I’m still here…

… and sorry for being out of touch. I’ve also been knitting again (and even did a PayDay run to the LYS after months away!) but the kitties have hidden my camera. The kitties have also done their best to stop me from knitting by slurping up yarn as if it were spaghetti, by the way…

When I find my camera again (or when I figure out how to download the photos from my new iPhone to my computer, whichever comes first!, I will post photos of my newest creations, for what they are worth.

In other news: I’m preparing for Hallowe’en and will certainly have to come up with a decent costume or funny post or both before that point. And on that topic, one photo to offer you from the Globe and Mail:
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I’m also frustrated with our current government/s and railing against them – there is lots of talk in our province these days about profligate government waste, calls for public enquiries, etc… but that’s nothing new (neither my frustration nor the waste, sadly enough).

I end this brief post with a tribute to JJ, who says “If yer not gonnae put a photo of me, lassie, at least put somethin’ Scottish”. I observe his wish half way, as the actor depicted in the photo below is actually no’ Scottish, but English:

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Cheers and see you soon!

kb

Oops

Those few readers still left will remember my glowing descriptions of my newish twins, formerly known as Fric and Frac and now known as Cleo and Patch:

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So, before I make my embarrassing admission, here is a photo of Cleo:

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…and here is a photo of Patch:

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(And please don’t ask why the rocking chair is stocked with books.  That is just the Brouhaha way, really.)

So, what is the embarrassing admission?  Well… we thought that Cleo and Patch were both girl cats.  However, today when I took them to the vet for their first shots, I learned that Patch is, in fact, a boy.

To be fair to myself, I had questions about this issue a couple of weeks back when Patch waved (then hers/now his) backside in front of me and … ahem… well.  I spoke with JJ and JJ said “Dinna be ridiculous, they are both gerrrrrles”.  The high irony: when C & P first arrived and we thought they were both girls, JJ kept calling Patch “him”.  I kept correcting him, and he learned to say “her”.  Now he has to relearn the whole situation.  Oh well.

Funnily enough, when I look back on my past blog posts, I did identify Cleo by gender, but not Patch.  So, perhaps Patch is a boygirl. 🙂

Anyway, although the vet told me this mistake gets made all the time (and although I spoke with the person who gave us the kitties and she said she’d thought she’d given us two girls!), I still feel @@&!*@(#&*(!&@#*(@& stupid.  I suspect, however, the kitties themselves don’t worry as long as they get fed and catered to.

The problem is more in my head, really.  I have to shift from “guid girls” to “guid girl and boy” – and so does JJ.  But really, why should it matter?  The problem, really, is only in my brain.  I imagine the kitties do not have the same gender hangups as we humans do… they just live out their situation.  As should we all.

Anyway, here is my latest video of Patch being a wee bugger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFtKo8DCn0A

And here is another photo of the pair of them, just because they are so bloody cute:

IMG_3495I wish that everyone got along so well, really.

Happy August.  🙂

kb

Tessie

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This was the first photo we could find of my grandmother (yiayia) Tessie after she died on 24 April 2009.  I’m not certain how old she was at that point, but she was 92 when she died – a ripe old age. 

Her full first name was Anastasia, but she was known as Tessie.  She was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1916 but was sent to school without speaking any English.  This must have been hard for her, especially in small-town Ontario.  

This is the first photo that we have of her whole family:

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… and this might give you a sense of how she grew up.  She actually wanted more than anything to become a teacher, but in her time and day she was not allowed to go to teachers’ college by her parents.  So, she got married instead… and raised three children who all became teachers.  

Also, as a married woman, she became a leader in the Greek Community in Kingston, Ontario – not only did she help the women in her Greek-Canadian community, but many of the Greek-Canadians currently in Kingston were allowed to stay in her house, rent free, for a few months until they got on their feet.  She and her husband helped them find jobs and places in the community.  

I only really learned (or rather, only really appreciated) the full extent of Tessie’s contributions to the Greek community in my hometown after she died.  To me growing up, she was a beloved grandmother but also sometimes a pain in the @$$… I joked about her perusing all the flyers and driving all over Kingston for deals on food.   I brought high school friends over to her house to go through her cupboards and joke about the past due dates on food… (yiayia was, to be fair, a bit of a hoarder.  Probably for good past reason, but I didn’t get it then).  

As a teenager (and before call waiting and all that jazz) I was also not all that happy that she would phone and keep my mother on the line for an hour at a time – cutting off my quality time with my friends on the phone!! Her big thing when she used to call (and this was well before the days of mobile phones) was whenever someone (my mother or I) picked up the phone she would say “you’re home, eh?” LIKE… where else would we be?!?!?!  Big laughs and jokes about this phraseology in the house at the time. 

