Monthly Archives: June 2015

The 2015 Tour de Fleece Draws Nigh!

Yes, the Tour de Fleece. Started by Star Athena in 2006, it runs concurrent with the Tour de France, except we use spinning wheels instead of bikes, and we end up with yarn instead of medals.

I’m co-captaining Team Clan Kromski this year with the steady, grounded, and organized FloofyMoose. Our team is awesome, and spins mostly on Kromski wheels. (Mostly, because some will be using spindles while they travel, and some will someday be Kromski owners but as of yet are not. We love them all.) I’ll be using my Symphony at home, and my FrankenMazurka while I visit my parents. (Sigh; there’s yet another post that hasn’t been written, detailing the conversion of my prototype Mazurka to accept the modern Kromski flyer and bobbins. Someday.)

While Spinzilla is all about achieving the most yardage, the TdF is about personal challenges. You set them, you work toward them. Some teams have requirements or team goals — spin a certain weight or yardage, spin only existing stash, spin only fibre from a specific dyer, that sort of thing — but our team is no-stress. If you want to spin an insane number of of pounds (100 ounces is someone’s goal!) or staggering yardage (five miles, yikes — also a real goal), I will wholeheartedly support you and cheer you on. If you just want to spin for fifteen minutes a day, then I am there for you, because it sounds easy but it isn’t necessarily.

Last year I spun four ounces of Merino/silk I dyed pewter and silver, inserting pretty crystal-tone beads for a two-ply beaded lace yarn; finished the last half of a Daybreak Dyeworks merino/silk blend in the ‘Maid in Bedlam’ colourway; spun deliciously soft alpaca from my friend Jenn’s alpaca farm; and sampled some undyed wool/flax blend on a spindle.

And the year before that, I spun some lovely green sock yarn; challenged myself to spin a bulky single, which I then plied with some silk hankies I’d dyed myself in peacock colours; spun half of a set of pretty blue and brown batts into singles for a shawl; and spun a bunch of Mum’s luxury silk/cashmere/merino yarn.

As usual, these days I am caught up in work and travel plans and ZOMG CONCERT, so as always I will wake up on 2 July, blinking, and suddenly remember camp, birthdays, TdF, and all the other stuff I’ve been ignoring until after the insanity of June is past. I went on a gleeful fibre-acquisition romp this past spring (having money is very nice, and treating myself to some fibre every couple of paycheques did a lot for my morale), and so my stash is much larger than it was. I think I may just casually open the wooden chest and select something pretty when I’ve finished a yarn this time.

I do know that I am beginning with this braid. It’s superwash Merino from Sweet Georgia Yarns. I’ve never spun anything from Sweet Georgia Yarns before, and I hear such marvellous things about them. (I also see marvellous things made by them while watching Felicia Lo’s Craftsy class on Spinning Dyed Fibres; an excellent set of lessons.) This is super soft, and I’m just going to spin it — nothing fancy, nothing ambitious. I’m just going to enjoy it.

After that… who knows? Maybe some lovely Southern Cross Fibre, as I now have a handful of those braids in the chest, and I have been head over heels for the two SCF Polwarth/Tencel braids I have just spun. Maybe some of the very bright braids I picked up from a destash for the sole reason that they were all (well, mostly) out of my colour comfort zone.

Whatever I choose to spin, I’ll be doing it in the virtual company of excellent spinners of Team Clan Kromski!

Workity-Work

I am in the middle of a sea of uncertainty regarding work. Yes, there is lots of work to do! When can we get it to you? Well, not now. Later. Soon. That stuff that was also due in March? Not ready. Soon. Later.

As happens with large team projects, slowdowns here and there or periods of rewriting aggregate, and that aggregation now means the initial projected schedule provided to me is completely inapplicable by this point. So I know I have an unclear amount of work to edit… sometime this summer. When? Well… July? The first bits, anyway? (On the initial schedule, this part of the project was to be wrapping up in July.)

