, and are looking for a nice place for dinner, I can't give a much higher recommendation.

19 December 2007

Bittersweet day...

My first official job here at the University was in the Stack Maintenance Unit of the main library -- I shelved books. When I first started, all the books were sorted in one central room on the 3rd floor then trucked out to all other floors for shelving. It had been done that way for a very long time; I know, because my Mother used to work in the same department and I used to come up on weekends to help sort the kids' books and wander around the library.

In the 1990s, the sorting was decentralized and each floor got its own sorting area, but third floor still used the large room, which frequently filled to capacity during peak return times.

A few years ago, there was another change, as a new return/sorting area was added in the basement (soon to be "lower level") of the library. From here, books are trucked to the other sorting areas before being shelved. But, the third floor sorting area was still fairly full just a couple of weeks ago.

Now it is empty and much of its shelving will be dismantled in coming days in preparation for demolition of the last remaining "inside" (i.e. behind locked doors) study carrels in the library. Some of the existing area used for the sorting room plus all of the study carrel area will be replaced with shelving to hold the music monographs when the music collection relocates to the new Media Commons on the main floor in February.

So, while I was happy that I got to take some photos of this soon-to-be-gone part of my past, it's a bittersweet happiness, as the photos will be all that will remain by the time I come back from the break in January.
.

18 December 2007

Intersection of woe and my eyes, they burn..

Sometimes, you just shouldn't mix your craftgrrl side with your fangrrl side...

Heidi of MyPaperCrane usually makes cutesy anthropomorphic objects, but she crossed a line with her creepy Star Wars dolls.

17 December 2007

Hey, DJ!

You know, if I had buckets of money one of the side jobs I'd probably try just for the heck of it would be to DJ at a club. No, really. I used to love being on the dance-floor and realizing that the song had changed but I hadn't noticed because the DJ had run them together so smoothly. That sort of beat-mixing really rocks my world (literally and figuratively). Now, it's been a long time since I have been to a club (now I would just be one of those sad 30something people that my 20something self used to snicker about) but I still listen to a lot of music.

Once in a while, I will crank my mp3 player to "ridiculously loud" (one setting below "you must really want to go deaf") and just lose myself in the beat. Usually this is on the bus and sometimes leads to me looking quite crazy as I forget that people can see me while I lipsync along or bob my head, tap my fingers or otherwise groove to the rhythm; it looks especially odd when my headphones are "invisible" under my long hair. Still, I don't much care, being a sad 30something anyway.

When I was a teen, two of my friends set up their own "canned music" business. They would pile all their equipment (a mixer, two turntables, a cassette deck, and a brand new thing called a CD player, plus various speakers, amps and cables) plus a fairly huge music collection into the back of a very big Volare station wagon and haul everything to a local rec centre for all ages dances on Friday nights. Usually, I had nothing better to do but tag along, so I learned a lot about mixing from them.

Later, another friend actually had a regular gig at a club (on an off night like Wednesday) and I went a few times, but I never liked the way he mixed tracks -- they often crashed into each other in the aural equivalent of a fender bender -- and I always thought I could do better. Instead, I expressed myself with mixtapes and later mixCDs. Of course I didn't use a mixer for either format, but I did try to make sure the songs flowed from one to the next.

Now, though, it's just me and my mp3 player... and when it is on shuffle, I don't have any control over how well (or how poorly) the tracks will mesh... but once in a while... I get that perfect blend... and I'm all smiles for the rest of the day.


16 December 2007

Ma Cobb's Hat

OK, I know this blog has been knitting-heavy of late but so has my spare time :)

Anyway, when last we spoke of knitting, I mentioned my decision to make myself a Jayne Cobb hat from a pattern I found online. Well, there are about 6 patterns and none of them really worked right for the needles I had with the yarn in my stash. So, after studying all the patterns, I decided to just go ahead and make my own pattern. Here it is, sort of a mish-mash of other patterns plus my own counts for decreasing. If you want to use this to make your own, go ahead! If you want to sell the hats you make, have at it -- I have released this with a Creative Commons license! (A printable version of this pattern is also available)

Ma Cobb Hat



Use 6.5 mm needles with bulky/chunky yarn (gague: 12 st x 24 rows = 4"square)
Original hat uses dark orange and dark yellow for the body, and a burnt red-orange for the ear flaps. I suspect Ma Cobb was the frugal type and merely chose colours from leftover yarn in her stash, but if you really care about accuracy to the original, check out the other patterns for colour suggestions.

Beanie portion:

Cast on 60 stitches (for a slightly tighter hat, cast on 56 stitches and adjust following counts accordingly; a child's size should start with 52 stitches).
Next 4 rows *K2, P2* repeat to end
Next 10 rows stst; change to yellow yarn and continue in stst for another 6 rows
to decrease:
*K2, K2tog* repeat to end (45 stitches on needle); purl row, knit row, purl row
*K1, K2tog* repeat to end (30 stitches on needle); purl next row
*K2tog* repeat to end (leaving 15 stitches on needle)
Purl row then cut yarn and draw end back through remaining stitches. This will leave a little hole at the top which will make it easier to attach the pompom later.
Sew the seam together on the inside of the beanie.

Earflaps:

Right side: from the seam, count forward about 8 to 10 stitches then pick up 12 stitches using the red-orange yarn.
Starting with a purl row, work in stst for about 3 inches then start to reduce as follows:
K2tog, K8, K2tog.
P4, P2tog, P4
K2tog, K5, K2tog
P7
K2tog, K3, K2tog
P2tog, P, P2tog
K1, K2tog, slip first stitch through second to cast off. Cut yarn and pull through, leaving the tail hanging. Cut another length of yarn, roughly double the length of the tail and attach to bottom of earflap, making a small tassel effect.

Left side: from the seam, count forward about 8 to 10 stitches then pick up 12 stitches using the red-orange yarn. Slip all stitches on to opposite needle and work as for right ear flap.

Pompom:
Make a large pompom (use your favourite method -- finger wrapping or template) from all three shades of yarn used and attach to top of hat. In the spirit of the one worn by Jayne, the pompom should not be too full and should be roughly trimmed .



Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License
by Cheryl DeWolfe.

Just in case you missed it, here's another link to the printable version of the Ma Cobb Hat.
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14 December 2007

Aw, crap.

Some people seem to feel like they need to ruin everything.

Some sad, twisted, individual took the time to volunteer for Canada Post's Letters-to-Santa program only to write rude and inappropriate replies to children. Nice job, idiot.

The program has been running over 25 years. Now, who knows what will become of it.

12 December 2007

More Knitting....


finished_slippers
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
A while ago, while I was furiously working to finish the Doctor Who Scarf, Kiddo asked me if I would knit her a pair of slippers. "Sure!" I said. Then I knit a bunch of baby hats... and then I took a break.

