Wanted: Christmas in July

Amazing! With only nine days left in the month, what did I spot yesterday in the street but this joyous scene?!?

All right, all right, I’m lying to you – again. This photo was actually on the Globe and Mail website yesterday. This was the caption:

Santas gather to make their way in a parade through Copenhagen on Tuesday during their annual three-day congress. Now in its 51st year, the World Santa Claus Congress brings together 136 red-clad delegates, mostly from Scandinavia but also as far away as Russia, Japan and the United States.

Now, there’s a new one for me – a Santa Conference. How come I don’t get to go to fun conferences like that? The last one I got to attend was called, I believe: Feudalism in the Modern Age – How to Deal with Ontario’s Many, Many Landlords – or something along those lines. Not a red suit to be seen or “ho ho ho” to be heard. Sigh.

Oh – a little Christmas in July tip, while I think of it? Do yourself a favour and read The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. It’s his account of working as an elf in Macy’s department store in their Santaland one year. Hilarious. If you’re a podcast type, you can also listen to him read it here.


Another example of the Christmas in July spirit in Europe – they’re giving away Vauxhall cars at the Tower Bridge in London!!!

Um… not really. Actually, this appears to be a publicity stunt for yet another new model of car. But my explanation of the photo is far nicer, no?

Personally, though, I think that this is a far nicer shot of the Tower Bridge, with a very rare sighting of one of Canada’s most esteemed intellectuals and artisans.

(In seeing this photo again, I hasten to say that I am not one of those pretentious wankers who insists on wearing shades all the time, even in winter. Instead, I have those eyeglasses which get dark in the sunshine. This was a bad move on my part in retrospect as I can no longer pretend I’m in the washroom 10 minutes every 45 minutes hour and a half when I’ve actually snuck – sneaked? – outside for a smoke. Sigh.)

But not everywhere in the world is lucky enough to have me and my benevolent presence strolling around, sadly. One place that could really use some benevolence right around now, not to mention a few Santas – Zimbabwe.

Apparently they just issued new money over there because their currency is completely in the toilet. This means that one egg costs $35billion Zimbabwean. This $100billion note is not enough to pay for the three eggs depicted in the photograph.

My math is horrendous – but this must mean the new Vauxhall car would cost… er… something like $200billiontrilliongazillionandquadrillion in Zimbabwe. Sigh.

Considering this, we really don’t have it all that bad over here. However, one thing I’ve noted – the cost of gas has risen well more than a quarter since the real Christmas month in 2007. Witness this photo I took in mid-December:

The blur is due to me shaking with rage because the price of gas refused to go under $1 (CDN) per litre.

And today? That same litre costs between 126.9 cents and 134.7 cents per litre, depending upon what part of the city you’re in (I like the way they still use “cents” to make you think it’s not all that expensive. Well, that little trick, I’m here to tell you Big Bad Gas Companies, doesnae work.) Apparently in some parts of the country it is nearing $1.50 and a couple of weeks here in good old TO it was $1.38.

In other words, not billions – but I find it very difficult to understand how the prices have gone up more than a third in the past seven months, really.

It’s enough to make me want to rush back to London. Forget Tower Bridge (although I can think of a few dozen top-level people who should perhaps be taken across it in legchains and left in the old prison there!). I’ll be looking for this place:

Will I find some answers there? Will I, hell. But I’ll be able to work up some guid big old rants, I should think.

Happy Wednesday and may Santa be kind to you all.

all the world’s a stage…

At the ripe old age of almost38, I had thought I’d pretty much figured out every way that people can be convinced to part with their money for no real reason.  Was I ever wrong…

You see, of late I’ve seen all these ads on TV for some four month course on something called “staging” – you know, “you too can become a home stager and command big bucks.  Call within the next 15 minutes and receive a free coffee at the school canteen…”

Now, I don’t tend to pay too much attention to television, so I simply thought that this was some new fancy new name for “interior designers”.

And this is the case, in a way.  Only you don’t hire stagers until you actually want to sell your house – then you pay them thousands of dollars to redecorate.

