Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Tradition

When I was about 5, my grandparents moved to Florida. It was great to have relatives to visit down there (we lived in Michigan) but it was also difficult to not get to see them for the holidays. We visited when we could, and otherwise my mother and I sent packages.

The thing about those packages was that since Grandma and Grandpa had gotten rid of a bunch of stuff when they moved, they didn't really want more stuff that would just take up room in their house. I can't really blame them. So all year long, my mom and I would collect things to send them for Christmas, usually small things or consumable things. The one thing I really remember is stocking up on loose Earl Grey tea because back in the 1980s and 1990s, loose tea was hard to find, and Grandma preferred to make iced tea with loose tea over making it with tea bags. But there were other things, too.

As we found them, Mom and I would stash these little gifts around the house. We usually started each year with the best of intentions and declared one drawer or cabinet the gift spot where everything would go. By December, however, there were usually 1-4 gift spots. Many, many years, when we would assemble the Christmas box, we would miss a spot where gifts were stashed. Inevitably, we would discover this spot in January or February. Since we knew good and well we would loose track of this stuff before the next Christmas (or Grandpa's birthday in April or Grandma's in October), we would pack up the extra presents and send a Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's day present.

I have decided that this isn't a bad tradition-- to just send people you love gifts for either completely random days that aren't holidays or holidays that aren't traditionally gift giving holidays. This year, I have spotted my mother-in-law struggling with plantar fasciitis. I know it is terribly painful. I had a surgical procedure for it a few years ago. She has found one pair of shoes that are comfortable: a pair of flip-flops. Because the weather has gotten cold, she is wearing these shoes with socks, wadding them up to accomidate the shoe. So, as a random gift to her sometime in the spring, I am going to knit a heavily modified version of this pattern for her. That's right, socks that are already divided at the toes. Okay, so I hate provisional cast-ons, and I'm going to skip the colour work, and I'm going to avoid the seam on the ankle, but I am going to make her a pair of thong socks.

I think Mom would approve of this as a contiuation of our tradition of late holiday gifts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Semester Down

... a bunch more to go.

So I've been in Canada since September. Wow. I haven't been drummed out for not using "U"s where I should and not understanding the metric system. (When I hear on the radio that it is going to be -2 and we'll be getting 4cm of snow, it takes a calculator and 15 minutes to figure out if I should stock up on food and potable water)

I thought I would perhaps sum this up in an entry of lists

Stuff I like about Canada:
  1. Knitting. Seriously. Consider my post about the logic of knitting woolly things, but then also, there are tons of great knitters in Canada. London has a bit of a dearth, but I can change that, and I am thinking that I might take part of my spring break and do a knitting pilgrimage around Ontario.
  2. Universal health coverage. Note that I might feel differently about it if my broken metatarsals don't heal properly and I have to wait 3-6 months to even see an orthopaedic surgeon, but for now, for me, its working.
  3. A political system where the above and funding for the arts are just a given in the debates around public policy. It isn't a question of if these things are important or evidence of liberal insanity. They are assumed to be important. If someone questions this in public debate, there is hell to pay.
  4. A political system with multiple mulligans built in. There is the exercise that was this fall's election, wherein the parliament wasn't working so parliament was dissolved and an election was held. Or the current weirdness wherein the Liberals and the National Democratic Party got together with the help of the Bloc Quebecois to attempt to become the ruling coalition in the parliament. I can't really explain it, but here's the best one I've found so far. In the U.S. if we elect asshats by accident, we're stuck with them for 2-6 years barring seriously illegal conduct.
  5. Public transportation that works. And London Transit isn't even that great, according to my friends.
  6. Beer. Canadians are a people who take their beer seriously, and I can appreciate that.

Stuff I find really funny about Canada, that Canadians think I'm weird for laughing at:
  1. How much they love Canada. I'm not just talking about the flags and maple leafs everywhere, although I do find that funny. I'm also talking about the great love that Canadians have for all things Canadian. Indeed, if a Canadian likes something Canadian all she has to say to justify it is "but its Canadian," and I, frequently the lone American in the room, am left saying "but why does that make it good?" I love a band called the Winter Gloves that hail from Quebec, and I can explain that I like them because they've goot a good sound and occasionally cute lyrics. But in Canada, I don't need to use pesky logic. I'm allowed to love them just because they are Canadian.
  2. Milk. I know I should let go of this, but how is it not funny when you can buy milk in bags, and sometimes that milk is called "homo milk." I know I'm immature, but it is really funny.
  3. The names of the towns in the West. I only hear about these on the CBC, but there are some good ones. There are Moose Jaw, Mozart, and Old Wives Narrows in Saskatchewan, and Alberta has Medicine Hat.
Things that still confuse me a little:
  1. There is a code at Tim Horton's that I don't understand. I've heard of this thing called a double double, but since they don't sell cheesebugers, I'm flummoxed. After five minutes of searching Wikapeida, I find that it is a coffee with 2 sugars and 2 creams, but yikes. Do I look like a looser for just asking for such a coffee by its long name?
  2. The London municipal trash schedule. They come every 8 days, unless there is an intervening civic holiday or an arbitary gap. I just don't get it. They sent me a helpful wall calandar, but it still confuses the heck out of me.
  3. Canadian politeness. I have found people in Ontario to be kind, polite and decent. As long as I know the rules. If you don't know the rules and screw up, you are a bad person. Now I have always had a theory that people in colder climates are meaner because of the cold... when its cold you can't waste time with niceities. Its the same reason we talk faster. But Canadians do it weird, because on the surface, they are super polite.
  4. French in the grocery store. I GET IT. Canada is a bilingual country. There is a significant French speaking minority, even in Ontario. I'm just asking the stock people at my local A&P and Loblaws to please put things on shelves English side facing front or at least half and half. It took me way longer than is reasonable to figure out what the heck Gruau is. (Incidentally, it is oatmeal.)
So those are my lists on Canada so far.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jess Encounters Socialized Medicine... And It Works!

