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July 15, 2008
if you're just here for the art stuff then skip ahead to paragraph four
I'd like to begin today's discussion with some clarification of my bitchy rant about the neighbours (for the three or so people who care). I didn't want to imply that I have a problem with poor people living within my line of sight, or that I have a problem with people who live on social assistance. It's not something I talk about much but I have been on social assistance myself in the past, and so have several other people I know, people who have gone on to do things like earn masters degrees or to become university employees or members of the armed forces or of the clergy. It's something that I happily pay taxes to fund (or did, and will again just as soon as I start actually making an income in my own country once more) and something that I wish didn't have such a stigma attached to it.
My complaint is really mostly about one particular man who lives in one of the two adjacent rental houses, a man who sits on his porch shouting things that make my blood boil. I've heard him gender-bashing the kids, mocking a little boy and calling him a wimp while he's "getting beaten up by a girl" (disempowering for both the boy and the girl, and what about telling both kids it's not okay to hit?). I've heard him showing the children that it's funny to be rude and swear at people for no reason. And the other day when four men wearing salwar and kameez came and knocked on the door of the nice elderly couple directly across from me (the ones who are moving away after 35 years here), I heard him making jokes about "men in dresses" (sexist and racist and yes, it was right in front of the kids). And of course I can't say anything because it will just start a fight and create bad blood with people who live close enough to make us miserable if they want to and anyway, you can't go and undermine someone in front of their children no matter how big an arsehole they are.
So, it's frustrating. But, as Andrew pointed out in the comments, Windsor's housing market being in the toilet is part of the problem. In fact, the crappy market is part of why we were even able to buy this house. And of course, those two houses are owned by an absentee landlord who doesn't give a rat's ass about the tenants, so the properties get run down to shit and then only the poorest most desperate people will move in and they don't care about keeping the place nice either because they hate their landlord and it's just a vicious cycle. And I'm going to try to stop bitching about it for now and just hope that somebody nice buys the place across the street. At least we can rest assured that they'll want more for their house than that absentee landlord will want to spend, so no chance of his empire expanding.
Let's talk about something different, because I have a show coming up that I'm pretty excited about. It's part of the Visual Fringe Festival, a series of off-site installations that Artcite is mounting in conjunction with the Windsor International Fringe Festival. For the next two weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to six p.m. I'll be doing a dressmaking performance at 34 University Avenue E, which for you locals is the space where the tanning salon used to be in the little building next to the former Greyhound station and across from the former Armouries (sad how much of our city is "former", although that could be true of every city). It's going to be tons of fun and you should all come. As well, Artcite's going to host a stitchnbitch on Saturday the 26th right in my installation space so y'all can come down and bring your knitting and spinning and hang out and chitchat while I sew dress after dress. Sound like fun? Hell yeah!
Speaking of fun. Peter and I have been working on a project together which I won't talk about right now except to say that it has to do with music and all those things I really love like rules and lists and dates and the internet and cataloguing and rules. Peter gets to be the library geek and I get to make all sorts of rules and also our record collection is in a period of rapid expansion. Anybody out there who's got a box of records in the closet and nothing to play them on, drop me a line if you think you might have something I'm interested in and feel like doing some swapping.
Here's the sort of obsessive pursuit that I love and that makes Peter mental: a hundred versions of the same song. I could totally listen to the same song all day just as long as there's no Rod Stewart version.
July 12, 2008
thank you for allowing us to be ourselves
Last night we went down to the blues festival by the river and saw Richie Havens give an incredible performance with just himself on guitar, another guy on guitar (both acoustic) and a woman on cello. The night before we saw Taj Mahal, who had so much more energy and power on stage than the last time we saw him (about six years ago, across the river at Chene Park) that I went away convinced that he'd grown a foot taller since we saw him last. This was our first time attending the Windsor Bluesfest, however, and it's unlikely that we'll go back again. I'm sure this will come off sounding totally snobbish but we really just didn't dig the crowd; putting aside the total crime on the eyes of pairing golf shirts with straw cowboy hats, they just wouldn't shut the hell up while performers were on stage and, you know, I thought a blues festival crowd would be more about hearing the music and less about socializing loudly with people who are probably their coworkers that they talk to every single day. So. We'll be waiting for our chance to see Richie Havens again in some other venue where people aren't yapping in our ears.