So I’m trying not to panic, both helped and hindered by Ceri saying, “You’re doing MENUS? Oh my gods, those are HUGE!” because now I at least have an idea of how much work there will be (i.e. a lot), but also now I am anxious about how soon they want this stuff turned around when it eventually gets here. The projected schedule estimated 10 days would be required to handle the material, which is somewhat comforting; that’s two weeks of work. There’s always more of a crush as the end of the project approaches, and the same amount of work has to get crammed into a smaller time period, though. I am good, and I am outrageously fast (did I not just turn around a 400+ page batch in a crazy-brief four or five days? yes, I did, holy cats, and let me tell you, there was wine when I was done), but not knowing is freaking me out. Especially since I have a week out of town coming up when I can’t work, which is likely to coincide with the first batch of this material finally reaching me.

Apart from the ZOMG I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH MY SCHEDULE, which is something that always triggers anxiety (and I haven’t yet mentioned that daycare is closed for the last two weeks of July, ha ha ha, this will be fun), I am still very much enjoying this project. It’s been fun to see the fan reaction to the trailers and launch material, and to know secret stuff, and to think about how much fun people will have discovering it all when the game is released. Turns out the Xbox version will only be available on XBox One, though, not the 360, which means it’s time for HRH and I to update our Xbox console. The recent announcement that the One will now extend backward compatibility to lots of 360 games is a relief, though.

On the other work hand (does that make sense? sure, why not, yay freelancing), I currently have a deliciously perfect and staggeringly good novel I’m working on for the publisher. It’s so good that I’m doing the equivalent of racing through pages just to see what happens next. It’s beautifully clean, so I have next to nothing to do other than add the occasional comma, remove the occasional italicized closing quotation mark, and make my list of proper nouns to check. It’s a luxury to work on it, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been the one assigned to it. It’s half contemporary, half historical, and has magical realism; it’s a book I will recommend wholeheartedly and without reservation to pretty much everyone when it’s released.

Canada Day 2015 Concert Reminder!

On Wednesday July 1 the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra will be giving a free (yes, free!) concert as part of the overall Canada Day celebrations in conjunction with Pointe-Claire Village. We do this every year, and it’s always terrific fun. Our conductor is the justly famed Stewart Grant, who is phenomenal.

This year’s programme features music drawn from our country’s European roots:

    Rossini – Overture from Barber of Seville
    Grieg – Wedding Day at Troldhaugen
    Bartok – Rumanian Folk Dances
    Brahms – Hungarian Dances nos. 5 & 6
    Chabrier – Suite pastorale
    Smetana – Ma Vlast: Vltava (Die Moldau)
    Walton – Crown Imperial Coronation March

The concert begins at 20h00. As always, this Canada Day concert is being presented at St-Joachim church in Pointe-Claire Village, located right on the waterfront at 2 Ste-Anne Street, a block and a half south of Lakeshore Road. The 211 bus from Lionel-Groulx metro drops you right in the village. Here’s a map to give you a general idea. I usually encourage those facing public transport to get together and coax a vehicle-enabled friend along by offering to buy them an ice cream or something. It works nicely, and it’s fun to go with a group. And hey, you can’t beat the price. Be aware that if you’re driving, parking will be at a premium because of the whole Canada Day festivities thing going on. Give yourself extra time to find a parking place and get to the church, which will be packed with people.

As it’s a holiday, the village will be full of various celebrations, booths, food stalls, and the like. Come early and enjoy what’s going on.

Free classical music! Soul-enriching culture! And as an enticing bonus, the fireworks are scheduled for 10 PM, right after we finish, and the church steps are a glorious spot from which to watch them. Write it on your calendar, and feel free to tell all your friends and family members! The more the merrier!

Owlet: 45 Months!

(Thanks to juggling lots of crazy deadlines, I am two months behind on these. Here’s the one that should have appeared on 4 May.)

We bought a new batch of chalk, and she has been spending many happy hours on the side porch, colouring and getting chalk dust everywhere. We were quite impressed with this monster:

Her current favourite book is The Day the Crayons Quit, and she is currently very into ‘writing’ in any form. She was doing a lot of ‘writing a message’ in the bare gardens with a stick. (A message to whom? Worms? Birds? Ants? We will never know.)

