Sunday, December 30, 2007

I love retro.


And just where have I been?

I've been busy, that's what. I've been out doing things with people and not sitting in front of the computer, and I got the above box of yarn in the mail the other day and I've been ploughing through it.

I don't really talk about knitting much on this blog, but people who have been reading for a while may remember that I knit a cardigan a little over a year ago and blogged about it all of about two times. The only problem was that I realized as I was sewing the pieces together that I had knit it in yarn that was way, way too bulky so it was kind of misshapen and unwearable and it's sat half sewn on my couch for about five or six months now.

The thing is that I still love the jacket and I still want it so the brown in the mix there will hopefully look like this:


From the fall 1979 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Creative Needlework and Crafts magazine. I love almost every single sweater in that magazine. The blue-green yarn is destined for something else.

I'm also designing something. I don't feel like talking about it yet because most of my projects never make it off the ground, but it's also retro themed, and to give you an idea:

But nothing to do with those colours.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Back at work today, and the problem with the holidays is that even though it's raining, there are so many more people out on the streets than usual.

That means that once again it occurs to me that they should institute a mandatory minimum walking speed on the sidewalks because I keep getting stuck behind people who walk excessively slow or in erratic patterns or stop randomly for no apparent reason. It's stupid but it's really annoying and it makes me really angry really fast.

That and the people who clog up the sushi line because they can't make up their mind as to what they want, but they're standing right in front of what you want so you can't grab it and jump ahead of them in line. And then secretly you rejoice when they pick something up and step forward only to (Christ! not again!) immediately step back and put it down and consider the other rolls.

And that's about the time when you start boring into the back of this person's head with a mantra:

Yes, you want that Alaska roll.
Yes, you want that Alaska roll.
Yes, you want that Alaska roll.
Yes, you want that Alaska roll.
Yes, you want that Alaska roll.

Until she finally takes it and pays for it so you can finally get the spicy tuna roll that has the most pickled ginger packaged with it because you're hungry, damn it and you have to get back to the office because your lunch has already run kind of longer than it was supposed to because you keep tripping over people who are walking too damn slow.

Not to mention, getting lost inside Holt Renfrew because you thought that you could just cut through the store and escape the rain but are instead left wandering through its over-lit, white walled upscaleness, feeling hemmed in by a barrage of high-end designer clothing and polished fashionistas who make you feel like you're really shabby in comparison, you in your ill-fitting clothes you got for Christmas because you have a job in the bureaucracy and it really doesn't matter what the hell you wear to work. (Within reason.)


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tree conversations


"It's too quiet in here. We should turn on some music so it will be ambiotic."

"Ambiotic? Like a sack of fluid?"

"No, like ambient, all around you."

"So music fills the air like a sack of fluid."


Dad, on seeing my sister try to place the plum and the pear ornaments together on the tree:

"Stop that! You'll make it look like a fucking tree!"


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The family dinner

As much as I don't like to say it, I don't think grandma's going to be around for much longer. She hates being in the hospital, but being out of it is stressful, uncomfortable and never the way she expects it to be.

Sitting in a loaner wheelchair, her muscles have atrophied so much that she couldn't stay upright, and was trying to eat leaning fourty-five degrees to her right, and eventually stopped eating because her feet were sitting at such weird angles in her shoes on the footrests and it was causing her a lot of pain. She shook a lot.

We'd made the tactical error of seating her between the two cousins, whom she doesn't like because they are always noisy and poorly behaved. They're not bad kids, just really undisciplined, and they were at all times in all places all over the restaurant and underneath the table. My sister and I never acted like that, and would have been beaten if we had, but these kids just get idle threats. I guess I have no right to comment on other peoples' parenting.

But because she was sitting over there and not with us, she was completely left out of the conversation, not that it would have necessarily helped if she had been more included. I really don't know. It's just not a good idea to take her out of the hospital anymore. She's just too out of her element.

Saturday, December 22, 2007







We're not finished decorating yet. More pictures to come.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Sitting at my desk I'm surrounded by little traces of its past occupants. When I first started working there, I found a library card, and someone else's gym card buried inside one of the drawers. I returned them to who they belonged to, but I probably should have left them at the dig site. It wasn't something I thought much about at the time.

No, at the time my interest in archaeology was new, and so I plundered antiquities with little thought as to their historical significance. The eleven cents in the middle drawer quickly disappeared into the black market, and an empty hardbound notebook with someone else's name stickered on it, suddenly had my name stickered on it, and my staff meeting notes inside it.

The few things that remain are the ones that are the least obvious. There are two tufts of frayed black thread stuck somehow to the blades of my scissors. I imagine that someone didn't bother to hem their pants, and instead, the bottom cuff, being caught and dragged under someone's heels began to fray, and the offending chunks of ratty fabric clipped and possibly taped up, at-desk tailoring.