In little old lady who spies on the neighbours* news, the next-door neighbours (the ones with the two adorable little girls who just happen to be related to a certain famous-for-being-adorable person to whom little girls are often compared) filled me in this morning on some neighbourhood drama. The nice quiet elderly couple across from us are selling their house, and apparently it's because they can no longer stand living next to two divey rental houses full of assholes. It's been a mess of people calling CAS and the police on other people out of spite and people getting up in other people's faces on their doorsteps and hooboy am I thrilled to have those jackasses tainting all of my precious front porch time now that I know that if you look at them wrong they'll invent some reason to complain to the police about you. Nobody stays in either of those houses more than five months anyway so they'll likely be gone soon, but still. Again, I feel like I come off as a classist bitch for complaining because I was a penniless renter for more than a decade and now that we're homeowners we resent having those two rental houses within our porchsitting line of sight, but really. All I want is neighbours who aren't jerks.
In knitting news, I had to unravel the Noro sock and start again after finally admitting to myself that it was going to be too tight (okay, after putting it on waste yarn again and not being able to get it on my leg). I'd done this last Saturday as well and my friends tried to convince me it was too tight. I of course said that the firmness of the sock would help it stay up and that as long as there wasn't a giant pooch of knee fat folding over the top then the sock must be perfect. I quickly made and washed and measured a swatch and then soldiered on in my foolish endeavour.
My friends, being the best kind of friends, could see I was still in denial and didn't push me but instead sat back in silence in order to allow me to progress at my own pace to the learning-from-my-own-stupid-mistakes stage of sock knitting.
And so here's my sock now, a couple of inches shorter (and about an inch wider) than it was when we last saw it in a Michigan highway rest stop:
My knee fat is breathing a sigh of relief just looking at it.
*by this, of course, I mean me.
May 12, 2008
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:
October 10, 2007
pictures from a visit home
Yesterday was my first day back at school after a week spent at home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, and I got right back into the hectic grind of grad school with a morning meeting, office hours and three back-to-back critiques, ten hours straight with little opportunity for rest or food. Today I tried to take it easy but there was still a good deal of running around to be done, and I'm too wiped out to do more than post a few photos. I should be sewing a dress, as I've got nothing to wear tomorrow, but instead I'm sitting on the couch watching episodes of Sopranos and knitting a sweater I won't need for months. I spent two hours lovingly washing my pretty new bento box, making delicious salads and marinating tofu, then put it all in the fridge and had popcorn, applesauce and beer for supper instead. Not all mixed together.
My visit home, in bullet points:
-Airtran Airways flight 146 Atlanta to Detroit, October 2 07
-being away from home during three consecutive school years makes you lose touch with a lot of what's in your garden. During my visit home in September I got to see my Japanese knotweed flower for the first time since before we moved to Windsor, since it took until I went away to grad school for it to get established enough to flower. This month's flowery surprise was the chocolate boneset, as I planted it without knowing what it was or what its blooms would look like. Turns out it's a mass of lovely white fluff.
-had a nice (albeit short) visit with Kelly at Milk Coffee Bar, a place I dearly miss when I'm not in Windsor. This is one of my daily wardrobe images for my thesis blog, the only photo I took. Kelly metablogged my awkward posing here.
-finally got some photos of the bolero that I sewed up last week, which had been sitting there fully knitted all through August (too hot!). It was far too warm at home to actually wear it. The pattern is from Peony Knits and is super easy and satisfying for those instant-gratification types.
-southwestern Ontario on Thanksgiving weekend may not be as spectacular as some of those gaudier, more tawdry fall displays other places offer, but it's still one of the loveliest and most comforting colour palettes there is. Don't try to deny it.
-my lifelong association with Exeter's white squirrels didn't at all stop me from yanking out the camera and snapping away like some crazy out-of-towner as soon as one presented itself to us.
-this is another photo from my thesis blog (I'll force y'all over there eventually, just watch), included here simply because it's taken at my grandma's house, along the walk where I've had my photo taken so many times before (but not for twenty-five years or so). And look at how I was dressed on Thanksgiving Sunday, and let me tell you I sweated in this getup. Last year it snowed, or so I'm told. I was sweating down in Georgia then.
-the Ausable River, covered in a blanket of algae so thick it resembles those horrible lawns that people try to get looking like Astroturf. My little cousin Riley said in a disgusted voice, "my mom says she used to swim in this river". Those trees across the way to the left there are where the rope swing used to be, where Riley's mom and I swam with high school boys, twenty-three or so years ago.
Riley threw a stick in and the carpet of green opened up to accept it, then closed up again with a burp and a shudder. Just like the quicksand used to do on Gilligan's Island.
-come Monday I was back in Lavender Lullaby again, heading south (Airtran Airways flight 288 Detroit to Atlanta).