She went through a brief punching phase, which was very odd; I think she picked it up in self-defense from the three little boys at school who went through a very intense superhero/monster-fighting phase. We’re trying to finesse her need to defend herself and express frustration; it’s okay to stand up for yourself by removing yourself from the situation and/or using words, not so okay to suddenly throw your fist out in front of you.

Spring cleaning yielded the lightsabers and the wooden swords and shields on the side porch shelving, much to the delight of the kids. Owlet is a bit more aggressive, faster than she used to be, and slashes harder than she used to, so after a few yelps and complaints from Sparky, I surprised them with a pair of sturdy foam swords from the dollar store. They were thrilled, tore around the yard together, and created a very simple but enthusiastic game they call “Three, Two, One, Fight!”


This month marked a measurable interest in Lego, and once we had explained to Sparky that he couldn’t complain about her sorting through a stack of bricks he’d dumped on the floor while they were watching a movie, he was grudgingly okay with her building. His sensibilities are frequently offended by the directions her creativity goes in, however. There’s a lot of “That’s not right!” and “That is NOT a car.”

Her first real Lego creation was made of the back half a racing car, the front half of a jet nosecone, some bricks building up the back, and a weird guy inside. She was very proud of it. She sat on the stairs and worked to get it to stick together for ages, because the front and the back kept coming apart. I finally had to help. She was very proud of it.

Sparky’s working on not putting down her design choices:

OWLET: I made this! (Shows minifig to Sparky.)
SPARKY: This… has a red ninja’s legs, a female torso wearing a sleeveless top, and a head with no hair.
OWLET: Yes! And I made it for you!

It’s a challenge… and a work in progress.

Sparky: Ten Years Old!

We did it! We made it to double digits!

These birthday photo posts are getting very long. I think that makes them all the more special, don’t you?

Ten entire years ago, during a humid heatwave, we unexpectedly found ourselves with someone who wasn’t scheduled to arrive for another nine weeks. In those nine weeks, I had to correct the galleys of one book, deliver the first draft of another, unpack from the move, create a nursery, and perform in a rock concert. All that was rearranged, rescheduled, or cancelled (for me, anyway): the galleys were corrected in the hospital (yeah, I’m hardcore that way; HRH FedExed them to the publisher for me as soon as they were done), t! took my place onstage with Random Colour (I dictated basslines to him over the phone from my hospital bed), the delivery deadline for the first draft of the other book was moved (bless my editor at the time!), the nursery was hastily finished while Sparky was in the neonatal unit, and unpacking happened when it happened.

One…

Two…

Three…

Four…

Five…

Six…

Seven…

Eight…

Nine…

TEN!

For what it’s worth, he showed that striped shirt to me yesterday and said, “This is too tight on me now.” We’ve been weeding clothes out of his drawers on what feels like a weekly basis, and he’s eating an awful lot. Not a lot at a time, just frequently.

Oh, let’s add another one where’s he’s actually smiling.

One decade ago he was born nine weeks early, and we’ve been trying to keep up with him ever since.

Books books books books Lego books Minecraft books Pokemon books.

He’s wearing size 10-14 or large youth shirts, and size 9-10 pants for length, although we have to cinch the waists. He’s wearing youth size 2 shoes, and more of my socks and some of my more fitted t-shirts are mistakenly ending up in his drawers when the laundry gets put away.

This year at school he ran into math problems because he didn’t have a basic handle on multiplication/division/fact families. But then he discovered fractions and blazed through those, and plotted coordinates were fun, too. Grade four is the first year of provincial exams here, and we’re waiting on those results.

He’s sensitive, funny, loves sharing stuff he’s interested in, actively tries to engage his sister in play (until she tries to direct said play, that is), and adores puns. We have a special family game or movie night with just the three of us every Saturday night, and it’s a blast.

(We just watched Jurassic Park in two goes, because while he was happy and awed for the first hour, when the T-Rex ate the lawyer it was all “WHY ARE YOU LETTING ME WATCH THIS THIS IS A TERRIBLE MOVIE” and we had to stop it. After a week of getting used to it, he proposed watching the second half, and he was fine. Now he’s changed his idea for his birthday party from a spy theme to a Jurassic Park theme. Uh-oh.)