I only finally clued into this because my good friend B. is in the process of selling her condominium so that she can move to another city (also, ironically enough, called B.  Sigh.) and her realtor is apparently putting huge pressure on her to bring in one of these “stagers” and throw away spend even more cash.

Personally, I consider this notion to be completely preposterous.  So, I did a bit of research and came up with some info from the place who has been running the television ads for the educational programme:

Home staging is the design process of de-personalizing a private residence prior to putting it up for sale in the real estate marketplace. This is often achieved by re-arranging, de-cluttering and improving on certain items.

The goal of staging a home is to help it sell quickly and for the most amount of money by appealing to the largest amount of prospective buyers. Staging focuses on improving a home’s potential by transforming it into a ‘neutral’ property because the way we live in our home is completely different than the way we should sell our home. Staging creates a living space buyers can “see” themselves in, similar to how model home displays are presented.

Staging also helps create an environment that will lead a buyer’s eye to the home’s attractive features, while minimizing its flaws.

Uh-huh.  And here all these years they’ve been telling you things like “Just boil some apples and cinnamon on your stove before you show your house and it will be sold in no time.”  Were they lying all this time?!?!

But this TV ad says that if you take the course you can get guaranteed employment starting at $31.25 an hour or some such thing.  Not too shabby – I think that’s more than I make, actually.

So, perhaps I should take this all a bit more seriously.  Here’s some information about the course, if you’re interested.  Hmm… $1,000 for a bunch of textbooks, some correspondence learning, a tape measure and a colour wheel!!!  And I thought they soaked us at law school!

I mean, do people have no imagination whatsoever?!  I mean, if I were buying a house, I’d end up decorating it in my own inimitable fashion anyway…

And why the hell should I depersonalise a house I’m trying to sell while I’m still living there, anyway?! I quite happen to like the personality of my place!!

Talk about your false economies.  I spend $5,000 or $6,000 getting someone to paint a house that I’m leaving anyway, so that I can maybe get an extra $1,000 over that tacked on to the selling price – a percentage of which, by the way will go in commissions to the realtor, the lawyer and (doubtless) the stager.  So, at the end of the day I will be $500.00 or so ahead – and will have been stressed out because people were in painting my place, moving my furniture, etc.  Does this really make any sense?!

I must confess, having said that, that I have been known to “stage” an apartment myself – for quite different reasons.  The landlord had put the property up for sale approximately one day after I moved in and I did not wish to have to move three months later.  So, whenever the realtor came by to show the place, I made sure it was an absolute disgusting mess (this, I must admit, wasn’t really a huge challenge).  I also painted the walls in extremely gaudy colours which I happened to like but which proved anathema to prospective buyers.

Hmm… so, maybe there is something to this “staging thing” after all.  Maybe it’s time to pack in the law thing and start a rewarding and exciting new career?!

Then again, that’s how I always feel on Monday mornings.  Sigh.

Have a guid one!

preserving my (in)sanity

Well, an update in the weather that I know you’ve all been waiting with virtually bated breath to hear…

(By the way, what is “bated breath”, exactly?  I think I smelled some on the tram today… does “bated breath” mean that something crawled into your windpipe and died and is now being exhaled as you snort and cough all over the pole that I’m hanging on to?!?)

Yesterday was so hot that the charcoal in our new easy light charcoal BBQ (prohibited, by the way, by virtue of my tenancy agreement.  Oh well.) ignited by itself!!!!

JJ: Stop exaggeratin’, lassie!!! Don’t ye think these blog readers already know yer a wee bampot?!?

Yeah, ok, ok… I lied to you.  Actually, those are the remains of the big souvlaki feast we enjoyed last evening…courtesy of Loblaws who had a big sale on these premade things when I popped in Wednesday evening (not as guid as mom and dad’s, but for $1 a stick and no work on my part, they did just fine):

What they did not have at $#&*($&*@#($#@* Loblaws, however – and what I had popped in especially to get – was any local produce.

And herein starteth the rant.  American friends, believe me, I have nothing against your fair country – nor against Peru, nor against South Africa.  However, one might just expect that in Ontario in mid-July one could go to the grocery store and buy… let’s say, local strawberries.  But no.  The closest to “local” I could find there was New Jersey (for those as geographically challenged as I, some 500 clicks/335 miles from here at closest.  This means at least five hours bumping around in some truck just to get here to Toronto, never mind to my local Loblaws from wherever they keep their secret huge warehouse!!!).

