Monthly Archives: May 2009

Camping!

M and I went camping this weekend.  Both of us would probably be called experienced campers.  I can’t think of a single year I haven’t been for a least a weekend and he’s quite familiar with the concept of putting up a tent and huddling around a campfire as well.  But I had never gone on my own, without my mom making sure we had everything packed away in the camper.  It’s one of those things I talk about every year with various groups of friends, but it never ends up happening.  So, it was the first camping trip I can actually call my camping trip and not a family camping trip.

It didn’t start off completely smoothly.  I slipped out of work half an hour early, but we lost that extra time when M realized he had forgotten to pack pots and pans, somewhat crucial equipment to go with the camp stove my parents graciously lent me.  (Actually, I must acknowledge… almost all the equipment came from my parents.) We made a detour to grab some from my house, but later found out we’d forgotten a few other things: dishclothes (we used a sock), roasting sticks (we found some).

The campground was pretty empty this weekend.  M and I picked the perfect weekend to go, before families flock out to cottage country even though they don’t have a cottage, but late enough that the weather was still good. We had one set of neighbours, a group of people around our age who provided us with some good stories (enough that they might warrant their own blog post…), but other than that, we were surrounded by empty sites.

We had blue sky and warm sun almost the whole weekend. It thunderstormed Saturday evening.  We were playing Speed when the sky darkened, so we stopped and moved everything that needed to be sheltered into the tent or the truck. When the rain started, we scooted into the tent and watched from inside.  It got pretty intense a couple times, including thunder, lightning and hail.

When the weather was good, we checked out the beach. The park doesn’t have a great one… it’s all dunes, and the provincial park is trying to protect the ecosystem, so the beaches are narrow and not groomed. That didn’t really matter to us though since we weren’t planning on swimming or lounging or anything.

We took one of the trails Saturday morning before the rain. It was gorgeously sunny and almost too hot at that point and the walk was beautiful.  It was slightly marred by the fact that the place was littered with poison ivy and I got paranoid.  M just shrugged it off and walked, in his sandals, without a care.  I grabbed a bucket of soapy water as soon as we got back to the campsite and scrubbed down my shoes and pant legs. M humoured me when I went after his feet.  I completely acknowledge my paranoia and so far, we’ve both been fine.  No unpleasant rashes.

I have a few other things I want to talk about, but I think they need their own post. It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend, and it was nice to spend some time away from town, with M. Unfortunately, he came back to an assignment he needs to finish for tomorrow.

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If only…

Erin Dress-A-Day posted the most beautiful pattern for a wedding dress today. She claims it is not a dress for a 20-something bride, but I have to disagree.  At some point in the next 8 years, I hope to be a 20-something bride and I would wear that dress in a heartbeat. With a few modern updates, perhaps.  Or not.

Currently, there is no plan for the occasion that would warrant such a dress.  Nor do I have $150 to spend on a pattern that doesn’t include the materials and labour. Nor the talent to provide said labour.  Nor… you get the picture.

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Biking as transportion

I dislike biking.  It’s not my favourite form of exercise, and since I moved into town and no longer have long, shaded, and quiet country roads to bike on, I don’t find it an enjoyable past-time either. This hasn’t always been true.  As a child, I loved summer days and long bike rides.

A lot has changed from those days though, naturally. The setting obviously.  I live in a small city, and country roads are not that far away. But still, the suburban roads and dangerous, narrow streets that surround me do not exactly encourage a cycling joyride. And, when your day starts at 8:30, and you have half an hour to get to work, the joy of a morning bike ride seems to completely evaporate at the foot of the first hill. I believe it is in this change of biking for pleasure to biking for transportation that my loathing lies.

My brother and sister both moved to this city for university as well. When they started, they had fewer luxuries than I do now.  Since their graduation, the university has given all students a bus pass, the (discounted) price hidden in our tuition fees. I have also had a car for three out of the four currently completed years of my university career. While they had this luxury as well, I use my (parents’) little red Ford Focus far more often than they used their little silver Ford Focus (which their little sister crashed two years ago).

They biked.  They loved to bike. Every day, to and from school, to and from the grocery store, to and from church, to and from everywhere.

When my sister left for university, her big present to herself was a reasonably expensive bike. Now, she and her husband don’t, and potentially never will, own a car. My brother biked from Ontario to BC just for fun the summer after he graduated from university. Even my parents love to bike. They each bought good road bikes, joined biking groups, and do charity rides in the summer.

And then there’s me.  I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. I avoid mental math at all costs, I own 20 pairs of impractical shoes, and could be considered rather flighty and romantic in comparison. It’s OK. I’ve come to terms with it.

I bought a bike two summers ago on my summer school term. I was still being influenced by my siblings then, still in the mindset that the car is only to go home and to get a big box of kitty litter from the grocery store once a term.

And then, the school gave me a bus pass.

In the first couple years of university, I remember biking through slush and snow, completely loyal to that mode of transportation even as winter crept in.  But as soon as I didn’t have to pay for something that was far easier on my fattening heart, I stuck my bike in my garage and didn’t take it out until this weekend, when the weather was nice and, in searching for something to do outside with my boyfriend, a bike ride was suggested.

