Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'll knit you the nicest taxi cab to pick you up from the airport when you get in.

Welcome to real life kids! That's how I think of summer vacay: my real-life when every second is devoted to me, me, me! (Except the first day which was spend writing a paper for the stupid online course.) Oh the selfishness of it all! Oh the luxury of it all! Oh, how I kind of miss the kids who greeted me on Saturday with a loud, raucous "Miss it's YOU!" as I was crossing the street. In my carefully-chosen-far- from-school neighbourhood, where I've seen them before because they play basketball somewhere around here.

Anyway, I could write about the pub crawl (successful as usual, some new recruits, fewer stops that were farther apart this year, so it was a healthier crawl, only a slight hangover the next day), or about how I've spent my summer vacay so far (reading, social-butterflying, and a bit of shopping), but I just got the urge to write about something I love: knitting.


Why I Love To Knit

by: Christielli

Quite frankly, I love to knit because I find it highly pleasurable to turn a long string into something warm, fuzzy, and wearable. It's amazing to find a nifty ball of yarn in a store, and picture it and perhaps its sisters turned into a scarf, mittens, hat, or blanket. How I could turn something so useless (a long string) into something so useful. That's one reason why I love to knit. The other reason why I love to knit is because it connects me to my past.

My Nana (dad's mum) taught me to knit during a visit that I very vaguely remember. I was less than 12 I know for sure. My Nana was one of the world's greatest knitters, and one of the world's greatest women. My relationship with my Nana was one of the most special I will ever have in my life, and I am always so grateful to have had 19 years with her. I loved all of my family, of course, but my Nana was my favourite. Anyway, she was a knitter, and on that random visit before I was 12, I asked to teach to me knit, and she did. I learned the basic stitch, and ended up with a swatch that was big enough to be a scarf for my teddy bear.

Sometime when I was approximately 12, I started "The Scarf". I suppose I remembered my first knitting lesson, and wanted to embark on a larger project. My Nana cast on the required stitches, reviewed the basic stitch with me, and off I went. This scarf got longer, more holey, and for some reason, wider (scarves apparently aren't supposed to do this). It was really ugly, because I was just using my Nana's yarn leftovers, and I'd change colours when I felt like it, with no pattern whatsoever. I remember "The Scarf" starting off orange, and including some red, yellow and turquoise sections.

Around the same time I was working on "The Scarf", my Grandpa had a stroke and was in the hospital. We went up to hospital to visit him a lot, and one of the diversions I brought was "The Scarf". I remember working on it in between doing word searches and playing my old school Gameboy. My Nana, and you could imagine how she would feel at this time, used to always comment on my progress on "The Scarf" and asked me who it was for. I always said it was for my Dad.

I obviously didn't know what was going to happen then. My dad and his brother took time off work to be in the hospital and my mom and I would sometimes join them. It was November, I think, and my solace to myself was to repeat to myself "everything will be okay at Christmas". It's funny, because during times of trouble, I still repeat that mantra. I don't know why, but it calms me.

My grandfather died after two weeks in the hospital. It was the first time that I experienced death in my life. It was hard, of course, but also inevitable since loss is a part of life.

I kept sporadically working on "The Scarf" for a few years. It became a family joke, in part because it was so incredibly ugly, but also because I insisted I would finish it, and when I did, I was going to give it to my dad, and he was going to wear it with pride.

"The Scarf" is still unfinished. I didn't knit for a long time, until a few years ago (when I still lived in my old apartment), I came across a beginner's knitting kit, complete with booklet, pattern, yarn, and needles, that was on sale at Indigo. I bought it, and taught myself to cast-on (my Nana always did that part for me), relearned the basic stitch, and finished a hat. This was quick, so I ran back to Indigo for a similar kit with a pattern for a hat and baby booties, that I figured I'd save for when someone had a baby.

Since then, I've made more hats, lots of scarves, baby booties, and as you all know, I just recently managed to teach myself mittens. I'm probably at the advanced-beginner stage as a knitter, and I'm unsure if I'll progress, because, well, I like little projects because I can finish them quickly. However, I'm amazed at the fact that I no longer make mistakes, my stitches are even, and there are no holes in my work. I've gotten a lot of comments on quality of my creations.

I honestly think that somehow my Nana is at work through my hands. It's not genetic, it's something more than that. Often when I knit, I tend to think about all of the awesome people who've been in my life. I remember all of my grandparents, who I've lost. I think of my parents, and the fact that I need to dig up "The Scarf" which is somewhere in my parents' house, and finish it, and give it to my Dad for Christmas. I think of the person who I'm knitting for. I think of the people I might be knitting with, on the rare occasion that happens. I sometimes even think about myself and where I've come from, where I am, and where I'm going.