Sheesh!!

So, I had to limit my purchases to souvlaki, smoked sausage, four litres of vinegar and sugar.  And no, this is not the fixins for some esoteric greco/scottish summer stew.  Rather, I needed the vinegar for… you guessed it!… more preserves.  And then I hit Bari fruit market for some decent local stuff.

Wednesday’s obsession product was infused vinegars.  From the left: strawberry and vanilla bean, blueberry and lime, ginger and chilli, and Europe’s Best Zen Garden frozen veg mix (I boiled too much vinegar and sugar.  What can I say?)

There are also various other permutations and combinations on the above.  And, if I actually liked salad, I might have been able to tell you some day how they all worked out.  But I don’t like salad.  So, I will have to rely on JJ and other friends to let me know how these all taste – on salad, anyway.  I have been known to dip bread (which I do like, in quantity) in vinegar – yes, yes, I am a wee bampot, I know.

Why all this zeal, especially when it’s not all that prudent to keep a big pot of water boiling for three hours, making it 500 million C with the humidex in my apartment?  Well, I read this article in the Globe and Mail on Wednesday at lunch, which will give you some ideas for fancy flavoured vinegars if you’re so inclined.

I also bought two kilos of “last day special” plum tomatoes at Bari, which I also canned after boiling them in some V-8 juice.

Then, just when I thought I’d had enough, JJ made the mistake of mentioning that he was glad I’d brought in more strawberries, because the ones we’d bought at the weekend had gone somewhat dry…

So, six more 500ml jars of vinegar – three strawberry/mint (at left) and three balsamic/strawberry (at right).

What’s that you say, JJ?  I should learn to like salad, should I?

But why, when there are chips to eat and bread to dip in oil and vinegar??? Huh? Huh?

Oh, and by the way, the sour cherry jam has been a big hit so far with the man of the house:

Wishing you all a lovely Friday and a happy weekend.  Tonight we will be heading out to meet some landlord rep friends (eeek!!!) at an indian restaurant, followed by a pub crawl.

And what does the weekend hold?  I’ll be seeking out some more sour cherries, I suspect…

Wanted: rock stars, alive or dead.

Ever want to be a rock star??

Ever want to get out of a speeding ticket??

If so, the two are not as incompatible as you might think. Just ask this guy:

That would be the guy on the right, who managed to get out (temporarily, at least) of a speeding ticket in southwestern Ontario by telling the cop who pulled him over that he was actually the guy on the left – David Lee Roth of Van Halen!!

Don’t believe me? Well, I believe everything I read in the newspapers, myself.

Now, I don’t know if I’m missing something or not – but if I were to pretend to be a rock star, David Lee Roth would be about the last one on my personal list.  In fact, I had thought he disappeared sometime in the mid-80s.  Silly little me.

(Now, I know I have at least one or two male visitors to this site… feel free, boys, to leave a comment telling me if David Lee Roth is “the man” or not, eh?)

However, why not pretend to be an old has-been rock star, when dead rock stars get energy drinks named after them?!

I kid you not. I saw some at the Fresh & Wild(ly Expensive) shop – where else?!? – first thing this morning.

I mean, really. When did it become passe for living legends to advertise products? They have to hit up dead ones now?!? The man died in 1970, in part, as I understand it, influenced by his very own “liquid experience”. Now his ghost is hawking Red Bull clones!??!

They even have recipes for this stuff at the shop incorporating alcohol. Now, that’s just what I need, a drink that will make me hyper and depressed at the same time. (Not to mention that, at $3.50 per can I would have thought they’d already stuck some booze into it. But apparently not).

So, I’m giving up. Effective today, I, too, am going to pretend that I’m a rock star: I mean, why not?! No more speeding tickets, and immortalisation in the form of 21st century elixir.

