Thursday, July 31, 2008

creepy crawlies

Seen in the garden in the last few days:

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I like how the wings turned out here.

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The more photos I take, the more likely I'll get one that's sort of in focus. Right? Right? That's what I'm sticking to. The spider wasn't moving at all, but I took the picture this evening, so there isn't so much light. I love how it matches the daisy. My mom found it earlier and told me about it. It had a little bee in its web, which is what drew her attention. Feast!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

decisions and the unemployed

I'm notoriously bad at making decisions. This is clear. I rant about it every time I have to make a decision, to myself, to the internet, or to anyone who will pretend to listen. Recently I made a big decision, and that was terrifying, but ultimately a relief. Once I stopped vacillating, the decision was made. Done. Don't have to make this particular decision again, unless I turn totally spineless and back out. Which I won't. Decision is made.

Once I entertained dreams of studying in England again, but that line of thought was doomed. At this point, I'm convinced that going to university for a Masters in Canada is the right thing to do in terms of realistic futures and practicality. For one thing, I actually found a program I want, but I'm convinced partly because I have bought into the myth of my own unemployability. Ouch. Seriously, though. And that worries me, because when I catch myself thinking like that I question the state of my soul. Hahaha.

When I started the hums degree I brushed off people's nagging questions ("what are you going to do with THAT?") with answers that the College encouraged and I believed: the degree is about education, not training. Etc. I totally believed it, and in reality I still do - I went to school to study things I enjoy, and that was the whole point. I'm better educated and happier for it, and I regret nothing. I assume I got some transferable skills out of the deal as well... Anyone need me to proofread an essay? Except that I don't have a job or any job prospects without further training. I'd be an awesome temp at least - come on, people! But alas. So far nothing. So, while I don't regret spending four years in an academically stimulating environment, I'm a little annoyed that I can't convince anyone that my skills are valuable outside that environment.

I'm fully willing to admit that I haven't been as aggressive in the job searching as I probably should be, and once I finish this last course I'll get on that. I swear. Hopefully this latest big decision won't let me get lazy now that the pressure to decide is off.

blah blah blah. I'm thinking about winter knits already. I think this will be the winter of scarves. I've never knit a scarf for myself since the naively conceived rolly-edged stockinette scarf that I still use for lack of a better one. And now this lace one... but I'll need a new winter one. Aha!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

warning: unblocked lace ahead

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Now I understand the complaints of countless knitters when confronted with photographing unblocked lace. Right, well.

After the endless mindless stockinette of the Gilmore vest, I decided to knit something that required paying attention. This is the Tiger Eyes scarf, and it's my first real lace project other than the Monkeys. This is definitely a challenge for me: I'm not brilliant at chart-reading, so this is much-needed practice. On my first and second attempts I kept ending up with too few or too many stitches, but after frogging/partially frogging twice, everything clicked. So far. I've got lifelines just in case.

The yarn is some vintage Swiss wool I snagged for dirt cheap when the local Lewiscraft was closing. $2 for two skeins. It could be softer, but it's not itchy, so hopefully it will be a good fall scarf.

Friday, July 25, 2008

sunny flowers for a rainy day

It has been cool, gray, dreary, rainy, and funerary today. It suits the mood; I could use a little cheering up today.

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So, happy colours! I really like orange in nature, although it's not a colour I can really wear, other than when I'm sleeping, or perhaps on my feet or hands. (Note to self: acquire orange sock yarn!) Orange and yellow leaves in autumn are stereotypical, but still beautiful. Even the jarring complementary combination of orange and blue often appeals to me, if it is in the form of a sunset, or flowers and sky.

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I took these a while ago, but they encompass what I mean when I say "happy colours" at the moment. Our day lilies are now coming to an end; we didn't have quite so many this year as we have had in the past due to some culling and garden reorganization.

Monday, July 21, 2008

FO: sweater vest

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It's done! Finally, I finished The Gilmore vest, and I'm very pleased. I will actually wear this, once the weather cools down a little. It's very fuzzy and soft because the yarn I used (22 yr old basement stash) has some alpaca in it. Yeah, yeah, not a summer knit, but whatever. The armhole ribbing is slightly wonky on one side - possibly a result of accidently picking up too many stitches, or something similar, but with blocking that was mostly resolved.