It was hard. I run regularly, so I’m only slightly out of shape. I wouldn’t say I exactly enjoyed it. I’ll admit, it was his suggestion to make it a regular thing. (I’ve been complaining about the food he and his roommates eat during their school terms.  It’s too good and too difficult to portion control! I need to stop eating there…)

So, at his suggestion, I’m trying something new.  This morning, I packed a backpack instead of my “Hug a tree” bag. I left my car parked in my driveway and pulled my bike out.  I can’t say I enjoyed the feeling of arriving to work out of breath and somewhat sweaty, but it’s a start.  I need to change my view of biking from being purely transportation, to being regular exercise, a full hour a day. I like exercise.

Maybe that can even help regain some of the value I saw in it when I was a kid.

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Crucial skills: the granny square

I love to crochet.  My mom, as far as I can tell, was primarily a knitter.  She’s made me upwards of five sweaters throughout my lifetime, not counting baby clothes, and who knows how many for my two siblings and dad combined, not to mention herself. Of the afghans I can think of in my parents’ afghan chest, the majority are either quilted or knitted.  There’s maybe one that was crocheted.

But somehow, despite the influence of my mother’s craftiness, I rejected knitting after a (mostly) failed attempt at a shrug in first year.  It was boring and I had issues with the counting. (I’m an English major for a reason…) I’d lose track of how many rows I had decreased by and found it difficult to identify individual stitches and rows enough to count backwards.

I love the feeling of yarn passing through my fingers though.  Maybe it’s because my baby blanket, tattered and fraying by the time my parents took it away from me when I was seven, was a knitted blanket. There’s something comforting about it.

The first time I ever crocheted was, I think, while I was a member of a girls club at my church called GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting the Saviour). One of the main activities in this girls club is the completion of various badges. (My original goal was to complete all 150 or so.  I managed around 34, and was one of the top badge achievers in my year.)

My mom was my counsellor. In a couple of the evening meetings, she taught a group of five or six 10 year olds to crochet granny squares.  I don’t know how she did it.  I tried teaching a friend once and failed miserably. Anyway, she bought a selection of crochet hooks, sparkling and bright colours.  I believe I picked metallic blue.  And, using her own leftover scraps, we each picked two colours and began the laborious task of learning chain stitches and double crochets, the pattern of threes and the switching colours.  The first ones weren’t perfect.  I remember unravelling whole sections just to add three more simple stitches. It wasn’t easy, and it often wasn’t pretty.

I think I made 10 granny squares that year.  My mom had a lot of scraps and each one made a completely different, often clashing square.

And then, they sat in the crafting cupboard as I dragged myself through high school and broke through into university.  And then, something made me finish the afghan. Perhaps it was the cold, somewhat hostile dorm room, perhaps a subconcious home-sickness.

I made 10 or so more squares, crocheted white yarn in between the squares and finally ended up with this:

Hpim1427

I wouldn’t exactly call it pretty,  It’s not even finished: I never did get a chance to work in the ends. But it reminds me of me, 10 years ago.  (And here comes a sappy metaphor…) This blanket has grown with me, from a wonky start, to a small, semi-finished work, not useful for much at this point, except curling up in on camping trips, when my other, prettier afghans are safe and clean at home. And maybe someday I’ll finish it.  Or, maybe I won’t, as a reminder that I’m never really going to be finished myself.

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The maiden voyage of the ASICS

I took my new ASICS for a run last night. It was a tough run for a couple reasons:

1. I started off way too excited about my new shoes, so when I left my house to jog to my boyfriends house to collect him, I took the 0.5km way to fast and arrived winded and already tired. Got to rest some while he finished his supper, but still.

2. We started with the huge hill.  I barely made it up.  I can usually make it up with only some difficulty, but this time, it nearly defeated me.

3. My neighbourhood is extremely hilly.  That, and it all looks the same, so you come around a curve and you think you’re going to hit a landmark, but all you see is another curve and your landmark is probably two or three curves away. It’s hard, thinking you’re almost at the end all the time when you really aren’t.

4. (Whine warning) I’m siiiiick.  Okay, today I’m feeling whiny about it.  Yesterday I was doing OK. I believe I have strep throat, but I haven’t had it diagnosed properly by a proper doctor or anything. But, it’s been causing me pain for the past 9 days now and there is a white spot right at the back of my throat, glistening in a way that only bacteria can glisten. It’s obviously not extremely sever. I can still eat and talking isnt difficult, though every time I swallow I have to think about it a little and it huuurts. I thought it was pretty much gone yesterday, but it ended up slowing my down quite a bit on the run. And I guess I weakened my immune system just enough to let the disease make some gains again overnight.

Anyway, enough about my whining about my lack of physical fitness.  The shoes!