As I grew older, I started to appreciate yiayia’s qualities – especially the fact that she read the papers (Toronto and Kingston) every day and could quote you line and verse where she had read something.  This in her mid to late 80s, when she was still going to the pool to swim!  And she was still doing the daily crosswords in the paper (something which I can’t accomplish today!)

Unfortunately for us and for yiayia, she developed Alzheimers and had to leave her house for a care home – Trillium Lodge in Kingston, where she was cared for very, very well.   She lived a few comfortable years there, and now she is no longer with us.  

I don’t have any more recent photos of yiayia than the above in computer format, but if you’re interested in seeing my favourite photo, just scroll to the end of the video below.  It’s at 8 minutes 5 seconds in the video.  (The video, by the way, was made by the Robert Reid Funeral Home in Kingston ON. http://www.reidfuneralhome.com/ They selected the music.   I put into order the majority of the photos and also provided the captions).  Perhaps if you have some time, you can look at the video as well.  It is, I think, a chronicle of a live well lived).  

Na pas to kalo, yiayia! (all the best to you, grandmother!).

the puir little rich girrrl

I read some very sad news yesterday in the Toronto Star.  Apparently the Queen …

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… is in need of some money! 

(Kind of ironic given that her picture is on so much of it, no?

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But, alas, already I digress.  Back to the main rant programme.)

In fact, according to the article, puir wee Lizzie had to dip into her very own bank account to the tune of $11.5 million last year. 

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The $15 million provided to her and her family by the UK government to pay expenses didn’t quite cut it, apparently.

Now, this begs the question (yea, it begs a LOT of questions for me): where did the £££ in Lizzie’s wee piggy bank come from anyway? 

…the Queen took $11.5 million over the past year from her own state-funded reserve account [emphasis added]…

You guessed it – the good old taxpayer (plus probably a few hundred thousand serfs, seven or eight hundred years ago)! 

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But seriously, I really should show some compassion.  I mean, if Lizzie needs to keep hitting the piggy bank at the rate of $11.5 million a year, apparently she will be out of money by 2012!  (Never mind that if I were to hit my piggy bank at the same rate, I’d be broke by… um… well, less time than it took me to type this sentence, really.)

Besides, her house…

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… or, rather, her houses…

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… are falling apart and need millions of dollars in work.

Hey!  That gives me an idea!  The Queen should phone up Mike Holmes!

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I bet, given her dire plight, that he’d do repair work at Buckingham and Windsor Palaces for cost. 

Another fundraising idea for the Queen: apparently she spent three quarters of a million dollars this year relaunching her website.   It shouldn’t cost all that much more to stick a PayPal button up there and ask for donations!  Hell, I’d even shoot her $10 just for the pleasure of sending in that donation receipt to Revenue Canada…

Then again, maybe I wouldn’t.   I mean, take a look at some of the ways they’ve been spending their money!

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall spent £33,400 on a private jet to visit the Bushmills whiskey distillery and other engagements in Northern Ireland; the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent £14,515 to travel one way from Euston to Liverpool on the royal train – a journey that costs £74 first class when booked in advance on Virgin Trains; and Prince Andrew spent £55,269 on a one-way flight from London to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to co-chair the World Economic Forum.

I mean, really.  You’d think they could afford a couple or three cars to drive around, no?

Oh – I forgot, they’re broke. 

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Heartbreaking, isn’t it?  The more I think about it, the sadder I get.  So, I’ve gone around the office and taken a collection.  However, this is all that my hard-hearted colleagues would come up with:

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I guess every little bit counts.

JJ, being a proud Jimmy   wee guy from Glesga  Scot, did not wish to contribute any cash to the Lizzie Fund.  This was his reaction when I asked.

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Marginally better, mind you, than his reaction to reading the article about Lizzie’s plight in the first place.  The only publically printable words I could glean were:  cold day, Hell, inbred wankers, and Sassenachs.

When he calmed down, he did, however, have a couple of useful suggestions for Lizzie:

Sell the bloody palace to that al Fayed bloke – him who bought Harrrrrrods.  Or tha’ Gates computer guy wanker in America.  Ah reckon one a them wuid snap it up in no time.  Also, did ye know that if ye catch a sturgeon in the UK the Queen has first dibs on it??  Mebbe she should just start keepin them and set up a stall at the fish market. 

(Lest you think the sturgeon crack is a bit out there… (a) it’s true; and (b) we were watching Iron Chef America: Battle Sturgeon at the time.) 

