Wednesday, January 28, 2009

cookie time

Tangentially inspired by library school: Transcending Boolean would be a great name for a band. Or maybe Boolean Transcendence.

In other news, I am typically antisocial and passed up karaoke in favour of baking cookies and taking pictures of them, to the probably amusement of the roommates. Since I finally bought flour and sugar, and I actually have an oven! (I have newfound appreciation for the kitchen in this place, having found out that at least a few classmates are living off hot-plates.)

OH LOOK

Lately I have problems with proportion. I made a few too many cookies. Left to my own devices I'm sure I could finish them off in a shorter amount of time than they deserve, but then I would be sick and feel gross. So I froze 2/3 of them. Anyone want chocolate chip cookies?

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
may have originally come from the ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but it has been modified almost beyond recognition

1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 3/4 cups flour (this time I used all whole wheat, usually I mix white and whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
cinnamon
nutmeg (optional)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix oil, sugar, eggs, and yogurt. Mix dry ingredients together, and add to wet. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake 8-12 minutes at 350 F.

I, in my shame, had no cinnamon (or nutmeg) to add because I thought the communal spice rack had cinnamon. Turns out, the cinnamon jar was empty, but since it is opaque I didn't realize. The cookies are missing something without cinnamon, but still nice. Also, I forgot to buy baking soda, so I just put a bit more baking powder. Not clear it helped or hindered anything. They turned out fine.

Mmmm.

Monday, January 26, 2009

mixed messages

I like to think that I'm pretty happy with myself, or at least realistic. Of course I've had some body image woes in the past, which is probably so prevalent as to be cliche among women (and increasingly men) these days, but nevertheless I like me. Though I'll admit I probably obsess a little over some things, such as uncertainty about what clothing best suits my body type, and this is reflected in my knitting and my rambling about knitting, I'm pretty cheerful about the body I have and the rest of me that comes with it. Usually.

Why is it, then, that when I weighed myself on a whim the other day, and the scale said I was ten pounds lighter than I expected, I felt jubilant?

For one thing, I'm pretty sure the scale is broken. Oh, that's always the excuse, but I truly don't think it's possible for me to have lost so much weight since I last weighed myself. I can't remember when I last weighed myself, since I don't do it too often. I've been pretty much the same weight since first year university, as far as I can tell, and that suits me fine. Anyway, my clothes don't fit me any differently.

All that aside, why does someone who is unabashedly happy about her body and her weight feel so excited and happy upon "discovering" a surprise weightloss? Am I that wrapped up in the cultural stereotype and the supposedly universal western female obsession with skinny? I thought I wasn't. This is troubling to me.

I'll go to the gym tomorrow and start bulking up, or something.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

WIP: Familiar territory

Whoa, knitting!

basic black

Miles of fuzzy, charcoal-gray stockinette.

Also some 2x2 ribbing.

basic black

I'm ploughing through Basic Black by Glenna C. while slowly frogging the Gilmour vest for more yarn. It's going well, and surprisingly quickly. This has been in my queue and near the top of it for possibly as long as I've been on Ravelry, so I'm happy to finally start it. I'm a little apprehensive, since I initially thought about making it with this yarn and decided I didn't have enough. Hopefully my current estimate that I DO have enough is not wrong. Do I bait tragedy with my knitting?

I keep saying I have to stop choosing projects with monotonous stitch patterns, but I think I've realized why I do it. Not just because I am attracted to simple, versatile, classic lines, but also because I have an unspoken (now spoken) aim eventually to replace store-bought knit items in my wardrode with my own knitting. Most of the really useful store-bought knitwear I have is pretty non-descript, to be honest. I don't have much in the way of awesome cablework or whatever. On that note, I need to aim to replace at least some of the simple stuff with more complicated and challenging stuff. But that may not happen any time soon.