Soon enough I was itching for something else to knit. "I know!" I thought, "Slippers!"

So, I dug out the pattern (a very tattered photocopy of a "free leaflet" from Patton's -- "Speedy Slippers to Knit") and grabbed some happy kid-friendly multicoloured yarn and started knitting. I had them done in no time and she just loves them.

Now that I have finished the slippers I can start on something else... something for me, I think! I want to learn to knit in the round (circulars or maybe even -- gasp! -- double points) so I figure the perfect entry into that is to make my own fangrrl wear: a Jayne Cobb hat (from Firefly, for those not in the know).

In the meantime, I got an invite to Ravelry but not until after I had already added the Stitchbook application to my Facebook account. So, yeah, I can track my knitting projects a little more effectively now. Also those will help to ensure that this won't turn into "Cheryl's Knitting Blog."

10 December 2007

On a lighter note...

.. much lighter....



This SNL skit, featuring Pete Schwetty (Alec Baldwin), the owner of Season's Eatings, is one of my favourites. The best part about it being on YouTube is that you can actually listen to it in the background, as if you were listening to NPR, and the jokes are just that much funnier.

CopyWRONG legislation....

Canada's leaders have bent over, yet again, in the face of pressure from American industry -- this time it's the RIAA . Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry, plans to introduce legislation that would allow for creepy digital rights management (DRM) technologies to infiltrate Canada.

DRM sucks. Plain and simple.

Lots of Canadians are already up in arms and have started complaining, protesting, and imploring their MPs to think twice before screwing over the average consumer. Michael Geist has a great post on the subject -- The Canadian DMCA: What you can do -- that includes links to MPs addresses and other ways you can join the fight. I wrote a letter to my MP which I cribbed from the Online Rights Canada action pages.

07 December 2007

(Not so) Deep Thoughts

A new gem from Kiddo: we were watching the Friends episode with Rachel's baby shower and she says,

"Why do they call it a baby shower?
It's not like it
rains babies.
"

kiddos_umbrella

(Yes, we have raised a smart ass.)

A bit of bragging...

Yesterday, among the flyers for pizza, real estate agencies, and phone service, we received our copy of MP Denise Savoie's calendar. As I mentioned last month, one of my photos had been selected for the month of April, here it is:

savoie_calendar

I am very pleased with this; now on my "to do" list is building an online (and print) portfolio -- of my published writing and photos, and of my other creations which have been sold or otherwise distributed outside my family!

06 December 2007

Craft Fair Success!


craft_display
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
While I have participated in the Libraries Craft fair for years, I usually have very few sales. This year, though, I did very well. I sold out of the catnip mice and I sold at least one of everything else -- earrings, bookmarks, CuppaJoe Cozies, baby hats, Coffee Haiku books, and plush toys!

I got lots of oohs and aaahs over the plush toys and I think if I had knit adult size hats, I would have sold more. All in all, it was a very affirming day.

05 December 2007

And on the opposite end of the art scale...

Simone Racheli makes chairs, bicycle frames and other objects look like they were made from meat. Eww.

At least they only look like meat... unlike Jana Sterback's famously disturbing "Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic" (1987) which one viewer noted was made from 60 lbs. of meat "fresh enough to stain the hardwood gallery floor."

Sterback drew her title, and perhaps quite a bit of inspiration, from Dutch painters' vanitas paintings -- still life paintings of rotting fruit and meat. Mmm. Good times.

Too cool not to share...

Honestly, I haven't cared about Douglas Copeland's writing since Microserfs (which is one of my favourite books, btw) though I will admit I haven't read J-Pod. His art, on the other hand, amuses me and makes me think. In Hey Nostradamus! there is a photo of one of Copeland's art installations called Tropical Birds (2003) which basically illustrates the disarray in the cafeteria following the Columbine High School Massacre. It's called Tropical Birds because of the "birdsong" created by all the cell phones and pagers "chirping" in the backpacks strewn around the cafeteria. Very haunting.

This little video clip, commissioned by Randomhouse.ca according to the small print, made me want to find out more about The Gum Thief and/or Glove Pond.



As it turns out, Glove Pond is the novel within the novel The Gum Thief, Copeland's latest. Glove Pond is written by a bitter would-be novelist who is stuck working at Staples. I shall have to read this book as I do have a soft-spot for that kind of metafiction.

02 December 2007

It's December, right?


coffee_love
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
So, naturally, we put up the decorations today :)

First, though, we made Kiddo clear out some of her excess toys and books, plus we had to rearrange things to put up the tree, which means her beloved LEGO is now in storage until the end of the month.

But, she did most of the tree decorations, plus her own little tree in her room.

The tree (the cheap one we picked up in the states) is okay... it's not top of the line.... not even middle of the pack... but if it lasts past this year, we are ahead of the game because it cost lest than a cut tree. (Yeah, I know, not the most eco-sensitive decision... but I would definitely go for a pre-lit tree again, just for the stress it saved us.)

The enclosed photo is of the Starbucks ornament I got last year hanging in the new tree.

***

Tonight, I knit two more baby hats; I've almost memorized the pattern now -- how cool is that? I splurged on some nice yarn at the Beehive Wool Shop on Thursday. Oddly, it's all Patons. Two balls of Rumor (a really soft blend with alpaca), one of Bohemian (a weird chenille-like acrylic blend), and one Shetland Chunky wool/acrylic blend, all of which work nicely for the baby hat pattern. I also grabbed some heavily-marked-down eyelash yarn for more Wradical Wraps.

01 December 2007

Snow Day!

(well... for a few hours, anyway....)

catching_snowflakes_cropped

It started snowing early this morning and by about 9:30 it was coming down pretty hard... so Kiddo went out to play (and shovel the sidewalk). By noon, almost every flake had melted.
.

30 November 2007

NaBloPoMo 2007

Today is the last day of November, and I pretty much met the challenge of NaBloPoMo. I only missed two days: when I was sick and when I was in Burlington without my computer. However, in total, there are more than 30 posts for November (this will make post #33) so I think I will count this a success.

I'll be going back to my more irregular blogging schedule now (which is still pretty frequent, just not daily), and for those of you who found me through NaBloPoMo, I hope you'll stick around.

29 November 2007

Oh. I needed that.

When I came home yesterday, my head was pounding from what was beginning to feel like the never-ending sinus congestion. I got home, made dinner, then put what effort I had into crafting. I was still feeling miserable at bedtime but I woke up feeling somewhat better. I'm still coughing but it isn't constant any more and neither is the sinus pressure. Yay.

So anyway... today I went out. Mostly shopping. I even drove this morning! Wheee! I got lots done and in between the morning trip to the mall with big retailers and the afternoon leisurely wander through downtown Victoria, I met up with Hubby and went to Chikara Sushi for lunch. MMmm (I had the bento box lunch with nigiri sushi and tempura).