So I have hurt my poor foot. My right foot. I don't know how I did it. I went running on Friday, and by the evening, I was hobbling around uncomfortably. Sunday, I could barely sleep, it hurt so much.

I did what any good American would do when injured. I checked the internet. I either have a sprain of something in my foot or ankle, have ill-fitting shoes, have had a stroke, or have a stress fracture of one of my metatarsal bones. I'm betting on the sprain or stress fracture, myself. But because google and WebMD left me with such inconclusive answers, I decided to get a professional, in-person opinion about it.

This being Ontario, and there being a doctor shortage, I don't have a primary care doctor. I'm not even sure, quite frankly, how I would go about finding one. Student health here at the university, while good, are continually overbooked, so I decided to go to an urgent care clinic.

I get there, check in and show my health card. The triage nurse sends me down the hall for an x-ray, complete with directions referencing a Tim Horton's. (There really are Tims everywhere) I had my x-ray, waited for a few hours, and so a doctor, who looked like he was 15, but maybe I'm just old.

My x-ray showed nothing wrong with my foot. His exam didn't really show anything other than the fact that I am "neurologically intact" (he hasn't really met me, eh?). He told me that he would give me a referral to go see a sports medicine clinic if I was still hurting at the end of the week. I figured, in light of everything I hear on the radio here, that if I needed to see them, it would be spring before I got to see a doctor.

I was so wrong! I got a voice mail this morning (missed my phone ringing) saying that the sports medicine clinic got my refferal and have an appointment set for me at 10am tomorrow. Even though I'm not supposed to go until the end of the week, I'm going tomorrow.

Maybe I'll even be able to get the bone scan that would show if I have a stress fracture. Maybe this thing works.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Am I No Longer Quirky?

Despite what you might think, I'm not going to go on about what I perceive as the idiosyncrasies of Canadian culture and how they make me feel more normal. There are many, but since I'm going to be here for four years, I feel the need to spread them out in the interest of good blogging. I'm just lookin' out for my readers, that's all. And anyway, since those oddities are general habit here, I'm thinking that even if I feel normal, I'm not.

In this case, I'm actually talking about knitting and running. The two never went together in my mind until today. I went out for a run this morning, and it was cold. It was below freezing, snowflakes were drifting slowly toward the earth. I wore appropriate gear-- gloves, tights, a jacket, a hat to keep my cute little ears warm. As I was getting dressed, I realized something: wearing a pair of my hand knit wool socks wouldn't be the worst idea ever. My feet wouldn't overheat in those socks going out for a run like they would of a month ago. Instead, they kept my feet warm.

But I've realized something: knitting warm, woolly socks in Nashville is something of an odd affectation. (Sorry, guys, but it kinda is. Not that I didn't love knitting socks there, too. Just hear me out.) You don't need them for most of the year. There is always that cold snap in January when they become useful, maybe if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter months, then maybe they are a necessity, but for most of us, they're nice, if a bit odd. It's kind of like wearing a beret; it works for some people, but it isn't normal and it isn't a necessity for daily life. But here, those socks have a purpose. They are here to keep my feet happy, warm, and (perhaps I'm being melodramatic) frostbite free. A well made pair of wool socks is worth their weight in, well, wool. The same goes for most of my knitting projects: I need hats, scarves, and mittens. (Lace shawls are another story, but I can't be entirely rational, my husband wouldn't recognize me.) I need something to keep my hands busy (protestant work ethic and ADHD + idle hands= trouble on a destructive scale). Therefore, knitting is not longer completely nutty.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When Life Gets Away From Me...

I neglect my blog. Sad but true.

The past couple of weeks have been nutty. I had an odyssey of travel, because it turns out you can go home again, if they are holding an academic conference there. I went to the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society (which this year was a joint meeting with the Society for Music Theory), which was held in Nashville. It was outstanding but completely exhausting. In an attempt to save money, I decided not to take the shuttle to get my flight out of Toronto, but instead decided to take the train and then the bus to make it to the airport. Not worth the $30 I saved. Next time, I'm taking Robert Q. The end result is that I started a pair of socks on Thursday 6 November and finished them on Saturday, after reworking the toe (otherwise they would have been complete on Thursday). I was, however, able to spend time with my beloved husband, see my lovely city and my dear friends, go to church, and make it down to my favourite knitting store.

I've graded a huge stack of tests, and have another stack of papers to read. And, in about 12 days, I get to go home and spend a few days with my family in Nashville.

I've read recently that if you have a blog, you need to manage expectations; you should let your readers know how often you intend to post, and stick to it if at all possible. They are probably right. I'll be thinking about this in the days to come and letting ya'll know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change Is On Its Way

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

I know it is no big surprise that I supported Obama in today's election. I'm listening to his victory speech right now, and I admire him. I admire his willingness to listen, his willingness to think.

I also have read what McCain said in his concession, and I admire his graciousness and humility.

In other news, my cousin appears to be winning her election for the Michigan House of Representatives. When we were kids, Jen always said that she would be president someday, and this seems like a good start.

The thing about this election is that after all of the ugliness, we need to find a way to talk to each other again. We need to find ways to disagree in thoughtful and well-reasoned ways. We need to respect each other above all. My first exposure to Barak Obama was not his address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, instead I hear about his 2006 Call to Renewal Keynote Address. He said, "... before I went to bed I said a prayer of my own. It's a prayer I think I share with a lot of Americans. A hope that we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all. It's a prayer worth praying, and a conversation worth having in this country in the months and years to come." Two and a half years later, it is still a good prayer. It is a prayer of reconcilliation and of hope.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

No really, it snowed!

This is what it looked like outside of my house yesterday morning. I took this picture after falling and bruising my bum (stupid dog) on the back steps. I need boots.

Its supposed to get warm next week... just in time for me to go to Nashville for the AMS annual meeting.