I got the winter issue of Interweave knits for Christmas and while I wasn't drawn to anything in particular at first, I now feel the need to make at least three items from it. The Victoria Yoke pullover tops the list. Oh look, more stockinette stitch. At least there is some texture involved. Next comes the Welt and Rib raglan, a shoe-in to replace a turtle neck sweater I wear and love that may disintegrate within the next year. Then, the Dainty Pinstripes pullover. For some reason I really was not keen on this at first glance, but now I like it a lot. Maybe I'll stop liking any of these before I get around to making them; that's a lot of sweaters to try to fit in this winter, and as is apparent I loathe spending money. Ha! We'll see.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Musing

Will I remember that during Obama's inauguration I was grocery shopping, obsessing over the price of milk?

I might remember that in January 2009 I had just moved to a new city, and was just starting my master's. Maybe I'll think of it as some sort of new beginning or at least new direction in my life. I guess that depends on what happens next.

I think it depends on what happens next for America, too, though I can't help but see this as pretty amazing and positive. Even if I'm skeptical about all the crying, and even if I forgot about the inauguration until the evening and watched it on youtube out of some sense of duty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Discouraged

I ran out of yarn knitting Tempting II. I have an inch more of yoke to knit, and then the neck band, and then I'm done. Lately, in my frugality, I can't seem to buy enough yarn. This happened with Liesl as well - not enough yarn, had to cannibalize the sleeves. It's slower going with tempting, though, since I didn't realize that frogging from the cast-on edge isn't as streamlined as frogging from the bind-off edge. It never even occurred to me, to be honest, until I painstakingly undid the sleeve edge only to find that it didn't all come undone easily. I left it there, shoved it back in my drawer, and moved on. I am so close to finishing this thing that I really don't want to just leave it, but it's turning out to be more effort than it's worth.

To console myself I ripped into my Gilmour vest, and discovered that I am a failure at proper frogging, too. Lame. It's not necessarily my fault. The yarn is very sticky, so even frogging it takes awhile. Lots of coaxing and untangling. I hope the yarn is fit for use after. (Notice, I didn't rush out to the LYS which I still haven't explored, to snatch up luxury fibres that I know are there. I'm still being good. Nearly).

I'm doing all this in between short spurts of actual work. They've got me in a panic over the workload, even though when I look at it rationally it is totally doable. And I'm doing it. But I'm not so keen on the essay parts so far - I aimed to leave this behin at least for a while. Oh well. The presence of essays continues to define my existence. What else is new. Blah blah blah.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Epic shower rescue adventure

I should probably stop referring to everything I do as either "epic" or an "adventure" or both, but on the other hand, it's my life and I am rather excitable and easily amused. So, here's my latest epic adventure. In the shower, of all places. (Excessive Long-windedness follows)

A disadvantage to having long hair and lots of it is that it gets everywhere. I probably have no right to complain about the cat rubbing his face on my sweaters and shedding all over them, because I'm sure he's just returning the favour: he has to deal with my long hairs all over the place. Sometimes he rubs his face against my shoulder and comes up with a face full of hair that he has to bat away. But I digress. The other main disadvantage of long hair is the rate at which drains get clogged. I live with 2.5 other girls now, but I think my hair is the longest, so I'm totally willing to pitch in and clear the drain when necessary because I figure it's mostly my fault. I did so today, even though I hadn't intended to do it so soon since I've only lived here for a week and a half.

What happened was, as soon as I got in the shower today one of my beloved golden hoop earrings fell off. I say beloved because, well, I love them and I wear them almost all the time - now I have some new beloved silvery ones that I wear most of the rest of the time. Anyway, I sleep in these earrings because they are seamless hoops that don't have pokey studs or anything, and I certainly don't hesitate to shower in them. But one fell out today, and slithered down the drain, and I cursed and nearly cried, and jumped out of the shower into the frozen air and set about trying to right this problem. Given that the drain was clogged with a mess of gross old hair, I knew all was not lost.