I could have removed these two tufts of fiber from my scissors long ago, but for whatever reason I don't. I kind of like them. Seeing them there puts me in a thoughtful mood.

Sometimes I wonder about the pins stuck in the walls of my cubicle, who, when and why. How they came to be placed just so and not in any other way, without strategy.

If I was a set dresser like the career aptitude test told me to be I would have placed the pin just so, trying hard to make it look natural. You see it in the alleys here all the time. They remove the real garbage and homeless people, hose them down and then put in their own fake garbage and homeless people, spending lots of time and attention arranging it just right. It's a fascinating process.

But ultimately, none of this is really planned because it's real, built on top of the bones or ashes of whatever came before. Not something you can make in an hour or two, no matter what kind of professional you are. And there's no guarantee that you'll know what your contribution is going to be. Makes me wonder what I'll be leaving behind.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The skirt crisis

So it all started with the social worker calling my mom with a brilliant idea. There was a clothing sale happening at the care home and she thought that grandma could use a new skirt and she'd taken the liberty of finding a grey one in grandma's size. Would it be alright if she bought it for grandma?

I think mom was a little taken aback because we're all certain that this particular social worker is a little bit insane or mentally deficient, but at the time it sounded like a pretty good idea so she said yes. But as the case always seems to be, anything you agree to with that social worker never seems to turn out right.

In the weeks following that event, the skirt has become the centre a crisis of epic proportions, pulling in more people than I can count and no one knows why.

The social worker phoned about a week later to ask when we were going to come to giftwrap the skirt. Mom said that it was okay to just give it to grandma. The social worker proceded to argue with her that it would be nice if we wrapped it and gave it to her as a Christmas present, and that grandma would appreciate that.

Grandma would appreciate that? Perhaps the social worker wasn't aware, but grandma is precisely the kind of person who would throw all your presents haphazardly into garbage bags and call them wrapped, and the same person who ordered a personally engraved pen for me when I graduated, only to hand it to me with the words "I don't know what the hell this is!" She's not big on the formalities of polite gift giving.

But as the case is, the social worker is a hard person to argue with so eventually you give up. She's also an extremely irritating and persistent person, so in the two weeks since that event, she's phoned every three or four days, just to remind everyone that it's in her office. Would we like to come giftwrap it? No, why don't you just give it to her?

In the meantime, my aunt decides that we should take grandma out for dinner this Sunday and begins to arrange transportation and restaraunt reservations. She then phones the social worker to let her know of our plans. "You should come pick up the skirt," the social worker tells her, and my aunt has no idea what the hell she's talking about. My aunt phones my mom.

Around the same time, my dad is at a community event and is approached randomly by the social worker, who tells him that she's got grandma's skirt and if she had known he was going to be there, she would have brought it to give to him. He has no idea what the hell she's talking about either. He phones mom.

Mom phones the social worker to tell her that she should give the skirt to grandma so she would have something nice to wear to dinner. The social worker finally agrees, and takes it to grandma. Grandma didn't know anything about the skirt either, and it doesn't seem like the social worker did a good job explaining it to her because it made her confused, angry and defensive.

The woman began to rifle through her closet, telling her that she was picking out an outfit for her to wear to dinner. It was Wednesday at the time, and dinner was on Sunday so grandma was angry that this woman was going through her clothes and confused as to what day it was. Grandma panicked and called everyone she knew to ask what was going on, and it took a long conversation on the phone with my mom to calm her down.

And in the middle of it all was the skirt. Hopefully it's sorted out now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wet feet

It always seems to be the case that going back to work effectively kills my blogging. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's just that the majority of it is work related and I don't blog about work. Not that I could say a lot that would get me fired.

Like I could tell you exactly how many packets of sugar each person in my department takes or does not take in their coffee and how they stir or neglect to stir it in during our communal coffee breaks.

Or I could tell you the exact colour and pattern of the carpet, or that I prefer the toilet on the right to the toilet on the left because the one on the left has a stain in the bottom of the bowl that reminds me of dried blood. Not that it really affects the function and utility of the toilet at all.

I have a million and a half little observations like that.

I went in search of new shoes today and came up empty handed. Mom said that there were shoes on sale at Sears that were remarkably similar to the ones I've been wearing for forever, but the only sizes that I found were gargantuan. I guess that means that I have to go another day or more of wet feet.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back to work.


More cool mail. So hard to photograph.

Back at work today. My desk looks exactly like it did when I left. My voicemail message is the same, and my phone even had messages waiting for me. All I had to do was start where I left off.

It's good because it gets me downtown. I have a ton of shopping and stuff to do, and even though it's Christmas, it's mostly for me, and mostly stuff I've needed for a while. Stuff like clothes, because I'm pretty much down to two pairs of pants I can wear to work, and they're both black. Some beige or brown or tweed would be nice. Or blazers or something. I have one that I've worn a lot and it's getting pretty threadbare. I need a pair of boring old black shoes, because my previous pair served me well for four years but is now rapidly deteriorating. I can't ask for clothes for Christmas because it's like Russian roulette.