Hopefully I can keep my butt over my feet until then. I would hate to need special assistance boarding the plane or getting around the conference. (Or to be on meds that would prevent me from enjoying the parties ;) )

In other news, I have started my Christmas knitting. There are the obligatory socks in progress, and I will most likely knit something cute for my niece and nephew (there's a pattern for a stuffed penguin that I've been eyeing for a while), and then there is my new passion for lace knitting. Its totally addictive. So, as a present for someone I have started the mystery object. I love it.
I know, right now it looks like a mystery lump of alpaca/merino blend, but trust me, it will be lovely.

In other news, I went for a run this morning. Ice and all. My beloved husband (who is visiting) suggested that I take my cell phone and my bus pass, which I did, in case I fell. While I was running, I realized something: I've become someone I used to make fun of. In my tights, hat and gloves, running down Wharncliffe, I realized that only a few years ago, if I had driven by a lunatic running in freezing temps, I would have chuckled to myself and said "its so not worth it." Now I'm that lunatic.

I also discovered something I forgot about running. It gives me energy. Instead of feeling like I need an afternoon nap, I feel like doing something else active today. Does a brewery tour count?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Holy Crap!

Quick post from the Great White freakin' North.

It is snowing. Freakin' snowing. Now I grew up in Michigan, went to high school further north than here, but holy crap balls, its snowing before Halloween. If it had waited until Friday, I could deal. But it didn't. It isn't even Halloween, yet.

I'd take a picture, but its dark.

(It isn't sticking, but that's not the point. The point is that it's freakin' snow. Falling from the sky.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

There is Nothing More to Say About This Election...

... because John Cleese has already said it. Sarah Palin scares the crap out of everybody.

While I never intended to make this blog political, I'm amazed that people are falling for the theatre of this election. I am stunned. Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, What's-her-face the Caterer; people fall for this. The big secret (that isn't really a secret if I know it) is that all of these people were invited to the rallies they are now known for and the candidates in question knew ahead of time pretty much what they were going to say. Tito showed up, according to the New York Times in his hard had and orange vest. That is pure theatre. This is an attempt on the part of the McCain campaign to make Sarah Palin and her millionaire boss appear more like ordinary people. This is theatre; Tom Stoppard couldn't have written it any better. Any attempt on the part of the democrats to use Joe the Plumber to make themselves appear ordinary is just as staged, just as theatrical. Barack Obama, too, is a millionaire, although not on the order that John McCain is. Every time you see one of these politicians do something in public, it is theatre. It is calculated. It is intentional. They know if you see the candidate in question eat barbecue with his sleeves rolled up, you're going to like him more. Don't fall for it. Pretty much as soon as you begin to think becoming President of the United States is something you could achieve and other people don't cart you off to the loony bin, you are no longer ordinary. You may still enjoy beer, but Joe Six Pack is no longer your drinking buddy, and hasn't been for a while.

I know college educated adults who fall for some of this stuff. If you want to vote for one candidate or the other because you think he has a better understanding of issues of policy, then go for it, but don't vote because you empathize with Tito the Builder or whatever. That would be like a victorious write-in campaign for Martin Sheen because we liked "The West Wing." I'm voting for the guy whose policies represent my values, having read platforms and listened to speeches, I know who that is.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Knitting Report

Told ya'll I'd get to it.

(For all of my non-knitting readers, just look at the pretty pictures. They're really pretty, if I do say so myself)

For starters, I finally finished my Faina's Scarf! I then considered throwing a party. Instead, I went out and bought some baby shampoo (I'm too cheap to buy the nice wool wash), soaked it and pinned it to a guest bed at my parent's house. This has been said so many times it might be a little trite, but holy crap! blocking is magic. What was a skinny, twisty lump of alpaca now actually looks like lace. I love this scarf so much that I actually wore it today, despite the fact that it is almost 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
I am thrilled with it. The only 2 things I did differently from the pattern (on purpose, anyway) were to knit 5 repeats of the centre pattern instead of 4 as the pattern calls for and I have decided to omit the fringe.

Beyond that, I have been focusing largely on the knitting of socks. They are the perfect knitting for taking outside of the house. Small, fit in a bag I can attach to my belt or to my bag, and not terribly mentally taxing.
This is just a basic top down sock out of some yarn from my stash. It is pretty and simple. I have yet to cast on for the second sock, but will before Christmas, as it very likely to wind up as a gift for someone, if for no other reason than I made it a bit small for my own foot due to a bit of wishful thinking when deciding it was time to do the toe decreases. It actually got boring. Boring I say.

My new pair of socks is nearing completion, and are really lovely. Since the last one got boring, I decided to try something a little more challenging. I came up with a top down ribbed sock with some little psuedo-cables (no cable needles required).
I'm really proud of this, and it is keeping me pretty well entertained. I'll put how I did it into the notes about this project in Ravelry, eventually. I have the second sock almost to dividing for the heel flap. Also, I love this yarn. It is Dream in Color Smooshy. It is aptly named. It is stretchy and it is smooshy. It seems like it will be super resilliant and durable. I love it.

For those of you not so into the knitting:

Calvin and Riley. Completely exhausted after a day of wrestling and playing and patroling the yard. They're doing pretty much the same thing right now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Greetings from Socialist Hell

I've been crazy busy for the past 2 weeks and sick, so I haven't been able to post. I have plans for another post tomorrow, however, I read something in the Yarn Harlot's recent post about a series of mishaps at an airport that rang really true. (Well a couple of things. I HATE airports. Everything that happened to her could happen to me, except without ending as a funny blog entry. It would end with me curled up in my wee seat weeping.)

As she was in the US and has a Canadian flag somewhere on her luggage (as I think is required of all Canadian citizens outside the country), she was confronted by someone who thinks that this country is a "socialist hell." Here's what someone, I assume in the U.S., had to say about that in the comments:

"Your socialist hell sounds pretty nice to me, living in a pseudo-republic just this side of a theocracy."

As a U.S. citizen in this "socialist hell," I think Melody might have summed it up.

