Category Archives: Food

Weekend Roundup: Yule Fair Edition!

Well, more than the Yule Fair happened, but this helps me remember which weekend it was when I scan post titles.

These weekend roundups are getting so full and so damn long that I’m going to start breaking them into two parts just so I don’t end up piling every category I’ve got onto them… next weekend, that is, because if I break it here the Saturday one is still a huge chunk and the Sunday one is two paragraphs. Despite how full it was, there was still plenty of time to sit and relax so it feels like we actually had a weekend instead of two days jam-packed with rushing around. Not sure how that happened, but there you are.

Friday was our trip to Ariadne Knits to install ourselves on the chesterfields and knit for about three hours straight. It was glorious. The new layout and shelving are both great (this is one of those magic spaces where the more they put in the bigger it feels, oddly) and MA received our cupcakes with great enthusiasm. I’d carefully packed Devon’s wrap to work on, but when I got there I realised that I’d forgotten to pack the chart I’d done for it (not chart, exactly, more like six pages of every row typed out so I could cross each one off as I completed it; look, there are two different repeats going on simultaneously at different intervals, okay?). Fortunately I’d packed another Yule gift that needs to get done (no details, the recipient reads the journal!) so I knitted on that and got it to about 75% done. My posture while knitting sucks, so I had to get up and wander around periodically to stretch my back. I did not, in fact, succumb to the lure of trying a Hound spindle on one of these walkabouts, thereby saving myself from a $50 impulse buy, but I did buy a $4 sample pack of Falkland fibre (oooh, soft and cushy but less sproingy than merino) in order to try the resident Hitchhiker wheel. I hadn’t been sure it was operational or just decor, but it does function. As she handed it to me MA mentioned that the reason she hadn’t bonded with it was because it was a bit flippy, and when I started spinning with it, wow, was she ever right. I had to treadle relatively aggressively to avoid the jam and stall that the leather connection between the footman and the wheel ran into every few revolutions, and yes, without warning the flyer and bobbin would suddenly flip and start winding the opposite direction. Very frustrating indeed. I played with the entire range of tension but it didn’t have much effect. MA said that she’d wanted to love it, but it just didn’t work for her. I know there are people who rave about it, and I think it’s unfair that something so cute and adorable doesn’t spin perfectly for everyone. On the other hand, setting it up was totally intuitive, as was adjusting it; the design really is ingenious. It’s an excellent example of why you should try a wheel before you buy it, though. I’d have been frustrated and heartbroken if I had ordered a Hitchhiker as my first wheel and hadn’t been able to use it. (Although knowing what the demand for them and resale value is like, I’d have been able to sell it without losing much money and look at other wheels.) I also bought the copy of the winter issue of Spin-Off that they’d put aside for me.

Saturday morning I had my cello lesson, where we worked the pieces for which I was playing new lines. Last group class I volunteered to move from the first line of ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ to the second line in order to keep it on the programme. We’ve been working on this piece for an entire year. It wasn’t ready for last Christmas so it was bumped to the spring, and it wasn’t ready then either so it was rescheduled for this Christmas. And then we lost one of our musicians, which left our youngest cellist on this piece alone on the second line, and he needs someone steady to keep him on beat. I love this piece, especially in this arrangement, and we’ve all worked so hard that I didn’t want to see it cut. I’ve worked hard on the top line, too; it’s the melody, and it’s got some soaring bits and challenging shifts that I’ve really polished. But cutting it would disappoint everyone, so I stepped up and said I’d move to the second line if it meant keeping it. The other song I’ve moved lines on is V’la l’bon vent (do click through to the YouTube video of the McDades singing it, holy wow), a French Canadian winter song that I only heard for the first time this fall when I’d been assigned the piece. Our arrangement was done by my teacher’s father, and it has a lovely little swirling wind theme in the second part. It’s a call and response song that overlaps, so the timing is everything, and after learning the timing of the top line having to recast the timing for the second line, even though the line is simple, is breaking my brain a bit. When I played my part of the duet recital piece M and I are doing I had the very encouraging comment that my teacher really had nothing else to tell me. We could, of course, tweak and finesse till the cows come home, but with a week till recital it’s as solid as it needs to be. I am so happy about this. One more duet rehearsal on Tuesday, then the dress rehearsal on Saturday morning, and the recital is next Sunday.

