Category Archives: Art, Theatre, & Film

Good Things So Far Today

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.

And yesterday:

  • 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.

While Waiting

Life goes on, of course, and I’m trying to keep busy, which is a challenge when you’re exhausted. We’ve started watching the Read or Die TV series with Marc after rewatching the OVA, which is fun. In the attic, HRH and his dad have finished everything but the drywalling and laying the laminate floor, although we are still waiting on an electrician. The boy and I went up into the attic during the terrific thunderstorm we had Monday afternoon and delighted in hearing the rain pound the roof about three feet above our heads.

I sat down yesterday to gather all the info I needed for the QPIP application for maternity benefits for self-employed workers, and discovered that I hadn’t made the minimum income last year required to qualify for the program. This was really, really annoying. The programme didn’t exist for self-employed workers the last time I had a baby, so this was going to be a nice bonus, but now I can’t take advantage of it. Equally annoying in a different way is the fact that HRH can’t take paternity leave. Or rather, he could, but there are a couple of major obstacles. First, it would require him taking the weeks immediately before plus the first week of school off again, which did not go over well last year when we moved the week before school started; and it would also mean training someone else to do his job while he’s gone because the technician is essential personnel at this time of year. This is more trouble than it’s worth and very risky to do besides, because then they may not take him back but put him somewhere else instead (his permanency guarantees him *a* job, not necessarily the job he’s got at the moment if he goes on leave of whatever kind). And second, taking paternity leave means bringing home only 75% of his salary, which we cannot survive on if I’m not working, which I can’t because hello, I’ll be taking care of a baby. If he chose to take it he’d only get 3 weeks at 75% pay, or he could do 5 weeks at 70% but that would be even more financially suicidal for us.

It just sucks on so many levels. If it were any other time of year he could take, say, a week apart from his five days of compassionate leave (that’s at full pay, whew), and we might get by. If we’d had the baby last year, there wouldn’t be an issue because I made twice as much in 2009, which puts me well over the minimum. I’m cranky about it because the money would have been nice, as I can’t really take on freelance work again for at least two or three months when things have settled down to a point where I can start shoehorning a productive hour at the computer in here and there, which means the cheques won’t start arriving till the end of the year.

The good thing that came of this annoyance is that I was angry enough to pull out my cello for the first time in a month, physical awkwardness be damned, and I played the Prelude to the Bach G major solo cello suite the best I’d ever played it. Owlet was all “Whoa whoa whoa, what is this, no no, LOUD” so I had to stop after playing it twice and then noodling experimentally through more of the first two suites. But it made me feel fantastic. I haven’t played it in well over a year, so to just sit down and pull it off made me really appreciate all the hard work I’ve been putting in at lessons and orchestra. Also, it served to remind me that callouses fade when you don’t use them. Ow, my poor left hand fingers.

I’ve been slowly getting through A Dance With Dragons and I’m still not sure where I stand on it. There’s so much going on in the grand scheme of things that nothing feels like it’s moving, although that can often happen in a middle book of a series. People keep leaving Westeros so more and more of the action is taking place elsewhere, and the reader has to keep learning about new cultures. It’s all moving the story in a way, but it’s doing it slowly enough that it doesn’t feel as rewarding as it used to. I bought my first eBook, too, which is actually a Laurie R. King novella only available in electronic format, and I am saving that to read in hospital. No, I lie; that’s my second purchased eBook. I bought, read, and enjoyed Cate Polacek’s Tempus House in May (aha, I knew I missed something in my May booklist! eBooks are going to be harder to keep track of, I suspect, because I can’t pile them on my desk as I finish them).

I pulled out a braid of Louet Karaoke fibre (half wool, half soysilk) in the Parrotfish colourway on Saturday (more pale greens and purples, with touches of gold and blue) and finished spinning it today. I’m chain-plying it to preserve the colour changes and suspect I may use it to knit an Oriental Lily dress for Owlet, should she ever decide to make an appearance. The soysilk was finicky to draft, though, and made for an overall weird chunky , sticky drafting experience. Curiously, I had similar issues when drafting silk pencil roving from Ozark, so I had an idea of how to deal with it (hold it just less than a staple length apart and snap it between the hands); it just made drafting the blend tricky, because the soysilk would slide past the wool, muddling the colour changes a bit. I’d have preferred sharper colour changes, so if I ever use this fibre again I’ll split it by colour and spin from the fold or something.