I took lots of photos this afternoon -- the day was chilly but bright -- and indulged in a few things just for me (some extra yarn, most of which will go to making baby hats; a dark chocolate mint meltie bar from Purdy's; and a whole lot of window shopping).

dutch_bakery_sweets skateboarding_savior festive_yarn

Tonight, I bound a few more of the Coffee Haiku books -- easy peasy now since I found a great Japanese Binding tutorial.

japanese_binding1

It felt good to go out on my own again, not too worried about how long I could go before I would have to sit down and not relying on other people to get me from A to B and back again.

28 November 2007

Crisis (narrowly) averted!

Last night, we rented a small auger from Home Depot and picked up the replacement faucet parts. We also bought a big bottle of chemical drain cleaner and priced the pieces we would need for the renovation.

The replacement faucet parts took about 5 minutes to install so we have hot water service to the tub again. While I was in the plumbing parts aisle at Home Depot, I did also ask about the coverplate for the shutoff valve. (The fixtures were probably made in the mid-70s; our townhouse was built in 1977 and I am certain this is the original plumbing). They'd never heard of such a part, but did suggest I go directly to EMCO, the manufacturer, who have a "showroom" in Victoria (who knew?), near the Town and Country mall. I have emailed them to ask if the part is still available.

The auger? Totally worth the $9.00 rental price (that was a "4 hour rental" which was due back by 9 a.m. today). Hubby ran it in through the sink drain and, thanks to the auger's drilling ability, was able to clear a very disgusting clog with about 20 minutes of hard work. While he cleaned the auger, I replaced the trap under the sink and wiped-down the tub. Then we each had a shower. Ahhhhhhhhh.

The drain cleaner, unopened and unused, is now in the cupboard, for emergency use only, but I am happy we were able to clear the drain without the use of harsh chemicals.

We are still determined to replace the bathroom fixtures very soon... so expect more to come on this subject.

27 November 2007

2010 Winter Olympic Mascots


2010 Winter Olympic Mascots
Originally uploaded by glenalan54
You know, if I knew any Sasquatches, I would advise them to start suing over the use of their likeness to advertise things like this and Kokanee Beer.

As for the group, well, they look like they were designed by someone over at the CBC Kids promo desk who needed a multicultural group to appeal to the under-three set. After spending the night sleeping in a Sanrio store.

Apparently, the group also includes a Vancouver Island Marmot named MukMuk who is an "honorary mascot." Read more about it at CTV, if you really want to.

Call me cynical, but I think they just designed these to sell souvenirs.

Plumbing Crisitunity**....

Sigh. So, remember the debate about the bathroom reno? It might be a necessity now. Like, right now.

To catch up: our bathroom sink had been really clogged for a while, so on Saturday I finally emptied the cabinet under the sink, pulled it all apart, and voilĂ , we had functional indoor plumbing again!

... for about 24 hours
... when it started backing up into the tub.

Sigh.

Post-shower yesterday the tub took about 90 minutes to drain, so there was no question we had to find the rest of the blockage. The kitchen sink still drains fine and is getting no backup, so we figured it was just below the tub.

Then while we were trying to clear the clog, we found that the cleanout plug for the main drain line (which is, naturally, located in Kiddo's closet, behind a solid wood dresser) was rusted solid and could not be opened. Then the hot water faucet in the tub would no longer turn off. Faaaaaantastic. After shutting off the hot water supply to the tub, I removed the cartridge to find all the rubber portions degraded and/or completely missing. I tried to fix it using some spare parts I had in my plumbing toolbox, but none were quite right.

By the time we finally gave up and went to bed, there was still an inch or so of water (and detritus) standing in the tub. It was still there this morning. We'll be visiting Home Depot tonight.




**From Wikipedia:

The neologism crisitunity was mentioned in the Fear of Flying episode of The Simpsons[5], see Culturally significant neologisms from The Simpsons. Lisa says, "Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for 'crisis' as they do for 'opportunity'?" Homer replies, "Yes! Cris-atunity." Although The Simpsons Archive spells this portmanteau "cris-atunity",[6] "crisitunity" is more commonly used.

26 November 2007

Beating stress.

I spent most of the weekend getting more and more stressed out about the project that awaited me Monday morning. Usually, I can leave my work on my desk and walk out the door... but as I mentioned, I'd had a bad day Friday and the dregs of it were still causing knots in my stomach.

So last night, after blogging, I not only started knitting that baby hat, but I finished it in under 90 minutes -- including a test swatch with the yarn I had on hand (some craft acrylic -- definitely not what I would like to use for babies I care about, but for proof of concept it was fine). I was so pleased to finish a new project so fast, I went to bed feeling much better.

babyhat_done

This morning, I decided it was time for me to try walking in through the garden. Thanks to my ankle, it's been more than three months since I got off the bus a stop early and walked in through the Finnerty Gardens and the Native Plant Garden, but I did it today. It was chilly (around 3° celcius) and grey this morning, but that was OK by me. It was nice to walk in, clear my head, and take a few photos.

finnerty_late_fall

By the time I logged in at my desk, I was much calmer and by coffee time, the whole kerfuffle had sorted itself out. Mostly. I still have work to do, but at least now I have all the information I need to get it done.
.

25 November 2007

food, friends, and craftfu

Today we hosted brunch for about 15 of our friends -- we ran out of plates and had to wash some partway through. Hubby, as usual, did all the cooking; we both cleaned, and I did the "front of house" prep before guests arrived. As it turned out, every kid who showed up plus ours, had a cold. Let's hope that doesn't turn into some mega-super-virus.... (if so, you heard it here first, folks!). At any rate, I think everyone enjoyed themselves and almost every bit of food was eaten by the time the last guest left.

brunch_gathering1 brunch_gathering2

After everything was tidied up, I settled into crafting mode again. Last night I finished off a bunch of catnip mice in several colours; today I made about two dozen collaged bookmarks for the upcoming Libraries Craft Fair.

catnip_mice2 bookmarks

Now, I might try my hand at one of those baby hat patterns or see if my sewing muse is willing to help me create some more plush creatures. Or I might just veg out and do nothing.

24 November 2007

This, that and the other.

Yesterday proved to be one of the most frustrating days of work in the time I have held my current position. All I will say is that working on projects which involve multi-institution collaboration have far too many opportunities to run off the rails or into walls. I left work so grumpy and annoyed that even an hour of transit travel didn't give me enough time to decompress.

This morning, I slept in. Hooray for sleep! (It's been difficult re-adjusting to the 6 a.m. alarm now that I am back to full time and my regular start time of 8 a.m.) It doesn't help that I am fighting a sinus cold. Bah.

In between doing some laundry, I made some pie pastry (and Kiddo helped me) so that Hubby could bake an apple pie. He used about a half dozen large apples; it's HUUUGE.