Do I look convincing?

more radical knitting and UK/Canada road relations

Funnily enough, after I put up my post last Friday I happened to get a card in the mail from a colleague outside of Toronto, sporting the following image:

The knitter/artist is Lisa Anne Auerbach… and clearly I think that she is just fabulous. This sweater series had real gold knitted into it, apparently… the amount of gold influenced the price point as you will see here:

And I’ve got to make a pair of these driving gloves that I saw on her website as well:

WTF? you ask? Well, exactly. These are driving gloves that I could very much use in Toronto to illustrate some points:

In talking with Amy, however, we decided that we would have picked a different colour for the middle finger. My preference would be traffic cone orange, for that little authentic highway touch.

(photo from http://www.featurepics.com)

Now, I’m not certain that my UK friends will get the traffic cone reference. Their traffic signs are quite different from ours…

I still can’t stop laughing about this for some infantile reason, although I assume that my UK friends know what “humps” means in North America. As a result, here they are called “speed bumps”.

I must confess, however, that I find the UK/North America reversals about traffic direction a bit curious. It seems even to be evidenced in DVD covers. Viz. this, which is the cover of a DVD I just got from the library (and JJ is still hee-hawing as I type about it):

When I looked it up on Amazon, I was amazed to learn that the UK cover looks somewhat different:

So now I’m wondering… are all of the Britcoms we get over here flipped over before we see them?!

I’d best sign off before I get too far down that particular path. Wishing you all a very happy, tranquil and non-topsy-turvy Monday.

Cheers,

kb

PS. Oh, and if you’re looking for something to kill time at the office do today, check out Lisa Auerbach’s blog, The Little Red Blog of Revolutionary Knitting Whether you knit or not, I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

duckie invasion?!

My beleaguered mother, no doubt shaking her head about my wee obsession with rubber duckies, very kindly sent me the following scan the other day…

 

 

Although I couldn’t help but think that this image was cute cute cute, on some level I’ve since been quite perturbed about the abuse of the humble rubber duckie by the advertising industry.

I mean, the rubber duckie is not just a plaything for our use and abuse, you know.  It is an extraordinarily hardy and brave species. 

These are some rubber duckies and other plastic toys which crossed the Pacific Ocean from China and ended up all the way in New England, 11 years after falling off a container ship.  They were apparently quite the speed demons, travelling at double the rate that the water in the North Pacific moves.  They washed up back in 2003 and a reward was offered for a specific duckie which had gone completely white from its trials and tribulations at sea. 

I’m not sure the reward was ever collected.  But you can read about their journey here, if you’d like.

And, I mean, really – could you cross the Pacific without a raft? Think about it.

But not only is the humble rubber duckie brave, s/he is selfless and giving, working tirelessly for charity.

S/he is also athletic, by the way (far more so than I!):

 Rubber duckies, as you know if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, are capable of forming strong loving relationships:

Yet they continue to be used and abused by Evil Corporations such as Adidas to sell products and make rich fat men even richer and fatter!!!

 It all makes me want to weep, really.  Plus, it makes me afraid.  It is only a matter of time before the rubber duckies stage a revolution and take over… just last night I had a nightmare about this.  Click on this link to see it in full colour.

Scary, eh?

Well, we have the power to stop this abuse of the Rubber Duckie and the ensuing rebellion, revolution and takeover which will lead to the end of life as we know it.  Education, I feel, is key.  To learn more about the honourable rubber duckie, you can click here.

And next time you see a cute little ad featuring a rubber duckie, please spare a thought to the abuse and degradation that led to the ad, and boycott the product… would you?

(Yippee!  Another excuse not to have to shave my legs!!! Huzzah!!)

Happy Thursday!

stampeding into shamelessness

I’m well and truly off the wagon now, folks. Yup. Yesterday, I made yet another trip to one of the local Houses of Worship – on the pretext that I needed one of these:

For some reason I keep losing these. This is probably my fourth this year. I’m sure that one of these days I’m going to bump accidentally into a secret portal in my apartment and be faced with a whole pile of single socks, good wooden coat hangers (as opposed to crap wire ones from the dry cleaners’) and knitting needle measuring ruler thingies, all pointing and laughing at me.

So, of course I decided today that I was in huge need for one of these $3 thingamabobs. But did I go back to Romni, which is just down the street from my workplace? Hell, no.