I've decided to devote some time this summer to knitting (hence this post), even though I used to consider October to April knitting season. I bought a bunch of wool for mittens (stocking up on bday/Christmas gifts). I went out a couple of weeks ago with my dear friend Eric who wants to go buy expensive alpaca wool and have me knit him a scarf. I am excited to do this, because I'm going to make it my own design, and when he hangs out with his fashionable crowd and they comment on his scarf, he'll say "oh, it's a Christielli original". I am also excited because I found out that someone is going to be getting baby booties, a hat, and maybe a baby blanket in a few months. Oh, and I'm going to make some beer cozies as jokes for some people. Beer cozies: the perfect summer knitting experience!

And what a perfect way to end a summer post about knitting. :) (An ambitious post at that...)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

If there's one thing I learned in chemistry is that the gain of electrons is reduction obviously.

In the past two days, I've been told on two separate occasions that I'm really good at picking out greeting cards for people. This warms my heart.

I love the annual rhythm of the school year. Tonight is graduation, and then tomorrow is my last proper day of work for 2 months. Well, it's not proper; we just have meetings and then a luncheon, and then it's off for the 3rd annual pub crawl. Maybe I'll drunk post when I get home, or at least do a hungover post the next day.

I realized today that even though I'm looking forward very much to a break from work, I'm going to miss seeing my friends at work every day. Heck, I'm even going to slightly miss the dysfunctional people who at least give me something to gossip about/shake my head at. I'm also going to miss one teacher who is leaving our school this year. I think I've mentioned this before. I haven't cried, yet, because I think I'm still in the denial phase of the stages of loss.

In two weeks from today, I'll be halfway through my San Fran vacay. I can't believe it. I am really looking forward to it, because I really think that I just need a chance to get away from everything.

I don't like Wal-Mart, but only they carry this particular brand of wool with sparkles in it. I was there today with my work spouse, and I stocked up, because I think I'm going to use some downtime this summer to get a head start on some mitten-rific presents. I usually don't knit in the summer, because heat and wool usually don't mix, but I'm feeling a little bit agitated these days, I think some good knitting will soothe my soul.

I still need to organize my desk at work. I'll go in an hour early tomorrow morning and see what I can do.

I've got time for a 40 minute nap, then I have to get all spiffy for grad. I'm going to wear a fun skirt, and white top. Maybe I'll wear my fun new sandals to show off my red toenails. Hmmm. I think that is what I shall do.

That was a pretty random set of unconnected paragraphs, eh?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I seem to recognize your face, haunting, familiar yet, I can't seem to place it.

You can tell the school year is ending when my reading grows exponentially. I just finished a book that I ended up enjoying quite a bit called "Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris. I went in hoping for the literary equivalent of The Office, and I'm not sure it delivered (but could that ever really happen anyway), but I did like it. I ended up getting attached to the characters, the dysfunction of their workplace, and I loved how the book ended.

I'm also halfway through a new book too that I just picked up at Indigo today when I was buying a gift for someone (isn't it funny how I always end up throwing in a gift for myself?). I can't believe that I haven't read this book before. It's called "Love is a Mix Tape" by Rob Sheffield. It basically tells the story of a rock journalist who unexpectedly loses his wife. It goes through his life, their relationship, etc. and links it to mix tapes he's made/had given to him throughout his life.

One of my goals this summer is to make some awesome mixes of my own for a select few friends and well-wishers. I love how in this book the author describes the different kinds of mix tapes there are. He brought up the radio tape, which is a compilations of songs from the radio. I used to be the queen of the radio tape in grades 6/7/8-ish. I remember making a mix tape where I would add Alanis' song "Too Hot" whenever it was played, and it made it at least 3 times per side. Radio tapes are fun for the unavoidable snippets of ads/chatter etc. that make it onto the tape. I actually have a bootleg copy of the Killers' "When You Were Young" that I downloaded way before the album came out. I love it because it is recorded from the radio and has the name of the station at the beginning of the song, during the song, and the DJ saying the name of the song at the end. It has always made me think of the days of the radio mix tape and thus, I've kept this version around, even though I'm sure I could get myself a "cleaner" version.

When making mix tapes for myself as a kid, I was always big into repeating songs on the tape (see Alanis example above). I remember a specific grunge tape that I made in about grade 9 that had Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" multiple times on the tape. I've always been one to listen to songs a lot constantly. I can download some random song from iTunes, and notice that two days later, I've listened to it 80 times. I don't know if this just means I have a simple mind, but I do love repetition.