I came home to collect the boys, and we went out for hot dogs and french fries for lunch before heading downtown to Le Melange Magique for the Yule Fair and my panel discussion. There was terrible traffic thanks to the the entrance to the highway leading down town being closed, so we detoured and I got there later than I’d wanted to, but others were a bit late, too. The panel was fabulous! We had eight of the contributors there, plus a few fair attendees, and we moved the chairs so we were all sitting in a circle with everyone mixed up so it became a round table discussion about the issues people brought up under the publicly-identifying-as-Pagan heading. It was fantastic. I loved how people asked questions of one another during the intro/quick summary of how they got to where they are, because it led to sharing other ideas and information. We could easily have gone for another hour.

The boy wasn’t napping, obviously, so after a bit of socialising and signing and stopping to buy handmade soap and bath treats from my favourite supplier Essentials (whose proprietor gave a broken Tub Twirler bath ball to the boy; he decided that night he had to have a bath so he could try it out… we have new Essentials fan!) we headed home to give HRH a break from corralling him and to save the rest of the world from the meltdown that might occur (to the boy, not HRH). I managed to miss saying goodbye to many people, and I didn’t even get to say hi to Judika. It all goes so quickly and there are so many people that it’s hard to keep track of who and when and where.

Back home we did a major overhaul of the kitchen, something that’s been on the schedule for a while. HRH’s parents replaced their dining table and sideboard this past summer, and we inherited their old set. The sideboard has a hutch and replaced both the rickety narrow table we had along one wall that supported all my cookbooks, my tea, and the robot baker, and as we sorted through everything we realised that it could house what was being stored in/on the old microwave cart we were using to store liquor and the ever-present Thing Drawer/Cupboard. So we spent a lot of the day sorting through old papers and fuses and elastic bands, moving furniture, recycling phone books and old vet bills, and figuring out how everything would fit in the best configuration in the sideboard. (The silverware chest! The crystal bowls! They all have an actual home now!) HRH located and hung the corner shelf for the phone and the pencil cup, as that was the other thing the microwave cart held. The room looks much bigger now, and we feel like we’ve leveled up in the adult world yet again, as both our families had sideboards and hutches while we were growing up and so it’s a benchmark of sorts.

And then the boy and I decided to bake gingersnap cookies from the latest issue of Fine Cooking, and he was very helpful indeed, cracking the egg and adding all the ingredients I measured out for him, and even turning the stand mixer on to blend things. He rolled out the dough and used the cookie cutters (trees and stars!) and put the cookie sheet in the oven, but made the mistake of touching the rack with a bare finger to push it back in (I was the one handling the oven, so it was unexpected). The dough is easy and cookies are delicious, especially if you put them in the oven to reheat and crisp up a bit before snacking on them a day later. You really do have to chill the dough, though, otherwise it smooshes all over when you try to lift the shapes onto the baking sheet, but try to explain that to a four-year-old. We baked half the batch; the rest of the dough is in the fridge for another day.

Sunday morning we went out right at nine and did the week’s grocery shopping, and we were home by ten, giving us the rest of the day to relax or get various house things done. HRH vacuumed while the boy and I played our cellos, and the boy wrote a song called ‘Blackie Loves Christmas.’ He told me the words, I wrote them down, and then together we wrote the music. It is an official though brief Christmas song, and he has been told that if he likes, we can sing it for the Preston-LeBlancs at our Yule gathering and singalong. After his nap the boy and his father put up the Christmas lights and the garland outside. We planned out the rest of the month, too. We usually put our tree up on the Solstice, but that isn’t sensible this year as we’re leaving on the 23rd. In order to have time to enjoy it, we’ll be buying it and putting it up in two rounds this Thursday and Friday. Putting it up so early really feels odd. We’re planning to take it down the night before we leave, too, so it’s not left as a hazard for the cats and Blade, who is house-sitting.

