to Russia with love

Friends of ours are moving to Russia soon. It is an incredible opportunity to explore another country and culture and I am pleased as punch that this amazing couple gets the chance to put on their walking shoes and travel together.

And we will miss them enormously.

They bring joy to everything and are such a pleasure to be around. They are so lovely and kind to each other. They are the very best guests to our camp up north and I will never forget how excited they were to hear they’d be sleeping in the very (very) rustic little sleep cabin on their first trip up – I’m telling you it was a The Price is Right kind of display of joy (all that love kinda made this hostess beam). They are both wonderful cooks and being invited to their house for dinner is one of the very best things to be invited to: pork belly, lobster rolls — they’ve nailed everything they have ever served us. They are the people we call to hang out with because we know they’re up for anything and everything. They’ve been known to show up at our house with pie and flowers and eggnog. They’ve embraced Isla and I am so happy she gets to grow up with family friends like these.

So, when I heard they were moving I just had to knit something. I wanted to knit something for them both but, with back-to-work for me and an uncertain departure date for them, I opted to pour all my knitty love into something for S. I chose the Dovetail cowl because it looked so big and wooly and warm. It’s double-sided and versatile – perfect for layering inside, or for bundling up against the wind outside. I knit the long version to give her maximum use. The yarn is Mecha by Malabrigo in the “Paris Nights” colourway. And aside from it being gorgeous and dark, I may have partly picked this colour as a bit of good luck charm to hopefully see them make it to Paris while they’re overseas. I sure do think they’d both fall head over heels for that place…. especially Paris at night
(swoon worthy)
. For T. we happily stumbled upon a reusable market bag that seemed kind of perfect.


We still don’t know when they’re leaving, but it will likely be soon. As much as we will miss them (and will count down the days until they come home) we look forward to experiencing their travels with them – over Skype, on Facebook, in pictures, and in a couple years time, over hotdogs cooked on the campfire at a little camp way up north. Their log cabin will be waiting.

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a post about weather (because I am Canadian and it is March)

Oh gosh, where have I been. I’ve been in true hibernation the past few months waiting for the winter-that-would-not-give-us-a-break to give us a flippin’ break.

This year, winter came in with a burst of snow before the calendar even officially landed on the start of the season. It brought so much ice (including a storm in which neighbouring streets were without power for days over the Christmas holiday), heaps of snow, and frigid temperatures. The general pattern of weather this winter was: major snowfall, temperatures would climb above zero long enough for the snow to melt a little and then it would ice over, another snowfall would treacherously cover up the ice patches, and then the temperature would dip to the lowest of the low. Repeat.

As a side note: The weather wasn’t the only epic thing these past few months. Meteorologists in my neck of the woods deserve a standing ovation for their work this year. You see, every year in Toronto meteorologists seem to routinely exaggerate their predictions of winter weather. “Winter” doesn’t generally happen very intensely here, but because we’re Canadian we like to feel part of the nation of winter warriors, so in the absence of actually getting winter storms, we anticipate them.* So for the first year since I moved to this city, not a single storm or snowfall was exaggerated. Kudos weather people, now go take a vacation.

Anyway, it has been a tiring winter, and for all that I’ve done, it doesn’t seem I have much to show for it. I think my productivity has been a bit like the earth – things are happening under there but until the weight of the snow and cold lift away we just won’t know how productive this winter has been.

I feel like we’re really, finally in to Spring now. There is still a thick layer of ice on our back patio and parking space, but it’s thinning (slowly). The snow is giving way to muddy earth and the air smells rich and promising. Soon we’ll see all that growth that this long winter hibernation has been keeping secret. Both inside and out. I can’t wait to get started.

in the window

reading

play dough

planning

cooking

growing

playing

family

* This is my theory, anyway. You see, I have a B.A. in Sociology, so I theorize like this quite a bit.

Posted in Home Sweet Home, Life, Seasons | Leave a comment

off my shoulders and onto hers

Years ago I decided to knit a shawl for my sister-in-law. I picked a manageable pattern with an understated ruffle that complemented nicely the beautiful soft pink hues of the yarn. And to accompany the shawl I found a beautiful shawl pin in the shape of a treble clef. The whole endeavor seemed perfect for her. I planned to whip it up for Christmas that year.

That was TWO years ago.

For two years this thing sat in my knitting basket, I knit up a big chunk of it and then found myself deeply entrenched in baking a baby and knitting small things for this little bean-to-be. Then, during this past year, I started to knit a few rows here and there in between other project deadlines. Finally, in December with one last desperate push of knitting time (and a LOT of Homeland on Netflix) I actually finished and blocked this thing in time for Christmas.

citron shawl

My sister-in-law and I don’t have a ton in common aside from very strong wills. We run in different circles, wearing very different sneakers. It was nice to pick out yarn and a pattern with someone so different in mind. When I saw the yarn, I thought a bit of ballet slippers. It’s a bit more peachy, but still delicate and gentle, just like the dance. And the pattern seemed to suit her too. Something that can be dressed up for a formal night out with her husband or snuggled up around her neck for some extra warmth on a cold day (although, if I had predicted the Polar Vortex I would have been better off knitting her a chunky face warmer).

citron

Making this reminded me of something I really admire about knitting. It has the ability to bridge a gap between two people that many not have much in common. I get to stay in my comfort zone (and avoid watching dance shows or hearing live classical music) and still hopefully show her I do actually care, with just two sticks and some string.