Or a teapot. Mine's got a whole bunch of cracks on the bottom which have started to sweat and make noise whenever I pour hot water into it. It can't be good and it can't wait until Christmas.

I didn't sleep all that well last night so I'm tired now. Just as well. I was wondering when my sleeping would go back to normal.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coolest Christmas cake ever

Via my sister, the coolest holiday cake ever inspired by my favourite Christmas movie ever.

11x365: Chinese woman lost in an empty train station

I could see her from the other end of the parking lot, wandering. When I approached she told me that she was looking for her daughter who was supposed to pick her up, but that she didn't know how to get out of the parking lot so she didn't know how to give her daughter directions to get in.

"Can I walk with you?" she asked, laughing. I said yes, and gave her directions. She found her daughter and thanked me profusely.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm older than you think.


I was doing some cleaning when I found this card from my grandma.


Evidently I'm a good 20 years older than you think I am, even if you think I was born in 1986.

Friday, December 14, 2007

10x365: Mrs. Klingon

Her name was French and none of us could pronounce it, so she said it was okay to call her Mrs. Klingon because Worf was her cousin. Her desk had Star Trek photos stuck all over it. She single-handedly restored my faith in school by being a much cooler and nicer teacher than Mrs. Doggypants, from grade two, the year before.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

9x365: The guy at the underground Roman Forum Museum at Assizi

scan0010Something funny tells me that Assizi is far cooler if you're Catholic. We weren't. We were staying in a rooming house dormatory run by nuns who cleaned a lot and fed us veal with unidentified boiled vegetables and I got the idea that I would tap dance in the hallway. Why I had a pair of tap shoes in Italy is anyone's guess.

Assizi crouches behind stone walls at the top of a small hill overlooking the rather sensuous curves of the valley and farms below. It, and the view from it are quite pretty.

In the morning we crowded into a bus that took us to a parking lot halfway up the hill, at which point the roads became too narrow for bus traffic. At the edge of this parking lot there was a narrow, imobile escalator leading up the hill with a button at the bottom, presumably to make it go. We pressed the button and nothing happened.

We walked up it instead, and by the time the majority of us were at the top it woke up and decided to work. Typical.

We went to see Saint Claire down a spiral staircase in the basement of the church by the same name, which had one of the most goregeous frescoed ceilings I think I've ever seen. So many of those are gaudy over-the-top with decorations and designs but this one was simple - a gently shifting blue-teal covered with gold stars.

Then it was down the street for a wander through Saint Francis, which was also impressive, though once again, would have been far cooler if any of us were Catholic.

Outside we wandered up to a little church between Francis and Claire that had been converted from a Roman temple with the most garishly and claustrophobically ornate decorations.

Outside we had some time to kill, and what better way than shopping? We were quickly discouraged though, because the first shop we entered was packed floor to ceiling with rosaries and nothing else. So was the next one, and the next. After a couple more we gave up, bought some alcohol at a corner store just because we could and sat out in the sun.

Something was bugging me, though. I had seen something that I wanted to check out. Something about Romans and a museum. After several minutes of nagging I convinced everyone to go check it out.

We found the Roman Forum Museum and stepped into a windowless gallery full of display cases. A rather lonely looking man was sitting at a desk just behind the door, and he perked up with our presence. We had a look at the admission costs and were fiddling around with our wallets because euros are all completely different sizes, some of which don't fit in normal sized wallets.

"Student discount," he said, "for you, two euro." Being the honest kids we were, we had to point out that the student discount was only for students from the EU, and our accents were clearly not from the EU, but he seemed to panic a little and insisted on giving us change. There was no one else in the place.

And to us kids who took Latin instead of French in highschool, it was the coolest little museum ever. A subterranean tunnel took us underneath the street above, walking on top of the same paving stones that the Romans walked on, and the place was chocked full of grave stones with inscriptions that we could actually read. It was soooo cool!

We thanked the man on our way out with crazed grins. Two days later we went to Pompeii, and a day after that, Rome, but for some reason they just didn't excite us as much, and I'd like to thank that man for the discount.



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The balcony incident

IMG_6493_1Almost... there... carpal tunnel... setting in...

But enough knitterly stuff. Yesterday I thought I'd put my Christmas lights up because this is the season for it and also my dad has been bugging me about it.

I went out onto the balcony to put them up and while I was out there I decided to clean up some of the dead plants. Once I was finished I tried the door handle only to find that it was locked.

The door has a lock and if it gets bumped sometimes it locks itself, so I figured that was what had happened. Not that it mattered much. I was still locked out and it was cold.

I sat out there and waited for someone to walk by that I could get to call my parents to rescue me. A lady walked by, but she was talking on her phone and I didn't want to disturb her so she got away without helping me. In that time I decided against calling my parents, because the whole incident would be branded as another one of the dumb things I've done.

