December 27, 2007
boxing day madness
My hometown was once a Royal Canadian Air Force training station. In the 60s it was decommissioned and sat empty for a while, eventually becoming the property of the Ontario Development Corporation, reconfigured into a booming little industrial park with attached town. You couldn't buy a house there when I was growing up; the town was an experiment, an attempt to draw industry with its conveniently located cheap rental homes for factory workers and its military sized airport. It worked really well all through the seventies, before the factories started moving to countries where they could more easily exploit their workers.
Now the houses are being sold (not the land, though; so the industrial park I grew up in is now a trailer park, and my mom, who now owns the house she formerly rented, pays lot fees for the land her home sits on). There are a lot of changes happening here, in a place that sat virtually unchanged from the late 1960s to the turn of the millenium. Houses that have looked the same for decades are suddenly having additions built on, sunrooms, southern-style wraparound porches. I've already watched the disappearance of many things I loved about my hometown, like the school (which had already been closed for a few years before half of the building burned down, and is now a boarded-up eyesore in the middle of a neglected field), the air force dormitories and tennis courts, and the airstrip where we used to play as kids and, as teens, drive out to the middle to do beer-addled doughnuts (the airstrip hasn't gone anywhere, but it's all fenced off now so kids can't get onto it anymore). So most of the changes happening to the houses don't bother me too much (except for that one particularly hideous one). But this is really lame:
Huron Park has been rebranded as "Huron Village Green". Blech.
Cleo had an exceptionally good Boxing Day this year. My dad's wife Sherry made little catnip pillows for everyone (my dad and his wife are crazy cat ladies; the kitty population in their home recently swelled to fourteen and now sits at eleven indoor cats and one outdoor cat). I don't think Miss Cleo has ever had catnip before, and she tore into it with abandon. We had to eventually take it away from her after she became so totally baked she was wobbling a little.
She started yelling outside our bedroom door at 5 in the morning, no doubt suffering from a killer case of the munchies.
December 25, 2007
picture and words unrelated
I already got my Best Present of the year, yesterday morning. Peter and I were heading out to run some errands and as we pulled out of the driveway we saw a big fluffy cat in the alley across the street. It was the Old Kitty, who hasn't been around here since a couple of weeks before I left for Athens in July. He's disappeared for months at a time in the past, but this time I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the old guy must be dead. But on he goes. He's all fluffed up for winter, his bald spots having all grown back in. I looked for him this morning as I walked down to the river to set free yet another trapped mouse, because you know that no matter how much I worry about how those mice will fare once I've left them on the cold, cold riverside, I'd gladly feed one to my sweet old alley kitty in a heartbeat.
December 24, 2007
cold heads, warm hats
The sum total of my "holiday" knitting:
Only one of these hats is actually a gift for xmas; the others are simply hats for people I care about (one of them Peter) who need warm heads and happen to be getting these around this traditional gift-giving time.
Left to right: the Shaker Rib Hat (free pattern) by Bonne Marie Burns in Manos del Uruguay, for an undisclosed recipient; 2 x 2 rib hat (no pattern) for Peter in Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran, which is gorgeous, chosen by him and also pretty much identical to the Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran that he chose for his sweater a few years ago (I suspect it's even the exact same yarn with a different label); the Cozy Cabled Toque (free pattern) by Jae Steele in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride bulky, for an undisclosed recipient.
Each of these hats used less than a full skein or ball of yarn. Remind me again why I ever knit anything other than hats?
December 23, 2007
catch and release
Two wee frightened babies about to be transported from a warm, food-filled kitchen cupboard to a cold, windy riverside. I hope they'll be okay out there.
December 16, 2007
we're under fifteen feet of pure white snow
I got just what I wanted for my birthday this year:
Since I got home I've been telling my friends about how I was running errands on Wednesday morning in a thin little dress with bare arms and shoulders in 78 degree sunshine before getting on a plane to chilly Detroit (I'm sure they're all quite sick of hearing it). Last night as we struggled through whipping wind and snow downtown it didn't seem that funny anymore. But snow in Windsor in December isn't usual, and I hardly ever get snow on my birthday, so when I woke up this morning to a vast expanse of white I was thrilled (irritatingly so, some might say). Even after shoveling out the entire front walk and a good portion of the neighbour's as well, I'm still thrilled, although I suspect that may wear off by the time I've finished shovelling my way out to the car. Fortunately we have nowhere to go today, and there's plenty of coffee and leftover party food to sustain us.
Since winter weather's not such a novelty to Peter, he stood back and took pictures while I gleefully shovelled.
More photos here.
December 14, 2007
kitty in the window
I'm supposed to be cleaning up the house for our party tonight, and I have done a bit of work on that. But on cleaning-for-a-party days (which is pretty much the only time the house gets cleaned, and is a great reason to have a party if you ask me) I usually spend time procrastinating by doing some little task or other that has needed doing for months, one of the things we otherwise neglect forever. So today I threw out all of my dead plants from the dining room window seat (don't blame Peter, they don't get much more water when I'm home than they do when I'm away), and put Miss Cleo's bed up there.