Anyway, I’m now off to consult eBay to see if I can pick up any discount tiaras   check the Landlord and Tenant Board Dockets to see if Liz Windsor or Philip Mountbatten are scheduled for eviction hearings today  do some work. 

Cheers,

Kristina

have I landed in Hell???

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When we saw the orangey glow in our apartment just before the storm this evening, we thought that this might be the end of life as we know it.

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But then, when the sky darkened and the rain started… for the second time today, we just acknowledged that we live in Canada and the climate is very, very weird.

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Having said that, the humans in the household were more bothered than the kitties:
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… and I’m still here to tell you the tale of the Day the Sky Went Red… so it’s all guid.

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Happy Monday! (and please give a wish for us up here in Toronto that the temperature does not change up and down 10C/34F in the space of two hours. It is all very, very confusing).

in case you needed a laugh…

Guess who this is (circa … ahem… I don’t wish to say.  Suffice it to say that I am turning 39 this year August.  Yes, I will really be 39 for the first time.  But I may stop there for a few years.  My mother, may I say, is quite peeved this year as now technically she can no longer say she is 39… heh heh). 

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Yup.  Me in full Grik drag.  And let me tell you… I HATED this costume.  That would be the costume that my puir wee beleaguered grandmother in Greece probably stayed up many, many nights sewing for me.  Now that I’m a crafter, I can appreciate the effort.  Back then, I completely despised having to wear this bloody thing (including, by the way, the organ grinder monkey cap which weighed at least 3 pounds… no word of a lie) in June every year at the $&#(@$*&(#*$@#& Folklore festival… AND dance in it.  

I would have traded it in a heartbeat for a Brownie or Girl Guide uniform.  Alas, when you were Grik-Canajan in Kingston in the 1970s    1980s well I can’t really get away with being 10 and under in the 1980s anymore, can I?   1970s, you were not allowed to go to Brownies or Girl Guides.  There was some law about it, I think.  Or rather, we had to spend what seemed like every *($*)#@($*)@#($ night at GREEK SCHOOL.  

But now that I see the costume again, 30  ahem, many years later… it actually looks kinda cute.  

The fake-o wood panelling behind me… now, that’s another story.  I guess I managed to give away my age just through that image alone!!!

Happy weekend!

kb

back by popular demand…

Introducing: Cleo and Patch (aka. Patra)!

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Patch is the bolder one standing to the left.  Cleo is the lazier calmer one lying to the right… I’m told that the calmness (in addition to her propensity to jumping to the highest heights in the apartment) mean that she is the boss.

And no, despite the fact that we have named them, they haven’t been baptised, despite my best efforts…

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Funny… I thought they’d rather like Father Grackle’s vestments.  They certainly seemed to like them enough last night when the vestments were prized from some hidden corner and left on top of JJs shoes for nuzzling purposes!

In fact, despite the fact that we have purchased every cat toy known to… ahem.. catkind… they prefer old human favourites for play.  For example:  God(dess) bless IKEA…

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… or, if it’s too heavy to hang on your wall, don’t worry – you haven’t wasted $19.99.  Just put it on the floor for the cats instead.  Hours (and hours, and hours) of amusement.

But if $19.99 seems too steep, here is another kitty favourite:

IMG_3220Ye Olde Paper Bagge.  A very fun toy for kitties, apparently.  As was this variation which was left on the floor somewhere in the house inadvertently…

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The “green” grocery store bag.  You know, the one that they sell you for 99 cents now that the City of Toronto has told them to start taxing us 5 cents for plastic bags.  I have about 5 million of these bags as I keep forgetting to take them to the store.  Now that the new tax has kicked in, I’ve been made to feel like a criminal asking for plastic bags.  Hello?!?!  I’m PAYING for it.  But I digress.  The kitties love this bag and in fact fight for dominance over it:

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They also seem to love these knitted items:

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(And no, they didn’t destroy this rug.  I did so myself by freaking out and putting a hot saucepan on it some time back)…and this one:

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(my Liquorice Allsorts sweater.  It never fit properly, so I felted it.  At that time, I thought it would make a funky handbag.  However, Cleo and Patch have now claimed it as their own.).