I started spinning the Ozark silk roving I bought for another Yule gift, and it’s not like spinning the tussah silk at all. I was warned that I’d have to fluff it up, so I did, and I split it pretty finely, but there are areas that are dyed more heavily than others and they’re a bit crunchy, so drafting kind of stalls there. There are places where the end of the staple is very obvious in the single. I wasn’t as comfortable spinning it; I really preferred the tussah. It wasn’t till I woke up this morning that I realised I hadn’t predrafted any of it: I just fluffed it, split it, and spun right from the ends, drafting and fluffing a bit more as I went. When I spin the other ounce today I’ll predraft and see if that helps. I may try combing a bit of it to see what that does, too. If worst comes to worst I can buy the other 2oz of roving in this colourway at Ariadne, if yesterday’s single isn’t usable.

Dinner last night was roast pork (with a dijon/maple/herb glaze and roast baby potatoes, om nom nom). And then it snowed just before I went to bed.

The end.

In Which She Is Pretty Darned Happy

There was a glorious sunrise this morning, all apricots and burnished peaches and corals. It was slightly overcast, so when the sun rose high enough to be seen over the horizon it illuminated the underside of the clouds, so there were pinks and peach clouds floating in front of the overcast background, and a slice of brilliant glowing colour right along the underside of the overcast sky, and beyond that, bright blue. If there’s something good about the sun rising later at this time of year, this is it: we’re all awake to see it work its magic.

I got fiftyish pages edited yesterday. I’m taking out em dashes, rearranging words, tightening sentences up, removing things that create atmosphere but do it with too many words when I can do something to similar effect within the actual scene itself, weaving it into the action. I’m also picking up small inconsistencies (place names, timeline) and fixing them. Karine and I shared a lovely sushi lunch, too, after a couple of false starts (the place we once ordered lunch from closed, the place HRH and I defaulted to wasn’t open for lunch). O’Sushi (the name amuses me) makes decent sushi: firm rice that isn’t too sticky, velvety fish and crisp veggies, very fresh-tasting. The only thing missing was a bit of zing, so next time I’ll know to add wasabi to all the maki and nigiri (I usually avoid wasabi). Nothing outstanding, but very solid for an order-out place.

Today is more laundry, cupcake-baking and -icing, bread-baking, and then a trip to Ariadne Knits with Ceri to knit and nibble the aforementioned cupcakes (not only is it Ceri’s birthday, but it was Ariadne Knits’ birthday three days ago! Our favourite LYS is two!). I suspect I will actually step up and try out one of the Hound Design spindles the shop got instead of just petting them and weighing them in my hands, which may be dangerous. An afternoon off will be lovely. Not that it’s entirely off; I have some serious Yule gift work to accomplish while there

Tomorrow morning it’s cello, and then at 12:45 I’m moderating an hour-long Out of the Broom Closet panel with eight to ten of the local contributors to the anthology at the local Yule Fair hosted by Le Melange Magique. The boy has asked to be there, and he has been told that it depends on how his morning goes.

List of Things Accomplished on a Friday

schedule set in stone and released
reminders sent out
ritual polished
(and retyped)
final research completed
which enabled
workshop lecture notes to be fully written out
incenses blended: one, two, three
grocery list made
laundry done
two loaves of bread made
(now awaiting eggs and more flour
to attain cinnamon bun dough
that shall rise overnight in the dark chill of
the fridge)
cello played (though I practiced
none of my assigned work)
various small things
looked up, followed through,
checked, and confirmed

to unwind,
I spun bamboo (for the first time)
not as pleasant an experience
as it ought to have been

dinner (homemade pizza) was
a trial
(not the pizza, the dining experience)

I would be looking forward to this weekend
so much more
if every single waking moment wasn’t scheduled

and it’s not even December yet.