This afternoon, we went out to Glenwood meats -- we got turkey sausage, turkey & cranberry sausage, buffalo sausage (yes, we like sausage), beef bacon (mMMMmmm), Ayrshire bacon (a traditional Scottish cut of bacon, similar to back bacon or "Canadian" bacon), and some chicken thighs -- to round out what's in our freezer.

After grabbing some lunch, we drove out to deep Gordon Head to take some photos in this month's Grid -- it's likely that it will be our only chance to do so this month, so we tried to make the most of it.

Back home, kiddo helped Hubby make fresh pasta for dinner -- lasagna, her choice.

pastamaker1

...And now I am about to settle in to making some more catnip mice!

23 November 2007

Catnip Mouse Prototype


catnip_mouse_prototype
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Earlier this week, I went looking for a pattern for catnip mice. I found lots of patterns for knit or crocheted mice, but no sewn ones. I finally found a blog post that led me to a pattern -- which had no photos!

So, I used that pattern (more or less) and free-handed this mouse last night. My cat took a while to clue in, but once he did, he was meowing at my feet until I finally finished it and let him play. I'd say the prototype was a hit. So, next step will be to make a pdf pattern that people can download, and maybe a YouTube video showing how they are made.

Kiddo wants to help make them, too, so I have prepped enough pieces to make 10 for the Library craft fair. Hopefully, she will let me film her for YouTube as well.

For those of you with cats, there is about 1/4 teaspoon of catnip inside, do you think that is enough? too much? not enough? It's the only thing I am not convinced is right.

22 November 2007

One project complete; on to the rest!


finished_scarf1
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
OK, so I actually completed the Doctor Who scarf last night (well, the knitting part anyway; I still have to weave in the ends). I was pretty determined -- I only had 46 rows remaining -- so I got myself a cup of tea and settled in to finish it. I cast off at 11:15 last night! Tonight I will weave in all the ends and tomorrow it will be winging its way to its new owner in Vancouver.

Then I can get on with all the other projects brewing in my head.

I have agreed to do a table at the Libraries craft fair this year (it's pretty laissez-faire which suits me fine) so I want to make some small items to sell. I want to have some Coffee Haiku books finished and I plan to make some collaged bookmarks and maybe some cards. Depending on my mood, I may bake some cookies, too, since those are guaranteed to sell out.

After that's done, I can start some other knitting projects, starting with baby hats for two people I know who are expecting in the new year. No, I am not one of them. ;)

21 November 2007

Clever, very clever.


new improved swiffers
Originally uploaded by merwing
As soon as I saw this photo I mentally kicked myself for not thinking of it personally.

Plain old polyester fleece is used to make these covers and dusters which can be thrown in the wash and re-used again and again.

It's crafty. It's eco-conscious. It's even useful. And someone is going to figure out how to market these suckers for big bucks.

Make room for new toys!

Ack! Have I mentioned how small our place feels these days? It's like when you decide to get your hair cut, suddenly it's in your eyes every five minutes!

* * *

A couple of weeks ago, we offered to review a Brother printer and it arrived yesterday in a very big box. After walking around the elephant in the room for a couple of hours, I asked Hubby, "So, where are we going to set it up?"

Unfortunately the only real answer was "the office" although in the past year it has metamorphosed from a computer-centric workspace to a sewing room/storage room/clutter magnet. Aside from cleaning/rearranging things, we would have to carry the 30 kg (66 lb) box up two flights of stairs.

I started by hauling out a few things that no longer needed to be there -- a spare office chair (which causes much pain to all who choose to sit for longer than 2 minutes), an aluminum step-ladder, an empty plastic CD-case (three drawers surrounded in lovely faux-wood mac-tac), and a small bag of garbage. Then I rearranged a few things until there was a space big enough to accommodate the printer. I also tidied Hubby's desk (or rather, found the desktop), and shuffled a few more things (including a booster seat and Halloween decorations) into hiding.

The next task was to set up the printer on the network, though the hardest part was following the 1-2-3 instructions for loading the toner -- the label for step 3 was inside the printer! However, once that was done, it was pretty straightforward to set up and I also managed to install the drivers on my computer and print to it.

The printer we got to review is the Brother HL-4070CDW which is a full-colour laser printer with a built-in duplexing unit. It retails for about CDN$650/US$500 and we get two months to put it through as many tests as we can imagine.....

I will definitely be printing the insides of my Coffee Haiku books (a project which has been on the back burner since August due to our crappy Cannon printer and its inability to print clean copy twice in a row), Christmas-themed stuff, some knitting and sewing patterns I've bookmarked "to print later," more Cuppajoe Cozy labels, some Creative Miscellany bumf, and maybe even a zine, you know, if I get bored.

So, expect a full review of the Brother sometime after Christmas. Until then, let me know if you need anything printed.

20 November 2007

Trees for all....

Treetopia sells artificial trees, including some of the most ridiculous trees ever: two varieties of palm trees, Catalina Breeze or Coronado Bay; an upside-down tree that lacks the only benefit I had considered for upside-down trees, that they hung from the ceiling; and one tree that looks interesting to me called the Black Tiger tree -- but only because I would actually put it up for Halloween since it is black with orange lights.

If you prefer replica trees filled with pop-culture references, head over to your local Urban Outfitters for a Charlie Brown tree -- pathetic as ever -- or a Who-ville tree, ready to be stuffed up the chimbley. (They also have a little desktop Motherboard Tree with little LED lights.)

Is green too boring for you? How about shocking pink, blood red, or blue....?

19 November 2007

Not fantastic....


plastic
Originally uploaded by dzl
This photo of part of a mountain of waste plastic was in my Flickr Contacts' photostream today and it made me start thinking about what I do and don't recycle and why.

I'll admit, sometimes it comes down to convenience. I don't always rinse the cat food cans, so sometimes, they do go in the garbage. I'm not always patient enough to peel apart those nasty electronics packages that sandwich cardboard between two layers of plastic. I have even been known to leave empty drink containers in public garbage cans so I don't have to pack them home.

And then I see something like this and I feel guilty.

Then I get angry -- why the hell is all this packaging necessary!?

Of course, I haven't gone out of my way to stop buying so much over-packaged crap either... so I'm still the villain after all.

Sigh.

-----

In related news, this is all over the web today: the off-shoring of computer recycling which is poisoning and endangering people and land on other continents.

18 November 2007

Back Home for a while.