Poor Cleo has had a lot of upheaval in her life in the past six months, first having the person she'd spent her whole life with disappear into the hospital and not come back, then after a few tense weeks of watching her house get dismantled and packed into boxes she took a long, hot, terrifying car ride to a strange place where she was no longer allowed out-of-doors (she's allowed out now, but is a wimp about the cold in her old age and so she mostly stays in these days). When Pete's mom's house was sold we brought Cleo's window bed back to our house and it has stood leaning on the wall in the dining room ever since. So I thought I'd do something kind for her and get rid of those dead leafy eyesores at the same time. And when I showed her the bed she was thrilled and quickly settled down, purring so violently it was making her whole head shake, excitedly watching some guys across the back alley loading things into their cars.
Of course, as soon as I finished writing about how happy she was, the territorial old bitch started hissing and clawing at the glass because of the cat on the porch next door. Sigh.
*EDITED TO ADD: Peter suggested that my post seems to imply that his mother, with whom Miss Cleo used to live, passed away in hospital. Happily this is not the case, but rather she moved into a retirement home where there isn't really room for a cat, and Cleo's emotional upheaval was so great during the move to Windsor that we don't want to subject her to the trip back.
December 13, 2007
I'm so far behind. Behind in posting to the thesis blog, behind in posting here (I was planning to try really, really hard to post here if not every day then at least every other day, but I didn't tell y'all because I feared I would disappoint, and it's just as well I never mentioned it, eh?), behind in updating the website, in correspondence (nothing new there). But who the hell cares? Yesterday morning I basked in summery sun and warm breezes in bare shoulders; today I'm shivering, unable to thaw my feet, and do you know why? I'm home!
Drawing on the plane, because my wrist and shoulder were hurting me too much to knit. Every time the markers got loud and scratchy on the page the guy next to me would cringe a little with his hand cupped sort of half over his ear. But I was driven crazy the whole flight by restraining myself from craning over to see what he was writing in his notebook (pages and pages!), so we're even.
I can never get a good picture coming in over Detroit, partly because we're now flying a lot lower and partly because I'm just too! excited! to be there.
Last night's supper, the reward I've been talking about for days (oh, my poor long-suffering students and colleagues): real Lebanese food, made by real Lebanese people. None of that Southern American falafel on a Greek pita with shredded carrot and purple cabbage nonsense.
And here's me and miss Cleo today on the back porch, enjoying some early morning snow before it all melted off:
December 05, 2007
The land (landrights), 1976
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ottawa, Ontario
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
If you're in New York this winter you can see some of the National Gallery of Canada's collection of Norval Morrisseau paintings at the National Museum of the American Indian (until January 20, 2008).
December 03, 2007
for your holiday shopping pleasure
Since December is all about shopping and I'm not above shilling for my friends, I'd like to show you a few webshops that some of my talented pals have recently opened. I know a lot of people out there who are signing a pledge to buy handmade this year, and these shops are full of fabulous treasures lovingly handmade by amazing people who deserve your money as much as you deserve their wonderful stuff.
It hasn't been cold enough here in Georgia to wear this yet, but I'm looking forward to my visit home later this month to test out my new felted scarf against what's being advertised as Canada's coldest winter in ten years. The scarf a blend of wool and silk, made by Darilee Nelson, a recent graduate of the fibre arts programme here at UGA, and her colleague Tina Leigh. They make these in shawl sizes as well, but this one is plenty big enough to wrap over my head when I need it, and super soft and very, very warm. Check them out at ChickChick Studio, and on their blog.
Another UGA graduate chum of mine, Ramona Birdsong, has recently undertaken the task of sorting through the belongings of a deceased eccentric relative, and is offering some special treasures from that collection in her new shop, The Radish Cabinet. Read her mysterious story here: Unclosing the Radish Cabinet.
I recently received this lovely necklace in the mail from Yarnageddon Mandy, a thoughtful gift that she made for me knowing that with all of these colours it was bound to look good with almost all of my dresses. Here it is in action, and I got a bunch of compliments when I wore it that day:
Visit Mandy's new store here: Mograh.
And while I'm on a roll with the shameless commerce, here's an oldie but goodie that's worth visiting again, my dear friend Pixiefashions (now moved over to Etsy.com, since they make it all so darned easy). This is where I got my silver puffy skull and bones hair clips made famous on Knitty.com:
December 02, 2007
temporary cure for homesickness
When you're all alone in temporary lodgings far away from home, it's a reassuring feeling to bake something that you can remember you and your mom baking together, all those years ago. Even if you do have to eat it all yourself.
My mom's pumpkin bread:
3 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 c. cooking oil
3 and 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. water
2 c. pumpkin
Mix all and bake in 3 small or 2 large floured and greased loaf pans at 300 for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
December 01, 2007