Were comfortable. Almost extremely so except that I tied one of them way too tight and so my toes went numb. And, while running with my old pair of shoes, I injured my feet slightly, so my arches hurt. I could still feel it last night in the new shoes, but I suspect that’s just something I have to allow to heal. Today, my feet are blister free and happy. As much as feet can be happy…

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New shoes and a new obligation

My mom came to town last night to take me shoe shopping. Normally, I would never go shoe shopping with my mother. I have somewhere over 20 pairs of shoes, mostly impractical, scuffed, second hand, and painful. Of course, she doesn’t understand the desire to have as many shoes as absolutely possible and, as mothers are, is really good at saying, “Are you sure you really need those?”

But, this is a special occasion, of sorts. And there was no way I was going to buy this pair of shoes without her help.

These are the shoes we bought:

They’re ASICS Gel-Kayano, and they were, unfortunately, the second most expensive pair in the store.

This is the story. I’m not really into sports much. I’m not good at them. When I played baseball as a 7 year old, my coach put me way out in the field where 7 year olds can’t hit the ball to. When I played soccer, I was left-outside.  In the last year I played (grade 8), I was the only person on my team to not score a goal. Besides that, I could never understand the team comraderie. I didn’t like the girls who were good at sports and they didn’t like me. And the boys… mostly just scared me.

So, come high school, I did all the artsy stuff instead. I was in band (oboe), the creative writing club (NOT fan-fiction), Faith Alive (until our teacher supervisor moved to a different school and the club died an agonizing death), and choir. I took English, music, art and history and dreaded the required grade 9 gym class.  For a while, it was fun.  And then I got sick of it all.

By grade 12, I wanted something new.  Of course, at that point, find a place on the soccer team or trying my hand at volleyball were laughable ideas.  Instead, I discovered the cross country club. I ran one race that year, came in second last with a time of 33 minutes for 5km, and was so proud of myself and excited about it that I joined the track team later that year. By that point, my motivation had dried up and stayed dried up until the winter of 2009, this year.

To give myself some credit, there has never been a year between now and then when I didn’t spend at least one week or two a couple times a year running steadily.  But my desire to run peaks pretty quickly and fades pretty quickly.

In January, for some odd reason, I decided to go for a run.  If I lived in California, it probably wouldn’t be so weird. I don’t.  I live in Canada. But, in January, I decided to go for a run and four months later, I’m still running regularly.  Granted, last week was a failure because I got sick and three weeks before that was not entirely successful either. I didn’t say running regularly meant running every day, or even every week.  But it’s still regularly.

And so, we come to real reason I bought the shoes.

My mom wants to run a half-marathon. (She did one last year.  She’s almost 49.  She is beyond amazing, if you ask me.)

With me.

Surprisingly, this thought doesn’t scare me too much, though I suspect that really, it should scare me a lot.  The half-marathon we’re going to do is at the end of September.  That’s not very much time to train. And until yesterday, I had shoes that squashed my arches flat or gave me a regular blister along the side of my foot.

Hopefully, these ASICS will provide new motivation.

If they don’t, I’m sure the fact that my mother put down the plastic for them will. Now, I have to run the half-marathon with her. I have been bought!

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Sisters and Cinnamon

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been a major copy cat of my older sister. I loved it when she did a purge of her closet and I got first pick.  When I was 7, I wanted glasses, just so I could take them off and clean them on my shirt like she did. (After I got glasses, this desire quickly wore off.) My computer use from the time I was 12 was almost exclusively limited to the same things she did, then 17. I started blogging in part because she did.

These earrings are a result of my copy catting. For years, my sister has made beautiful things out of wire and beads.  I didn’t really try it out with any confidence that I could do it until a few years ago, the winter semester of 2007, to be exact.  I was on co-op at the time, living in a horrible basement apartment with a girl I couldn’t stand in a city I couldn’t warm up to.  I think the fiddly bits of this pair and the other I made that semester kept me sane.

I haven’t made any of these in a long time, and for the most part, the ones I made have been lost or broken.  Part of that is because I just don’t wear jewelry often, so I can’t justify spending an hour per earring on a pretty bauble that’s just going to cause clutter, hanging from lamp shades and tangled in my rarely opened jewelry box.

To a large extent, I’ve grown out of my copy catting too.  When I picked my university program, I picked something that was the polar opposite from what she was doing (her Math to my English). Since she’s been in a different province, our choices are taking us down very different paths.  She’s turning almost hippy; me, less so (I hate biking, and I like my car, especially on rainy days like today).  We’re becoming very different people.

I think we would both agree that’s a good thing.

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An introduction

I’ve been blogging for the past four or five years now.  My last blog was full of very personal information, splashed carelessly across the Internet.

No one cares that much about my life; I know that.

So this is a new endeavour.  Largely still personal, but focused.  I have far too many hobbies.  The goal here is to document some of them.  These days it’s cross stitch.  Other days it’s crocheting, writing, painting, or card making.

Some days, it’s nothing but snuggling with my kitty and spending time with the boyfriend and his housemates.

I can’t guarantee that personal drivel won’t end up here.  But that’s not the goal, and with any luck, the intention of this blog will be enough to keep it focused.

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