Saturday was a busy shopping day... we had planned to hit the Outlet mall, KMart, CostCutter Foods and maybe Fred Meyer as well. After a nice breakfast in the hotel, we tried to get a pre-lit Christmas tree at Macy*s "One Day Sale" but they were already sold out. Too bad.

xmas_frenzy

Next we hit the Outlet mall but started at Michael's craft store, where Halloween stock was an amazing 90% off! We bought a cart-full of items including 5 carveable styrene pumpkins for future Halloween celebrations. The first few stores were sadly lacking in things we really wanted, and then it appeared that the Sewer's Dream Fabric Outlet was gone, as was the Socks Unlimited store. I was pretty bummed until I discovered that the fabric outlet had only moved across to a larger storefront. (I ended up spending quite a bit of money there... and would have spent even more had I been given more time to root through the five huge bins of scrap fabric, sold by the pound!)

After a couple more stops, we bowed to Kiddo's request for a quick loop around Costco -- for samples!! -- and then headed for Jack-in-the-Box for lunch. (Low-brow fare, yes, but since there are none in Canada, we tend to go there when we can.) Post-lunch we hit KMart and Cost-Cutter foods, after which we were all tired and cranky and in need of some decompression. (Let's just say there's a good reason KMart went out of business in Canada.)

Dinner on Saturday was at Outback Steakhouse. Mmmmmmm.

outback_chicken

After dinner, I hung out with Kiddo in the hotel (knitting) while Hubby and his Mom went back out to Fred Meyer.

This morning, we played tetris with our purchases, cramming them into every nook and cranny we could find, then checked out and headed for Bellingham. Among the things we picked up in Bellingham was a pre-lit Christmas tree at Wallgreens -- for $20 less than we were hoping to spend at Macy*s and about one tenth of what we expected to spend here.

We took the Pacific truck crossing back into Canada and made good time to the ferries. At 5:00 we pulled out of Tsawassen and two hours later we were back home, faced with unpacking our ridiculously full van.

I don't think we will need to cross the border for another year or so.

17 November 2007

As the eyes roll back into our heads....

Quite accidentally, on our way into Burlington, we stumbled on a strip mall we hadn't seen on our last trip and lo, it was good. We had been hoping to go to a Ross (almost identical to our Winners and Home Sense stores) so we decided to stop. (The mall also included Home Depot, Kohl's, Best Buy, Linens & Things, Old Navy and Game Stop).

Several large bags later we managed to get out of Ross.... but we found clothes, Christmas gifts, and two new sets of flannel sheets. Woo!

After checking into the hotel, we went to the Cascade Mall and were largely underwhelmed.... though we did go to Chuck E. Cheese's, as we had promised Kiddo. I was surprised at how un-crazy it was (I was expecting kids hanging from the ceiling....) and how manageable the noise-level was. On the other hand, the Chuck E. Cheese radio/muzak was a clocktower-rampage level of horrible.

fine_dining

We continued our shopping at Target... and walked out of there with an overflowing cart, also largely items from the Christmas lists.

Once we unloaded everything back at the hotel, I extrapolated to include our planned outings on Saturday and wondered whether our purchases would (a) fit back into the van and (b) still keep us under our collective Customs limit of $1600 (four people, $400 each after 48 hours away).... I didn't think it would.

[note: this post is backdated for NaBloPoMo purposes]

16 November 2007

On the road again....

This weekend we are test-driving our passports and testing to see whether my Mother-in-Law, without a passport, can travel across the border. Fingers crossed!

We are going to the metropolis of Burlington, yeah baby! We visited the Prime Outlets there last year (they've since been sold and are now the Outlet Shoppes at Burlington, because that extra "pe" makes them high class, I guess) and decided since all the stores we wanted to shop at are in Burlington (the outlets plus most of the big American chain retail stores -- four at one mall), it really made no sense to stay elsewhere.

I spent some time the last two nights checking all the online flyers for the department stores and a couple of grocery stores... so with that plus all the Christmas shopping lists in hand we should be in good shape.

My only concern is that our Virgin phones will not work across the border, which really will suck, but we'll pretend it's 1977 (the last time I can remember our Canadian dollar being accepted at par) and try to survive without them!

15 November 2007

$8 Billion Boondoggle?

That's what Seth Godin thinks people wasted last year buying gift cards. Here's the key argument:

"Along the way, we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest."


That extra bit... that's the kicker isn't it? You total up what's in your basket and you're three dollars short of the magic number even after you've calculated the taxes and then you look around for an impulse buy to round it out.... batteries? candy bars? socks? the latest National Enquirer? Ooooh, a new ice scraper in a fleecy mitt! And then suddenly, you're $17 over the value of the "gift card" holding bags overflowing with unnecessary crap.

To be fair, if you choose not to spend to the limit of the card, some retailers will actually refund the difference; most will hand you back a card with a balance that may well sit in your wallet until it gradually expires -- a most weaselly trick. (I currently have a mall gift card in my wallet with a $5.14 balance that I continually forget even though I am in that mall probably twice a month. I should probably check the expiry date.)

14 November 2007

Afternoon Delight....

So there I was, feeling a little better (i.e. no longer retching) when a little email from hubby pops up in my gmail.... an offering of what we call around here Real Estate Porn.

Yes, it was a listing for a "charming 1935 3-bedroom character home" for $459,000. Which is actually a little below the average cost for the size of the house. Unfortunately the agent listing the home is a serious wanker, to be avoided at all costs.

This of course led me on an hour long wander through more Real Estate Porn courtesy of mls.ca. This 1904 home with a separate cottage may be ready to fall down at any moment based on its $399k price tag (of course it could just be because it's on a busy street)... but it's still appealing. Though what I really crave is a home with mature fruit trees in the yard... like this one for just under $470 or this one (around the same price), which seriously needs some interior design help.

Hubby and I are more than ready to move... the only hold-up is what to do about the bathroom -- do we reno (for about $2,000) and get a higher price or do we say "Yep, the bathroom is a mess, but you get to fix it up to suit your taste," and sell as is? We're leaning toward the latter, as long as we can stage the hell out of the rest of the house. (Yes, I did say "stage" -- I watch HGTV too much.) The next few months should be busy, either way.

For those of you keeping score....

There was no post yesterday, November 13th. This is because I spent the day trying to coax the lining out of my stomach. Nuff said.

Here, look at this pretty picture of some earrings I made, photographed with some maple leaves when the sun briefly appeared on Monday....

turning_leaves1

12 November 2007

Am I missing something?

I'm watching the news tonight and there is a long story about the weather and its effect on the homeless. The city is reluctant to enact the extreme-weather protocol which opens more beds, not because the beds aren't available but because there is a staffing crunch.

Why can't they hire some of the homeless who are presumably also jobless?

Just a thought.

Good day to stay inside

It's a stormy day here in Victoria, the wind has been blowing all night and this morning we woke to heavy rain beating against the windows. Power is out in several areas of the city but so far, we've been spared. It's a good day to be indoors.

Thankfully, our only concrete plans today involved vacuuming the house and that can be done any time. Meanwhile, we watched some episodes of The Office (bought at Kiddo's request, oddly enough) followed by Bruce Almighty and are otherwise relaxing.