No, I ended up breaking through a window. For whatever reason I chose the window with the most obstacles behind it: venetian blind, hanging plant, coffee table covered in more plants... Getting the window open was easy by comparison.

And no one was any the wiser. But I started looking at the door handle from the inside and found it wasn't locked at all. I tried locking and unlocking it but no matter which position I put the lock in, it stayed locked from the outside. Good to know.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The end of the semester


And now we get to the real reason why I'm giddy. I'm done! The semester's over! I have nothing left for this year but two job offers and a lot of Christmas shopping. Yay!

That and catching up reading people's blogs. I think it's sad that stuff like nablopomo is in November, precisely when I really don't have the time to go check out all the cool people who comment on my blog. I added a bunch of new people to my feed reader too but I just haven't checked them for a while.

Now, let's be honest. This post was originally going to be about how I have developed over this semester an intense love for CBC Radio 2. I used to think they only played classical music but they play a lot of contemporary stuff as well, mostly the sorts of things that I tend to complain never get on the radio.

That reminded me of a reoccurring sketch on This Hour has 22 Minutes where they pretend to be two bizarre CBC Radio 2 announcers and I think it's hilarious because the parody is not all that far from the truth. The characters talk about really obscure, bizarre things in really dry voices and then take phone calls that are usually wrong numbers or have guests who probably just stumbled in accidentally.

I started looking for a clip of them on youtube but couldn't find anything. Instead I found this:

and I am now feeling a ton of nostalgia. I really miss Mary Walsh/Marg Princess Warrior being on the show because she was the best. She'd dress up like that and then harass politicians about important issues on national TV. For the non-Canadians out there, the man above was the prime minister at the time. No high-profile politician was immune.

This post has taken me hours and hours to write, partially because of an incident with my Christmas lights which I will have to talk about later, and partially because of the above knitterly project. From the moment I first saw Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts I've really badly wanted a pair. Now that the semester's over I've plunged myself wholeheartedly into making a pair and I'm finding it hard to put down.

I got mail.


I think I could easily see myself getting addicted to buying things on ebay. I don't have to go out and brave the crowds. I don't even have to get dressed. And then there's the adrenalin rush of bidding on things that you might not get. Then there's the waiting...

And then there's the mail! I love getting mail. It makes me squeal.

I got this for my mom. She collects Sherman and I don't think she has any in the box yet.

Monday, December 10, 2007

8x 365: P.B.

The highlight of his government career so far has been his assignment in "infiltrations," where he would strap bombs, knives and other contraband to himself and try to get through airport security without being caught. He says that he was pretty much always caught, and I feel safer already.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

7x365: Lady in a home decor fabric store

We were there to look for upholstery fabric because mom was redoing the rocking chair and had plans for both couches: the one my foster brothers trashed by picking at the holes until it bled excelsior and cotton stuffing and the 'Fry and Blackburn' that an antique dealer offered mom $500 sight unseen after she had described it to him sometime in the 80s.

I wandered around, touching everything I could reach but eventually tired of it. I found a seat near the door and resumed my knitting. By the age of seven I had already spent several years of directionless knitting with the same skein of seafoam-green and pink varigaged yarn and was partway through kniting another... thing to be unraveled when she approached me.

She seemed friendly enough and she asked me if I could knit her a scarf. I said yes without hesitation and began to think of all the wonderful colours I could knit into a scarf for this friendly stranger lady. A couple of weeks later I realized that because she hadn't left me any way of contacting her I'd never see her again, and she probably wasn't serious in the first place.

But I was completely serious when I agreed to do it and I felt like I'd been lied to and made fun of. Why do adults do that to kids? They can be such assholes.

Introducing my new, holiday inspired clothing line!

I have decided that there isn't enough hideous holiday wear out there so I'm designing my own.


I call this one "illumination."


Note the candycane Greek spiral trim. Only the highest quality for you.


This one was inspired by Godzilla vs. Mothra.



You can do it too. It's horribly addictive. We Love Holiday Sweaters. We Hate Sheep.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

6x365: Paul

You think you know someone and then it turns out that you don't.

Take Paul, for example. You can know him for a long time and then every couple of months he drops something completely random about himself on you, and it's always something you couldn't possibly have expected.

I knew from the beginning that he doesn't believe in computers. He only checks his email maybe once or twice a week. Then I found out completely randomly a couple months ago that the reason why he is not overweight in spite of his ridiculously horrible diet is because he does a lot of yoga. That one was a little harder to see coming because he really doesn't look like the type.

I guess those things aren't really all that exciting. But all of a sudden yesterday I found out that he has a hemaphroditic cat that was mostly male, but is now neutered to preserve it's 'itness'. It is named 'The Beef' and it has manic and obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Further to that, in a past life he worked for a local news magazine and under his direction produced a sex issue in which there was a photograph of bare breasts. In response to the complaints of some feminist groups that he wasn't treating male and female bodies equally he apparently stuck pictures of penises in the margins of the next issue.