They have been very busy exploring, and have even found a separate level on our dining room table that we had forgotten existed:

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They have also been sunning themselves out on our patio:

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… and enjoying the hell out of another blankie of mine:

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In fact, they have inspired me to start knitting again!  And no, no, no, not cute little outfits.  Just cute little blankies:

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This one was made from some Fleece Artist acrylic blend I had left over.  Funky shape, eh?  I wish I had a photo of one of the kitties on it, but they were too busy celebrating by themselves when I brought it out…

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So, I’ve started another blankie, given their excitement level:

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This one is, again, courtesy of Fleece Artist – their “Curlylocks” blend.  I think that the above will be for Patch, who very much appreciates fuzziness.  So that Cleo does not feel left out, I’ve started her a sleeker Twilley denim log cabin:

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And, just in case you wondered whether I’ve become so obsessed with the kitties that I’ve given up everything else – fear not. I’ve also been canning!

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I saw an interesting and easy recipe for barbecue sauce the other evening on “Chuck’s Night Off”. Chuck is a very endearing french-canadian chef who has a show on the Food Network up here. He offered up the following very simple recipe for BBQ sauce: 1 cup each of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and ketchup. I of course had to add a few things… and also to can some of it because there is no way that JJ and I can polish off 2 litres of BBQ sauce in the near future.

So, how am I, you ask?  Well, I’ve had a couple of days off work now… going back on Thursday.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing a LOT of this:

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Happy summer!!!

patch and cleo

PS. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. I will be in touch personally in due course. 🙂

new arrivals in the Brouhaha household!

Hi all five readers or so who are patiently waiting for updates:

My apologies for not posting for so long.  I’ve been a bit out of the mood.  One of the reasons: I was (apparently) expecting!

So, allow my to introduce our new twins:  Fric and Frac.

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I apologise for the photo quality.  F&F arrived here this morning, and immediately took up residence underneath the TV cabinet.  They have only emerged since to check out some salmon flakes that I was trying to offer… after about 10 minutes they deigned to lick them off my finger, then disappeared again.

JJ and I are hoping that they will emerge shortly if only so that I can actually see what colour they are, properly.  You see, bad mother me, I was at work this morning when they arrived. Because of that, when they did arrive they headed immediately behind the fridge, and then underneath the TV cabinet, where they have been residing since.

But guid mother me, there is no shortage of food in the house for them!

Here is a photo of Fric:

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…and a photo of Frac:

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Worry not, this is not going to turn into some daily update blog on the status of Fric and Frac.

I should note here that Fric and Frac will not be the real names of these kittens.  Rather, they are placeholder names in the long Grik tradition of not naming babies until they are baptised.  Seriously.  Many Griks refer to their new human offspring as “bebi” or “beba” until the priest dunks them into that cold, cold water in the baptismal font.

JJ is now glaring at me, perhaps deciding what I have been writing, and perhaps trying to remind me that these kitties are half Grik and half Scots).

In actual fact, we have not decided on names yet.  JJ rather sensibly suggested that we should meet and see the kitties first before deciding on names.  I begged to differ… I’ve had many, many ideas since we decided to get these kitties, as you can imagine.  Fric and Frac was the first idea.  I’ve settled on one name, Cleo, and JJ gets to pick the other.  (My mother, by the way, suggested “Cleo” and “Patra” when we were visiting her this past weekend.  JJ rolled his eyes and said to himself “Och aye, not another crrrrrazy perrrson!)  But I digress.

Anyway, I think that F&F, despite being puir wee nameless souls at present, are actually owed a little announcement.  So, here’s my stab at it:

Brouhaha and JJ proudly announce their new arrivals!!! Two little twin girls!!!

Names:  TBD

Age: approx. 9 weeks

Weight: n/a – but estimate 9 oz for Fric and 10 oz for Frac

Fingers and toes: n/a – but paws and claws appear to be all there.  Teeth have come in as well.  My, aren’t they talented???

Voices: quite loud and plaintive at present, especially when JJ turns the TV channel to “The Dog Whisperer”.  Right now there is a Scottish program on TV and they seem to have settled down, though.  A guid sign.

Proud grandparent: [mother of Brouhaha who shall remain nameless]

Proud aunt: Mipou II (cat daughter of mother of Brouhaha who shall remain nameless)

Oh, and for those knitters out there… yes, I have hidden all the yarn.  I haven’t been knitting all that much lately as you might have gathered, but I still had to gather errant pieces of stash and throw them into a cupboard put them away safely.  I have probably, however, defeated my own purpose in keeping any future knitting safe by acquiring this toy:

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If you know me, you’ll know that I couldn’t resist it.  Explanation, not excuse.

Anyway, please do wish us all well.  I was concerned that the new arrivals would not get on so well with other denizens of our household…

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… but now that they’re on top of the BILLI bookshelf, I reckon they’re safe for another couple of months at least.

Cheers,

Brouhaha and Company

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ripping my hair out…

Now, I’m a pretty smart person, and fairly good with using words, wouldn’t you say?