Why not? Well, I felt the need to take a 25 minute walk (each way) in 30C/150C with the humidex (don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but “damn hot” will about cover it), that’s why.

It certainly wasn’t because Lettuce Knit (quite a hike away from my office, in the Kensington Market) is the only yarn shop in the city that carried Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. No sirree Bob. Nope.

OK – so now you know the truth. I am a big fat liar.

But, really, how could I resist!

Oh – and while I was there I had to pick up a lonely little skein of Bobby Blue (as in “No Sirree Bob”, I guess!) Malabrigo laceweight as well:

But I don’t feel so bad about this – because Amy told me: “Malabrigo doesn’t count”. I’m a very gullible person, and I do hope that she has not led me down the garden path toward bankruptcy….

What makes me feel a bit better about all of this is that I’m apparently not the only one who’s getting up to hijinks this week, apparently – and mine are far cheaper than some. You see, this week the Calgary Stampede is taking place. Now, I’ve never been to Calgary but if you have ever lived in Canada and watched any news programme during the month of July, you’ll know all about this WestFest, where all the oil millionaires/billionaires, politicians and other high rollers turn up to watch some rodeo and eat some high-priced beef.

Now, according to CTV News the other evening, that’s not all these guys do. They actually had a segment on the late news discussing how some of these guys also come to gamble and pick up women. They even quoted a pro female saying it was by far the most lucrative week of the year.

I think they did, anyway. You see, I cannot find this story anywhere on their website – I do remember seeing it though, if only because it really really hurts to spit Vex alcopop out your nose when you start laughing with your mouth full. JJ confirms that this was on.

But instead, all I could find on the CTV website was this: Calgary drops suits for Stetsons during Stampede.

More like “drops trou”, no?!

I mean, really – let’s face it, these prime ministers must get up to all sorts of nonsense when they’re on the road – and especially when they get to dress up in cowboy drag. Why else would Pierre Trudeau have been showing his stuff there, for example?

Now, as for Jean Chretien, I’m not so sure:

Now, I must say that I really like his wife’s cowboy boots – in fact, I want them. But what was up with those puddlejumper jeans, Jean?!? Did the Prime Minsterial budget not extend to a pair of jeans that actually fit, or did you spend it all on the 10 gallon hat?!?

And then there’s always my favourite, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, our current fearless leader who allows Geo. Bush to address him as though they’re hanging out on a street corner somewhere (I mean, really. “Yo, Harper“??? WTF???? When he pulled this stunt a few years back with Tony Blair, the British were reportedly offended. And, to my view, the British were right.) and simply giggles and blushes smiles. I’m not so sure, however, that it’s wild women he’s after…

I mean, first he poses for this cheesecake photo back in 2005:

Is that lipstick he’s wearing?!? I mean, really. Doesn’t he look as though he just stepped off the cover of a Village People LP?

So, then he hid I was not able to find any photos of Harper at the Stampede in 2006 – but this is what he turned up in in 2007:

So, what’s up with the pink shirt?? Well, apparently he said it was to show support for fundraising efforts for breast cancer. Well, that’s heartwarming and all, Steve – but if you really cared about people who suffer from breast cancer (or cancer of any kind, for that matter), you wouldn’t be doing your bit to destroy universal health care as we know it. But I’m ranting digressing now.

Suffice it to say that, sported by an arch-convervative like Harper, the colour pink speaks volumes. But this year, his image consultants have he’s decided to go butch:

Now, I haven’t been in a women’s bar for a while now – but the last time I went to one, this was pretty much the uniform.

So, Steve, I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see what cute little outfit you come up with for next year’s Stampede! How about something like this, for example?

Fetching, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday!

reward for PayDay forbearance!!!

No, no – I did not rush out and buy something else. Instead, I got a lovely surprise in the mail today – the latest package from my Year of Lace 2008 subscription! And lovely it is indeed!

However, since some people have still not gotten their kits in the mail, I feel obligated to put up a spoiler warning…

… and also to engage in a wee digression (that’s today’s excuse, anyway). So, bear with me for a minute or so.