Friday, December 07, 2007

5x365: Tansy

It was in applying for my first lifeguarding job that I met Tansy. Having very little work experience at the time and therefore very few people to use as references, I decided upon Steve, one of my lifeguarding instructors.

At the end of his NLS Pool class he had given out his phone number to everyone who had passed and told us all that we could use him as a reference. It was in that class where in a rush of adrenalin and without a partner I lifted a 170lb guy out of the pool and dragged him a distance of about six metres before I got any help. It surprised everyone, and impressed Steve because for the most part though my first aid is really good, my physical performance was just barely above the minimum acceptable standard.

I figured that he would be good for a reference so I decided to be polite and call him to let him know that I was going to give his number out. But instead of him, I got the voicemail for a woman named Tansy. I decided that perhaps I had the wrong number and decided to try again, but got the same voicemail message, with no mention of Steve.

I called the number several times over the next couple of days until my persistence paid off and Tansy answered the phone... which point I figured all my persistence was a mistake.

From the moment she picked up I could feel the anger/envy/loathing/bitchiness radiating from the speaker. Eek! It took me a while to convince her that I was a student of his and all I wanted was a job reference, honest, before she finally gave me his new number.

I got the reference, and I got the job. I can only imagine what I accidentally stepped into.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On being me

some days I feel like a ghostSometimes I catch myself saying verbatim something I wrote in my blog earlier and then there's a moment of panic in which I think oh shit, what if they recognize me from my blog? but then I remember that no one really reads this blog anyways, at least not people I know in person.

At one point in time I gave the address to my friends and a couple read for a while but gradually they stopped, and haven't for at least two years now. Just as well.

But still, I find myself wondering about that and sometimes I find myself making a conscious decision to not link to certain people that I know in real life even though I know they have blogs, and they don't know that I do. At least, I think they don't. I don't know why I do this.

Actually, I do. I think it comes down to the fact that I inhabit a lot of really different circles, and none of those circles really overlap much.

One of my profs at one point in time got us to do an exercise in which we had to list all the people we consider to be really close friends and then draw lines between the ones who know each other. Needless to say I drew very few lines.

The point of the exercise was that the more all your close friends knew each other, the more closed your social circle was and the less you had to adapt to different social situations or something to that effect. The fact that I drew no lines means that I'm constantly changing hats, playing different roles, having to make use of more diverse kinds of cultural knowledge and customs, and I'm more intelligent than average (he said that, not me).

I'm not sure about the intelligent part, but the rest makes sense. I always get the feeling like I have my toes dipped everywhere, but I don't feel like I fully belong anywhere, and I don't feel like I'm the same person at all from context to context. That's why it's weird when my friends meet each other, and why for the most part, letting my friends meet my other friends is really not a good idea because it never seems to work out.

A lot of times when I cross the boundaries of whatever is "me" in one context, it's surprising or people don't want to hear. Maybe that's why I'm a tad hesitant at the thought of outing myself. I think the bloggers who have friended me on facebook have a pretty unique perspective there, whether they're aware of it or not, because I'm far more conscious of what I do and say there, how it looks, and how the audience to my actions is a mishmash of people from so many farflung circles.

I'd like to think that I'd gladly trade it all for belonging somewhere, but I probably wouldn't, and for some reason I don't think it's really an option anyways.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Needed diversions


To get away from my papers I met Alison and Balbs for tea at Steeps today. I'm always surprised at the variety there. There's a huge rack of aluminum tins with loosleaf teas that you can open and smell before deciding which one you want. I always go through at least half of them. It's amazing how many variations on the dried-plants-you-stick-in-hot-water theme there is.

The other thing that I like about the place is that you get your own personal French press teapot and then you can choose which kind of teacup you want. I was in a delicate, flowery china cup and saucer mood today.

At the back of the bus on the way home three people started singing, two men doing a harmony and a woman singing a melody over them. Nice and soulful.

I came across the word "puerile" in a book I was reading and I think it was probably the first time I've ever come across that word before. My little brain jumped for joy and spat out puer, pueri, declension II, masuline, little boy, which made me smile inwardly with Latin love.

Then, walking home from the busstop, I passed a man who was singing aloud, which made me beam from ear to ear. I hopped the last half block home.

Sometimes it only takes little things.

4x365: Anthony

Try as I might, he's the only person I can remember from my earliest years of daycare. He was pretty young - still in diapers and I always thought he smelled funny. His skin was deep olive. His hair was a carpet of dense fuzz.

Another memory of the same vintage was of picking around the sliced fruit at snack time to try and find the banana chunks that were buried at the bottom. We weren't supposed to do that but I brought that banana with me from home and I'd be damned if I had to eat apple chunks instead.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

3x365: Vietnamese poet at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, c. 1993

He could tell you all about
the woman that lives in that plant.
Sometimes you can hear her
cry when rainwater rolls down
her leaves.

