Thursday 27 March 2008

Like a Cherry on Top

Yesterday was the first day where it was warm enough to open the front door to get some sun in the house. There's still snow on the ground, but it gives me hope.

Oh, and I started coughing this morning and now I've got a fever....if my posts start sounding delirious just email me and tell me to get off the computer and go to sleep! If there are no posts, I'll see you in a couple of days...

Beloved and Aged

My great-grandmother (my Oma) has moved from her little apartment to a room in the home and so some of her things have been passed to others in the family. Her daughter (my Grammy) and daughters-in-law helped her go through her things. She's still in good health, but has come to that point...well...I don't really know what that point is. She's always been pretty independent, steadfastly so, and so it's hard for me to imagine at my comparatively young age what kind of a decision, personal and familial, that must have been.

Now two of her china teacups have a home here, as well as the tablecloth. If I'm honest, I'll tell you that the china teacups, although pretty, came along more out of respect than desiring or needing them. Also, I don't particularly remember Oma using china teacups. But they certainly do evoke her spirit - always properly dressed, always kind and with lovely manners. Lunches with the ladies of the church, that kind of thing (although don't be misled, she's got a good sense of humour and plays a mean game of dominoes!) So I'm glad to be their caretaker; Safiya and I will have a proper tea party one of these days, with tea and little cakes and manners...I suppose part of this post is really a reminder to myself to take some time out to go and visit Oma...

When my Grammy passed me the very cool 40's tablecloth, she looked at me rather seriously and said, "I know you like these. But I don't want to see Safiya wearing this. This is supposed to stay as a tablecloth."

Yes, Grammy.

(But it would make a perfect little smock!)

Tuesday 25 March 2008

I Blog, You Blog, We All Blog!

(Safiya a year ago...)

Thanks to Florence at Flossie Teacakes for tagging me for a meme about blogging!

1. Why did you start your blog?
This community of bloggers was so appealing, and like a lot of people, I had no idea this world existed until I was googling something or other crafty and one thing led to another and suddenly I had a ridiculous number of craft blogs bookmarked. And then that wasn't enough - reading wasn't enough, I wanted to participate and maybe give back a little. Couple that with a dearth of creativity in my life and that crossroads that a lot of Mamas go through when their little ones are between toddlerhood and being a kid, and you feel you need to do something for yourself and voila!

2. How did you come up with your blog name?
See sidebar. I couldn't for the life of me think of what to call this space until one day I idly picked up Dickens' "Hard Times" and there it was. Clear as day. I am girl number twenty and this space is my voice, my protest sometimes against the concrete sidewalk of the world, and also my solace.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? What do they think of it?

Yep. My family and friends far away like it because it lets them keep in touch in a completely unique way. The only person who doesn't often have time is my Mom (she really is really busy), which is kind of wierd, I's o.k. 'cause I think she thinks the whole concept is wierd :-) And I just asked Mr. S. what he thought of the blog, and after thinking for a bit he said (wait for it)....."It's good."

4. How do you write posts?
Usually I've already got it in my head. It's how I used to write essays for school (but somehow I agonise more over posts than I ever did over essays :-) - it just comes out. There is very little editing or rearranging. First I upload the pictures and put them in order with space for the words, then I fill in the words. I'll read it aloud a couple of times (o.k. when Mr. S. is home, otherwise strange, I know), and then...done!

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?
Nope. People here have been kind and fantastic! I had to delete an advertisement once, but that's it!

6. Do you check your stats? Do you care how many people read your blog? If you do care, how do you increase traffic?
I quite honestly started out really wanting it to just be an experiment, a place to putz around and for once not care what other people think. And then I put a stats counter in. Ha! That thing's addictive, man. But a contest for high numbers? Not really - I'm pretty happy if someone's reading, that's all :-) When I do a new post I'll check to see if anyone's noticed (I still get a little thrill to see someone's read something I've written!), but it's not as bad as it used to be. In my experience I've found that submitting for whip-up generally results in an increase in traffic and some new people say hi, which is always really nice.