After first setting on the drain with my hands (as gross as it was) I found I needed new weaponry. So, I grabbed a handy tool box and attacked the gross, sludgy mass of drain hair with some thick, grippy pliers. The earring was nowhere to be found in the first layer of grime, which made me nearly despair. At least it would drain faster.

Then I got a flashlight and peered down into the drain, and there it was! A glint of shiny yellow metal in a bed of grayish congealed crap about 3 or 4 cm down from the opening. Gross, but so encouraging. It's this sort of thing that renews my interest in archaeology. The pliers were unfortunately too large to fit far between the crosspieces of the drain, and I know I brought my needlenose pliers with me but I couldn't find them at the time, and anyway they would have been too short.

Out came the Allen key (sp?), with its handy crook that I thought would be ideal for fitting into the hoop and lifting it out of the muck. Lift I did! Alas, the Allen key wouldn't lift easily out of the small hole at the right angle: every time I tried, I had to maneuver the key such that the earring slipped off and back into the sludge. Sigh. I brought out some floss to try to thread through the earring so that when it dropped off the Allen key it would still be attached and within reach. Floss is floppy and doesn't hold its own when poking in a dark drain. I tried using a knitting needle, 5 mm dpn, in addition to the Allen key to convince the earring to emerge. Stubborn thing would not.

Every so often it would disappear in the murk and I thought I'd lost it forever. I'd like to think I'm not so hung up on material things, but in reality there are some material things that I really would prefer not to lose. But more poking and prodding would cause it to emerge once more.

I tried many things, running back and forth between the bathroom and my room across the hall to gather tools, half-showered and in my bathrobe, perplexing a housemate with my bizarre inquiries about long needle-nose pliers and the like, and apologizing for totally monopolizing the bathroom.

But I rescued the earring, finally! With a floss-threader, of all things. You know, those plastic large-eyed needles flung at teenagers by dentists and orthodontists to encourage them to floss despite the impediment of their braces? Yeah. I stuck it down loop-first into the drain, hooked it onto the earring, and lifted. Simple! Why didn't I think of it first?

I only have floss threaders because back in the day I was one of those kids with braces who ignored most dental suggestions that I floss, but accepted the small gift of a package of floss threaders every check-up. I started flossing religiously after getting my braces off, perhaps to make up for lost time, and I'm a committed flosser now, but not in those days. I still have one wire behind my bottom front teeth that I need to use these threaders for, so it's a good thing I have a lifetime's supply.

Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased with myself and the outcome of this harrowing rescue. Now to soak the earring in something nasty and disinfectant for a while.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting lost; epic grocery adventure of doom

I have fond memories of wandering aimlessly around Exeter when I first moved there, getting slightly but not irrevocably lost. The romantic notion of getting lost in a new place, however, far outlives the actual experience of getting lost, if my London wanderings are any indication. I don't remember feeling anything other than excitement when learning my way around Exeter, but I probably had periods of frustration that I have forgotten. Or perhaps it's just less fun to wander around in the cold and the slush with several kilos of groceries, fumbling clumsily with a map and asking identical strangers plugged into ipods for directions. Epic.

An epic and ultimately less useful than planned adventure to a big ol' sprawling mall followed my first library class. I was determined to find Bulk Barn, which wasn't where I thought it was, but I eventually did find it after first walking far out of my way to the intersection I thought it was locate at, then wandering sheepishly back where I had come, asking a Zeller's lady for directions. Then, they didn't have any lentils, which I think is inexcusable. No lentils! Especially since I had already gone to Loblaws and bought everything else but specifically had not bought lentils in favour of getting them bulk. Thwarted again! Small battles, small battles.

The distance traveled by foot today was sizable from all the walking in circles, you know. But it probably wasn't as much as it felt like, because like an idiot I decided to go to Loblaws, which was immediately in view, first - before finding Bulk Barn. Whatever. It worked out. I have food enough for days and days, though I have no lentils.

And I even had my first class today which was kind of interesting, and slightly terrifying. The terror I am trying to suppress by telling myself "I survived 4th year Hums; this is bound to make more sense." They are doing their best to freak us out about the workload, so I started my readings today and promptly found out that antelopes may constitute documents. Sweet.