He explains, smiles toothlessly,
spotted hands clasped in a
silent prayer.

And sometimes you can hear
her lover answer from the other
side of the garden. Destined to
remain separate, they whisper
nothings into the rain.

My Christmas shopping is almost done.


I'm really glad I took the time to take some pictures of the snow because as of last night it's all gone. All night and day it's been full on pineapple express and I've been inside most of the day for fear that I will drown.

Not that that's a bad thing. School's over, except for two papers that I have to finish, so I don't have to go outside today.

I'm doing some Christmas shopping on ebay today. My mom collects vintage rhinestone jewelry by a designer named Gustav Sherman. It's good quality stuff, but because it's Canadian, it's not overly well known. You can tell the difference, though. It's far shinier than a lot of stuff that looks similar.

It started with my dad. Secretly he likes really sparkly jewelry but he can't wear it so he started to give it to mom. I'm not sure if she liked it all or not. Then one day we were in Deluxe Junk and saw their collection of Sherman, and that's where it all changed. We ended up with a fern leaf brooch, which began to grow on her. Beside it, all the other jewelry she had looked really tacky, so we went looking for more.

Eventually she got into it, and contacted a man who at the time was writing a book on Sherman, and now she's got an autographed copy.

Dad wants to get her some more pins but he isn't really all that ebay savvy so he gave me a budget with instructions to spend it wisely. I've been having some pretty good luck on today, and now suddenly I'm feeling the urge to get some for myself. It's horribly contageous.

When stuff starts arriving, maybe I'll post some pictures of it.


Monday, December 03, 2007

2x365: Caster


He named himself after a kind of sugar he saw advertised on a billboard on his way to boarding school in Johannesburg, but forgot to tell his parents. When his father went to visit him, there was no one under that name enrolled. It was eventually sorted out, but the name stuck. When I was three years old I figured he was just painted an odd colour and scratched him to see if the black would come off but it didn't. I kind of feel bad about that.

I have yet another mystery to solve


I woke up a little earlier than usual this morning to format my paper and write up a bibliography for it. When it comes to papers I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I like the pressure of having to finish things just before they're due, and the rush of having to grab my assignments out of the printer quite literally as I'm running out the door.

I think by now everyone knows where this is going and that's exactly where it's going but not quite how you think.

I went to print the paper out approximately four minutes before I had to leave to catch my bus and everything was going fine until page six, which jammed and threw a wrench into everything.

My home printer's never jammed before so I wasn't quite sure how to fix it. The giant printers you find in offices jam all the time, but they have tons of doors and things you can open to try and find the problem, and it's usually pretty obvious where to look. Not so with my printer. I was stuck.

I decided to google it, and lo and behold, I learned that there is a secret trap door in the back of the printer which makes clearing paper jams really easy. Crisis averted.

Almost. I started printing again and it jammed immediately and this is where it gets a little weird.

When I opened up the back door, I found crumpled paper and a pair of fingernail clippers. I don't know how they got in there, but once I'd gotten them out the printer went back to working just fine.

I distinctly remember losing them a couple of weeks ago. It was like they had vanished into thin air.

I'm finding that these lost-and-found mysteries are starting to become a regular occurrence with me. Library books mysteriously get checked out in my name without me remembering, keys show up in kleenex boxes, and now nail clippers inside my printer. What's next?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

1X365: The Circles Man


Schmutzie and The Palinode are doing it with some pretty cool results so I thought I'd try my hand at x365, a project where you make 365 posts about 365 people you know, have met or have influenced you in some way. Today I bring you the circles man.

The circles man circles. That's what he does. Every day for as long as I've been living in my neighbourhood he's walked up and down the street, the same five over-long blocks. It's always the south side of the street, never the north. I'm not sure how many times he does it per day, but he's out a lot.

When the circles man gets to a corner, he stops, then turns a tight circle, before continuing on in the same direction. When he decides to turn around to go back, he circles twice.

Sometimes he asks me where I'm going, or what book I'm carrying. His accent wanders and I can't place it. "If you get much smarter," he says, "you won't want to talk to me anymore," but I tell him that will never happen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hello December

IMG_6483_1December to me means advent calendars.

Am I too old for this? Probably. I don't ask for them. My mom gives one to me because she can't give one to one child and not the other. She gives one to my sister because I'm older than her and I've gotten more, so she can't cut her off otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

The same goes for the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

But seeing as cheap chocolate tends to make me break out in hives, it has to be something good. This year it's Lindt, and I already think it was a delicious choice.

I'm not sure what advent calendars have to do with Jesus and frankly I don't care. Religion's never been a part of Christmas for me.