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the way I worry

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It was bitterly cold one night last week. So cold that our furnace fought all night just to keep up with the cold air that forced its way into this drafty old house. And we three were already worse for wear, recovering from colds and gastro-viruses (a nice welcome gift from that ass-hat 2014).

Husby and I cozied in under the blankets. He drifting off to sleep and me wide-awake and worried. Worried about the little girl down the hall. Her sleep sack is pretty light and I should have put some socks and an extra onesie on under her – albeit warm – pajamas. “Is the okay?” I asked him. He murmured that she was. “Will she let us know if she gets cold?” He said she would. I told him I would bring her into bed with us if she woke up. A minute later I decided to throw an extra blanket on her anyway and tiptoed into her room. She was tucked up in the corner of her crib, clutching her little blanket square. I covered her with a knit blanket and tucked in the sides. Touched her warm cheek and headed back to bed.

She slept through the night and never knew anything of her mama’s worrying. And that’s how it will go, I suppose. I will whisper worries to my husband late at night when the static of the day is turned down and she is asleep down the hall. I do my best to keep her safe and worrying is part of how I do that. When she’s much older and my worries aren’t quite as basic as they are now – food and warmth – I will still worry. K and I will talk about concerns, big and small, over dinners out, on the phone at work, or in bed at night – with one eye on the clock – while she is out with friends.

And she will know little of our worries and that’s just the way it should be (and always has been) between a mama and her baby.

Posted in Family, Isla, motherhood, Us | Leave a comment

Punctuality is not my strong suit

It’s mid-January and by now donuts are being eyed longingly during Tim Horton’s coffee runs, workout schedules and waistbands are starting to give a little, and now that the weather has thawed a bit from its’ deep freeze, smokers are starting to mill around doorways again. Resolutions are so a-week-and-a-half-ago and things are starting to return to the status quo.

Which I guess makes me fashionably late? Below is a list of hopes and goals for the year ahead (give or take 10 days). Not really resolutions (for no reason other than I just really hate that word), but sort of a “let’s see how I do” list of tweaks to a life I already really enjoy.

#1 Keep a daily gratitude notebook. I know, it’s so very Oprah-esque, but I did this once years ago (probably on Oprah’s suggestion) and it really helped me see everything that was going right in my life during a time when some pretty big things were going wrong (like, for instance, failing my first year of university). I did pass, by the way (just not by much).

#2 Laugh more. This one will be hard to measure and I’m certainly not saying I will fake laugh just to hit the quota (fake laughing will be reserved for times when I don’t get the joke but don’t care enough to ask). It has more to do with my overall mood, and I think I will know by year-end whether it’s been achieved.

#3 Spend one weekend day a month doing things as a family in our city – museums, zoo, concerts, etc. explore our city with Isla.

#4 Knit 12 things in 12 months.

#5 Spend more time with friends. We sort of let this get away from us this past year (what with insane work schedules and a fussy, scream-in-your-face baby). But we have great friends and I really want Isla to grow up knowing these people are in her corner, especially given that we have no family in town. Whether it’s entertaining at home or adventuring out, I want to make entertaining and outings a more regular feature.

#6 Go for an overnight trip with my husband away from Isla. Scary and decadent!

#7 Knit for someone other than Isla (preferably for me), photograph something other than Isla, and write about something other than Isla. I know I will do plenty of things for her in the coming year, so this is really just a reminder that it’s okay to momentarily turn my attention away from her.

#8 Reno our bedroom (new closet, paint).

#9 Grow things. Edibles in the pots out back and beautiful things in the new garden out front. And involve Isla in this, too.

#10 Slow down. This one is the toughest but also the most important. Weekdays are such a blur and obligrations, chores, and the to-do list sometimes spill over onto the weekend, filling it to the brim. Isla is growing so quickly and the only way to slow it down is to slow me down. I’ve left it intentionally vague, but one such way I intend to do this is to be with her while she naps. Take that hour or so and listen to her breath on my chest. Feel her warmth and weight. Wait as the minutes tick slowly by. Watch as the world passes by outside the window.

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weekly photo challenge: layers

Layers. I thought a while about what to choose for this week’s challenge and then I went about the day to day living that has us inside and outside for a little while longer. There was a quick trip to the park for the swings (she’s still not sure about the slide), and some walking practice up and down our street, and the dog park of course, and raking up of the leaves (two full bags from our postage-stamp sized front garden!).

And that’s when it came to me. These days are all about layers. While Spring and Summer see the layers stripping off, Fall and Winter are all about cozying up, covering up, and bundling up more and more. As the temperatures dip the layers grow – both on the ground and on the person. The earth gets hard and leaves drop from plants and trees above. And soon, too, snow and ice will blanket everything. And we layer too, outside first with wool sweaters and hats, and then with mittens and puffy coats. And inside with flannel sheets and fleece blankets under down-filled duvets. Layers.

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