Tempting II will be done in the next week or so, I say perhaps optimistically, and then I'll have more knitting for this blog. Until then, ramble ramble ramble.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

new environs

My favourite way to get to know a new place is on foot. (note: #63 of my 101 in 1001 is now complete.) London's constant ankle-deep slush will not defeat me! Haha. It was a bit colder today, so in many places the sidewalks were more solid. I ended up making a ridiculously inefficient loop through downtown and back up through the university; though I had a map, I didn't look at it when I chose to cut down a street through a neighbourhood full of huge houses, and so neglected to see that there was no way through.

It is clear that something must be done about winter boots. I wore mine today, even though I probably could have gotten away with the shoes I wear all winter in Ottawa. Yesterday I wore the shoes and got soaked, so I clearly also need to get better at judging the level of slush. In any case, I suffer from an affliction that I assume is fairly common in Canada. My socks always slip off my feet, or at least slip all the way to my toes while I walk. This happens very shortly after I begin slogging, generally. I tried wearing knee socks today, knowing that I would be walking for a long time and would not want to hop around awkwardly in the middle of the street trying to tug my socks back up. Knee socks didn't help. Hop awkwardly I did. Sigh. This is why I wear my hiking shoes year round.

Anyway, on my wanders I found the closest yarn shop to my house. I didn't go in, but it's good to know where it is. I also did boring but necessary stuff like scope out banks and groceries stores, which seemed fairly unrewarding in the bleak afternoon. After accidently wandering into the shopping district that I had explored a little before when I was here to find an apartment, I ran into a pro-Palestine rally, and turned back.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

knitting of 2008

I mused about putting on every item I'd knit in 2008 simultaneously for a silly photo, but time slipped away and now I'm in London without a camera (gasp! but what's a blog without copious photos!), and anyway some of the things I knit were gifts, so I no longer have them. So, a bit late, and a bit overdone, but here is a compilation of what I knit in 2008.

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My first sweater (Cozy V-Neck Pullover by Stefanie Japel), my first colourwork (Endpaper mitts by Eunny Jang), first serious cables (Gretel by Ysolda Teague), and my first lace (Tiger Eyes lace scarf by Toni Maddox). Among other things. I think it is safe to say I did more knitting this year than in my whole life, and I certainly tried things I hadn't done before. Success?

This year I want to do more of the above: more cables, more lace, more colourwork... I don't have any specific goals, but I want to challenge myself further (blah blah blah). I also want to make more socks out of real sock yarn, since as of yet my sock experiences have been fun but slightly silly in their non-superwash glory. Hurray!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008: movies

I am pleased to say I watched fewer movies in 2008 than I read books. At least, so says my cunning list, although it may be inaccurate. Plus, I didn't mark down any re-watches, and I know for sure I watched at least two of these films more than once.

Here it is. Looking back on the list, it appears I only saw one film in a theatre. Really? Weird. That can't be right. Whatever.

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2. Bridget Jones’ Diary 2
3. Three Kings
4. I’m Not There
5. Popeye
6. Keeping Mum
7. Sweet and Lowdown
8. Juno
9. 27 Dresses
10. Soylent Green
11. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
12. Enchanted
13. Mirror Mask
14. Shaun of the Dead
15. The Darjeeling Limited
16. Music and Lyrics
17. Penelope
18. Match Point
19. Brokeback Mountain
20. Batman Begins
21. Prince Caspian
22. Hairspray
23. Howl’s Moving Castle
24. Zulu
25. High School Musical
26. Bon Cop Bad Cop
27. Poseidon
28. 40 Year Old Virgin
29. Marple: The Moving Finger
30. Marple: A Murder is Announced
31. Ocean’s Twelve
32. Shrek 2
33. Casino Royale
34. Ocean’s Thirteen
35. L’auberge Espagnol
36. Fahrenheit 451
37. The Prestige
38. Deathproof
39. Little Miss Sunshine
40. Wall-E
41. The History Boys

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New year, books of 2008

Three weeks of bliss and adventure ended today with the departure of my favourite person. If all went well he was on the flight that left for Heathrow an hour ago. No relaxing allowed, however; on the 7th I'm moving to London. Ontario, unfortunately. A few people I've spoken to have automatically assumed I was immintently UK-bound, but this is unfortunately not the case. Maybe in 2010.