As much as I hate the rabid consumerism of it, I do like the frivolous excesses we go to in December. I think it's because we never had money in August and September to do back to school shopping, so Christmas for me always meant finally getting new shoes and clothes.

Christmas meant long nights cutting stones and polishing silver, getting fifty dollars for sitting at the craft fair table because I never ever got an allowance. It meant gathering up all the scrap metal from underneath the porch, the stuff we'd scrounged from alleys, peoples' garbage or wherever to sell to the scrap dealer, so you could buy presents.

It meant doing everything to frivolous excess just because you could: gaudy blown glass ornaments, hung three to a branch, tinsel, glass reindeer and bears and huge glass balls in the windows. An orgy of giftgiving, consumption on a ridiculous scale, because it's only once a year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Roll out your stars

I stepped off the bus and into the frost, waited to cross the street to go home. The moon looked odd a couple nights ago. I'm not sure how it looked because I was indoors and downtown but my dad left a message on my phone about how I should go take a look, that it was something he'd never seen before.

The sign on the telephone pole at the intersection told me that I missed something important that night. UFOs or something, and a connect-the-dots coded message. I should repent my sins.

But instead I started singing this song:

The words came out in a dense fog, so I sang louder, to see if I could make the cloud bigger. Normally singing in public would get me stared at, but there's noone out tonight, not even the swallows.

I won't lie. I really haven't been having a good month and I've got a lot to feel crappy about right now. I don't want to be so wide awake.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Defying all expectations

This week I've felt absolutely swamped. I've got too many things going on.

One of those things is a group project where we're supposed to be making policy recommendations to the school for reducing the amount of waste trucked to landfills. In addition to the policy report we have to prepare a presentation and I was looking for pictures I could borrow from flickr, using the flickr tags search in the top corner of firefox.

My part of the presentation is on the public relations strategy for the Toronto Green Bin Program and other similar campaigns to get people to compost.

I typed 'city of toronto' in the search box in firefox, but forgot to change the search from flickr tags to google. I got the following four photos as a result:

I am so confused.

I'm going to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I'm not sure I understand this writing intensive course thing. I mean, I understand the point. I'm supposed to get better at writing through writing lots and getting feedback.

But what I don't get is when I write a draft for a paper, tear out my hair in frustration writing it, resign myself to it being the crappiest piece of shit I've ever written and hand it in in shame only to have it returned to me with nary a mark but an A.

What am I supposed to do with that? How does this help me? I refuse to believe that there is nothing that could have been improved. Something can always be improved.

I realize that I tend to hold myself to different standards than others but it is by no means the best paper I've ever written. I don't really see how these writing intensive classes help me if that's the best feedback they can give me.

All they're really saying is that I'm perfect and it's all downhill from here, which is crap. I need challenge.

Monday, November 26, 2007


You know the problem with having your favourite music go mainstream is suddenly it's everywhere like ipod commercials and Saturday Night Live and then suddenly it rushes to the top of the charts and then suddenly no one believes you when you say something like "oh yeah, Feist, I've loved her for years."

Oh, but I have. I first discovered her through these guys:

They're called Kings of Convenience and they're from Norway. Bergen, to be exact, which seems like an entirely charming and liveable place for the following two reasons:

1) It is near the ocean.
2) It has a museum dedicated entirely to leprosy.

Surely this is a place I could see myself living in.

But that's beside the point, because this is a post about Feist. I first heard her voice through this song in 2004 around the time when France pretty much kept her to itself:

Which she sings all by herself on French TV (a version I like better):

But no one believes me when I say this. And when I ask people to go with me to see bands they've never heard no one will.

Sunday, November 25, 2007



Further to what I said earlier about telling you about some of my favourite photos, this is Lou.

It is also the very first picture I ever took with my Canon Digital Rebel XT that I had bought with my SFU entrance scholarship earlier that day on July 3, 2005.

If Lou was human, she'd likely be considered to be highly functioning mentally challenged or developmentally delayed. Physically she's an adult, but mentally she's stuck at kitten, which for a cat really isn't much of a problem.

She has epilepsy and a slight habit of hanging herself in the venetian blinds. She has an immense vocabulary of squeaks and squawks. Sometimes she sits outside on the kitchen windowsill and watches us eat dinner as if it were TV, and as you can see from this picture, she likes sticking her nose in your face. We're really glad we refused to let the vet put her down so many years ago.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Things I learned from TV, part 2

Ie. my literal reading of primetime commercials.

Kia vehicles cure emo.

Tim Hortons coffee, when supplemented with hockey, either watched or played, mends family rifts and puts to rest old feuds.

Westjet staff love you. They must use Nicorette because that's what makes airline stewardesses pleasant.

Eating cheese keeps you barefoot and pregnant.

Purolator helps auctioneers ship things because they talk too funny to help themselves.

Booking trips on makes you speak far too quickly to be able to communicate effectively.

Volvo really, really, really badly wants to break into the Canadian market.