7. What kind of blogs/posts interest you?
Different kinds attract me on different days. There are the ones that are reliable good, with good, sincere writing and beautiful pictures. Ones where even if I've been reading for a while if I have time I'll go back and read archives. And then some places I know there are always smart, new tutorials and lots of crafting ideas, or good design inspiration. Kind of new to me are blogs of friends that I've met either through this space or through the craft scene here in Toronto - that's an entirely different kind of anticipation, and it's wonderful.

8. What do you like and dislike about blogging?
Ugh - that guilty feeling when I've been away for a while. That's the only thing I dislike, and that's not really about blogging, that's about not blogging :-) Like most people, I suppose, I love when people comment - that kind of communication can brighten anyone's day! Also, being able to sink into a day and ruminate for a bit. To capture goodness and frustration and excitement...and in the end, with no apologies, this space really is my own, and I'm proud of it.

That's it for tonight! And I'm not going to tag anyone because I promised myself I'd go to bed before 9:30! Night-night!

Antidote for a Tuesday Afternoon

Seriously? Because this is not what I signed up for. More snow...ish. And poor Mr. S. is on his third day of some wicked virus-induced fever-sinus thingy. Not the best prescription for a Tuesday in March, eh? And so, bemoaning my fate and listlessly picking at chores this afternoon, and worrying a little bit about the list of things to do growing in my head, suddenly it dawned on me that life doesn't need to be this way.....And so I said to myself and Safiya: "If it's determined to be this blah outside, then we must have treats to eat!" To which she replied, "What treats, Mama? Are they chocolate treats?" Ha! Well, of course!

"Tasty Snack Ball Things" or, vegan truffles, I suppose. Oh so easy and yummy. I can't really objectively tell if they look good in the pictures I took (my picture success with food is pretty low), but boy are they good! That and a whack-load of apple chips drying in the oven (we still have apples left from my adventures at the farmers' market last fall), more than make up for a pile of laundry that is leering at me this very minute from across the living room and a mountain of dishes lurking in the kitchen. Oh, and a stack of quilts neglected downstairs.

Life's too short to be complaining and not eating truffles :-)

Saturday 22 March 2008

Falling in Love

I'm running out of flannel, and it's hard to find 100% cotton flannel when out thrifting, especially in white or light colours that don't show through when I use it as batting in blankets. So I think I'm going to bite the bullet and order some from NearSea Naturals. I like that a lot of their cotton is not only organically grown in North America, but most of it's also milled in the States. Have to support our friends' economy in times of trouble, right? 'Cause no matter what, we don't want the organic fabric businesses to vanish - that would be a tragedy.

And as I was browsing around:

Ooooooooo! Organic? Awesome. It's from mod green pod.

And I may have fallen in love with this flannel:

It's oh-too-easy to fall in love when everything about them is right, eh? :-)

Thursday 20 March 2008

Things Are Growing Around Here

Despite the ridiculous amounts of snow which linger around here, signs of spring are creeping. The sun is warm. Things are sprouting. We heard a robin two mornings ago. Baby birds need their nests ;-) Since the onions were sprouting anyway, we decided to make a spectacle of it - some of them needed more toothpicks than others, evidently.

Our morning routine now involves tending for these little guys:

We've got lettuces and kale, and we're seeding tomatoes (as a summer offering for the raccoons) today. Safiya is often the one who stops suddenly in the middle of something and reminds me that we have to water them. It's pretty incredible how fast she's sprouting, too. The days are full with "That's o.k., Mama I can do it." If she falls or bumps, the first thing out of her mouth is "I'm o.k." like she's totally in charge of the situation. My favourite so far is the other morning when we were still in bed and she cuddled up, saying "Mama, you're the warmest spot". It doesn't get much better than that.