Weekend Roundup

On Friday I went to see the MMFA Waterhouse exhibit with a friend who must remain nameless in this public post due to the Preservation of Family Harmony Act (as in, if someone found out this friend had seen the exhibit first with someone other than the someone in question, family life would no longer be harmonious). Gorgeous, gorgeous colours. Reproductions don’t even come close to capturing the glow of these works. And the design and layout of the exhibition was fabulous, too. You wouldn’t think matte black wallk and black text with black velvet would work, but it makes the paintings glow even more. We saw details we’d never seen before. I was highly amused to see that Waterhouse doodled in the books he was reading. Then we browsed through the museum gift shop (we should not be allowed into museum gift shops unsupervised) where I picked up a Christmas ornament and some of the Bleu Lavande lip balm, remembering that Meallanmouse had recommended it (and justly, too, wow). And then we went off to have expensive coffees with lots of whipped cream. The weather was glorious, too, making it an all-round perfect day. It felt so good to dress up a bit (brown patterned stockings! a skirt! my Italian leather ankle boots that I don’t wear nearly enough to justify the money my mother spent on them so many years ago!) and go outside.

Saturday morning was a very productive cello lesson. Late Saturday afternoon was Tarasmas. I wish I had the energy to describe it, but suffice it to say that there were two very clever plays that parodied four popular themes or plots, tonnes of talented people reading from scripts they’d never seen before, the triumphant return of Action Woman, and a fully-realized and orchestrated Action Woman theme that later served as the musical line for an audience singalong. I got to play a Russian spy in the vampire/spy play, which absolutely delighted me. We retired to Mackay’s nearby abode for post-play social interaction but the boy had been up a few times the night before and I was wiped. We went home earlier than we wanted to.

Sunday HRH and the boy replaced the officially dead doorbells, and HRH put the plastic up on the windows, thereby cutting the condensation problem in half immediately. I’m still taking about six cups of water out of the air daily with the dehumidifier, but it’s made a huge difference already. I also finished Gran’s scarf, which you can see here, and there was a long overdyeing process that took up a lot of the day. For dinner I did a stupendously delicious pork roast.

Doing weekend roundups late means I get the bare bones down, but not the nuances. Sigh.

Weekend Roundup

This was a truly lovely weekend. We didn’t rush around, the weather was nice, we crossed things off the to-do list, I got work done, got reading done, had a cello lesson, and ate food. Really, that’s all I ask for.

Friday afternoon I had the deeply satisfying experience of refusing that benighted UPS package, and the driver said, “Good for you.” I’m going to be saving around twenty dollars by having the parcel shipped out via USPS, even paying the USPS shipping fee, and I’ll have to wait another couple of weeks to finally get it. I refuse to cave in and support UPS’s extortionate practices.

Saturday morning I took the boy to get his hair cut, and then we went next door so I could pick up The Intentional Spinner that I’d ordered to replace the copy of Spin Control that I’d bought and later that day won in an on-line draw. The boy had saved up twenty dollars and though he tried to get me to say he could buy a train instead of a book, he eventually went up the escalator with great enthusiasm and chose the copy of Warman’s Lionel Train Field Guide 1945-1969 that he’d been sighing over every time I checked out the needlework books on the adjacent shelf. (We have proceeded to read this book before each nap and bedtime. No, really. We started with some of the text on how to use the book, then the evolution of the Lionel packaging, and then the captions under the pictures of the trains. Not exactly a brilliant narrative, but he’s enthralled.) When we left the bookstore we stopped by Jess’s house to finally collect the carton of Vanilla Coke she’d bought for me on a trip to Vermont at Thanksgiving.