I'm quite excited, though I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed since I have almost no time to breathe before I move, and I've spent the last three weeks ignoring most things having to do with grad school and moving and London, ON. But! Now! Go!

I haven't made any resolutions: in September I started pursuing my 101 in 1001, which I think does me for goals for the next couple of years. In addition, I'm trying to embrace a spirit of action, or something equally pretentious-sounding but really not so unreasonable when you think about it: if there's something I want to change about myself, there's no point waiting for the new year. Might as well get started now, right? Right.

In the spirit of new things and the old year, I will now list things I did last year, since this seems to be the thing to do now that it is January.
First up: Books I read in 2008

I counted longish readings that were published as free-standing documents as "books" so excuse me. I did not count books that I read only part of. *cough* most of Hums 4000? *sheepish*. Things I had read before are labeled as such, but I decided to count them again anyway. Plays and epic works of poetry etc are also considered "books" just for the sake of simplicity. Apologies to purists.

1. Life on the Refrigerator Door, Alice Kuipers
2. Gargantua and Pantagruel (books 1-3), Rabelais
3. Robinson Crusoe, Defoe
4. The Concept of the Political, Carl Schmitt
5. The Gift, Vladimir Nabokov
6. Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke
7. Into That Darkness, Gitta Sereny
8. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (reread)
9. On Toleration, Voltaire
10. Rameau’s Nephew, Denis Diderot
11. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
12. Life is a Dream, Calderon
13. Le Cid, Corneille
14. The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt
15. Sofia Petrovna, Lydia Chukovskaya
16. The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe
17. Tartuffe, Moliere
18. Ada, Vladimir Nabokov
19. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
20. If This is a Man (Survival in Auschwitz), Primo Levi
21. Modern Social Imaginaries, Charles Taylor
22. Fuente Ovejuna, Lope de Vega
23. Precious Damsels, Moliere
24. Phaedra, Racine
25. The Princess of Cleves, Madame de Lafayette
26. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
27. Persians, Aeschylus
28. Agamemnon, Aeschylus (reread)
29. Oedipus the King, Sophocles (reread)
30. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
31. The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
32. Selected stories by Philip K. Dick
33. Philoctetes, Sophocles
34. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
35. The Bacchae, Euripides (reread)
36. Iphigenia at Aulis, Euripides
37. Orestes, Euripides
38. The Origin and Early Form of Greek Tragedy, Gerald Else
39. Making Money, Terry Pratchett
40. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
41. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate – Alexander McCall Smith
42. Emma, Jane Austen
43. On Beauty, Zadie Smith
44. Saturday, Ian McEwan
45. Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson
46. The Confusion, Neal Stephenson
47. The System of the World, Neal Stephenson

In total: 33 out of 47 books read were for university in some capacity. It seems like so long ago. I did have a fun couple of months reading only for myself since September, but upon reflection it seems I didn't read all that much.

This year I branched out a little past the classics. For the last few years I've spent my summers reading largely classic works that I feel I should read to fill in the gaps of my knowledge. This summer / fall I read a few more contemporary works, though I also tackled War and Peace, which I (hopefully unpretentiously) recommend because it is interesting as well as being famous and long. I count Neal Stephenson as this year's literary revelation for me. I've been meaning to read several books by him since high school, but I didn't get around to it until this year for whatever reason. It was better than I had hoped. I'm a convert. Next time I have some time open to myself I'll read Cryptonomicon.

So much for this year in books. Next, this year in movies?