Friday, March 29, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year!

When I was young my family lived in New Brunswick for awhile. I've lived across Canada - coast to coast, New Brunswick has the honour of being the province with some wicked regional features - Sugarlicking, The Hopewell Rocks, The tides of the Bay of Fundy, The Farmers' Market, Fiddleheads.

A coastal province with winters like nowhere else we lived.  More snow than I have ever seen with long Springs that made the climate ideal for that great Canadian Spring tradition; The Sap Run

No one does maple syrup like New Brunswick...well the Ottawa Valley comes pretty close but since we aren't there; Southern Ontario did in a pinch. We went to the Bruce Mills Maple Syrup Festival on Wednesday to try and get our fix.
The girls got to drink sap fresh from a tree, watch it get boiled down old school and then with the evaporators. We all agreed it looked like more fun the old school way. Also, after watching Martin spill a full bucket of sap, we agreed that it's amazing that maple syrup was discovered at all. Ever.

Who's idea was it to start boiling sap down to syrup for hours? Genius.
After a solid couple of hours exploring the syrup production we took a wander to the actual Mill at Bruce Mills.  It got me really thinking about why I have such vivid memories of going to the Sugar Bushes in New Brunswick, a place and time I don't have much fondness for.

Negative experiences in school played in direct opposition to my memories of my nomadic family's increasingly tight knit social group. The Canadian mining industry attracts a lot of seemingly random people. Engineers from around the world, mostly men working in different areas of exploration, mining and smelting. They were for the most part all the same to my 12 year old mind, but their wives and girlfriends...these women who crossed our paths again and again...were life savers.

Women who kept their last names after marriage! Mothers, Dentists, Engineers, Artists, Foresters, future Ph.D's. Not surprisingly, the women my Mother fostered relationships with were a diverse group of opinionated, educated and uppity women.  There are some that might refer to these women as 'Difficult' but those are the unimaginative among us.

They had moved with their partners to the middle of nowhere (literally sometimes) for a job that was never going to last longer than 5-10 years. It makes for some pretty magical and seemingly coincidental relationships that get strengthened every time they find themselves in another small isolated Northern town together.

These were the women that watched my siblings and I when we didn't know they were watching.  Hired and fired us as babysitters, had cooking parties with our Mother, joined us for Tequila parties and most importantly were constant reminders that there were wider experiences available to us outside of the confines of high school and whatever town we were living in at the time.

It can be a hard thing to know you will be uprooting your family so often. Hard to learn how to plant roots. Harder to learn how to attach to people when you know you'll be leaving. New Brunswick was the place I learned to cut ties to people ruthlessly. It was a relief to leave my peer group. My family was extended by the friends we met while there though, and our paths crossed again and again.

As I build my own extended family, I'm thankful for the memories of having seen my Mother build hers.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gearing up...

With all the snow we've had over the past couple of weeks it's hard to believe that it will ever be warm enough to go biking. I'm taking the time over the last weeks of Winter to make sure I have everything I need to start training as soon as the weather warms up. A bike for instance!

Some of you may know that I've joined the Friends for Life Bike Rally this year.  I'll be biking over 6 days to Montreal starting July 28th.  What am I thinking?  Oh right, I love a challenge :)  If you feel the impulse, you could sponsor me $20.00 over here on my site. It would be greatly appreciated!

My friend and obsessive rider Rob found me the perfect ride on Kiiji. The dealer hooked me up with pedals, clips and some of the peripherals that I would need to meet my needs on the training rides.

The International Bike Show was held early in March and I planned to get the rest of my peripherals there...on the last day of the show...hopefully on sale.  I made a Facebook request for ideas of what folks' thought the must haves were and got some surprising answers!

Not surprisingly, a helmet for the ride was mentioned.
Shoes and socks, also unsurprising. On this note; it would seem there aren't so many 5'1" people riding because what you see below are the only pair of Size 37 shoes there were left on Sunday! Luckily they fit like a dream and I'm looking forward to breaking them in. This enthusiasm is the first sign that I have an iron clad commitment to willful ignorance.
Here are some of the items that sort of scared me a bit.  Chamois Butt'r, CO2 cartridges and the bike shorts/shirt/gloves.  I am not in the habit of paying for the privilege of squeezing myself into a sausage casing.

Ugh. I'm sure I'll streamline a bit after training starts right?
CHAMOIS BUTT'R PEOPLE. It's a terrible play on THE WORD BUTT.

When I started reading up on that particular product the reality of what this adventure is going to mean for me became a little more real...and terrifying.

Fenner's job at the Bike Show was to collect maps and so she did.  I'm hoping that these might influence the next few family camping trips over the course of the Summer but don't tell Jason!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stich by Stitch by Stitch

Years ago I was the lucky recipient of a girlfriend's destashing efforts. It was lucky timing because we were about to go on an extended Fiscal Diet of which the budget for my yarn was going to be the unhappy victim.  I have been happily and slowly knitting from this donation for going on 3 years.

She had a skein of Briggs & Little that was a close but not perfect match to the leftover skein I had in my possession from a different failed project. Learn from my mistake: Briggs & Little does not felt - too much lanolin. But it does make a beautiful warm cabled sweater.

I started knitting Trellis from Knitty alternating rows between both skeins. Briggs & Little are famously generous skeins (272 yards) so I didn't think I needed to actually *know* how many yards I had - I thought I was safe.

Needless to say, I ran out at the point I needed to add the collar while we were visiting the Gemmill side of my family.
Debbie and I discussed the problem and the impact of using a cream colourway to finish the project when she took a closer look at the sweater and gasped.  Five minutes later she pulled out the remnants of a skein she'd used to knit Fenner's Chrismas mittens.

We spent some time comparing the colourways under different lighting...
but could see no difference!
Behold, a Knitting Miracle!  After knitting  on a poorly planned sweater for 6 months. I was rescued by the knitting Fates who had every possible reason to make me learn my lesson.

It is a hint too big but will be perfect when the weather is warmer. I'm so happy with the end result that I might just keep on knitting.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Poetry, of the Daily Grind Variety

I clean to the desperate hope of another week balanced and moderate.
Ignoring the dripping of my nose and the scratch of my throat
           I check my work calendar to confirm
                            my suit
                                 is not needed.
My to do list; daunting

Planning to finish Marlowe's cable knit sweater before it is too small;
   I raid my button can.
          Hedgehogs are indeed, too sweet for cables.
The hive mind of knitters virtually, never fails.

Work has been prioritized.
        My to do list reads like one from a woman who thinks the clock is hers to run

1. Write work to do lists that are based in reality
2. Cross off no less than two thirds of said to do list
3. Jason
4. Sew buttons on rad cable knit sweater
5. Find pattern that seems like it has been written in English to sew summer bonnets with                                           Right?

6.  Stare at brightly coloured fabric in an audacious attempt
            to fake out the Winter Blues
7. Participate in Rail Garden Committee meeting
              Enjoy breaking exciting news.
8. Complete all the pieces for long overdue blanket

9. Increase the number of kilometres I bike in the week from 28 to 42...safely.

 Monday, if there are no objections;
      I'd like to lead the dance this week.