It’s only halfway through the day and already good things have happened that are worthy of recording.
- I made quiche (affectionately known as Kitchen Sink Quiche, because apart from the two eggs and the milk, I toss whatever is in the fridge into it; today it was grated zucchini from the school’s garden, aged cheddar, diced ham, red pepper, and broccoli, all in a homemade crust) It was absolutely delicious.
- We brought the delicious quiche over to Kristie’s house and fed it to her.
- We got to watch Owlet and Rowan play together, which was thoroughly enjoyable, partly because they played so very well with one another and partly because it was my daughter playing with Rob’s son. That’s special indeed.
- Our garden has been producing lovely peas and cherry tomatoes, upon which we have all been snacking, and the Beefsteak and whatever the other kind of full-size tomatoes we planted is are nearly ripe. And my basil, chives, and parsley (which all got chopped and tossed into the quiche) are bushy and healthy.
- HRH installed the shelving we had stored away in the front hall closet and the attic office cupboard, and we sorted through and organized shoes (which all have their own shelves now instead of being in a pile on the floor, thank the gods) and all my yarn and fibre (ditto, hurrah!). I found the missing bag of organic Merino I got for dyeing, and a couple of other bags of fibre I’d forgotten I had, including a braid of lovely Ozark silk sliver in pale greens, pinks, and cream. It looks like watercolours.
- I sorted through the other set of baby clothes for 2-4 year olds and found the missing denim ball cap Sparky wore when he was a baby, as well as more soft shoes and lots of socks.
- We finished watching Sora no Woto with Marc M, and it may just be my favourite anime series we’ve watched together so far. It was beautifully told and illustrated, and had lovely music.
I am now in that limbo between forty and the answer to everything.
It was a quiet birthday. We’re all rubbing against one another uncomfortably here at home; no one is used to having all four family members home all the time for more than three days in a row, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves. The day started off very nicely, and then we kind of got irritated with one another, but it ended nicely again. We had sushi as a birthday treat, and Owlet devoured a kappa maki and Sparky decided that he liked sake sashimi (which he has liked on again and off again since he was three… mostly off again). Now I am excited, because this means we can go out for sushi together and everyone can eat something.
The birthday may have been quiet in person, but online there was a riot of birthday wishes and greetings in forums and through Twitter and Facebook and via e-mail. It took me ages to read through them all, in several sittings. Thank you again, everyone!
My birthday is also my parents’ wedding anniversary. My rudimentary math skills tell me that as I was born on their fourth wedding anniversary, they have now been married for forty-five years.
I had an early birthday dinner with my in-laws before they left for a month on holiday in Cape Breton, which was lovely. They gave me a teacup and saucer that had been owned by HRH’s maternal grandmother, and I had my tea in it the very next morning. I love gifts like that, that come with meaning and history. They also donated to my Saving Up for an iPad 2 fund. My parents sent me money for the same fund (and blew me away with their generosity!), and HRH and the kids also gave me a gift certificate toward it. I am over halfway there already. I want to get it before I leave for my conference on the first weekend of August, because then I will be able to Skype with the kids each night. The Windows laptop that could handle Skypeing is now dead, the old iBook that is a glorified typewriter can’t run the program or load the web-based interface, and my iPhone doesn’t have a front camera.
The iPad is the result of a long research- gathering and decision-making process. It was evident that I needed an alternate work computer. I use my iPhone all the time via wi-fi through the day, and I also wanted a larger e-reader where I wouldn’t be turning a page every five seconds. I liked and coveted the iPad, which answered most of my needs, but I couldn’t justify it since I couldn’t use it for editing, which is the majority of my work. Track Changes is my main tool, and iPad apps didn’t handle it. If I needed a backup unit to work with while travelling or if my desktop went down again (please no, not any time soon, or ever again, really), then investing in a computer-like thing that couldn’t be used for work was pointless. So I kept looking at small laptops half-heartedly, which would let me work but not provide an easy e-reading experience or the casual online messing about and communicating I enjoy doing. It was starting to look like I’d have to buy two separate units, and if I was being responsible (and that was essential, because money has been really, really bad) it would have to be the laptop first. And frankly, that made me cranky, because I wanted the fun thing first, after a couple of years of making do in pretty much every area of life.