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The pattern was not the clearest; since I'm the eternal novice knitter I had a bit of trouble figuring out parts of it. It wasn't too bad, though I did find myself with a wildly different row count than the pattern told me I should have. I fudged through it and managed just fine, for once. I added some waist shaping, but I think if I made this again I'd add more. It fits fine, but the waist barely nips in at all. Also, I would make the shoulders slightly narrower. I have broad shoulders, so I'm slightly amused that this vest could use narrower ones. More babbling on ravelry

Please excuse the small, crappy pictures. For some reason, I couldn't get any pictures closer up without being completely washed out. When I stood miles away from the camera, it was fine. My self-timer and I need to work out some issues, clearly.

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Knitting pictures coming soon - I finished the vest, and I blocked it last night, but it's really humid here at the moment, so it hasn't yet dried. In the meantime, I stumbled across something interesting.

I have said before that I take the same pictures every year.

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I took this picture today. Purple cone flower (Echinacea, for the naturalistically trendy among us).

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I took this one some time in the fall. I like how the flower holds its shape and even its petals after it dries up.

Finding that accidentally inspired me to look for more:
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Yellow daisies, photo from July 10

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and from Fall 2007.

I might start doing this on purpose now, though the idea is nothing new.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

10 happy things of today

1. It is sunny and warm.
2. There is a soft breeze.
3. I talked to the boy today.
4. He makes me laugh.
5. I am nearly finished the vest.
6. I have been making progress on my summer course work.
7. Decisions that I made are finally sticking.
8. I can afford to sleep in until 12:30, even if doing so makes me feely slovenly.
9. Pulp Fiction is showing on television tonight.
10. I am well-fed and have access to clean drinking water.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

single-minded

Monogamous knitting does not make for stimulating blogging, especially if one knits as slowly as I do. I realized today that only one of the blog posts visible on the page contains any knitting content. Granted, I never claimed this was a knit blog, but that's where I was aiming in some ways.

And I haven't been entirely monogamous either; I've been plodding away at the vest for ages, but I also made some socks and some lemons in that time. Still, I have mostly focused on the vest, whose constant stockinette stitch began to grate on my nerves.

Never fear, gentle readers! (assuming I have any, which I realize is a big assumption to make, but I'll go on for the sake of pretentious blogging), my biggest project since the sweater will go live shortly. The end is in sight! Yesterday I joined the shoulders and seamed the sides, after blocking it a little - something I rarely do, though I realize that I often should. I hope to have the vest completely finished before the weekend, and I've been refraining from taking pictures of it until it's done; while I'm quite pleased with it so far, without neck and arm ribbing it looks pretty rough.

I still have loads of charcoal basement yarn left, so it's not done with me yet...

Monday, July 14, 2008

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I don't want to forget how beautiful everything was last night. At the cottage, the sunset was incredible. I took a billion ill-executed photos; I knew none of them would do the scene justice, but I had to try. Pink and orange mixing in a way that is only acceptable in the sky - it lit up the whole horizon, sending a pink fog over the lake, and reflecting back on us from our windows. The green surrounding the house turned dark, but still recognizably green, while the trees and hills turned to silhouettes. I am a sucker for silhouettes. After a few minutes of brilliant show, the sun dropped out of sight.

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Driving home next to the lake I saw intervals of yellow when we passed breaks in the trees. Yellow into white against steel gray clouds and black trees, reflecting off the lake, highlighting the islands and the old logs sticking out of the water.

Past the lake, the sky was still somehow luminous behind the blue-gray clouds; fields with bales of hay interrupted the darkness, still barely green.

And then the moon peeked out in classic fashion, obscured occasionally by thick cloud, and lighting up that surrounding it with white light. Not a full moon, but a romantic moon nonetheless.

Last night was so beautiful. Nights like that overwhelm me. They make me serenely happy. I feel in love with the world, and completely awed by nature, all hippy and sentimental about life and humanity and trees and rocks and rocks and trees and sky. I find myself (cornily) wishing I could share this view and this feeling with everyone alive or dead.

More photos here

Friday, July 11, 2008

lucky

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A beetle on the mallow.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

getting political and self-righteous

World news makes me angry. Politics infuriates me. Everything I hear and see about what's going on in the world depresses me, but I can't look away.

I can't look away because I know I shouldn't. It's my responsibility to be informed, or so I keep telling myself. I feel guilty if I spend a week away from the newspapers or the radio because I've witnessed the mind-bogglingly uninformed being ridiculous in public. Wow, could I be more elitist? Anyway.