(I swear I'll get to the knitting report by Monday. Unless I drown in papers before then I swear it.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Which I am Not Entirely Alone

After overcoming my loneliness through sheer force of will on Monday, I should never have fretted. Sally came to visit and saved me from boredom. We've been wildly roaming the streets of London. Canadians fear where ever we go.

Okay, so we're not that scary. But one girl did give Sally money as compensation for screaming in her ear. It was ostensibly to buy a shot, but we left the bar and got hot chocolate instead. As we got it a block away from the apartment, we did take them home and... er... amend them with ingredients from my larder, well stocked at the L.C.B.O. store.

Today we toured the Labatt's brewery, which was super fun, and we just did our crazy thing. Like we do everywhere. Sally always has the best ideas. Mostly. Well, maybe some of the time. Sally always has ideas. That sentence is 100% true. The idea to go to the brewery was outstanding. The tour ended with beer, and we had the tour guide who has gotten in trouble for giving out too much. Wow.

It has been outstanding having a real friend here. Someone who values me for more than my extensive knowledge of Charles Ives. She's not quite my dear husband, but she does snore a lot less. Or at least more quietly. Also, it is quite the change to be the interpreter of Canadian culture. Its not like I'm an expert, but I understand (at least a little) the goofy things these weirdos do.

Although, its homecoming at Western, and I have no idea why the drunk guys on the bus tonight were singing like German soccer hooligans. Seriously. Weird drunk freakin' Canucks.

Watch for the upcoming knitting report. Its getting to be perfect weather for handknits.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just When I Was About to Give Up on Canada

So it is not surprise to readers of this blog that I'm struggling a bit getting used to things. Much though I may joke about the milk in bags and meat in grams, I have been feeling a bit down and a bit lonely. I miss my husband and I miss my friends. Moving to a new country is hard, even if that country is, apparently, called the hat of the country you used to live in. (I found out tonight that people in Britain and Europe call Canada the U.S.A's hat-- there is something just great about that.)

To assuage my loneliness and to preempt my tendency to wallow in self pity, I made a new rule for myself starting this week: that every day, I have to spend 1-2 hours outside of the apartment, unrelated to work or school obligations. It can be to go shopping, it can be to knit, it can be to work out, it can be (as I did tonight) to relocate my studying from my sofa to a Coffee Culture. But I have to go out and be open to talking to new people.

So tonight, I was at Coffee Culture, drinking my coffee and reading Kant's The Critic of Judgement, I noticed a guy with a John McCain bobble head. Now I, in my liberal haze, assumed that anyone who would own such a thing would only have it in irony. This is sort of what it looked like, although it was of a younger McCain in a flight suit:
Yeah, pretty silly, right? The dude wasn't being ironic at all-- he loves McCain and he loves Bush. As opposite me politically as a guy can be, but he invited me over to the table where he and a fairly large group of guys were gathering after having a more organized discussion at the library across the street. So there were all sorts-- I was the only American, but not the only liberal. There was an older man who was wearing a button that said "Abolish Personal Property," and a bunch of other men. I met London's town crier, who also maintains a list of over 2000 people that he calls on their birthdays. I'm on his list now.

I got to talk to grown ups about something other than music or music faculty gossip for most of an hour. It was awesome. It was a free exchange of ideas, it was surprisingly like what I used to get out of knitting group. (I'm still trying to find the knitters in London. I've found the one yarn shop I visited dissapointing. Maybe I'll get to the other that's actually in town over the weekend with Sally.) They invited me to join their formal discussion next month (apparently they meet on the last Monday of the month to discuss philosophy and politics and whatever else they find interesting) and then the informal event (like what I crashed tonight) after.

So the act of faith that was leaving the house was rewarded. I'm not saying I have made friends, but I did get to spend the evening with people who saw me. And I feel more like I might belong here, in my own way.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Culture Shock Part II: Obtaining Provisions and Sustinence

So the grocery store is weird. I always find them a little intimidating, but here, it seems particularly so. Things aren't what I expect them to be, and the there is the pesky metric system, and on top of everything is bilingual, and frequently this means one side of the package is in English and the other is in French, so if the box is turned to the French side, I don't always know what it is. 3 semesters of French at MTSU does not make me a competent grocery shopper when accounting for the possibility that a rouge Huguenot might be roaming my local grocery store.

Let's start in the dairy isle. They sell milk in bags here. Yes. In bags. Apparently the idea is that you put it into your own pitcher and recycle the bags. Every Canadian I've spoken to about this thinks it is the most logical thing ever. Every American I've talked to about this with thinks its the weirdest freakin' thing ever.

Also they have homo milk, and by that they mean homogenized milk, not milk for the gays. But Americans giggle, while the Canadians look at us like we're weird.

Secondly, things sold by weight are generally (but not always) sold in 100 gram units. Lets take the example of lunch meat. I know that 1 pound of sliced turkey is about a week of sandwiches for 1 person. This is about, according to my computer's unit converter tool, 450 grams. Since I don't bring my laptop to the grocery, and I have an abysmal memory, I don't always remember this. The particularly odd thing is that at the farmer's market, stuff is sold in pounds. Now I'm even more confused.

Finally, the cereal isle, which I don't always like in the best of US supermarkets, because it can be cognitively overwhelming. There are colors and ads and cartoon characters and whining children and competing health claims. It is sensory overload, pure and simple, something I'm overly prone to at the best of times. My problem with it here, in addition to all of that is that, I don't recognize very many of the cereals. I mean there are the typical kids brands, but I am trying to eat healthfully, and frankly, the only cereal I recognize is the raisin bran. Not that it is unhealthful, but maybe I'd like something different, too.

So I feel as though I have been left in a strange country unsure what I should/could/would like to eat. I'm seriously considering giving up and subsisting on wine, cheese and frozen pizzas.

The good news is that Costco is pretty much the same. My same membership even works. The bad news is that I have 36 rolls of "bath tissue" or "papier hygienique" that I do not know where to put.