The other thing I'm enjoying about this book, is the author's appreciation for the 90s. I loved that decade. On my to-do list, is to throw a kick-ass nineties party where plaid shirts, bad jeans, and Doc Martens are required wear, and I make the best 90s playlist ever. In fact, I should even dig out mix tapes that I made in the 90s and play those suckers. I guess the drink of choice would have to be Mike's Hard Lemonade, which was my beverage in the 90s. I'm not sure if my elderly stomach could take it, but I'd try. Anyway, I gotta throw this party. Of course, when it comes to parties, I have a long list of parties that I need to throw: my blender party to use of the rum I bought in Cuba in 2006 (still gotta get a blender for this), oh and in September it's gonna be mine and Becca T's 10th anniversary, and a cheesy, corny party is required for this. Hmmm, maybe I could merge that with my 90s party since we *did* meet in the 90s.

The last thing I'm going to say about mix tapes, is that they were so cool because so much care and time had to go into making one. You had to sit there and listen to every song, unless you had one of those cool dubbing tape decks, which I did not. Sigh, okay, enough about mix tapes.

All right, I think I'm done blogging. I'd like to do more, but I spent like three hours tonight on the phone with various people, so I might have just used up my allotment of words for the day (or week). It kind of made me feel like a teenager again, talking on the phone so much. I remember talking on the phone for hours and hours with my friends, who I most likely had chatted with all freaking day at school. And I was probably making a mix tape while chatting.

Ahh, the 90s. That was a random post, eh?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Head straight, feel my arms, I know it's you, I know you're out there, surprising me...

I really did want to make a Friday the 13th post, but that didn't happen. However, you can't have Sunday the 15th (it's past midnight) if there wasn't a Friday the 13th so I guess it all works out. Nothing bad happened to me on Friday the 13th, actually, I got some good news following a little scare on Thursday the 12th (a friend had a health scare, but is A-OK now), so really, I guess Friday the 13th kicked some ass.

In exciting Friday the 13th news, I bought a new camera for myself since I figure now's a good time since I have two summer trips (San Fran, East Coast) planned. This is the camera I went for, and you better believe I opted for the pink model. I'm going to give my old camera to my aunt, so that assuages any guilt I have for buying a new camera when I have a perfectly good, albeit out-dated, camera. Anyway, I'll post some pics from the new toy, when I get around to taking some. Maybe having a new camera will make my blog more picture happy.

So far my weekend's been quiet, but I've been spending some time with friends. Last night I went on an impromptu shopping/coffee run with my pal Mathew which resulted in me getting some $10 jeans, a $15 pink short-sleeved hoodie with birds and hearts on it, and some cheap flip-flops. I didn't need any of the items, but who was I to say no with prices like that?

Today I started by getting my haircut at my new place in Kensington Market. As I was walked down Spadina, some sort of naked bicycle parade passed me by (and me without my new camera... yeesh... there were people stopping to take pictures of the spectacle). I have to say, that some people have real balls (no pun intended) to do like that. I was reminded of a Seinfeld episode where he discussed good-naked and bad-naked, and I think naked cycling is bad-naked for most people.

After I got my stylish new cut, I met up with my friend Flora for a manicure and pedicure. I went for a pretty racy red on my fingers and toes, and I love it. I don't want to chip my nails, so I can use that as an excuse not to do any strenuous cleaning for the next few days. :)

After sushi for dinner, Flora and I hung out here where we hammered out the planning aspect of our August trip out east. Being that we are both teachers, we're pretty effective planners, and I think we kicked some ass. Maybe should quit teaching and become travel agents? Hmmm, do travel agents get the summer off? No? Oh well, forget it then.

We were supposed to go to a wine and cheese party, but it was canceled, so we went for gelato instead. Again, the delightful gelato place down the street did not have my fave flavour (amaretto), so I guess I'll just have to eat gelato every day until they do!

So tomorrow I have an exciting day of cleaning, errands, and work planned. Boo. Hence, I don't really feel like going to bed, since I'll eventually have to wake up to that scenario, so I'm staying up and blogging. I also decided to download "A Great Stage" by Will Currie and the Country French, so I had to stay up for that to complete itself. I'm on my first listen, and I'm digging the piano and the xylophone. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If you believe everything has a reason...

Here's a happy thought post. I'm in the middle of marking furiously right now, but I'm taking a bit of an extended break:

1) My classes rock this semester, especially my grade 10s. I'm starting to get mushy on them since I have very few days left with them. I'm sick of marking and ready for a break from that, but I'm going to miss the kids a lot.

2) It's a long story, but I've been working on gardening with some students after school for the past month. (Luckily I have help from a professional gardener at the park near our school. If there's one thing I don't do, besides cooking, it's taking care of leafy green beings.) Anyway, today I was happily out in the sun, weeding, wearing my fabulous expensive sunglasses, and listening to horns honking furiously because Portugal won a soccer game today. It was one of those rare moments where life is just weird and funny (who gardens with teenagers?), and really enjoyable. I love when the little moments just make the other annoying aspects of life irrelevant.

3) REM was fantastic. Becca T said it was the best bday present ever. Yay!