I know it will be very, very difficult to believe this – but on occasion I do get accused of having a rather narrow outlook on certain things. I can be prone to rather myopic behaviour sometimes, as it were (not to mention “obsessive”, but that’s a topic for another digression). It is a trait that serves me well in my vaunted profession of top notch hard working lawyer …

JJ: Ah, go oan, sell me a bridge, would ye, lassie?!?!?! D’ye actually think your blog readers will believe ye tae be hard-workin’?!?

KB: Um… er… (searching for witty response, then muttering) Ah, shurrup, wuid ye?

JJ: Ah telt ye, stop makin’ fun of the way ah talk.

And so on, and so forth.

Man, a digression within a digression. I’m really firing on all cylinders today!

… but it can tend to be a rather unlikeable quality, or so I’m told.

However, I intend to demonstrate to you that tunnel vision can sometimes be a beautiful thing indeed. The other day I took these photos of a field…

Isn’t that pretty? Let’s zoom in just a wee bit more, shall we?

But in fact, I just lied to you above (and yes, yes, I know – lying is another unlikeable quality in a person. However, I’m Greek. It’s genetic. I can’t help it. Really.) when I told you that these were pictures of a field. It is actually a photo of the garbage depository area of my building.

See? Far better, in this example, to take the narrow view, don’t you think?

Well, enough of that… time to show off my latest yarn acquisition!

First, a wonderful pattern by Joan Schrouder!

Blueberries!!!

And – my first ever skein of Lorna’s Laces laceweight (half silk, half wool):

I suspect it won’t be my last, though… look how soft it is!

And the yarn even comes with its own free shawl pattern…!

But now I’m torn!! Should I make the fan shawl, or Joan’s creation with the Lorna’s?

Help!

Oh – I forgot – I still have this radiant Claudia’s Handpaints in the stash…

I think the fan pattern would look very flash in this colour – perhaps I could call it “Daedalus“?

Yes!  Yes!

Oh – but another dilemma.  What to do with my other fabulous blueberry coloured yarn?!

And no, none of you can have it.  Sorry.

Hmm – I guess tunnel vision is not my only unattractive quality.  Apparently I need to work on generosity as well.

Sigh.

Wishing you a wonderful, wonderful weekend – and a happy 4th of July to my American friends.  The Tenant Advocates and I will be raising several glasses to you this evening…

the many solitudes


Canada, apparently, is a cultural mosaic – unlike the United States which is a melting pot.

(Oh, an aside – fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen. It’s going to be a long ride today.)

Or so we were always told in public school… and I never really thought this through until the other day when I decided that I should make my dear friend Robert a special mosaic for Canada Day. He, unlike me, is very patriotic and so is having a Canada Day party to mark the official birthday of our country (in 1867 – I know that much at least).

So, I went searching for the provenance of the term “cultural mosaic”. Here’s what I found, courtesy of the ever-insightful Wikipedia:

The first use of the term mosaic to refer to Canadian society was by John Murray Gibbon, in his 1938 book Canadian Mosaic. Gibbon clearly disapproved of the American melting-pot concept. He saw the melting pot as a process by which immigrants and their descendants were encouraged to cut off ties with their countries and cultures of origin so as to assimilate into the American way of life.

Hmm. This, although interesting to me, did not much help me with planning my mosaic. So, I hit the forest for inspiration, like so many Canadians before me:

…and came up with this:

Unfortunately, the only colour of glass that is lacking in my brobdignanian stash (and if you think my yarn stash is over the top, people, you should see my stash of stained glass!) is… you guessed it, green.

So, I had to make do with another colour:

The glass there is actually pink, by the way. I still really don’t know how to operate this camera.

I started by mapping out the leaf shape on a handy dandy glass frame that I scored from the unofficial dumping station behind my apartment building a couple of years ago:

I then – much like the Fathers of Confederation, I suppose –

(If you’ve visited here before today, you may well recognise Sir John Eh?… he’s the one with his head in the middle of the biggest window. I do get a kick out of how painters through the ages have found very similar ways to point out the important guy in the scene..

…but, as ever, I digress.)