Hubby just ordered one of the One Laptop Per Child XO Laptops through the Give One Get One promotion that starts today. Since the XO is designed for kids, we will probably let Kiddo use it most of the time but since it is also durable, it may be our default travel laptop.

I think today I will focus on some crafting... I want to get 50 rows done on the Doctor Who scarf (I've finished over 400 rows so far... only about 150 more 'til it's finished)...

wip_dr_who_scarf

11 November 2007

Crafty Kid

This morning Kiddo dug out her lacing set -- a set of plastic animal shapes with holes through which children weave laces, like sewing, to build motor skills. She hadn't played with them in ages, and I thought maybe she was just mimicking my crafting, so I asked her if she'd like to do some sewing of her own.

She jumped at the chance. First she made three little finger puppets -- "goons" she called them -- then she wanted to make a little stuffed monster. I asked her to draw a sketch of what she wanted to make, then I cut out all the pieces. She sewed things together bit by bit -- I only helped with the horns and the last few stitches to close things off. She even figured out how to re-thread the needle on her own when she accidentally pulled it off the thread.

Here's her sketch of the monster and her posing with the finished piece:

kiddo_monsterdesign kiddo_monster

She has already asked if she can sell her stuff with mine on etsy....

10 November 2007

Nothing like a rush of adrenaline at 11 p.m.

Yesterday we returned home after 5 days up-island in Parksville. Job number one was hanging out with Kiddo who had stayed with her Nana while we were away; this involved going out to see Fred Claus (better than I had expected) followed by dinner out (ABC Country Restaurant. Nothing special). When we came home she bathed and went to bed, then we settled in to relax for a bit. We caught up on email and the shows we hadn't watched while away and then I set to unpacking a few things and putting the house back in order.

We still had Halloween decorations up, so I started to gather the fake cobwebs and stuff, but then I realized we needed to bring in the kitchen garbage can. As usual, we had taken the garbage can outside before we left town; Hubby had hosed it down and left it on the deck to air out. Just after 11, I went out, grabbed it and brought it inside, then thought I should double check that it wasn't full of leaves or anything, since it had been windy. I opened the lid and immediately dropped the can, and yelped.

Hubby thought I had injured myself again and was trying to decide whether he needed to call 911, but I managed to get out the following:

"Take it back out! There is a DEAD MOUSE inside."

Eeeewwwwwwww!!! To be clear, only having seen a live mouse would have been worse for me. I HATE mice. I turn into a fifties housewife, sometimes literally standing on chairs, screaming; often crossing rooms in half the number of steps physically required.

While Hubby isn't any more fond of little rodents, he kindly dealt with the issue after basically sending me to our room to calm down, but we were both pretty freaked out for the following hour. Even writing this down, I find myself completely creeped out by the whole thing.

Bleah.

09 November 2007

Photographic Exposure

One of my Victoria Grid Project photos (from April's grid) has been selected for use in a calendar that will be widely distributed (to approximately 50,000 households); I had been asked a few weeks ago if I would release the photo for consideration, and received this email today:


Hello Cheryl,
Just to let you know that your photo of Vic West's Rayn or Shine garden is in Denise [Savoie]'s 2008 calendar - we just wrapped up our final selections. Thank you again so much for allowing us to use it. You are credited as Cheryl DeWolfe and the photo is for April. It is accompanied by a caption about the garden.

If you live in Denise's riding you should get the calendar mailed to you automatically in late December/early January. I hope you are pleased with how it turns out. If you would like extra copies of the calendar, please let me know.

This is the photo which was selected:

g30f_communitygarden

I also returned home today to a request by another group to use one of my photos in a classroom reader -- cool!

I am a photo researcher for Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to motivating and supporting middle school students' interest in science, math, and technology. This Fall, we are publishing a classroom reader about living green and we would like to include your photo of a native plant garden sign. Would you be so kind to grant us permission? We would of course include a photo credit and would be able to send a complimentary copy.


nativeplantgarden


I am pleased as punch about both of these projects.

08 November 2007

Paksville, BC


quality_inn_view
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Like Naramata, where CUPE BC holds their other week-long school, Parksville is a beautiful setting. Located just north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, Parksville (and nearby Qualicum Beach) are well-known vacation and retirement spots.

Parksville is also world-renowned for its annual sandcastle competition -- more specifically, the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition -- which is part of their Beach Festival.

This photo is looking out over some of the tideflats, just outside the Quality Resort Bayside in Parksville.

07 November 2007

Labour and New Media (edited)

Just to follow up on yesterday's article... here's what the edited version looks like...

Labour and New Media - Made for each other

You’ve probably heard or read news stories about Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and blogging, but did you know these can be powerful tools for Unions, too? Face-to-face meetings, newsletters and notice boards will always have their place in union communications, but there is a growing demand in the labour movement to embrace the new media.

New media, also called Web 2.0 or user-contributed media, is immediate and can reach many people at once. CUPE 391 (Vancouver Public Library workers) recently got a lot of mileage out of their bargaining blog (http://www.cupe391.ca/blog2/). While they built the blog for their members after their employer shut down their internal e-mail system, it soon became clear that reporters were checking it for breaking information. Other locals are posting campaign videos on YouTube, reaching out to new members on social networking giant Facebook, and collecting photos of rallies, strikes, and community action on Flickr.

In response to member needs, CUPE has reworked the Advanced Communications course, “Making it Sing,” to include new media and to help guide CUPE activists in the best ways to integrate new media into their own campaigns and communications strategies.

06 November 2007

Web 2.0 a-go-go

Two times the 2.0 fun today:

1. I had to drop out of planning for the UVic Libraries Learning 2.0 pilot program when I broke my ankle. Today I got word that I can still be involved (as a mentor) when the pilot launches later this fall. To make it easier for program participants to chat with me using their IM of choice I have now set up a Meebo account. (For me, that meant including my GoogleTalk and my MSN/Windows live (i.e. Hotmail) IM accounts.)

Once the pilot goes live we will be covering blogging, photo sharing (Flickr), Facebook, social tagging, and newsfeeds. If the pilot is a success, we will expand to include other Web 2.0 subjects.

2. Toward the end of our Advanced Communication course this afternoon, we were told that the class would be producing a newsletter which meant we were all expected to submit articles and other content to fill out the newsletter. And we had to submit it by the end of class. Yikes! So, I offered to write about "Labour and New Media" -- I have submitted it to my facilitator (who will be editing all the content this evening) and, because I can, I am including it here (unedited) for your amusement:

Labour and New Media

You’ve probably heard or read news stories about Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and blogging but did you know these can be powerful tools for Unions, too?

While there is still, and always will be, a place for face-to-face communications, newsletters and notice boards, there is a growing trend among the labour movement to embrace the new media.