Saturday afternoon I got some Yule knitting done and read another chunk of An Echo in the Bone. I also learned that my proper 7/8 soft case arrived at the luthier! This is going to be a straight trade for the 4/4 case that my 7/8 cello came with. I originally told the luthier I’d stop by next Saturday but that doesn’t make sense time- or gas-wise; I’ll send the 4/4 case over with HRH on Friday, and he’ll make the ten-minute trip to the luthier’s shop after work on Friday on his way to collect the boy. We also moved the DVD cabinet out of the living room and into the hallway, where it doesn’t look bad at all, to free up one whole baseboard heater. As the house has been very damp and chilly lately despite the heat being on, we also trotted out the dehumidifier that had been part of the downstairs apartment’s appliance suite, scrubbed it within an inch of its life, and plugged it in to see what would happen. As we’d suspected (and yet still to our somewhat grim horror) it pulled a good couple of cups of water out of the air in just ninety minutes. This flat has always had a problem with window condensation and mold in dark corners, but we’ve never actually used a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity. The recommended level is around 50%; from the lists of warning signs we’ve just read we suspect ours is about 100%. Anyway, we don’t particularly want to be running a dehumidifier all the time, as it takes a shocking amount of electricity, but the difference in the air was palpable. I think we’ll run it in a different room for an hour or so every day.

Saturday night we attended a dinner party chez Luanna, and ye gods, it was everything anyone who’s ever attended one has said they are. We’ve had to miss every single one of these we’ve been invited to for the past gods know how many years, so to finally be there was a huge thing. The food and the company were spectacular. We had a fabulous time and came home with souvenir programmes menus complete with recipes and photos of what was served. Shall I boast about what we ate? Oh, of course. When we arrived the wine was flowing freely and there were platters of hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen, delicious little crab things on baked wonton wrappers, homemade bruschetta, and prosciutto/melon/fig bites in crisp little bite-sized cups. Our first course was a potage of zucchini, mushrooms, and leeks, followed by duck a l’orange, roast baby potatoes with herbs, and green beans with pine nuts. Dessert was the impressive poached pears dipped in chocolate… which turned out to be stuffed with chocolate-nut truffle filling. I am not a huge pear fan, but these were cooked to perfection, and the chocolate and nuts didn’t hurt in the least. I have not been this enthusiastic about food in possibly years.

Sunday morning we went grocery shopping, which was oddly enjoyable. Usually we are very tense when we shop in grocery stores, generally due to the oblivious and rude nature of fellow shoppers or the non-availability of an item of which we are in dire need, but people were moderately sane and the only thing on the list that we didn’t get was the name brand butter that was on sale, which wasn’t a huge issue because the basic no-name brand of sweet butter I usually buy was only twenty-five cents more expensive at its regular price.

The weather this weekend was a treat. Yesterday in particular was a gorgeous warm fall day, with sun and only a slight breeze and a high of something like fifteen degrees. When we got home from doing the groceries the boys played in the pile of leaves outside. They claimed to be raking, but I knew what was actually going on.

The huge maple tree out front drops an equally huge number of leaves around this time of year, and after scraping them up into a huge pile (and spreading it all out and raking it up again and again) they hauled the leaves into the backyard to pile on the vegetable garden on top of the compost we’d already spread there. It was so warm that we opened the windows. (Also good for removing extra humidity in the fall, we learned.)

While the boy napped I worked on the assignment I’d received on Friday afternoon, because if I could finish it and hand it in, chances were very good that both it and the one I’d already handed in on Friday would be approved by five PM on Monday and I’d be able to invoice for both of them, doubling this invoice total. I managed to do it, too, so I’m just waiting for the approval codes for each so I can plug them into my invoice and send it off. I’m getting better at the efficient handling of evaluating these manuscripts. It helps when they’re non-fiction; I can scan them with less investment. The co-ordinators have just figured out that I’m experienced in religion, so that’s what three of the last five have been. I greatly prefer them to the epic fantasies.