I’ve knit three more inches of the back of the lace cardigan. It looks just like it did in the last post, only longer. Knitting lace to length is somewhat annoying, because you really have to pin it out to measure where it’s at in order to have a proper idea of what its actual length is since lace looks like a ramen noodle disaster while in progress on the needles. And I picked up a skein of brownish orange embroidery floss to embroider beaks on our mobile owls, I ordered a yard and a half of owl motif fabric for the coverlet the boy wanted me to make for the baby, and a stamp to use to make thank you cards. I’d almost decided on some Cluny lace to finish the short ends of the woven blanket, but I re-examined the edges and I might be able to live with them as they are after all. In fact, all they may need is a row or two of single crochet to secure them a bit more. Which means I have to look up how to do that, because I have forgotten how after my one use of the technique to finish something eighteen months ago. Something to do tomorrow while waiting for the Owlet…


We have seen the final Harry Potter film, and I am still pregnant, although Owlet is now welcome to arrive whenever she likes.

I had a nice, quiet birthday that included a three-hour nap (I slept horribly earlier this week, mostly due to the heat and humidity, so this was seriously the best gift I could receive), several e-mails and calls from people, and a gift or two. One of those gifts was a bookstore gift card from my parents, which I spent pretty much immediately, ordering myself A Dance With Dragons and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. I was rereading A Song of Ice and Fire in preparation for the release of book five — actually, I just read A Feast for Crows for the first time, much to my surprise… I bought it when it came out but didn’t get around to reading it for some reason, and forgot that I hadn’t — and I finished it last night. I thought for sure my parcel of books would be awaiting me when we got home, but alas, it was not! Ah well; it will be here Monday.

I’m going to go ahead and warp the loom for that baby blanket. That should encourage the Owlet to arrive and interrupt things.

Friday Photos!

With an art theme.

This morning’s book report (in kindergarten, they draw their favourite part of the book; it’s a comprehension thing):

This week’s letter sound was Q. “Mama, I want to draw a quail for the letter Q!” he announced. What? A what? Where did you see/hear/encounter a quail? Whatever. Let me tell you, I have plenty of reference material, having just finished writing a book on birds. We looked at the photos and sketches I have of quails, and he did it from memory at school. While the general shape is, um, odd for a quail, which usually looks kind of like a softball with a tail, you can totally tell this is a quail because of the comma-shaped feather on the top of the head. Also, I love the look on this bird’s face. This is one cheerful quail.

And finally, these are a few of his favourite things: trees, owls, and bunnies:

Weekend Roundup: Mostly Cello Recital Prep Edition

Cello fell apart last week. I don’t mean literally (you’d have heard me screaming from wherever you physically are, I suspect) but figuratively. Nothing I played worked. Everything was disjointed, scratchy, jerky, lousy phrasing, no dynamic control, horrible intonation (why E flat major as C minor, why, WHY?)… every time I tried it got worse instead of better. Which is, if you think about it, the exact antithesis of what practice is supposed to do. One of the general bits of wisdom floating around is that you shouldn’t repeat mistakes, so if things are going wrong and you can’t isolate why and fix them, stop and come back later. Except every time I came back it was worse. Friday night I sat down, gritted my teeth, put the Suzuki accompaniment CD on and played the Gavotte at the ridiculous speed it called for. And I did it again. And again. And again. I didn’t stop, I didn’t pause to fix things, I didn’t listen critically, I just played it. And I played it at a speed that was far faster than I’d worked it before, faster than my target metronome marking. And then I put the cello away.

Saturday morning I went to my lesson. We warmed up with my lines in the pretty arrangements of Silent Night and Greensleeves that we’re playing, then my teacher said there was half an hour left and she didn’t think we needed half an hour for the Bach, so why not look at the Bazelaire she’d given me for the next recital? And we played through the first half of the first movement, working on the wacky thumb-index-index pizzicato movement, and it was so much fun. Then we turned to the Bach. I kind of gritted my teeth again, then took a steady breath, threw all my feelings about it away and started. And it flowed, and had phrasing, and drove right on to the end. When I was finished I started to laugh, and my teacher exclaimed and asked where that had come from, and she even made me stand up and take my Suzuki bow. Apparently running a piece at ludicrous speed seven or eight times in a row to recorded piano accompaniment is a good thing. I didn’t even play it through again, or look at trouble spots; it didn’t need it.