And in all seriousness, I like my new home. I love discovering other cultures. But it can be thoroughly exhausting; I'm just glad I get to use my primary language.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Calvin Moves to Canada

So, I'm in trouble. I told Mommy that I would do this over the weekend, but I was at Riley's house, and we were having too much fun for me to post to her blog. She's still been nice enough to put in some pictures and check my spelling.

(He's a smart dog, but the camera requires thumbs)

We live someplace else now. I liked our old house, because it had stairs and sunny spots, and Granny lived nearby, and I knew a bunch of the dogs in the neighborhood, and it was super fun. Now, we have another house, and Daddy isn't here, and that makes me sad. I think it makes Mommy sad too, so I keep looking for him, but I haven't found him yet. I hope he gets here soon.

Just like at our old house, I have my crate, and I sleep there, and that's where I hang out when Mommy goes away. I have my blankie, and it isn't bad, but I'm super happy when she comes home or gets up in the morning. I like my crate, but I like running around and playing better. So when we get up, we go for a walk, and our new neighborhood is pretty neat-- there are lots of squirrels, but I'm not allowed to chase them, and that's no fun. Last weekend, Riley and I caught one, and we were so proud of ourselves that we hid it and tried to play with again later.

When Mommy and I go walk, I get to explore and smell things and claim them as mine. We walk and we go to a big green space where there are people who sometimes pet me and other doggies who I get to meet, although since we are all on leashes, we don't really get to play. I'm hoping that we'll get to go somewhere where I can run around and wrestle with other dogs soon, and Mommy says that might happen this weekend. It is really fun, and if it isn't raining we walk all the way around.
Then, in the mornings, after we get home, we both eat. Mommy puts out my food before we go walking, but I wait, so I can eat at the same time she does. It only seems nice.
It takes her longer than in takes me, which I don't understand, because her bowl is smaller than mine.

Sometimes, after we eat, Mommy has to leave right away, and I go into my crate and she goes away. She doesn't go in the car like she used to, which is weird for me, but I think she likes that.

Sometimes, though, I have a very good day, and we get to sit together in the bed or on the couch for a little while. We do this at night, too, and this is my favorite. I love cuddling. It is super fun. Anytime I think Mommy is extra lonely, I cuddle even closer, since I think it makes her feel better.

Sometimes, we go to visit Riley and his people, and that's fun. They have a big yard, and he's super fun to play with, even though sometimes he tells me what to do.

I'll give the blog back to Mommy for next time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Culture Shock

So I've been in Canada for a few weeks now. I've decided that Canadians are a bit weird. I'm not sure I can explain it any better.

I'm sure a trained professional would call it culture shock and say that I'll move on and adjust to my new culture, but I'm going to go with Canadians are weird. Of course, I walked all over the planet today so I'm thoroughly exhausted, but in this single day, I have seen so many fashion faux pas that I can't even begin to cope with the rest of my day.

I didn't take any photos, because how can you do this without alerting the person that indeed you think they look like a complete fool.

The first thing (and this I've seen on many people, so no one individual is guilty of it) is leggings with a napkin-sized skirt over them. I'm sorry, but this just looks stupid. You might as well put a napkin on. Yikes. I mean, if you are a little kid and want to wear a skirt but also play on the monkey bars, maybe, but if you are a woman over the age of 18 (which I assume the violators I saw today were, as they were University students) don't wear this... if you wouldn't wear the skirt without leggings, don't wear it with them.

The second thing is the increasing prevalence of the leggings with a large top look. Maybe I'm against this because I did it the last time it rolled around, I'm not sure, but it makes you look like an ice cream cone, or an 80s pop star. Neither is aspirational, I assure you.

The final person I saw (and this was one specific person, I don't think this is a universal Canadian fashion-ism) was wearing green leggings and a snug t-shirt representing the band Death Cab for Cutie. No one's butt looks good in leggings. I think maybe she lost a bet with her roommates and was forced to leave the house looking like that.

There are other things that have me in the throes of culture shock. I'll blog about those later. Since I've been somewhat lax about my blogging, I've recruited a guest blogger for later in the week... please be kind, he doesn't spell well.

Anyway, it is time for me to make my dinner and pretend to do homework.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Knitters, knitters everywhere!

This morning on the bus, it was too crowded to sit when I got on, and while I can ride a bus while standing and I can knit a sock while standing, I can't knit a sock while standing on the bus. All of those dire warnings about lost eyes and impalements would be the natural result of me attempting this. I do, however, carry my sock in progress on my bag in a pouch, as such:

because when I do get a seat I can get in about 20 minutes of knitting on the sock between home and work. It keeps me from mercilessly mocking the undergraduates in their $400+ sunglasses.

So after I crowded on the bus, I was standing in front of an older woman who flashed me her sweater and the pattern. She didn't say anything, but she pulled her needles and sweater-in-progress out, a lovely silk (I think, I thought it would be weird to touch it), and then she showed me her pattern. That was it. It was such an interesting knitterly moment. It was lovely.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So I'm Here

So I made it to Canada. I've made it to my apartment (although it is still absolute chaos). Perhaps I have just relocated the chaos, I don't know. I've made it to campus, and it turns out that in a comforting moment of sameness, there are tools and hosers everywhere. The week of orientation for undergraduates is surpisingly consistent-- matching t-shirts, going everywhere in groups and so on.

I have conquered government officials-- at the Social Insurance Office (think social security, kids), Immigration, and Customs. I am also the owner of a shiny new cell phone and today I will get a bank account. Most importantly, I have found a shopping mall and a wal mart.

I have a bus pass and an office. The bus pass is useful. There is a bus stop near my house that is right in front of a Starbucks and then the one I get off at on the way home is in front of a McDonald's, so I think Canada (or at least London Transit) is conspiring to make me fat.

My beloved husband is still in Nashville, so I'm lonely. This weekend, however, I'll alleviate that some by picking up my dog, who has been staying at my dad's house. Pictures soon! (Once I find the darn cable).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crazy days

So wow... the move is imminent. In theory on Sunday, I will have my stuff in my new house. It may be absolute chaos, but I'll have stuff in the new house.