At least… the iPad apps couldn’t handle Track Changes editing until a couple of months ago, when app developers began to provide the Track Changes function in response to the demands of users. And when I discovered that, my dilemma was solved, and the iPad was a go! I decided that I’d ask for money and gift certificates for my birthday, and when my paycheque from my first freelance job after a year off came in, I’d make up whatever was left and buy one. I’ve got the Bluetooth mini Apple keyboard that came with my first Mac mini to pair with it, so I’m not limited by the touch keyboard if I do work on it. Now my last decision is whether to go for the black one, to minimize the grunge-collection, or go with the white, which will blend in with the documents and books I’ll be reading and working with. And what kind of case I’ll get for it, of course.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Eric yesterday at his new house. All aspects of the visit were lovely, and future visits will be even lovelier when Soo and Ro move up to join him next week. The evening ended with cheesecake, of which I am not a fan, but this one changed my mind. Not only that, he sent me home with the remaining 3/4 of the cake. I don’t know if this is a universal un-disliking of the cheesecake genre, or just of this one particular kind from this specific bakery, but I’ll take it! I have disliked cheesecake mostly for its (a) leaden texture and (b) the heavy taste of cream cheese, a food I don’t like. This one was feathery light, tasted of butter and cream, and was more like a mousse with only the faintest nuance of cheese. A fabulous thick graham crust, a light cheese layer that had the texture of a heavenly vanilla sponge cake, and heavy whipped cream on top of the cheese layer with a pile of seasonal fruit and sliced almonds along the sides… really, it was divine. And the sausages he grilled for supper (particularly the broccoli-cheese ones) along with the watermelon-feta salad… I think I ate from the moment we got there till the moment we left, either grazing while we prepped food or formally partaking of supper. And that includes eating the tiny apples off the trees in his backyard, with fruit so sweet and somehow fizzy that they tasted like apple candy.
And finally… seven years ago yesterday, Sparky came home from the hospital to properly start life with us as a family. The middle of July is full of celebration in my family, and I am thankful for all of it.
This is the day where I let my brain turn to mush, after gunning for a deadline. One day off.
I dropped the boy off at school and did half my errands. These are things that have piled up over the past two weeks because what energy I had went to working and thinking. I went to the thrift shop and bought a pair of jeans and a new cotton jersey top that fit and look terrific. I picked up some white lithium grease for the new wheel, because the metal treadle bar is squeaking where it moves in the wooden sockets. (Coincidentally this should make the track for the sliding back door a bit quieter and perhaps less rough to move; it won’t solve the issue completely because most of it comes from a chewed-up track that was like that when we moved in.) I have to stop by the library and the grocery store on the way to get the boy after school, too. Yes, the school bus strike is still on, not being the potential one-day-only thing it was coyly suggested it could be. The boy is aggrieved; riding the bus is one of the best things about school.
It is HRH’s birthday today, and so I am making a Special Dessert. I may make a Special Dinner too, or as special as it can be with a five-year-old who has to eat what we eat. It is Wednesday and orchestra night, and for ease of prep Wednesday night is usually Breakfast for Dinner night; I don’t know what changing that up will do to our dinner equilibrium. I can’t quite bring myself to serve HRH eggs, sausage and toast on his birthday, though, especially since he usually makes it. Even if he enjoys it.
I tested the new wheel last night, and very quickly fell in love with double drive. I found a 6-gram handful of Falkland fibre to test it with, perhaps not the best thing because the only other time I have tried it was to test a Hitchhiker wheel at Ariadne Knits, my LYS, so I’m not that familiar with it. (That did not go well, if you are wondering. The Hitchhiker has some innate design/physics flaws that I’m sure I’d find workarounds for if it were my only wheel, but as it isn’t, I played with it for an hour and concluded that it was pretty and cute but not practical to use.) I remember the Falkland being sort of like Corriedale, but with a sproing to it that now reminds me of Polworth since I’ve spun that since then. The Symphony handled it beautifully. I first had the tension and takeup set too tight, so when I broke my single I couldn’t pull the spun stuff off the bobbin without it drifting apart. I moved the mother of all closer to the drive wheel and magically the single took more twist, and I spun a fabulously thin, strong single in a short forward draw worsted style. Alden Amos gave me a rundown of how to adjust tension on a double drive to attain certain goals and talked about the difference in ratio between the bobbin pulley and the flyer pulley, and thank goodness I have his book with details and descriptions and physics lectures, because double drive is only barely mentioned in my other two spinning books that focus more on drafting and plying and such. I then transferred my bobbin of singles to the lazy kate and chain-plied it into 15 yards of a sample skein, which means I got roughly 45 feet of worsted single from 6 grams of fibre. I forgot the check the WPI of the single, but the finished yarn is about 24 WPI.