September 13, 2007
there once was a teacher of great renown
Tonight we attended an opening/auction at the Lebel Gallery in honour of my former professor and beloved mentor, Daniel W. Dingler, who has retired after thirty years of teaching lithography and drawing at the University of Windsor. This event is the reason I flew home this weekend. It was wonderful to see Daniel and his wife Susan again after too long. It's really only been recently that I've begun to realize just how much I've been influenced by Daniel, and how much of his personality and his classroom manner I've absorbed; I often find myself saying things to my students that sound so much like him that they take me aback. Daniel was a wonderful teacher, an unflagging supporter and a great friend, and it's one of my greatest hopes that there will be students for whom I can fill that role, and fill it as well as he did for me.
From the looks of this photo, Daniel and I even make the same funny face:
(all photos in this post courtesy of Peter Zimmerman)
Before leaving the art building I was able to pay an all-too-brief visit to my dear, cherished Griffin press. All y'all printmakers out there* might think that Takach is the shit, but I'm here to tell you that my precious Griffin is worth twenty of those pieces of crap.
We had to have a moment alone. . .
And look! That's my tabouret!
*just keeping the dialect police on their toes, eh.
May 31, 2007
watch me go from performance art to knitting to project spectrum to shameless commerce all in one long-winded post. also, I will attempt to distract from the fact that I've been silent for weeks on end with lots of pictures.
I helped out my old chum Kelly last weekend with a knitting performance she was doing in conjunction with Artcite's 25th anniversary bash. It was great fun, both to have a long overdue visit with Kelly and to spend some (again, long overdue) time at Artcite, hanging out with Windsor people and soaking up some local art scene. Check out Kelly's post on the event for the full scoop. She was making a big Round Thing which many people could knit on at the same time; by the time we bound the Thing off on Saturday afternoon it was this big (bike for scale):
I promised some real knitting, friends, and I am not here to disappoint. My arse has been practically glued to the porch chair for two weeks, hands flying, and I've got plenty to show for it. I've even been working on some green things for Project Spectrum (in typical fashion, these are getting trotted out on the last day before a colour change. Because I'm a lazy slag that way).
That green bit on top of the pile is Carrie Bostick Hoge's lace nightie (pdf link) from Interweave Knits. I worked on it a lot in the car on the way home from Athens, but pooped out when I got to the part where I had to do math in order to make the back higher than the pattern calls for. It's currently resting quietly in the project bag. The rust-and-Noro sweater is also resting, as it's too hot to think about a sweater like this, never mind knit on it. The blue is Zephyr Style's Wicked, cardiganized and minus the pocket: this has been two unwoven ends, some buttons and a good blocking away from finished for MONTHS, sitting unnoticed in a pile somewhere. It's currently blocking on a mattress upstairs, which under our current weather conditions should take a mere month or two. I might add the pockets later if, when I get back to Athens, I find the Calorimetry headband I also made from this yarn and wore all winter, but I have a feeling I might have already unraveled it for the sleeves.
More Project Spectrum knitty goodness:
Stefanie Japel's Orangina. Again and still. I pooped out on this last year because I thought the ribbing was too tight and ooky-looking on my belly flab. I ripped it and was doing the bottom in stockinette instead until I realized that looked stupid, so now I'm reknitting the ribbing (on the same size needle as I did the lace, can't remember if I went down a size last time or not; guess that's why one should take notes). And if it makes me look a little frumpy, well then I'm frumpy. Gotta embrace it, I guess. (a small aside, private to Ancient Stainless Steel Circular Needles: hate you. Loathe you, in fact. Loathe you even more than Shitty Splitty Recycled Cotton, but especially hate the two of you together)
And because apparently it's all Stefanie all the time around here of late, here are two more projects currently in heavy rotation in the front porch knitting pile:
The cropped cardigan with leaf ties from Fitted Knits. I acquired Stefanie's book a while ago and have been meaning to tell y'all how much I love it: I'm currently making two sweaters from this book and am just waiting to buy dye to get my yarn ready for a third, and I won't be stopping there. I love these designs, love the myriad of beautiful, flattering sweater shapes that can come out of one basic construction technique; love love love the no-sew try-it-on top down raglan construction and the fact that all of the designs are wearable and I can easily picture them blending into my wardrobe (yes, pretty much all of them). The incredible intense blue yarn is from Rabbitch, who apparently is trying to kill me with colour; the eerie blue glow could be seen right through the package, and the mailman didn't even want to touch the thing. I'd hoped to use this yarn to make this sweater, and when it arrived it turned out to be perfect (I love it when that happens). And a sweater with minimal coverage on the front is definitely needed to keep this colour from coming up and strangling me. I plan to wear this with my favourite and most awesome dress, and it is going to kick some serious ass.