Listening to Sigur Ros in your car is the leading cause of pedestrian deaths in Canada.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Everything I do, nothing seems to turn out right.


I scared another one away today. We were at a dialogue downtown about Afghanistan and Canada's foreign policy, he singled me out, seemed friendly and nice and then I scared him away somehow. I don't know how I do it. I open my mouth, I guess. I should just shut up.

I do the same with job interviews and trying to make new friends. I open my mouth and then it's all downhill from there.

I suck at life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Must recapture muse.

How do you explain this? My nail clippers were on my desk beside me and now they are not. I heard them drop off the edge on Monday and went looking for them a few hours later. I didn't find them, but I didn't worry either. I figured they'd show up when I cleaned up.

But now I've cleaned my desk, the floor surrounding it and the bookshelf beside it and there are no nail clippers to be found.

Now my fingernails are getting dangerously long, as in they're starting to look like normal person fingernails and this is beginning to irritate me. I'm going to buy a new set of clippers tomorrow, even though I know that that way I'll find the old pair right away. I just can't win.

School ends in a week. I've promised myself that I'll go forth and take interesting pictures like I used to. Like in 2005:


Chilliwack General Hospital

harbour centre


I think I'm going to mine through all my old photos on flickr and tell everyone about them. They've already been on this blog, but rarely if ever do the photos on here match the posts. Not to mention, for most of its history, not a lot of people have read this blog anyways.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bucket loss, and other trials


All my compost buckets were full, so my parents came to take them all away, and somehow forgot to bring them back. That means I've been without a sealable compost bucket since Friday and I'm not quite sure what to do.

I called them on Monday, but nothing's changed yet. I'm kind of at their mercy because I sincerely doubt my ability to purchase and eat an entire four litre bucket of ice cream in one sitting. Besides, I don't really eat that stuff anymore, and I don't have the room for it anyways. Right now my freezer is filled with peas.

And pumpkin. I have a lot of pumpkin in my freezer right now, which is partially my problem. I cut a large pumpkin up on Friday and baked it so I could freeze it for muffins and soup and such. Consequently I have an entire pumpkin's worth of guts sitting out on my kitchen counter and nowhere to put it.

I was faced with a dilemma. I could stick it in an airtight plastic container and run the risk of the plastic absorbing the smell, or I could stick it into a ceramic bowl and cover the top with plastic, which is what I did. The upside is that I will definitely be able to clean the bowl and use it again, but the downside is that for whatever reason, the plastic wrap doesn't seem to be 100% airtight. I wouldn't go so far as to say that my apartment smells particularly bad, but it is noticeable when you enter the kitchen, and I can see it getting worse if I don't get a bucket soon.

Putting it out on my balcony is out of the question because the crows will get at it. I guess I could flush it down the toilet. I don't know. Sticking it in the garbage is out of the question. Compost goes in the compost.

Some days I really don't feel like I'm particularly in control of anything and this is one of those days. I wish my city had a curbside compost program like all civilized cities so that I wouldn't have to rely on my parents, because they're bad at remembering this stuff.

And, for the record, since January 1st, 2007, I have taken five half-bags of garbage out to the dumpster. I will most likely finish one more before the end of the year. That's it. I challenge everyone to do the same because it's really not hard.

funny pictures

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Damn you, November


November's never been a good month for blogging for me.

November is when all the papers are due.

November is when my social life implodes.

November has no holidays except for Rememberance Day, and that one doesn't count because it's not something fun that you can look forward to.

November is when it gets cold again.

November is when they switch the time zones on you and all of a sudden it's dark at 3:30 and you are in very real danger of being hit and killed in an intersection multiple times per day.

November is when the inedibles in my fridge begin to outnumber the edibles.

November is a month when no matter how hard I stare at my bank statement, the numbers just keep going down.

It's when I run out of decent pictures and lack the time to go shoot more.

Monday, November 19, 2007


November creeps by
cold, barren, pictureless blah
mind, screen, both are blank.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scandinavian craft fair


It's a giant dala horse!

We saw the sign last week so we had to make it down to the craft fair at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre because we'd never heard of it before and certainly had never been. The closest we've come to it is passing some Norwegians rowing a viking ship in False Creek while we were on the ferry.

I was kind of surprised at how many people were there. The place was packed and it seemed to have some interesting things for sale. Part of it was sort of like a swap meet, where they were selling old books in Swedish and other such stuff. Mom picked up a book that she thought was a cookbook, but it had words in it like Langfredag, Paskedag and names like Jurgen, Rebeka and Urban so I think it was probably more like an almanac or a calendar. My sister entered a raffle and she won, like she always does.

There were friendly ladies in bunads serving leverpostei, rice porridge and open-faced sandwiches, though no brown cheese, which is sad.

Overall, pretty entertaining.

After that we went to see the CBC Radio Orchestra play a program of Spanish music. It was the most cultural of days.