I drove home and had a quick lunch. Then the boy and I bundled into the car and drove to the local movie theatre to meet with his best friend from preschool and her mom to see Tangled together. It was so much fun. Granted, listening to Zachary Levi for an hour or so was part of that, but the design, the palette, the characterization, the execution, the pacing and plotting, and the songs and score were all fantastic. (I’d sneaked a listen to some of the songs released earlier that week on various music and film blogs, and had in fact purchased the soundtrack two days before the film, so I knew about that last bit ahead of time!) It has firmly settled itself among my top three favourite Disney films, and very possibly has bumped Beauty & the Beast out of my #1 spot. I can’t make a confirmed judgment as to that yet, because I’m going to need to see it a few more times first. We’ll certainly go see it at Christmas when we visit my parents, because Mum wants to see it and HRH needs to see it, too.

The boy’s friend came over to our house to play for an hour and a half after the film. I made peanut butter chocolate-chip cookies, they played with his trains, and at some point they ran through the house playing cowboys & knights, one waving the wooden sword and shield HRH made and the other with a Nerf gun. It was great.

Her mom picked her up and I headed into Montreal for my piano rehearsal scheduled for 5:20, where we each play our solo pieces with the accompanist. Despite giving myself forty-five minutes to get to NDG I hit bad traffic and was ten minutes late, but things were running behind anyway. I got to listen to everyone’s pieces and their work on the timing or the trouble spots, applauding with everyone else enthusiastically after each. And then, like the Farewell Symphony, they all left one by one as they were done; I was last, with an audience of only my teacher and the pianist. And I kicked my Gavotte again from start to finish. I was very pleased with it. We didn’t need to work on anything or test timing or cues; I loosened my bow and that was that. I’m feeling really confident now about next weekend’s recital. I got home in time to read to the boy in bed. That night HRH and I ended up clearing out the storage room because I was looking for something. We moved some stuff into the laundry room and emptied at least three big boxes. It’s much easier to locate things now. Ironically, though, we didn’t find the box I was looking for.

Sunday was my day at the Yule Fair. I was scheduled to do a talk with Ellen Dugan on green magic and magical gardening, and she was so fabulous. We had a blast. I got to touch base with Chris Penczak and Judika Illes again, too, and pick up a couple of books. I so love working with other authors at these kinds of events. And it always comes as a surprise to me when they say they’ve read my stuff and are impressed, or refer to a concept I’ve discussed somewhere. I had some wonderful discussions with people who came to my signing afterwards, too, and was very touched by some of their stories about what my books have done for them. HRH and the boy came downtown with me and took the metro to see the Christmas window at Ogilvy’s, which was unfortunately half non-functional, before having lunch out together.

We had to leave the fair and get back home for mid-afternoon because I was possibly expecting a drop-off. It didn’t happen, however, and good thing; both HRH and I were coshed by a really, really bad cold and fell asleep while the boy watched movies. I’d felt the beginnings of it when I’d woken up in the morning, but a couple of Tylenol took care of the aches and sore throat for a few hours. I was stunned at how brutally it hit me mid-afternoon, though.

Day By Day

Yes, things are quiet. I’m sorry about that. I’m tired, I’m on new medication and it’s a struggle to get used to it, and there’s stuff I have to get done before I jot things down here. And by the time it’s done I’m exhausted and can’t string two coherent words together.

Cello is going well. My teacher is patient and sympathetic about what I’m handling right now, for which I’m very grateful. We had a cello sectional at orchestra this week, and that went much better than I expected.

Work is… problematic. Trying to focus with the fibro was bad; trying to focus on it while working through the period of adjustment with the new medication on top of the fibro is harder. I know it will all even out in the long run, but when I repeatedly forget the sentence I’ve just read it doesn’t feel like I’ll ever be able to get past it. I can do bits of the repurposing project at a time, but trying to remember where other thematically-similar material is in a 200-page document when I’m muddled by medication is frustrating and depressing. I’m doing work on the book proposal and sample chapter away from the computer, which is great to a point, but I’m going to have to come back and start organizing it into something coherent at the computer next week. I finally gathered up the courage to take down the old pro website and upload the new iWeb one after a few more tweaks, too, and I’m very happy with it. I aced the copy-editing test, and start with that department at the beginning of November, too.

Spinning proceeds apace. I’m starting to get used to Lady Jane, although I’m still experimenting with her. I’ve plied the Shetland with silk thread from my local Fabricville, which went very nicely and yielded about 230 yards of lovely soft black yarn. Lady Jane spins the wood violet-coloured BFL I’m working on beautifully, too, and I’m interested to see how that chain-plies. I like it so much that I’ve planned to make a wrap out of it, so I stopped by Ariadne to buy the second 4-oz braid of the colourway so as to have enough.The drive band seems to be stretching and getting floppy, though, and I originally moved the mother-of-all to account for it, but then the treadling got stiff. I checked with Bonnie and she gave me the go-ahead to move the MOA as close to the wheel as possible and then trimming the drive band, and now it treadles beautifully with no stiffness at all. The new drive band just stretched, I think. I still have to check my spinning books to see what they say about adjusting Saxony wheels in Scotch tension, as it’s completely foreign to me. I like the Scotch tension a lot, though. I don’t know if I’ll have the courage to try double drive before I give her back.