This lovely, sproingy red merino wool started as an ill-fitting Goodwill sweater, and first became this, then this, and then this. The Forecast sweater was finished by the time I realized that all that garter stitch made me look lumpy (are you detecting a theme here?). This will be its final incarnation, I'm sure of it.
Project Spectrum turns to red and black tomorrow, and I plan to start designing and swatching for a project using these yarns I spun this spring. It's for a piece that may (or may not) be part of my final thesis show next year, and will be a lace sweater with super long sleeves that hit the floor and then pool out wide, with text knitted into the lace. In UGA colours. Of course I don't have nearly enough yarn spun yet but I've got enough to get started with the pattern drafting.
And finally, because I'm really just a capitalist pig at heart, here's a new drawing (worked on top of a print that didn't quite make the cut for the edition) that I just listed in my etsy shop, along with some more of my older prints at super-duper cheap prices. I'm about halfway to getting that Lendrum I need to finish the above project, and this project.
Also, I'm doing a little outdoor show in beautiful Londonontario on June 9th, with a whole bunch of other artists down in Wortley Village. If you're in the area I'd love it if you'd come down and knit with me for a while and shoot the breeze. London has never really supported me all that well art-buying-wise, but it's been a long time since I did an outdoor show, so I think it'll be a lot of fun. There's nothing I love better than roasting in the sun with needles in my hands while watching the wind send all of my art flying.
July 24, 2006
Tales of interrupted sleep
Thursday night: shortly after midnight, approximately umpteen fire trucks come clanging down our street and gather around a house a few doors down. After some terror-stricken scrambling downstairs I reassure myself that none of our neighbours are in fact on fire (it's not the first time there's been a false alarm at that house) and climb back into bed as the trucks begin to depart. Then we hear a beep-beep-beep outside our window, followed by the sound of a truck speeding around the corner and heading off in the direction of the station, then another beep-beep-beep. Muttering and swearing, I look out the window and sure enough: rather than drive the extra block down our one way street to the next corner, the trucks are backing up, the wrong way on a one way street, to our corner. Because this is Windsor, and that is how people in Windsor drive, and I guess as long as the vehicle is facing in the right direction you can get away with it. Even when people are in bed and your vehicle is BEEPING.
Friday night: at 3:58 am we're awakened by the squealing of tires and a STUNCH! sound, then another squeal, another sound of impact, and more squealing; Peter made it to the window just in time to see a dark car speeding off down our street (in the right direction, at least). In the morning I looked around but couldn't figure out what had been hit; we later discovered it was the front end of our neighbour's pickup truck. Thanks to the eagle eye of a neighbourhood insomniac the culprit has been identified and accused and intends to pony up for the repairs. No word on whether he intends to stop driving around our neighbourhood pissed out of his skull.
Saturday morning: not our sleep being disturbed this time, but that of our beloved Pickle. When I went outside to begin what was going to be a full day of weeding the backyard, I noticed a hole in the ground alarmingly close to the stone we've used to mark Fat Boy's grave (and the future site of a flowering crab we're going to plant to keep him shaded and draped in blossoms). An animal, probably one of the large extended family of skunks that moved into our neighbourhood this summer, was trying to dig down to him and had made it down so far that bits of shredded plastic bag (that Animal Control had advised Dylan to bury him in) were visible in the bottom of the burrow. I became hysterical, of course, and we decided we had to move him into a deeper hole. I'm not going to describe the heart-wrenching ordeal that followed, except to say that a new, very large hole was dug and much of the earth over his grave was skimmed away before we realized that there was no way we could move him either logistically or emotionally. So we came up with another solution that we think will keep him protected and undisturbed, filled the holes back in and quit for the day.
Sunday night: while falling asleep, we thought we could hear a faint, high pitched squeal coming in the window. When I awoke around 3:30 needing to pee, it seemed to be louder, and I wondered if it might be the street light outside. Walking to the bathroom, the whine seemed to be a lot louder in Claire's room than in ours, and after a bit of bumbling around the source was found: the Tamagotchi she left here almost a month ago. I ripped out its heart with a pair of tweezers and I'm pretty sure the thing is dead now.
Tonight: I'm thinking of buying some earplugs. And possibly also some sleeping pills.