This is the front of my new house... we're renting the back half, but that means we'll be closer to the parking, for the occasions when I drive.

Our entrance looks like this:

I think this will be somewhere where we can be pretty happy for now. It is within walking distance of the Western campus, and it is near a bus stop.

It is also near some parks, which will help me get back into running and make Calvin a very happy dog. I think I've set my sights on an October 5k race, so watch this space, because I may be hitting up my friends and family for donations to a charity.

Today has already been a bit busy-- I had to take the dog to the vet so he could get his doggie passport. Okay, so it isn't a passport, but it is the document that shows that he is healthy enough to be allowed into Canada. He doesn't mind the vet. He likes the car ride, he likes getting to meet the people and other dogs in the office, but once they call us into the back, he realizes that STUFF HE DOESN'T LIKE happens there. The good news is that he's healthy as a horse... or at least a Calvin. On the way home from the vet, we stopped at Starbucks to go through the drive thru, because usually they give him treats, but this time she went above and beyond-- a kiddie sized cup with whipped cream and two dog bones in it... like a little doggie sundae. He loved it. I didn't have my camera with me but I'm not sure it would have been fast enough!

Last weekend I made a crazy road trip to find the above apartment. On Wednesday, I drove from Nashville to Detroit, then on Thursday I went over to London to see places and found the right place, and on Friday, I spent some time with my dad and step-mom (I even helped my step-mom and her friend make pickles. Wow, that's a crazy process), saw some friends, visited my grandpa in the hospital, and drove to Florence, Kentucky, where I spent the night. On Saturday, I drove the rest of the way home.

Some highlights of the trip:

So this is a sign in Kentucky. Its a little hard to see... its there in the background, but its hard to take a photo while driving (the whole pesky eyes on the road thing), but it says "HELL IS REAL." It was right before an exit with an adult bookstore. I've driven past this sign about 100 times, but every time, it and its partners (there are an assortment of similar billboards in this same area of Kentucky on I-65) surprise me. Maybe its just me, but I don't look to billboards for anything much except perhaps the next exit where I can find a big ass drink and a potty. Certainly not salvation. I don't think that is found on a roadside sign.

Another religious oddity. If you look carefully you see the gigantic Jesus rising up out of or sinking into the pond there. This is outside of Cincinnati, OH, and I cannot express how huge it is. The building in the background is a church, but it is the size of a small shopping mall. So, if Jesus is taller than the church, he's huge.

This is the view from the Blue Water Bridge while waiting to pass through customs to Canada. It was pretty but time consuming.

After my adventures in Canada, I stopped before crossing the bridge back to the U.S. in the lovely park on the Canadian side. It was nice just to sit and enjoy a pretty evening for a few minutes. It was completely worth it, and I swear I saw a dude resting in the driver's seat of his van with a cage full of birds in the passenger seat. He was talking to a group of bikers who were also hanging out. Wacky. My camera was pretty close to dead batteries, so I didn't get a photo.

Anyway, I need to pack until my head explodes. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Knitters are Awesome!

I went to my regular Tuesday knitting meet-up, which I thought would be a nice, relaxing break from the hectic-ness of moving. And it was. It was social and fun, and worth the drive.

What I didn't expect were presents. My friends gave me going away presents. I almost cried.

Janet gave me these:

They are outstanding-- warm, soft, and ideal for typing (in cold libraries, for example) and for walking the dog. I'm wearing them now, even though it isn't at all cold. I'm sure my wrists appreciate them, not matter what the temperature.

Paula gave me this:
A lovely case to keep my knitting needles warm in the London, ON winters. The picture doesn't even begin to do it justice. The exterior is lovely, the interior is corduroy, with slots for my needles, and a ribbon closure.

Here's the thing about hand made gifts (not that I have anything against the store bought)-- they represent an investment of time and thought. I don't want to get too sappy or sound too crazy, but these gifts are a small amount of these ladies lives that they gave to me. So, in a way, the photos don't do either of them justice; there is no way that a mere photo could capture that. I will be able to take small bits of my friends with me, even though I'm moving far away. Who knew that these items could warm the heart, too?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Absolutely Awesome Day!

So this weekend is a sales tax holiday in Tennessee, so I decided to stock up on school supplies for the next four years. I bought a case of printer paper, a new planner, pens, highlighters, index cards, a bunch of really cool stuff. I also got to hang out with a friend of mine who has been super busy with her job lately, so, all told it was awesome! It was an eight hour adventure of school supplies, overpriced linens, and fantastic sodas.

First off, we went to Office Depot, where I stocked up on bunches of stuff. Then we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond where I bought these fantastic things. I love them, because I can wear any earrings I want to, even though one of my lobes is stretched out.

Then, we went to T. J. Maxx, where I found this:

It had not price tag. Indeed no tags of any sort. For all I know, some wise soul packed for the day and accidentally left their lunch bag in the accessories section. But I picked it up, and looked for others in the store with tags. I didn't find them. So after looking at everything in the store except for the men's clothes and the kids clothes, we went to pay for what my friend had found that she needed, and I asked a busy looking dude at the customer service desk how much it was. I said "So, how much does this cost, because I could just make up a price, but I'm not sure you'd like that." He said, "well, what price would you make up?" I said "$5.00," to which the guy responded, "how about $4.00?" and printed a price tag. I was so proud of my deal, I promptly put the sack on my head and put the price tag on my shirt. When I got home, I checked it out online, and found the same lunch bag for between $15 and $25!!!! How awesome!

Now I'm home and enjoying my spoils, and a quiet night at home with my husband and my dog, playing WoW and watching TV. I might drink some wine, too.

What a great day!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jess Blogs about Something Serious

On Sunday morning, in Knoxville, TN, a man shot 9 people at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Two of the victims have died. When I heard about this shooting while driving to a friend's house yesterday, they did not mention the name of the church, just that there had been a shooting at a Knoxville church, and one man (at the time) had died. Last night, I got an e-mail from my church, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, letting us know that this had happened, and letting us know what resources are availible to us to deal with this tragedy.