He’s a terrific kid, and we’re looking forward to the next decade with him.

The New Glasses

I’ve had my new glasses for over a week now, and I’m pretty excited about them.

I have three older pairs scattered around the house for various reasons. My most recent pair are at my computer, for working. I carry my second-oldest pair in my purse, for reading music. And my third-oldest pair are on my bedside table, for reading at night. Now, this arrangement isn’t ideal, not by a long shot. Particularly if you consider that the most recent pair are two or three years old, the second-oldest are eightish years old, and the third oldest are so old I can’t remember when I got them, to be honest. Possibly pre-blog vintage. But they all seemed to work adequately for the reasons I needed them. They were fine, in a pinch.

Last year I got a reminder card from my optometrist. That’s new; they usually don’t do that for me. But maybe there was a flag put in my file to recall me every two years, because my optometrist told me that once one hits forty, ones eyes really start changing as the lens loses its flexibility at a faster rate. I knew I was due, but it wasn’t immediately critical, and I didn’t have the money for new glasses anyway.

This spring I started getting irritated at my eyewear situation. I was wearing my glasses pretty much all the time at home, but if I tried to wear them in the car, my eyes hurt and it was actually harder to see. So I’d take them off, but then I’d forget to put them back on unless I was at a musical activity where I needed them to see my sheet music clearly. This last pair of glasses were for general wear with an emphasis on reading, but I hadn’t been told I had to wear them for driving (or to not wear them for that reason, either, just to be clear). It got to a point where when I had the money, I made the appointment.

And it turns out I did the right thing. My optometrist is terrific. Unlike some other optometrists I’ve had, he actually asks what I do in daily life and what my job is, listens to what I say, and then makes good decisions based on that information. He asked if I’d had an increase in headaches, too (how did he know?). He explained to me that my eyes are pretty good at what they do, sharing the job between them, albeit in an unequal fashion (nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other), but that my job was stressing their capabilities. He pointed out that it was great that my monitor was as far away from me as possible because my eyes were good at distance stuff, but that I shifted frequently between the screen, printed material on the desk between it and I, and my hands close up. What I needed, he said, were three different prescriptions to help my eyes shift between those three distances. And he wrote a scrip for progressive lenses.

Then the fun started. And by fun I mean the soul-crushing search for frames. I have a small face. 90% of frames are too wide and look awful. Among the last 10% available to me, the frames had to be large enough to contain the lens area for a progressive prescription. That eliminated about 90% of the smaller frames out there. This meant I had to choose a frame that looked good, had a lens area large enough, and was in a material or colour I didn’t despise. I’d been casually bookmarking frames online for a year or so, preparing for this eventual pair; all of them were useless. I went to five different stores in person and eliminated pretty much everything out there. I ended up at Optique Laurier and finally found a set of frames that I didn’t hate. I’d been hoping to find a pair in green, but apparently it is not an In Colour these days. I ended up with purple, of all colours (not something I ever expected; it makes Owlet very happy, as it is her favourite colour), matte purple metal frames and purple mosaic acrylic arms. I went back a couple of days ago for a final adjustment, and I’m really happy. They fit, they’re comfortable, I can wear them all the time without having to take them off or peek over the top — including the car! it’s great! — and it took me no time to adjust to them at all. I’d read about the adjustment period for progressives and was nervous about it, but I drove right home with them on, and had no trouble with stairs or anything. (There was an interesting moment where I stepped off the curb on my way to pick Sparky up for school, but that was all.) There was also an hour where if I paid too much attention to my peripheral vision when I turned around it felt like I was in a fishbowl because things distorted, but that was super temporary (and, frankly, amusing when I noticed it, not vertigo-inducing).

They’ve been terrific, and I love just putting them on in the morning and not having to worry about taking them off for something and forgetting where I put them. And they’re shaped in such a way that if I need to, I can still peek over the top of the lenses to deliver that flat, unimpressed look if required. I know there’s sort of a stigma attached to progressives, but wow, I love mine, and I’m so happy I’ve got them.