4) This weekend I'm pampering myself. I'm getting my haircut by my new hairstylist (with whom I am seriously in love), and getting a manicure and pedicure. I'm going to go broke one of these days, but at least I'm going broke in style.

5) Did I mention that I teach the most fabulous students ever?? I'm taking a break from marking projects that show that they've learned stuff from me and even remember the stuff I say! Wow!

6) My online course sucks and is boring boring boring boring but it is now half over, and I'm getting As on stuff so that's all good.

7)All right, this happy thinking has motivated me to go to back to marking. Later!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I never understood the frequency, uh-huh...

So one of my last few weekends before the summer of fabulousity is bringing in the fabulousity itself.

On Friday, I went out for drinks with some friends and then we went to see the Sex and the City movie. I would probably give it 3.5 stars out of 5. I thought it was a bit on the long side. I actually would have only given it 3 stars, but I threw in the extra 0.5 star for all of the purses, shoes, and clothing in the movie. However, during the movie I did have a couple of *deep thoughts* about my life, but now I totally forget what those are. I blame the heat of this weekend for perhaps killing a couple of brain cells.

Speaking of heat, I really need to get an air-conditioner, I think. The only downside of not owning a car that I can identify is that it takes me *forever* to make a big purchase, because I tend to think "oh, I'll ask so and so to drive me next time he/she visits me" but then I never do ask. Hence it never gets done.

Anyway, yesterday I spend the day hanging out with friends who all had air conditioning so I was good. But, boy, did I eat. I went to a friend's bday breakfast where we had waffles, champagne, fresh-squeezed juice, chocolate croissants, scrambled eggs, and bacon. Yum. It made me feel like it should have been my bday.

In the afternoon I headed out to the suburbs for my friend's annual June dinner party with a bunch of her various teacher-friends (yes, a dinner party full of teachers). It was really fun with lots of great food and a chocolate fountain. Yum.

Today, I have to drag my sorry self to the gym to try and maybe work off some of yesterday's food. Then, I plan to mark for a bit at Starbucks with a frappucino. Then, it's Becca T's not-so-much of a surprise REM concert! I'm very excited. It was supposed to thunderstorm today, which would be bad news because all I could afford was uncovered lawn seats. However, the morning was sunny and there are a few clouds now, but nothing ominous looking. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Honey won't you let your red heart show?

Note: If my dear real-life friends Mathew and Becca T are reading this (which I'm pretty sure you're not because I don't think you frequent my blog much), you should probably look away because I am going to blog about your birthday presents. You have been warned. Don't ruin it for yourselves!

It's hump day of the second last proper week of school before exams start and the pace slows down and I'll have time to breathe a bit more.
Anyway, yesterday I had like the best random shopping experience at Indigo (bookstore). I wandered in there on my way home from work to get some birthday cards and stuff for people (I like buying neat cards)and I scored some other cool stuff that I actually just had to take pictures of, and post on here (I haven't done that in a long while).

They had iPod gelaskins on sale for 75% off. I got a Kandinsky for mine, and also one to add to Becca T's 30th bday gift (her fave painting: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai).

Then I found the best thing ever: ticket stub diaries! Albums with slots for all of your tickets and spaces to write about your concerts. I am so going to take a day this summer to dig up all my old ticket stubs and organize them. I'm excited! I got one for my pals Becca T and Mathew, who enjoy concerts *almost* as much as me.

Then, when I got home yesterday, I noticed that a band that I discovered in March, Hey Rosetta! (they played on stage with Hawksley when I saw him in March) had come out with a new album, Into Your Lungs, and it was only $6.93 on Itunes! I downloaded it and it is brilliant! I am pretty sure it will make it onto my top 10 list for 2008. I love each and every song, but my favourite is Red Heart (see post title). I love the strings, the piano, and the way most of the songs start off rather calm and then crescendo into a frenzy. Love love love.

So those are some of the the current enjoyabilities in my life. Oh, and I had the best cookie today too. That was pretty sweet.

Things to complain about:
a) I seem to have lost my favourite school-teacher-y sweater. It was a pretty boring garment, but useful, and it's totally disappeared. Last time I remember seeing it was last week when I washed it, and I'm pretty sure I did not wear it since. Hmmm... Maybe I have a sweater-eating monster living in my apartment that I wasn't aware of.
b) Vast piles of marking. I still have about 8 sets of major assignments to mark before the end. Boo.
c) Making plans that I didn't really want to make, and then keeping them because I am not a plan-breaker. Maybe they won't be as bad as I fear.
d) Assignment time for my online course has crept up again. Boo-urns.

All right, enough of the complaining. It is highly unproductive, but I do find that there is some value in venting. Although it seems like I've been doing far too much venting these days. Oh well, c'est la vie.

ps Thanks for the finger crossing on Friday. I might need more of it next week. :)