Where was I again? Oh yes. Anyway, much like the Fathers of Confederation, I pieced together a symbol of an emerging country, and ended up with this:

(I will pause officially here to note that I actually tried to consult with Sir John Eh? about this but apparently he had started the Canada Day celebrations a bit earrrrly …

…but as JJ reminds me, Sir John Eh was actually from Glesga Scotland.)

So, I decided it was all guid, and progressed apace. In so doing, let me tell you that I injured myself.

This is partly because, when starting the mosaic, I realised that I had left the top of my trusted tile adhesive and when I went to use it, I was faced with a concrete glue pile. So, having no time to spare, I had to whip out the glue gun, and became careless:

Let it be known that I do suffer for my art. I am a proud Canajan in this regard, but our schizophrenic cultural identity as Canajans (that is, half Brit, half Murcan) leads me to adopt the British part and suffer in (virtual) silence. By the way, Robert, eventual recipient of the mosaic, does not use the internet and so will not be reading this post. So, let’s just keep this our little secret (at least, until he sees me tomorrow and says “Hey girl, what’s up with all those cuts and burns on your hands?!?!?!).

Anyway, despite my mortal wounds, I carried on –

(I include this photo, although it’s rather blurry, because I thought that the headline that was inadvertently captured on the underlying newspaper was spookily Canadian. And, by the way, I would welcome any other Canadians, if you feel otherwise, to post a comment or Email me and tell me so – and why. I won’t bore you with my theories at present).

And, eventually, I ended up with a microcosm of what it must have looked like here when they were building all these vast railways and roadways…

Voila!

Now, it’s time for me to confess something. In working on this “cultural mosaic”, I felt for the first time in years a real love for my country. I have been disillusioned of late, really. Champagne socialist angst, perhaps – although I do realise I live in a wonderful country, bit by bit our standard of living is being eroded, and I have seen big changes in my adult lifetime.

(I’ll note as an aside that to me it is frustrating (although interesting) that Michael Moore, for example, has decided to sell a message about the United States by painting my city and country as a gun-free paradise where everyone leaves their doors and cars unlocked and can just attend at hospital and get whatever treatment they want, without cost. That may have been the case twenty years ago, but it is not today. Sorry, Michiganer (Michiganite? Michigonian? friends. I know that Mike has done a great power of guid – but I’m an unhappy Canajan with his portrayal of the situation here and I’ve written a strong E-mail or two!)

But then, I’ve had to get off my leftie high horse and think about what being a Canadian actually means to me. And so I had to give some thought to why I ended up a Canadian in the first place… because of people like my mother’s father who came here at 14, shipped off from Greece to send money home to his family, and made a good life and prospered. And my mother’s grandparents, who came here similarly and did well.

And then, on the way to work today I saw this freebie magazine which I usually ignore

And then I had to remember how moved I was to be at Pier 21 in Halifax and see a photo of the boat that my father travelled here on for a new life:

So, it was very, very good to have the reminder that people came here for a better life and had it… as a result of which, I get to be a lawyer here with a decent pay and get to whine and rant on my blog about the state of the politics in my country, without censure. And, by the way, I can also afford to live next to a beautiful forest where I can go and stroll and steal a maple leaf to inform my artistic endeavours, such as they are.

And then I had to think about the “cultural mosaic” bit from the writer I quoted at the outset – and it finally makes sense to me. I get to live here, speak and write and read Greek, cook Greek, live with a scottish guy, have him and everyone else respect my heritage and also my lifestyle choices. And still be considered a “Canadian”. This is truly a gift.

So, I must make a deep dark confession – I am, indeed, a proud Canadian. I think that my mosaic for Robert reflects the shifting contours and the uncertainty of this nation. And I’m very happy that Robert is hosting this party, and was so excited about buying Canada Day decorations, which made me think I should make him a special Canada Day present, etc. etc. etc.)

(JJ, himself a new Canadian who loves Canada more than I do, said that the piece reminded him of the Magic Eye contests in the paper… you know the ones, if you cross your eyes you see the true image? The true image of this piece is the maple leaf).

As it happens, to me the mosaic looks abstract – I had originally thought to make the background a blatant contrast colour, then went against this. And I’m happy with this choice (although JJ is not) – I believe it better represents Canada as a place where change and adaptability… and progress…are always possible. I’m calling it “Many Solitudes”.