New media, also called Web 2.0 or user-contributed media, is immediate and can reach many people at once. CUPE 391, Vancouver Public Library, recently got a lot of mileage out of their Bargaining Blog. While they built the blog for their members after their employer shut down their internal email system, it soon became clear that reporters were checking it for breaking information.

Other locals are posting campaign videos on YouTube, reaching out to new members on social networking giant Facebook, and collecting photos of rallies, strikes, and community action on Flickr.

In response to member needs, CUPE has reworked the Advanced Communications course, “Making it Sing,” to include new media and to help guide CUPE activists in the best way to integrate new media into their own campaigns and communications strategies.


I'll let you know how heavily it gets edited once I see it published.

05 November 2007

As the Ankle Heals....


It's been a while since I've updated about my broken ankle. So, lucky you, you get to see a photo of one of the two scars (this is the prettier one, on the medial side of my leg).

Physiotherapy has been helping a lot; each time I visit, the physiotherapist adds new exercises to my routine. As I mentioned yesterday, the gym here has almost everything I need to do all the exercises I've practiced thus far (and I did do them tonight).

I am starting to rely less and less on the use of the cane to walk; I even ventured out without it last Friday -- I decided it would be easier to lean on Hubby as needed rather than take the cane into a movie theatre (we saw the Bee Movie which I don't recommend doing, even though Richard Roeper and Guest saw fit to give it two thumbs up. I don't think they saw the same movie... but I digress...). I did fine.

I also have been encouraged to venture short trips outside the house in shoes (as opposed to one shoe plus the AirCast) and to wear shoes during the day at work (both of which I have been doing). Today, I wore the cast throughout both the morning and afternoon session, which was too much. Tomorrow the plan is to wear the AirCast in the morning and the shoes in the afternoon.

As for pain, most of the time it's fine. After a long day or immediately following my physio routines, it does ache and if I try to walk fast, I end up jarring my foot and sending sharp shooting pain up my leg. The only other time I've noticed major pain has been when I forget that my foot is injured and use it like "a real foot" -- twice now, I have pivoted on my right foot and regretted it for the following day. In the long run, it's probably good but in the short term, not so much.

I'm still working half-time until at least the 15th when I next see the doctor (I see the surgeon the following monday). Hopefully both will give me the go ahead to stop using the AirCast all together... and possibly return to work full time (though I may use my vacation days rather liberally through to Christmas....).

04 November 2007

Parksville Day One

After a bit of a challenge finding the hotel, we made it here. We were surprised to find one of the best outfitted fitness centres we've seen in a hotel -- it even has equipment comparable to what I have been using at the physiotherapy gym (hooray!). The room itself is average (at least it's clean) and happily Hubby accompanied me, even though it means Kiddo is with her Nana for a whole week! To make that easier, though, Hubby has just set up Skype Credit so we can call Kiddo without spending a week's salary on hotel phone charges or cell minutes.

There's four other members of my local here (all women, oddly) out of what looks like close to eighty or so CUPE members each taking or leading one of five courses offered this week. Being at the Parksville school will mean I have been to all the major education schools available to our local at one point or another in the past 15 years -- Harrison, Naramata, Parksville and other local courses. In the past I have also attended seminars, conferences, conventions (CUPE BC and CUPE National) and even a think-tank at the request of and for the benefit of the local. Over the years I have been a steward, a health and safety representative, and member of several committees. Currently, I am on three committees: Libraries Technical and Organizational Change, Agreement Study (assessment of the contract in preparation for negotiations) and Communications (as chair). I find the union work interesting and am lucky to work in a department which is very flexible in allowing me to do much of the work inside my schedule, as time and workload allows.
.

03 November 2007

NaBloPoMo....

OK, it's November. I know November is always busy, so I wasn't about to get sucked into NaNoWriMo again but for some reason there was some insanity lingering at the back of my brain and I decided to try NaBloPoMo (that's National Blog Posting Month if you want to stretch it all out). I had been on the fence, but since this post will make three for three, I figured I might as well give it a shot. Also, I am member #5413, so I guess there are more than five thousand other insane bloggers out there.

It's going to be a bit of a challenge as I will be away from the computer mid-month at least (for a quick cross-border Christmas shopping trip)... and this coming week I will be in Parksville for a CUPE Education course (Advanced Communications) and while I will have my laptop with me, I will also be busy!

So, I am keeping a running tab of "ideas" in a Google Document (any suggestions for topics this month are welcome -- just leave me a comment); and I will write my computer-free posts out long-hand while I am away, transcribe them and backdate the posts on my return (I don't think it's "cheating" if I write them out while I am away....)
.

02 November 2007

Making a Difference a Dollar at a time...

Yes, it's a little break from my usual sarcasm and navel-gazing to look at the "bigger picture....



Maybe you've heard about microlending or microfinance, maybe not. Basically, it's exactly what you would expect: small scale business loans (under $100). However, Kiva takes it one step further, allowing people like you and me to fund small businesses in developing countries through local financing organizations. It really does look easy: register, browse borrowers, pick one (or more), and lend as little as $25 using your credit card or PayPal balance.

This is way more useful to the world than so many other things I regularly throw $25 at... in fact I think this is a great family activity, and we may actually decide where to invest as a group.

01 November 2007

the_haul


the_haul
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Kiddo did well tonight.... first was Mall-o-ween followed by dinner and a mall-wander, then Hubby accompanied her for some random trick-or-treating while I waited in the van (to rest my foot), then we met up with some friends and hit their neighbourhood....

Her spider costume was a hit -- lots of ooohs and aaaahs and a few eeks, too.

31 October 2007

Halloween Link-O-Rama

1. Etsy's Costume Contest (this was only open to Americans. Sigh.) -- Winners did show off some very clever costumes; my favourite is probably the shrimp costume for an infant. [Another great/simple costume idea: be a LEGO brick.]

2. Skeletal Looney Tunes Characters on display; not nearly as impressive as the 3D Looney Tunes skeletons by Hyungkoo Lee, but still amusing.

3. Best use ever for an old Mac: Mac-O-Lanterns. (Yes, I do think it's better than the MacAquarium, because it takes less maintenance!)

4. Has Al Gore got to you? Some thoughts on how to go Green for Halloween.

5. Feeling the need for something creepier? Here's an easy way to put a head in a jar and a sea creature that is likely to give me nightmares... or at least make me less likely to put my finger in the touch-and-feel tank at the aquarium.

6. Last but not least, please consider watching this educational video on How to Survive a Zombie Attack:

Happy Halloween!


pumpkinself
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Yes, folks, it's that day again.... a day of costumes, candy and general creepiness... and yet it's a Wednesday.

As a parent, I know mid-week is good for Halloween, but my inner 18-year old is a bit bummed. (Not that I am in any shape to party this year....) Of course my inner grumpy-old-man is happy that not only does midweek generally mean less chaos, but also that the City of Victoria has also really reigned in the fireworks sales this year, so there will be fewer ya-hoos blowing up pumpkins.