This morning, a friend e-mailed me about this, and send me this news story from the local Nashville paper. The story was followed by discussion of the tragedy and the story itself. In the discussion, several things came up that saddened me greatly.

First off. Let us acknowledge the absolute tragedy of this shooting. The children of the congregation were presenting a play that they had worked very hard to present. Their parents, relatives, and members of the congregation just there to support them because they were members of the same church family, were all there out of love. These 200 people, including the 7 injured and 2 dead, were there only to be together as a church family and support the children and youth. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone injured, those who grieve, and I hope that the members and friends of the Tennessee Valley UU congregation can find peace and healing after this.

There is no reason for this, there is no why.

Despite what people have written on the internet, this is not the fault of Barak Obama or Ann Coulter. This is, like all of these mass shooting events, the product of a deranged mind that sought someone to blame for his problems, and felt that the solution to that problem could be obtained through violence.

I would, however, defend the TVUU congregation, and other UU churches as churches. They are places where people come together to worship and share fellowship together. We come together to celebrate our victories and mourn our losses. I'm not sure how that isn't a church. I don't think a shared creed is necessary to define a church. I think a church is like a family, and is defined by those who choose to participate in it. As Unitarian Universalists, we define our church family by the deeds we share, and our common principles. We elect inclusion, which is an incredibly high standard; our very principles tell us we must respect "the inherent worth and dignity" of even those who would call us names or harm us. At a time like this, when we might want to seek revenge, our principles call on us to seek justice and compassion. Religious liberalism is not easy; without the guidance of a creed or a single text, I personally find myself having to think about moral issues much more deeply and considering them in a different way, since it is up to my own moral sense.

May we all find peace and comfort.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm it....

So I was recently tagged by my friend, Sally, to do this, so here goes.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? July 11, 1998. I was working in a mall in suburban Detroit, selling furniture to spoiled rich people, mostly, waiting for summer to be over to go back to school. The upside was that I did get to meet a few of the Detroit Red Wings and their wives, and my favorite local TV reporter. I worked for Restoration Hardware, and I still love their stuff, even though I kind of hated working there.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? Empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, my knee exersizes, 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, and walk the silly dog.

3. Snacks I enjoy: I love cake. I can't get enough of the chocolate iced chocolate cake they have at Publix. I'm also a big fan of chips and salsa.

4. Things I would do if I was a Billionare: Find all of my old bosses and tell them what I really think. No, seriously, I think I would pay off my house, travel more, donate to charities more generously, get a motorcycle.

5. Places I have lived:
Sterling Heights, MI
Troy, MI
Interlochen, MI
(Yes, I went to boarding school. It was my idea, I wasn't sent there because I was "bad," I loved it. And it was way crappier when I was there)
Nashville, TN
Cheatham County, TN (outside of Kingston Springs)
Salzburg, Austria (I stayed and studied here. It was lovely, but weird. Perhaps I'll blog about that some other time.)
And (coming soon...) London, Ontario, Canada

I'm actually not going to tag another bloggers, but some of my favorite blogs are, of course, Sally's, the Yarn Harlot, The Penguin Chronicles, Baby Steps, and The Panopticon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So I have a new friend. She has purple hair, big ears at is about 7' tall. For a while, she carried around something called "the spiked club of the gorilla." My other new friend is an average height human female who runs around the countryside killing critters and beasts and other bad guys.

In case I have you thoroughly confused, I am talking about my new hobby, playing the game World of Warcraft. I currently have two characters, a Night Elf Druid and a Human Mage.

If that's geek to you, don't worry... this isn't going to be a super geeky blog. I promise. I'll keep the Warcraft talk to a minimum (like the running talk) and only to do it when it is interesting to people who weren't up until midnight last night running through Azeroth. (I blame that on my husband. Hoser.)

Since I have yet to figure certain things about the game out, I can't really provide screenshots, but I'll include some pics others have gotten from the game that I found online.

Night Elf Druids look a little like this:

Although mine has purple hair and wears more clothes. Not that's she's a prude, she just has different gear at the moment.

Generally Druids can heal, fight, and turn into kitty cats and bears to fight or run. Fun, right?

(Okay, maybe not, but it keeps me busy... look some people have drugs and gambling, I have WoW and fiber, cut me some slack.)

Here's what a Human Mage looks like.

Mine is currently dressed a bit more lady like, but again, just a matter of gear.

Mages can cast spells. No strategy, just zap, zap, zap.

So why do I bring this to my blog? Simple. I have found some ways I wish the real world was more like the World of Warcraft:

1.) Mages have a spell called "Sheep" (or Polymorph, but I'm going to say sheep). It works like this: if something is attacking you and you don't want to deal with it right now (i.e. you are being attacked by something else or you know its going to kick your booty and you want to run like heck), you cast this spell at it, and it turns your opponent into (you guessed it) a sheep. Now I love this spell for several reasons, but #1 I love wool, so I have a certain (theoretical) fondness for sheep and #2 what a fantastic thing to do to someone annoying you to tears. You need to shut someone up who keeps talking and won't leave you alone? SHEEP! You can't deal for another moment at a family gathering? SHEEP!

2.) There is a function, if you don't want friends or strangers to talk to you, called /dnd. It flags you as Do Not Disturb, and even, over your head (if the other player is setup this way), shows that you want to be left the heck alone. How great would that be on a bad day... a message to the whole world that says "don't f*** with me."

3.) The ability to run across continents, survive without food, and whisper to people in other dimensions.

4.) When you get injured, cursed or poisoned, it will display how long you have until you are recovered. Got a torn hamstring? 15 seconds. Spider bite? 5 seconds. I have torn meniscus right now, and my life would be easier if I could look it up and know I'd be back to normal in 6 days or 3 weeks or whatever.