And I had my cello lesson last night, where we worked on the group pieces for the recital. The great Focus on Shifting continued, with the key thing I brought away from this particular lesson being the concept of shifting over the wall instead of through it, using the slight elastic bounce off the fingerboard to travel on the string to the target position and then rejoining the fingerboard with another elastic motion. I worked on this about a year ago, using the mental image of a jellyfish or a squid swimming for an analogy to the motion required (whatever works, okay?) and it’s so rewarding to see that absolutely none of it stuck with me once we stopped talking about it. I also had a note on my Brahms waltz/lullaby piece that said WRONG FINGERINGS, noted as such after the last group class when I got tangled up and saw everyone else was shifting differently, and hoo boy, were they ever wrong. We went forty-five minutes over time as a result of trying to get them corrected. My teacher is an absolute saint.

Today’s to-do list includes a short proofreading job, doing up that invoice, and typing out the draft of a formal ritual which also involves transcribing Norse poetry. Also, it would be really nice if my late freelance cheque finally arrived.

Weekend Roundup, Halloween Edition

Saturday morning we headed out to Karine and Adam’s place for a birthday party. We were the first ones there, so we blew up balloons and put up streamers while Adam got the birthday boy into his costume and Karine whipped up a fabulous brunch (first round for the kids, second round for the adults!). I was fighting a headache and realised halfway there that I’d forgotten to put on my glasses, which didn’t help at all. (I swear, I have to think of something to get around the dark-glasses-on-a-dark-dresser problem.) Almost half the invitees had to cancel due to illness, which was sad, but those in attendance had a wonderful time. There were a moments where my heart nearly broke, though; the boy came to get me at one point and said, “Mama, they’ve locked the door and won’t let me in.” The birthday boy and his school friends had closed the bedroom door against him, and he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him play. So I sat with him in the playroom with an arm around his shoulders and tried to think of a way to explain it but couldn’t put it into words for him, so I just hugged him and offered to help him build with the toys at our feet. But then there was a stack of birthday cupcakes and presents, so everything was all right.

We headed home and it took the boy a while to settle for nap, of course. When he woke up HRH had hollowed out the pumpkins in preparation for carving them, and we got the boy to draw the faces for them. The results were great!

We packed up the pumpkins and headed out to the local grandparents’ house, where the boy does his trick or treating. Except it wasn’t that easy. The transport ministry had closed down half the Mercier bridge, so there was a single lane going each way. We figured it would just take a bit longer to get across, but when we encountered a staggering lineup at our alternate entrance (our regular one was closed) we tried a second, then a third, and discovered that most of the entrances to the bridge were closed, and all the traffic was being funneled through LaSalle onto one on-ramp and taking this way would eat up an insane amount of time. So after forty-five minutes of being five minutes away from our house in various directions, HRH decided to take the Champlain bridge and drive all the way around the south shore of the river to get to Chateauguay. We got to my inlaws’ house an hour and a half after we left. Normally, it’s a fifteen minute trip.

Anyway, tempers were tight and gas was getting dangerously low when we go to the Champlain, but right then the sun came out. It had been an extremely windy, rainy day up till then, but the sun suddenly broke through at just the right angle for magic to happen. As we crossed the Champlain we saw the fattest rainbow I’ve ever seen grow from the opposite shore and reach up to the clouds. I rolled down the window and took a photo:

Then we looked in the rearview mirror, and the sky behind us was on fire. Copper and gold and blazing apricot-bronze; absolutely incredible. When we got across the river I rolled down the window again (rather dangerous in the high winds, whoa) and took photos looking back at Montreal:

We had to stop for gas in La Prairie, but after that it was relatively smooth sailing, and we got to the boy’s grandparents’ door just before six-thirty. After a quick gulp of alcohol to soothe the stress we’d incurred on the way and much admiring of the decor there we got the boy out the door. He loves dressing up, he loves the decorations, he loves the candy… he is not such a big fan of older kids in scary costumes. In fact, after the first house he started digging his heels in because there were two teenagers right behind us wearing horrific rubber masks whom he saw every time he left a door, and on the corner he stopped and started crying, asking to go back home to Grandma and Papa because he was scared of costumes. The woman in the next house heard him and came out to talk to him, and she jollied him up nicely, getting him to come to her front door to see her decorations, and talking to him about the scary costumes. It turned out she worked at the local elementary school and knew exactly how to handle it. (Another example of how what one’s parents tell you doesn’t count, but hearing the same stuff from a different adult is OK.) The boy left in a much more cheerful mood, and I suspect the woman talked to the teenagers behind us because at the next house they stopped to talk to the boy and lifted their masks so he could see they were just people underneath. He was better then, and got to a whole two more houses before saying he was tired and wanted to go home. So this year he hit a total of five houses, three or four fewer than last year.

At home was more fun for everyone, actually, because my mother-in-law had finger food for us as well as more alcohol, and the boy had a delightful time answering the door in his costume and handing out candy. My father-in-law kept slipping more candy into our bags as well! It was a perfect Halloween night: windy, not too cold, piles of wet leaves all over the ground, with wisps of clouds racing across an almost perfectly full moon.

I slept horribly that night, despite being in a wonderful mood going to bed. I got two hours of sleep before midnight, then woke up so very completely at midnight that I had to get up. I knitted Gran’s scarf till two, spun some of the dye sample I’d done a while ago, spun some Aran-weight singles and plied them, then took some herbal sleeping pills and went back to bed around four. I got one hour of sleep before the boy woke us up at five, because of of course the clocks had gone back the night before and his body knew it was six. He tried to snuggle with us but wouldn’t stop squirming or talking so HRH put him back to his own bed, and I slept on and off till nine.

We went out to vote in the municipal election at ten, and wow, worst voting experience ever. The gym in which they were supposed to set up this polling station had been damaged by the wind and rain the previous day so it was squeezed into a cafeteria area instead, and the insensitivity of those waiting was just boggling. It took about forty-five minutes before our station was clear, and a good half of us waiting were polite, but the other half were just asses and made things miserable for everyone else… and this was within the first half-hour of the polls being open. The abuse the volunteers were receiving was dreadful. Now, okay, smaller area, perhaps not as many booth open per polling station number, but at the same time every single person had to unfold five ballots, mark them, and fill them in again. With only one person per booth allowed in the room at a time, yeah, that’s going to slow things down. Anyway, no one I voted for was elected, a result that I fully expected.

As the voting process took twice as long as we’d expected it to take, HRH pretty much had to leave as soon as we walked home because it was open house day at school. He took the bus in while the boy and I stayed home for lunch and a rest. We drove in after the boy’s nap to pick HRH up, and discovered that the open house had been insanely busy and successful.

Dinner was remarkably delicious homemade spaghetti sauce made from the garden tomatoes I’d canned two months ago, and then I headed off for a cello lesson. These are getting better, although I’m still having moments where I freeze up or can’t work through a small problem. My teacher had to remind me about things we’d worked on months ago — caterpillars, the little bounce in the shift that provides shock absorption so the shift doesn’t sound harsh — but for once my right hand was behaving. So now my focus is on smooth shifts, elegant ones, done at the same speed my bow hand is moving at instead of rushing the shift.

Weekend Roundup

An excellent cello lesson always begins the weekend nicely. Things have improved over the past couple of weeks, which is great, but I’m still a month behind where I ought to be. The six-week breakdown of technique while my subconscious implemented the new lesson stuff really crippled my progress in orchestra.