We've come into our own with a rhythm around the house. She enjoys working together on chores. And you know what, I don't call it "helping". Once in a while I'll ask her and show I'm in need of help, but otherwise I think it's pretty important in the everyday stuff for her to not be diminished into "helping". And, at three-and-a-half, it's so much easier for me to work on my stuff, too. I have to say, it's great. She's busy, I'm busy, it's all good. Her latest is a fascination with tape:

My work for the last little while has mostly been taxes and fighting with the computer (hence the absence) and finally giving in and taking it in. Ugh. I'm of two mind about the whole thing. You know, the whole debilitating/liberating thing. I'm still mulling it over.

But it's good to be back in this space. I missed it! There has been some work, a bunch of craft fair planning and applications for the year (nerve-wracking), and babies arriving or imminent (NOT US! We're not sprouting! ;-) I've got a bunch of quilts/blankets on the go and some new projects. Ahhhhh, back into the spring of things, eh?

Now, if only the snow would co-operate and go. away!

The bike is winning, right?

Baby Bird

On my way from the kitchen to the living room, packing the bag for the day, saying "Safiya, come on, we have to catch the bu-u....s...."

And there she stands, in the middle of the living room, scissors in hand, a good grip of her hair in the other, and she says, very seriously:

"Not yet, Mama, we can't leave yet because I'm not done making the nest for the baby birds."


"Um, o.k." I say. and retreat back to the kitchen, phone in hand to immediately confer (and by that I mean laugh my ass off while trying to keep it quiet) with Mr. S.

She had done a pretty good job - on half of her head!

That's a big nest :-)

Saturday 15 March 2008

Now Our Computer Has a Cold....

Sorry about the absence! Silly computer's been down for a week and hopefully will be fixed by Monday.

Until then, please relish the idea of an incident which involves Safiya, Safiya's hair, a pair of scissors, and something about making a nest for baby birds :-)

Thursday 6 March 2008

Green and Wilde

Before Al Gore, before fair trade coffee, before simple living, before bloggers, and certainly before any of this came crashing into my awareness, there was "The Young King", a short story by Oscar Wilde. I do not know much more than the standard about Mr. Wilde, but I have loved his stories since a child, and this was always one of my favourites. These days I find it more complex than I remember, and I don't really agree with the ending other than it is literary-wise the romantic thing to do, but I still love it. And the odd thing is, most of the arguments that I encounter against the choices that our little family makes for a simpler, greener, more connected life could be taken from characters in this story, verbatim. If you have time, I invite you to read it, as it is a pleasurable read, and a good place to start.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Thank You China and Mexico

Last winter I sprouted for the first time. Hee hee. Sounds like some fantastical story, eh? And actually, it was. I had never really believed that plants come from seeds, you know; it sounded like a whole lot of fairy-tale nonsense. When we did have plants, they first came into the house or garden as, well, little plants. And then I caved and bought this little packet of sprouting seeds and felt a bit foolish as well as completely awed by the fact that living things come from little dots.

Then there was our pathetic little garden. The only seeds that made it in from my big haul at Seedy Saturday last March were carrots, calendula, and beans. The calendula and beans did well, but the carrots were a sad, sad affair (water, must remember water...). And actually the pathetic-ness of it all had a lot to do with squirrels and racoons and birds and cats, so there!

So to say I'm a gardening neophyte is an understatement (I have a lot of information about plants and herbs in my brain, but that's a lot different than actually growing them!) This year I took out all the remaining packets of seeds, wrote their start dates on them and on our calender, and we actually did germination rate tests - so much fun! Safiya's eyes went big like dinner plates when she saw the beans sprouting! And also, I set up a grow lamp in the basement.

About which I am excited and conflicted, as I do not like purchasing new stuff. But we have only one little south facing window, and I really want to learn about starting from seed. So thank-you China and Mexico (and I do not mean that facetiously). Someone's work in a factory that is part of this industrial machine complex that I so desperately want to walk away from has enabled me to grow something green. Maybe if I grow enough it will be like carbon credits or something...

Sunday 2 March 2008

The Last Little Bit for Tonight

Oh, and as my Mom decided to stay over for the weekend, I've had the luxury of reading. For hours on end this morning. Yesterday I rather sceptically picked up a book she was reading, thinking I'd read a couple of pages, you know, like picking at a food you're quite sure you're not going to like:

Eat. Pray. Love.