5.) The ability to pack up my toys and go home if things aren't going well. While there are protocols for playing in a group, assuming you want to be invited back, much of the time in the game you are playing by yourself. If it starts to be too hard, too late, too unproductive, or too stupid, then you can find a place where your character is resting, log off and do something else for a while. Eventually you persevere and finish the thing (usually), but if you don't wanna you don't haveta. Ever! Wow... if I have a difficult client, I can't just pack up and leave. I have to go on. Sometimes there is something to be said for giving up.

I'll have more of these in the coming days and weeks, but that's a start.

Happy Canada Day! If you aren't a Yarn Harlot Fan, you should be, and her entry today was super! Makes me want to move to Canada even more.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wow, this is hard!

So on Monday, my husband and I journeyed to the Canadian consulate in downtown Detroit supposedly to apply for our visas. After an ordeal getting to the consulate, then waiting in a line, we finally got to the upstairs section of the consulate, where we were told that that we should just wait and apply when we cross the border. At least I know our paperwork is in order, but I still feel as though I wasted the morning running around downtown Detriot, when I could have been asleep.

Over the past couple of days, I went to London to look for housing, and I think I found a house that will be perfect at a good price. It actually has 3 bedrooms (one is super small), and hardwoods throughout. The larger bedroom will actually fit our king sized bed.
So... now the task of figuring out how to do first and last month's rent from a U.S. bank account into Canadian funds so I can not loose the place.

I have just realized how soon it will be August, and how soon it is that I'll be moving, and I'm starting to freak out. But what can I do?

Knit to stay calm. I'm going to go through a bunch of sock yarn. I'm going to start on some socks with this stuff as soon as I get home.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

UPS Sucks!

So I've had two packages delivered this week by; they kindly split my order into two shipments, so I could get the pieces sooner without charging additional shipping. Both times, the idiot who delivers UPS to my neighborhood left the package outside my garage, which put them where I could have run them over with the car backing out of the garage and when I got home today, I had to get out of my car and retrieve the package before I pulled into the garage. Furthermore, it put the package about 2 feet away from the street and in full public view-- where it could have been run over by one of my neighbors or stolen. Now FedEx, DHL, and the United States Postal Service all manage to find my house and to find their way through the gate to the back door. UPS, on the other hand, has left packages at my neighbor's house on any number of occasions and now have pulled this crap.

When the first package was left outside of my garage on Tuesday, I called the 800 number. The lady on Tuesday was very nice, and then someone from our local center called me and said that it was a substitute driver and that this would never happen again, and that he would make a note in my file that packages were to be delivered to the back door and not left outside the garage. So I was enraged when I got home today and found the box outside the freakin' garage again. I called and got a guy who assured me that this time it would make a difference. So now in the next 45 minutes or so, I'm supposed to get a call back from the supervisor at my local center, who I am sure is the tool I talked to last time who will say the same thing he said last time.

What do you want to bet that this isn't the last time that this happens? Because I'm not hopeful.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Am I a Bad Person?

Every morning, Calvin (the dog) and I go out for a walk so he can empty his bladder somewhere other than in the house. We walk the same route, and I throw away his poop at the same poop station every day. And many mornings, we both nearly get hit because some tool is going down the road, with a clearly posted limit of 30mph at around 50.

So this morning, the police were out doing a speed trap in the neighborhood, and as we walked by, there was someone pulled over looking very put out by the fact that she was getting a ticket. It made me happy.

Does that make me a bad person?

I don't think so.

Canada update: we leave in a week for Michigan to go to a wedding, then the following Monday, we're going to downtown Detroit so we can go to the consulate and apply for our temporary resident permits and probably have lunch in Greektown.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How Stupid Are We?

So... this isn't related to anything I said I'd blog about, but I do have a short rant.

I just got home from the grocery store. And there with the booklets and magazines by the check out (you know, the Enquirer and the Star and 10 Easy Slow Cooker Meals, was a book called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Prayer.

Now I'm not the most religious person in the world, but here's the thing: most religious traditions make prayer pretty easy-- you say "hey, God...." and say what you think He (or She or It) needs to know about your life. And in those that make it more complicated... well, you're not going to get what you need to know from a Complete Idiot's Guide. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meditation, I could get behind, but the scope of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Prayer just seems a bit broad. Furthermore, if I did think it was a good idea, I'm not sure it is a great thing to be marketing at Publix. Its not like getting more in touch with God (or the gods, or the Great Whomever) occurs to one in the same way that needing a pack of gum does.

Please understand that I'm not against prayer. I like it. I support people who do it. I'm just saying that the grocery store isn't, maybe, the place to learn it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The adventure begins!

So I'm starting a blog. Yep, yet another trend I said I'd never do, but here I am.

So here's my story... I'm moving to Canada in August to go to school. My dear husband will eventually follow, sooner rather than later, if I have anything to say about it. I like Canada, and London Ontario is really pretty. But I wanted to document the the process, and especially once I'm there and trying to settle in and whatnot, I want to be able to share it with my friends and family.

So thus, my blog is born.

The plan (as of now) is to apply for our temporary resident permits in Detroit around 9 June (we'll be there anyway for a wedding the weekend before), and then I'll go up to London to see if I can find us a place to live. Hopefully, shortly before then, I'll be able to get our current home on the market, but it seems as though the time keeps slipping away! Then in August, I move, and in September, I start school. I'm excited, and a bit terrified.

This blog will not just be about moving... I'm too scatterbrained for that. I'll also include my dog:
Here he is at Easter. He was not happy about the ears. I thought they were cute. He thought they were stupid.

He's going to Canada, too. I've explained it to him, but I don't think he really gets it.

I'll probably write about knitting:

(A pair of arm warmers I finished recently. I can't get both of them on and in the same picture. And this pic doesn't show off the detail. But trust me, they're fab.)

I might write about running, but not too much, because I know that one can only talk with other runners about running for about 30 minutes before it gets old, and non-runners have a lower tolerance than runners do.

So there it is.

In the words of Tim Gunn, then, "carry on."