As a citizen of a democracy, I need to know what the issues are; I need to know how I feel about them and what I should do. I frequently fail at that second part.
I feel like I need to know what is happening, but what is happening depresses me, and I don't know what to do about it other than be self-righteously whiny and indignant about everyone else's bullshit. Which isn't helpful. And vote occasionally, which isn't generally helpful either.

My current annoyance comes from the recent G8 decision on climate change, which some Canadian politicians are heralding as a significant step in the right direction - hold on, when did they start believing in climate change in the first place? I must have missed that part. Anyway, it's a decision that means nothing and binds no one. Cutting emissions by half by 2050 - well, okay. Now everyone is asking "Half of what?" and so am I. Ugh. It makes me crazy how politics is always about the next election and short-term costs and the economy. This has all been said before by more eloquent people, but it's completely unreasonable to leave all the tough work to the next administration.

So. To calm myself down I make plans for myself. I try to list all the things I can do myself without having to interact with anyone else, because we all know I'm not about to get involved in the political process. Climate change? We haven't turned our air conditioning on yet this summer and yesterday the humidity made it feel like 39 C. We keep our house relatively cool in the winter, and we're looking into getting a solar hot water heater. We just had a home energy audit that encouraged improvement in many areas. We hang our washing outside when it is sunny. We have fluorescent lights. I don't have a driving license; I walk or take the bus as my main forms of transportation, and if I get over my fear of traffic I'll start biking more. Self-righteous enough? Ouch. Clearly. The main black mark on my record is probably my air travel, and the travel that I generate by being in a long-distance relationship. More reason for me to secure legal means of living in the UK as soon as possible, I guess, in addition to the obvious emotional ones.

The little things one person or one family can do are not very significant, but I guess they aren't meaningless. While I occasionally take comfort in feeling superior to those who live less energy-efficient life styles out of ignorance or choice, my own pride does nothing to ease the global crisis. I feel pretty angry at people who don't share my opinion sometimes, especially when the world is at stake. That's a horrible thing to say, given I know many people object strongly to my opinions on lots of issues, and I recognize their right have hold most of those opposite opinions. But it's true - I'm angry.

Mostly I'm angry at those who have power for being too wrapped up in themselves to do anything that could make them unpopular with oil-hungry voters. But, for better or for worse, this is what democracy is. Sometimes that is comforting; other times it is terrifying.

In prettier news, here is dusk at the cottage.
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

cottaging

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I spent the weekend toasting in the sun at a rental cottage in Quebec. The weather was gorgeous, and despite me saying "toasting" I didn't actually get sunburned. For me this is unexpected, since I burn upon contact with the outdoors. I probaby filled that lake up with awful sunscreen chemicals, though.

I did get a tiny leech on me, though. Ew. Leeches have always grossed me out, but I've managed to avoid ever having one latch onto me before now. It was not as traumatic as I would have expected, so yay.

I picked raspberries, knit in the sun, swam in ridiculously shallow water, rowed, saw a loon, got mosquito bites... I'm going back next weekend!

Friday, July 04, 2008

secret knitting revealed

lemons

I nearly forgot to post a picture of these. They now live in England with someone whose lemon obsession prompted me to buy a crapload of cheap yellow acrylic and transform a tiny amount of it into lemons. I'm so pleased with them. The recipient, upon finding miscellaneous lemons appearing mysteriously in his house, proceeded to accuse me of having an unhealthy obsession with lemons. Clearly I made them to tickle HIS obsession, not my own. *shifty eyes*

That's right.

(I used this pattern with a few modifications noted on Ravelry)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I have returned

Two weeks in England were wonderful. Ahhh. Now that I'm home I have to get on with life and make sure everything works out fabulously, but I enjoyed relaxing and having fun adventures.

Went to London...
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Took lots of flower pictures...
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Enjoyed the Devon views...
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And most importantly spent lots of time with my favourite person. Huzzah! My batteries are now recharged and I'm ready to get lots done between now and when I see him next, whenever that is.

The weather was mostly good - cooler than I'm used to for June, but very pleasant. There are a few more pictures on the Flickr if you're interested. I didn't bring my knitting along *gasp* so I haven't worked on my vest in two weeks, and I think I should get back into it quickly before I completely lose interest.

But Liesl is now for sale, so I'm very tempted to buy and start that right away. I need yarn, though, and I spent all my money in England. Trials and Tribulations.