I’m still trying to find a comfortable angle at which to spin, though. My knees seem to complain if I’m sitting straight on or at too much of an angle. Interestingly, I’ve switched my fibre and twist-controlling hands. Usually I hold my fibre in my left and pinch with my right while drafting straight back from the orifice past my left side, but I reverse my hands on the Saxony and draft in front of me to my right, at a right angle to the orifice. Speeding up my drafting has been a challenge; there have been a few slubs in both the Shetland and the BFL. I’m still not wholly sold on the idea of DT, though. At least I don’t think I am; I’ll try something on the Louet next week and see how odd ST feels after a week and a half of DT. It still just feels like another method, and I don’t know if I have a preference for one over the other. Overall I feel like I’m not good enough for a Schacht-Reeves, but I also know something like this would last me my entire spinning life and give me lots of room to grow.

I also accidentally taught myself how to knit Continental-style (I think; I haven’t formally checked against a video yet) and finished half a replacement handwarmer for the boy that way. (He lost one and was devastated, so I knit a replacement, and of course someone found the lost handwarmer at school, so now we have one in reserve against the next time it happens.) It happened when I wondered what feeding the yarn over my left hand would do, and then I saw that I didn’t have to actually wrap the yarn over the needle; I could just sort of flick it up with the needle tip. The first few stitches were awful but by the next row it looked just like the other way. I fact, my tension was better and my first finger wasn’t locking up.

Meallanmouse lent us the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the flickering issue we had with the last set we tried to watch is still there but not so pronounced as to make it impossible to watch like last time. I don’t know if it’s the different discs, the new TV, or the Blu-Ray player, but whatever the reason we can actually watch it this time without both of us getting headaches, so we’ve stuck it out and are enjoying it immensely. HRH and I watched the first two episodes together and then decided that yes, the boy would adore it, so we introduced him to it the next day and rewatched those episodes with him. Now we get to watch an episode every day together after HRH gets home before supper.

Last weekend the boy went down town to McGill to participate in a research study, and was very excited about it. They video the interviews, and apparently when they asked him if he knew why he was there he chirped, “Of course: I’m here for an experiment!” with a little double hand-flip thing as if he was displaying something, and cuted the researchers right out. The next day we went to Ada’s naming, which was lovely even if I did leave out an entire paragraph of introduction at the beginning. If you have to drop something, dropping the least-essential bit is the way to go. It was a beautiful day with good weather, fabulous food, and excellent company.

Okay, you’re caught up with my endlessly scintillating life. The rest of today is work where I can between laundry and the long list of errands before Thanksgiving weekend.


Lots of terribly nice stuff happened yesterday.

I got halfway through my latest freelance assignment in about ninety minutes. MLG picked me up and we went out to the Burgundy Lion for lunch together. Let me tell you, it has been aeons since I’ve had a Scotch egg, and oh heavens, the one they serve is just lovely. So there was excellent company, and excellent food, and then the heavens opened and we had a terrific storm, something long overdue. HRH and the boy met us there. The plan was to pick me up on their way home, but the rain meant they stayed for lunch (on HRH’s part) and milk and dessert (on the boy’s part, as he had already lunched at school). The boy barely nibbled his sticky toffee pudding, though, so HRH and MLG polished it off quite happily.

We came home and opened all the windows to the thunderstorms that continued all through the afternoon. I had a wonderful time sitting in the open patio doors to the front porch, blowing bubbles with the boy into the rain.

After the boy went to bed, HRH gave me my birthday present early:

I adore my fox and my copper deer, but this one is my absolute favourite. I love the colours and the knotwork. So my deer got moved to the right and my owl now hangs in the very middle of the art collage wall of my office. I need to adjust the empty spaces, but I have to do that every time I get a new piece. It’s like a puzzle.

I have a wonderful husband. He’s very talented, and original art designed specifically for the recipient is such a special gift. He’s going to look into the cost of making full-colour prints from the Celtic totems series of paintings, too. We’ve meant to assemble pictures of them all in one place online for a while now; I’ll have to add that to my ongoing list of things to do.