I devoured it in two days. Reading an emotionally charged book like that at that speed results in an emotional experience akin to what I imagine it's like driving in a Formula-1 race: a little exhilarating and a little white-knuckled at times. You know in "When Harry Met Sally" when the lady leans over to waiter and says "I'll have what she's having"? That. Except spiritually.

Now I'm tired, and me and my cold are going to bed.

Snippets of a Week (in which a tired girl compresses in a not-very-compressed way three posts into one)

O.k., so there might be more than one post tonight, as Safiya still has a cold and has gone to bed early and I feel like I have to untangle my thoughts from the week...

First, in my rearranging, I came across an old House & Garden from January 2003. Look at the knitted goodies! That was 5 years ago, before any of what I'm doing now was even percolating in my brain...

But my favourite by far is the knitted curtains. Aren't they gorgeous? I can't imagine the amount of work they would take, nor the kind of tragedy that would ensue if they ever got, no....knitting curtains is not in my future. But they sure are pretty....

What else? I managed to do some thrifting:

Also we (and by that I mean the royal we :-) have removed the microwave from the kitchen because it was freaking me out that the cordless phone didn't work while the microwave was on. I've dubbed it an "experiment" so that other members of the household don't mutiny. Safiya only occasionally laments its loss because now she has to eat her food before it gets cold. Or so I thought:

Ha! She also came up with a new way of peeling garlic:

Who am I to argue? Whatever works, eh? Speaking of work, I would have like to do more, but it has been a week of errands, dropping off people at the airport, colds, people having babies (that doesn't really have to do with me, I just had to get it in there - yay Katharine and her family!), and planning for spring and summer craft fairs.

It's application time, and I got up the guts to apply for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit, which, I must explain, is huge, and more art than craft, and I'm really not being humble in saying that I sincerely don't think I will be accepted. I do think, however, that it is good practice for me to go through the requirements of applying, the little write-ups, getting the photos, heeding deadlines. Mostly because I dislike applications, and am not very good at deadlines.

I may have over-compensated on this one, however. On the last eligible day for application submissions, aware that Safiya and I had to meet my mother arriving at the airport at 3:00pm from a vacation, I gave poor Mr. S. a rather perfunctory good-bye as he left in the morning for a conference in Vancouver at the same time as I was madly trying to get this application in. I rushed, lost my work online twice, and we were a little late leaving for the airport...and when we got home it suddenly smacked me that of course the application deadline date wasn't. until. the next. day.

Of course :-)

Something to Do on the Subway

There was a lot of shuffling about this week, cleaning, rearranging...not much doing. Except for the hyperbolic crochet class last Sunday. During which this was created:

It was great fun, Becky is a patient teacher, and although at home Mr. S. had a cold and Safiya proceeded to run a fever while I was crocheting away, I only felt the teensiest bit guilty....well, not very much, actually. I really needed to get out :-) When I presented Safiya with the above, she immediately proclaimed it a sea-slug and asked where its baby was.....

After the workshop there was a fabric swap at The Workroom, so Becky kindly gave me and my suitcase of fabric a lift. There was some chomping at the bit and good natured nervous laughter at the sight of a mountain of fabric on the table in front of us, and we dove in politely as the reserved Canadians we are (I had heard that fabric swaps could get nasty, but of course not with these gals :-). Got a few sweet pieces, including this:

"Now when you bring that home," said my friend Johanna (who had the self-restraint of a saint and was only an onlooker in the melee of fabric), "you feel like you've accomplished something!...It's like...bringing home a wheel of cheese!" Which is exactly what Mr. S. meant, I am sure, when he said "What are you going to do with that?" upon beholding my spoils of the day.

It doesn't matter; it's marked "organic" and "cotton". Done and done.

Oh, and why does anyone take a hyperbolic crochet workshop? If for no other reason so that on the way home on the subway when someone asks "What are you crocheting?" you can smile and answer "I am crocheting hyperbolic space!"