April 07, 2006
Bless this mess
Back in Windsor means back in time: I left spring, sunshine, warm breezes, open windows and piles and piles of wisteria behind for winter's stubborn refusal to leave, cold winds, rain and this:
A wee dusting of April snow, my first morning back. It disappeared quickly and will likely be the last of it, and I was happy to have a little bit of it. And after all the sitting in Georgia with my kitchen window open and pining for the Canadian weather, I'd like it to be spring now, please. I guess I'll have to wait until the next time I'm home to wear the sexy short dresses I brought.
Walking to Green Island Centre (best Lebanese sandwich place on the continent, hands down) for my lunch the other day I realized anew just how trashy my neighbourhood is; I guess I needed a few months away, in a pretty town, to notice it. When we first moved to Windsor almost five years ago, it took us a long time to adjust. I'd lived my entire adult life in lovely old downtown neighbourhoods in Londonontario, in old houses with character and interesting architectural details, on streets with tall, old trees and bountiful gardens. Here in Windsor there's so much that's ugly: empty, scruffy lots, chain link fences, houses that used to be interesting until someone covered them in vinyl siding, abandoned couches and scattered garbage. This town has a lot more character than London, though, more interesting places to hang out and more good places for a vegetarian to eat, and I wouldn't want to move back to London, ever. But after seven months in Athens GA this town looks pretty gross and dirty. Still, I'll be ecstatic when I can come back here to stay. Maybe I'll spend the summer picking up some garbage.
December 12, 2005
Sweet, sweet home
It's so good to be back in the snow and cold. I even got to go out and shovel on my first day home! The novelty of that will no doubt wear off quickly, but for now I'm happy.
The trip was pretty uneventful despite my apprehension. I wasn't afraid of the actual flying, just afraid of the airport; I'm always paranoid and prone to panic in places like that, and convinced that I'm going to get lost or walk into the wrong place and never find my way out again and it will all end in tears and possibly starvation in some janitor's closet or disused stairwell that I went into thinking it was the bathroom and the door locked behind me and when they find my body it will be all dry and crackly and the only way they'll know it's me is because I'm the only dried-up decomposed skeleton with three wisdom teeth. Fortunately Sandy is very tolerant and understanding and she held my hand all the way to the security area, and despite the fact that I almost gave birth to my entire digestive system in the parking lot when I found out I had to actually ride a TRAIN from the airport to the terminal, it wasn't that hard. It helps that they herd you like cattle and there's really no way to get lost. As for the flight itself, it wasn't all that exciting. I sort of expected the plane to be, you know, really big; instead it was the same width as a city bus, and not really anything like the movies (that's right, I'm such a hick that I thought flying in an airplane was going to be just like in the movies). But you know the part when you get up past the clouds and into the sun and then they tell you you're at 35000 feet and it's hot and unbelievably bright and you're looking down at a soft, wet white tundra, way down below? I sort of wanted to stay there. Forever. Except I'd rather not stay there with the actual people who were on that plane with me, especially the cell phone lady.
My plane got in at suppertime so we went straight to my favourite restaurant to gorge ourselves on Ethiopian food.
I really, really missed this. Then Saturday I got to have my grape leaf sandwich, so now my belly is well stuffed with the foods I can't get in Athens. I wonder how well those sandwiches would freeze if I brought ten or so back to Georgia with me?
As promised, here are the finished graduation socks, photographed right here in my own home on my great-great-grandmother's sewing chair, with a fat (and apparently itchy) kitty in the background for a little extra stripeyness (have I mentioned how happy I am to be here?). The specs: Lion Brand Magic Stripes yarn; at first I used the Pom Squad pattern, but my novice attempts at short-row heels came out so holey, messy and weird-fitting that I unraveled the whole lot and did them according to my bog-standard sock formula instead, top-down with a reinforced heel flap. The fit is perfect, with just the right amount of ankle cleavage showing.
Here's my progress on the back of the Patons Urban Aran:
It started out as this cardigan, which I realized later just wasn't going to look good at all, since I'd had to block the ribbing so roughly to fit me. I had originally thought that I didn't have enough of the red to make a whole sweater but then I found an extra stash of it, so I'm pretty sure there's enough for the Urban Aran. I'm going to do the front in two pieces to make it a zip cardigan, and not do the collar so long.
See those lovely centre-pull balls at the top? Wonderful Sandy gave me a ball winder as an early birthday gift. Makes me wish I'd brought more yarn with me so I could wind it all up. Whee!
Today's project is a gift for Someone Very Special, which I hope to have ready to give by Wednesday or so. You can see I have a lot done already.