I got home to find the boys still in pyjamas watching a movie. An hour or so later the boy went to his room to get dressed and closed the door, and an hour after that it was lunchtime, so HRH went to get him and found him still sitting on his bed with his clothes next to him. HRH was a bit miffed, especially as we’ve been having trouble lately with the boy focusing on getting dressed so we’ve been working on it. Then he discovered that the boy’s general body temperature was warmer than usual, so I took his temperature and discovered that yes, he had a fever. He said he didn’t want lunch, just wanted to curl up in bed, so it was Tylenol and an early nap for him, which lasted three hours. He watched another movie once he woke up, had a bit of pasta for dinner, then went right to bed and proceeded to sleep hard. He was awake when I checked on him around 3:30 AM and the fever was really high, so I gave him the last of the Tylenol and cuddled him. He asked to come to our bed instead and I said yes, so we curled up there and he actually slept. Overall he got about twelve hours, and when he awoke at 7:30 the fever had broken completely. Other than the fever there were no symptoms, although we kept a very close eye on him all weekend. I’m not overly concerned, as this is how HRH’s body handles some illnesses too: the body ratchets up the temperature and burns whatever it is right out over a day. Still, it meant that we couldn’t in good conscience send him to his monthly Pagan playgroup meeting on Sunday morning, which was sad because it was to be a costume party with games and treats. But he was very good about it, saying, “I don’t want to give my fever to my friends at Magick Stars!” It also gives me a couple more days to finish his costume. (A good thing, as on Saturday when we were trying the different bits on him to adjust and size them, he accidentally got stuck with a pin that was in his cloak and howled. He went from “Can I wear my costume all day?” to “I want to take this off right now!” I know a lot of that was his fever and under-the-weatherness. I wouldn’t have been able to finish in time anyway. ) As of this morning he was over twenty-four hours symptom-free, so off to school he went.

Over the weekend I spun up 130 yards of chain-plied sport-weight Corriedale with which to knit a scarf for my Gran. I space-dyed half of the fibre in two shades of yellow and left the other half natural, and alternated a strip of the coloured fibre with a strip of the natural. My second batch of dyed fibre was a bit more intense than the first so with most of that I spun from a strip of the dyed and undyed fibre simultaneously to tone down the yellow a bit. I was envisioning something a bit less saturated than this, but I’m sure it will knit up just fine. (I called the colourway Buttercups & Daisies on a whim last night. While photographing it this morning I saw that the colours also remind me of sweet corn on the cob when you’ve just husked it, but that’s a bit less poetic.) Also, my grandmother will be bowled over by the fact that I dyed, spun, and then knit my own yarn into a gift for her no matter what I give her, so the lack of perfect colour match to what was in my mind isn’t a deal breaker. We photographed each step so that I can make a little album with captions outlining each step to wrap up along with the scarf come Yuletide, so she can see how it started from plain fibre, went through the dyeing and spinning process, and then the knitting.

And the weekend ended with a fabulous installment of our steampunquian horror game, where Things Were Revealed and the Bad Guy Was Vanquished (for now?), and there was dramatic character fallout. This marks the end of the first story arc after twelve months of playing one session per month; we have voted to continue, and I’m glad. It’s a good world, the party is very well-balanced with excellent characters, and the story is grand. The company is pretty stellar, too.

Ahead this week: The next freelance project (the last report was accepted and approved within half an hour of submitting it on Thursday, woo!), cello work, and I should start knitting some of the things I’ve spun yarn for. I have a yarn shop date with Jan on Tuesday afternoon (not that I can buy anything at the moment, so it will be a recon and perhaps a special-ordering of new fibre for more Yule gifts mission), my bi-weekly anime evening with Marc on Tuesday night, a cello session with M on Wednesday afternoon, and whatever else comes up along the way. There’s a story or a book lurking in deep subconscious, but all I know is that it’s lurking. Now and again I get a murky idea of a phrase or a character, but it’s at the frustrating phase of brewing without tangible development or even clear recognition.

Also, tonight I roast a chicken. I think I’ll roast diced potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips, and some more of the garden carrots with it. I would have done the chicken yesterday but it wasn’t defrosted in time, so instead I made beef stew, and tiny bite-sized apple pies with half of the leftover apples from the apple-picking session a month ago. I made a half-yield of a pastry recipe but it wasn’t enough for the apples I’d prepped, so I dug in the chest freezer and found six mini tart shells left over from something and used those, too. The tarts were thoroughly approved of by the gaming group and our babysitter. (The other half of the remaining apples got made into applesauce.)

To work!