I will be going out this evening with Kiddo, but I don't plan on walking too far (Hubby will do more of the walking, and other friends will be coming along too). I expect by the time we get home I will just want to collapse.

29 October 2007

Time remains unchanged...

Last night, something strange happened. All day, I felt out of whack and by the time 10:30 rolled around I was nowhere near sleepy. Hubby suggested that after over 30 years of adjusting to the end of Daylight Savings Time at the end of October my body had actually anticipated the change. Normally, I would grumpily wave that kind of suggestion off... but it might hold water; recent research shows that our bodies never really adjust to Daylight Savings timeshifts in the spring, so maybe my body just wanted to get back to normal.

Of course, thanks to knuckleheaded US Congress and Canada's ovine politicians, we are "falling back" one week later than we have for years. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We need to abolish this stupid timeshift nonsense altogether. Just knock it off already and give me my natural rhythm back!

cityhall1

27 October 2007

Pint-Sized Halloween Fun

Well, we survived Kiddo's first shot at hosting a Halloween party. There were six guests and some loosely planned activities; the two biggest hits were the Sculpey creations -- we started out by getting the kids sculpting some monsters and other Hallowen-y things which we then baked for them to take home -- and reading I Spy books (Spooky Night then Treasure Hunt) -- an on-the-fly activity I started when one guest had bored of crafting but we weren't quite ready for the next activity; soon most of the kids were gathered round helping each other find the hidden things in each picture.

sculpey_prep

Once the kids realized they could tuck in to the treats, they dove in -- Cheezies® were the overall hit; I think every guest had a bag (and I suspect we'll be finding strays under furniture for a few days yet....). At this point, the kids started amusing themselves; some playing gate-keeper, others watching Monsters Inc. which was playing in the background.

Next was Halloween Grossology (not scientific at all -- more like the old campfire game where bowls of goop are passed off as body parts); guests were blindfolded and led into the kitchen where hubby let them feel bowls filled with various things -- cold tea bags, spaghetti and pumpkin guts, and peeled grapes. This too was a hit; more than one kid wanted a second chance!

All in all, I think everyone left happy, andKiddo was certainly pleased. Hubby and I were both pretty much exhausted, but we'd happily do it again.
.

24 October 2007

Back in the Saddle

Monday morning was back to work, albeit only for half a day. In that half day, I got about 15 minutes of work done -- mainly because people kept asking how I was doing, but also because I had a meeting to attend. Yesterday was a bit better, but I didn't have access to my computer as my profile was being migrated to a new server. This meant I didn't have access to my calendar program and didn't get the notification about a meeting yesterday... which I subsequently missed.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, my evenings have been busy-ish. Monday I had to finish a review for a Nancy Drew DVD Game (yes, you play the game on your DVD player), The Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Last night, I spent a couple of hours putting together kiddo's costume for this year: a spider. It's not quite done yet... but if she had to go now, she could.

buildaspider3


Next challenge: prepping for the Halloween party she is hosting on Saturday afternoon.

20 October 2007

Stormy Harbour


stormy_fall_harbour
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
It's been stormy around here of late -- apparently it is the leftovers from Tropical Storm Lingling and it is making for some very mixed-up weather patterns. Within minutes the skies change from angry grey to bright blue with puffy little clouds; you have to dress prepared for anything.

Last night the rain was coming down so hard it was bouncing back up off the pavement several feet and with the wind, it seemed to be coming down in several directions at once. Just walking from the car to the front door meant getting soaked head to toe.

Ahh, fall.

We're off to Nanaimo today, just a brief roadtrip for no real reason other than just getting out of the city for a few hours.

Monday, I'll be back at work -- half-time for the next month -- so we'll see how that goes. I don't expect to get much done the first day or two; I joked that I should record a You-Tube video of FAQ answers (I'm doing well, I'm in physio now; yes, I will have to wear this boot for a while longer; yes I have metal plates and screws holding my leg together; no, it doesn't hurt much most of the time; yes it did suck, but at least it wasn't fatal. ....)

18 October 2007

Background Change...

Since I was already fiddling around, I decided to change the background to one of my own images, "painted fall" which is a Photoshopped image of fall leaves on grass:

Sidebar Tidy-up

If you ever look to the left of what I write here, you'll have noticed various links and widgets which I sometimes rearrange. Today, I added the "autoroll" widget, which promises targeted blog recommendations for readers (we'll see... ) and updated some of the other little buttons and links. I also moved the archives list down to the bottom of the sidebar, so that readers get to see the other stuff in between.

The other thing I have been pondering is a tag cloud... what do you think? Are tag clouds useful? interesting? or just more clutter?
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17 October 2007

Sewing Drama....

Last night, I whipped up a couple more Huggitz dolls for my etsy store... or rather, I whipped up one and got part way through the second one when my beloved Singer Style-o-Matic seized! The needle would no longer move up and down, it was stuck in place.

Since it was after 11 p.m. I took that as a sign to go to bed (more or less) and figured I would sort things out in the morning. Well, after coffee, breakfast, washing dishes, and some net surfing, I went upstairs to look at my sewing machine.

I am not afraid of machinery -- in fact I am usually very curious about how it all works -- and since I had resigned myself to the possibility that the Style-o-Matic was pining for the fjords, I gathered the tools I would need to give it one last cleaning, just in case it wasn't beyond hope.

Now, I haven't been the best owner. Sure, I have cleaned the bobbin compartment a few times, but I haven't followed all the instructions for a full maintenance cycle on the machine since my Dad gave it to me 5 or 6 years back. Happily, when he gave it to me, he included the original instruction/owners manual and a can of Singer Sewing Machine Oil (priced at 75 cents, so likely 30 years old or so).

singer_style-o-matic

I plugged in an extra lamp (with an adjustable neck), laid out my soft toothbrush, screwdriver, and oil, and started reading through the maintenance section of the manual. After each section was cleaned, I tried moving the needle with no luck. The only thing I hadn't done was remove the bobbin casing to clean underneath. It took quite a bit of effort but I did finally pop it out. There was a little lint underneath, but not much, and a little tiny piece of thread, wedged into the side of the casing. I removed that and was surprised to find that the casing slipped in much more easily than it had come out. Could it be...? I tried moving the needle and it moved smoothly up and down! Hooray!!

I finished off the maintenance by oiling everything according to the manual. (In fact, I may have oiled too much... I inadvertently put oil instead of lubricant on the gears... hopefully it won't make things worse... and I will go look for the proper lubricant this afternoon). I then replaced everything, threaded the bobbin and needle, and gave it a test run on a scrap of fabric. Everything seemed to work fine, so I finished sewing the other Huggitz doll and patted myself metaphorically on the back.