Happy Canada Day! Off now to cook the stuff I’m bringing to the party and make sure the beer is chilling…

why there will be no PayDay excursion today…

No, this is not an ad for the upcoming summer knitting chick-flick film blockbuster entitled “How Blue Was My Valley”.  I can only wish.

Instead, this is a photo of only one of the yarns that I forgot… yes, forgot!… that I had in the stash.   It was like Christmas in (almost) July when I finally got around to sorting out the stash room yesterday, let me tell you.

I should mention that I think most of the yarns I will show in this post were purchased within the past year (or so say the vague flickers of my brain when I was struggling to remember whether I had actually bought this stuff, or whether the Yarn Fairy had been overly generous of late.  I know – nay, I hope – that the knitters who visit this board will understand this ongoing problem of moment-specific amnesia that I apparently suffer from.  That is, I buy the stuff, I photograph it, I post yarn pron on my blog and then the yarn actually ceases to exist.  Hmm.

Anyway, first in the roll call of Great Forgotten Yarns: this gorgeous Handmaiden Lace Silk!

Two skeins of it!  I’m racking my brains trying to remember what it was for.

Next, a skein of Sea Silk in a forgotten colourway:

I do recall that I bought this relatively recently… but that’s it.  I don’t know where.

And next?

Ah, yes.  This one, I remember.  Phew.  I acquired this on a trip to Knitomatic – I went there frantically after work one day, having decided that I just had to make a geometric rib-fronted sweater by Norah Gaughan right then.  I could have bought something more pedestrian like Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, but also just had to have some cashmere.  This was at least five months ago.

And this?

Again, another must-have from Knitomatic.  It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?  It certainly doesn’t deserve to languish, forgotten and unloved, in my stash pile of stuff on the floor drawer…

Man, my back is starting to get sore what with all the self-flagellation, really.  I had even managed to forget about this:

Schaefer Anne in perhaps the most beautiful colour ever.

And what’s this, then?

Ah, yes – some Berocco suede that I was desperate for longer ago than I care to remember.  I entered a swap with Natalie to get my hot little hands on it. I was going to make the Snapping Turtle Skirt by Norah Gaughan with it…

And, finally this:

More forgotten Lace Silk!  And again, two skeins.  I have no clue when I bought this, where it came from, etc.

And actually, I must confess… that isn’t really the “finally” item.  There are more photos – but I’m starting to get rather embarrassed.  As I was, by the way, when JJ ignored the crime scene tape that I had glued the stash room door shut with while cleaning and came in to see me surrounded by … well, yarn.  I then told him that I had forgotten buying much of it (all right, all right… I then confessed that I must have been in a trance when I bought half of the stuff that he saw surrounding me on the floor).  He just shook his head and, thankfully, left.

You may have noticed that I had taken most of the photos on top of a piece of graph paper with scrawls on it.  That was my attempt to catalogue the stash.  I soon gave up… but the list does document:

– eight skeins of Malabrigo laceweight (each around 500m)

– nine skeins of Fiddlesticks laceweight (each 600m)

– nine skeins of Misti Alpaca regular laceweight (each 400m)

– seven skeins of Misti Alpaca Handpaints laceweight (each 800m)

– eight skeins of Blue Moon Silk Thread (each 1100m)

– two skeins of Claudia lace thread (each 1100m)

And, that’s without the Handmaiden.  And, that’s also only laceweight stuff.  It does not take into account the Super10 stash (which now has its very own container) or other lovely stuff like the milk yarn that Amy had so kindly sent me some time back… or the lovely yarn from Clarabelle (not naming the provenance as it is very, very hard to come by and my UK blog friends are having problems getting enough for their own needs).

Plus, it appears that I now officially have enough laceweight yarn to cover Canada with lace.  And, in case you weren’t aware, Canada is a very, very large country indeed.

So, that’s it.  No more PayDay excursions for a while.  And yes, I know I’ve said this before, but this time I mean it.  Really.

Off now to phone the insurance company to up my household coverage…

Cheers,

Kristina

PS.  And, no, Amy – you can’t have my yarn.  Sorry.