So, why is it that I cannot come close to finishing a cryptic crossword, even with cheating??? (More about how to cheat on cryptic crosswords later this week. However, don’t lie awake waiting for that update even if you’re as obsessed as I am, because I’m here to tell you that cheaters don’t prosper. Sigh).

I have just spent an entire evening solving perhaps 12 clues total in the past two weeks of Globe and Mail cryptics. You can see the results of my hair-ripping here:

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Kidding, actually. Instead, I just had a visit to Telly the Barber (my new favourite – I only have to go once every six months!). I gave up on hairstylists a long time ago (and wouldn’t you, if you had ridiculously fine and ridiculously curly hair?)

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Instead, I just go to the barber and say “Cut it off – cut it all off.” And, as you can see from the newly-short photo above, even this doesn’t get rid of the stubborn curl. I blame my parents, really… given that this is how I came into the world:

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See that piece of hair sticking up? I was doomed from the womb, really. And by the way, all of you straight-haired gods and goddesses out there who say “I wish I had curly hair…”??? No, you don’t.  You are far, far better off with that straight floppy/glossy/wonderful hair than with little errant bits going all over the place.  I have tried every overpriced hair product known to personkind and also some way too high-priced hairdressers to help me with my little problem… to no avail.

Which is why I now just go once every six months – whether I need it or not – to the barber and say “cut it all off”.  He (because I have yet to meet a female barber, or indeed a male barber without a heavy and familiar access) always says “are you sure/what are you doing here/etc.”.  In fact today I was wearing my pink puffy coat when I hit the barber shop and they tried to pass me over because they assumed I was waiting for my boyfriend!

The other thing I like about going to the barber: I don’t have to engage in idle chit-chat.  20 minutes in and out of the chair… we pass some pleasantries, but I don’t need to be freaked out about “abandoning” the barber if I decide to go to another barber the next time.  This contrasts with what I have heard from some friends about not liking their hairdresser anymore, but not wanting to “betray” the hairdresser by going elsewhere.  It’s a haircut, not a relationship!

Well, enough about my new ‘do.  I may bore you with it again in weeks to come because, for the first time in many, many years, my hair is now its full natural colour.  This is not a problem from the front, but there is some weird patchy grey activity at the back.  I don’t mind going grey – I just would have liked it to be that nice salt-and-pepper look.  It isn’t.  It’s actually a “sick, tired and undernourished skunk” look.  So, it will be disappearing as soon as I get my act together and spend an hour to stick that $10 L’Oreal haircolour kit onto my head.

So, now that I’ve bored you completely, let me prove to you that I am still, in fact, knitting.  I’ve almost completed a sweater by Norah Gaughan:

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I know, I know – it doesn’t look like much right now. I am convinced that it will look completely fabulous once it is done – although I am suffering the dreaded “second sleeve syndrome” right now. I am actually enjoying working on this but just about the time I was ready to start the second sleeve I managed to burn my right index finger while making sponge toffee for JJ. This put paid to knitting for a week or so. I’m hoping that the sweater will be done while I can still wear it this season… please send me guid vibes!

More later regarding my cryptic dilemmas.  For now, if you want to see how I entertain myself during the Canadian winter, go to this website: http://wordsmith.org/anagram/advanced.html, put your name in and see what anagrams you come up with.  I figure that one of mine will be the title for my autobiography when I ever get around to writing it.Heh heh.

Cheers,

Kristina

is it your lucky day today?

Well, it shouldn’t be unlucky – at least not according to this guy: spiroafce

This, by the way, is my great-uncle Spiro. And he believes the unlucky day is actually TUESDAY the 13th.  Oh, but the old skool griks also believe that 13 is a lucky number – or so I’m told by http://www.greekspider.com:

Tuesday is considered the unluckiest day during the week for the Greek people. It was on this day on Tuesday May 29th 1453 that the unimaginable happened and the city of Constantinople fell to the Osman Tribe, the “Ottoman Turks”.

It is often said that businesses that open on this day have a black mark against them, and many Greeks who believe in this superstition will not venture into a new business on a Tuesday.

The number 13 is considered lucky by Greeks in the setting when it stands alone as can be seen from the previous weeks writing, see The Number 13.

However, when Tuesday and 13 are placed together they are considered unlucky in the Greek culture. So Greeks will watch out for Tuesday the 13th not Friday the 13th. It is the combination of the date “Tuesday” with the number “Thirteen” that is considered very unlucky to the Greek people.

Damned griks. Nothing is straightforward with them!

Happy 13th!