I have the rapturous task of sorting through my big wicker basket of indie dyer fibre to choose what to spin first. I think I want to try something I’ve never spun before. As I said to Jodi Meadows, another writer who spins, there’s some Rambouillet from Squoosh fibre arts in a burgundy/brown colourway I think I might try, or I may finally break into the Northbound Knitting fibre I got last fall in a three-month subscription to her fibre club; perhaps the Wensleydale, or ooh, there’s some Rambouillet in a lovely blue-green colourway there, too.
I had to re-tighten the leather connecting the footmen to the treadles, but apart from that and the treadle squeak, I am tremendously pleased with my initial experience with the Symphony. I discovered an oddity, though; among the two whorls included in the wheel, the smaller one seems to have a plastic bushing in it with no threads, so I can’t screw it onto the flyer shaft. It’s also got an odd cut across it. I’ll take a photo of it and post it to the forums to see if it’s supposed to be like that (can’t think why), and if it’s not I’ll contact the North American distributor and ask for a replacement. Fortunately I ordered the extra-small/fast and extra-large/slow whorls to expand the wheel’s ratio range, so I have plenty of other options in the meantime. It’s just that one of the reasons I got the wheel was to have the 16 and 20 to 1 ratios at my disposal.
Today I also have to cram for orchestra tonight, as our principal will be missing which means I’m technically the section head (ha ha ha ha ha). I am mostly concerned about keeping up with the runs in the Beethoven hitting the right notes, and not losing my cool when the conductor turns around to wave his baton right at me, which is infallibly a recipe for startling me and making me lose my place.
EDIT: Contacted the North American distributor about the small whorl that doesn’t fit the flyer or match the construction of the other; turns out it’s a whorl for a totally different wheel in their line. They’re shipping me a replacement. Hurrah!
The boy’s fever is bouncing between 99.5 and 101 but he’s his usual cheerful and energetic self, so we’re calling that a win. He was thrilled to open his last door in the Kinder Advent calendar today; he’s been looking forward to that egg for some time.
HRH went out this morning to pick up an early Christmas gift of an FM transmitter for the car, so we can listen to the iPod Touch on the go. The boy’s daycare coordinator stopped by with a gift for him this morning, too. The boy has been struggling with the knowledge that there are gifts from MLG and Ceri, Scott, and Ada for him under the tree, and has been asking at intervals if he can open them. I told him point blank this time that if he asked again the presents were going away and he wouldn’t get them at all. “I’m never going to get to open them,” he mumbled. “Not till Christmas Day,” I said. “Which, after all, is the whole point of Christmas presents.” Everything else will come out of where it’s been hidden tonight once he’s asleep; this has been done in self-defense and the preservation of sanity.
I remember the interminable creep of time as the twenty-fifth approached, but he’s doing pretty well. He’s had lots of fun today: he watched cartoons till noon, then had lunch, then played out back in the piles of snow with HRH, played inside with Lego, and is now watching a movie. We’ve been tracking Santa on Twitter and through NORAD at intervals as well, which has been lots of fun. (I am never reminded of how colossally lame my world geography is as strongly as when I track Santa through Google at Christmas.) When I was a kid we used to listen to the radar tracking Santa on the radio on the way home from the Christmas Eve church service, and it was the most exciting thing ever. I kind of miss the more mysterious radio version. After dinner we’re Skyping with my parents so everyone can wish one another a happy Christmas, and there’s also the magic reindeer food to scatter all over the snow in the backyard before bedtime. The boy was discussing the idea of staying up to see Rudolph (not Santa, but Rudolph; we know who the real rock star is in this house), but eventually concluded that not only was it too risky in that if Santa figured out he was awake he might not stop by the house, and apparently Rudolph is a very shy reindeer (I was unaware of this; one learns something new every Christmas from very serious children).
And in the realm of last-minute realizations, I have no sage with which to flavour my stuffing tomorrow (I shall call my mother in law and ask if she has some I could borrow; I honestly thought I had a whole container of garden-grown sage in the freezer), and my breezy assurance that they could bring the defrosted turkey over with them when they come tomorrow means I won’t have the time dry-brine it the way I usually do. I guess that means I have to try the herbed butter under the skin thing sans brining that I’ve been idly considering for a while. Time to dig out that recent issue of Fine Cooking (or just look it up online, voila).
Have a wonderful evening, everyone. I usually get a few minutes to post on Christmas Day itself, but if I don’t this year I wish you an excellent day, whether you are with family, friends, colleagues, or your cats.
What a glorious weekend! The sun was bright, and the temperatures were kind enough to be around 8 degrees C (which felt much warmer in the sun). It was very good for general morale.
The weekend began at 5:00 on Saturday morning when the boy woke us up in a panic because he was throwing up. We suspected one doughnut too many the evening before, but reconsidered our diagnosis to be the gag reflex brought on by a coughing jag when he demonstrated the coughing-almost-to-throwing-up again a couple of hours later. The boy snuggled in bed with me, feeling very sorry for himself, while HRH got up to made himself a pot of coffee and read a bit before heading out to get in line at the garage to have the tires changed to the winter set. He was back by 9:00, to our surprise (the garage opened at 7:00 and as it’s the weekend before Quebec law requires snow tires, we anticipated long lineups), and then he just kept going! He brought all the Christmas decoration boxes in from the back shed, tested all the sets of outdoor Christmas lights, then took the boy out to buy various caulking and sealants and strings of Christmas lights to replace the dead ones. While the boy napped (rare in this day and age, usually only when he’s ill) HRH climbed up on the roof and set the hooks, then put up the lights. When the boy got up he and HRH went for a walk to see the terribly overkill but amusing Christmas decorations on the house the next street over, complete with a Santa-piloted red biplane on the roof. (People, it isn’t even halfway through November yet!) My Saturday accomplishments were finishing weaving the black scarf then sewing the knitted hood to it, and rereading most of Sailing to Sarantium. I was pretty fried by an intense work week. I finished the repurposing project; all I need to do is finish the layout coding and I’m done, so it will be handed in right on deadline tomorrow.
Today I woke up feeling slightly dazed but good after eleven hours of sleep. I must have needed it! HRH was sorting through the boxes in his office and reorganizing things. The boy and I went out to the bookstore as soon as it opened to look for the fourth Ga’Hoole book and to take advantage of the 25% off sale for iRewards members. We finished book three last night, and last time we looked they had multiple copies of all fifteen books in the series, but today we were disappointed. I suppose they wanted shelf space for other things going into the holiday season, and the movie came out almost two months ago now, so they returned all but a few copies of books one through three, a copy of fifteen (what? I so do not understand how chain stores choose to stock their titles), and two copies of a short story collection. The boy chose the short stories and another small stuffed owl that he bought with his own money ( “I am collecting owls,” he told me), while I looked in vain for any of the books I want to read. I’m going to have to order them, which makes me sad, because I like shopping at real bookstores, and I miss it. We got home to find that HRH had vacuumed, and we all had lunch. Then I sat down to work on the programme notes. HRH called me downstairs to look at how he’d reorganized the laundry room (brilliant, and I now have a table to use for folding and sewing) and talked to me about a door for my office. I have been doorless since we moved in, because the French door we brought from the old place was 30″ wide, whereas the doorway is 32″. There was a knotty pine folding door in the storage room downstairs with beautiful stained glass insets that was supposed to go at the top of the stairs, but we never installed it because we didn’t want a door there. Well, today HRH measured it, found that it was 31 and some fraction of an inch wide, took it apart into two pieces, installed hinges on both sides, and hung them in my doorway. There are well-meant but slightly tacky roses woodburned on the hallway side, but HRH is going to sand those out. Then we shall oil the wood, and it will all be even prettier. Here’s what it looks like when the two halves of the door are closed:
And here’s my newly rearranged music corner next to it. I can reach the lightswitch properly instead of sliding my hand between the bookcase and the wall, I no longer trip over the music stand, and my cello isn’t crammed between the window and the shelves! The room feels even bigger now:
Once the doors were up, together we hung the pictures in the hallway that had been cluttering the hall table and lying underneath it since we moved in. I can’t believe the amount of work he accomplished this weekend.
Then I made cookies once I’d finished my work. (Translation programs are unintentionally amusing; Google told me that “sash dance” was “danse avec guillotine,” which made me laugh for much longer than it ought to have. I understand why it translated it that way — in French one of the terms for a window sash is a guillotine — but it’s still wrong, and just reinforces my interest in how idiom does or doesn’t translate.) Now there is a French roast in the oven, rubbed with butter, Dijon, garlic, and basil. The house smells amazing.
It’s been a wonderful weekend. It feels good to be going into a new week this refreshed and positive.