Sunday, December 31, 2006
New Year
I may never be able to post another photo. Jamie's computer conveniently has a port on the front for the camera's flash card, so I always use his for uploading pictures. And unfortunately, we haven't gotten our networking to work properly yet (don't even get me started or my head might explode), so I can't even get to the pictures that are on the computer but not online.

So what's the problem, you ask?

I gave Jamie World of Warcraft for Christmas. It's a good thing I have many delightful hobbies of my own, since I'm fairly sure I'm never going to lay eyes on my husband again.

And so here we are at the end of the year. The last few days have been pretty uneventful - mostly just working, with a brief visit from Jana to spice things up a little. I'm fairly sure that I saw Jana more in 2006 than I have in any other year since she moved away from Edmonton. This is a very good thing that we're hoping to continue into 2007.

As for resolutions, they aren't anything epic this year. I'm hoping to get back into updating my book log, because I really miss having that record. I plan to knit for myself more, something I've already started with a hat and most of a pair of mittens already done, another hat (in glorios Manos) already started, and the yarn ordered and pattern purchased for my very own Rogue. There are a lot of babies to knit for, but that's ok. Babies deserve hand knit items. I've now knit something for most of my friends and family (with a few exceptions), so I don't feel quite so compelled to only knit for others. That does not mean, however, that I will only knit for myself. Because I do really like to give knitted gifts.

I also want to write more this year outside NaNoWriMo and Holidailies. Although this was my highest output year ever for NaNo, and for the first time ever I've actually done all 31 days of Holidailies (woohoo!), it's not really very structured writing. I know I can do better than I have been doing, and I really have no excuse not to.

So, 2007, bring it on. Happy New Year, everyone!
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Socks, part one
I made a lot of socks for Christmas. Eight pairs, to be precise, and I still have one more pair to finish and give away for a non-Christmas event coming up next week. (No, Erin, I did not knit you socks for your birthday. Sorry. You got a sweater. No complaining.)

As with all the photos on this blog, you can click on them for larger versions.

The first pair was actually knit over the summer. They were originally intended for my sister-in-law's mother, who was quite sick. Unfortunately, she passed away before I could give them to her, so I finished them up and saved them for my sister-in-law.

Donna's socks 3

They're just basic stockinette socks in KP Sock Garden Hydrangea, which I bought before they discontinued it. They striped quite nicely, I thought. Top down, and I believe I knit these on a 40 inch Addi Turbo size 1. I wouldn't stake money on it, though. Memo to self: keep better notes on projects in the new year. They fit Donna very well and she really liked them. She had the distinction of being the only member of Jamie's family who got a knit present on Christmas Day. (My stepmother-in-law also got a felted bag from me, but that wasn't on Christmas.) I knit for all of them last year so they get a year off from knitted gifts. I might knit my mother-in-law a sweater at some point, though, because she would really love that.

Next up is a pair of Jaywalkers that I knit for Chantal. They're actually my second pair of Christmas Jaywalkers, but they're the first ones I gave and I haven't put up the pictures of the first pair yet, so here you go.

Chantal saw me knitting the first pair (which were for Jana), and admired the pattern. (She knits, so she is more likely than most to pay attention to what I'm working on. Although to give my non-knitting friends credit, they are all very tolerant of me rambling about knitting. Extensively. Especially Karen, although she wants to learn. Still, it is appreciated! And they're all taking up knitting anyway so I choose to take credit for that.) Fortunately, I'd already planned to make her a pair of Jaywalkers, and I decided to test out Cara's favourite combo of Jaywalkers and Socks that Rock.
Chantal's Jaywalkers 2

This is, of course, the famous Grumperina Jaywalker, which pretty much everyone in the universe has knit at some point. It is a delightful pattern even if the fit is a bit of a bitch, and I love how quickly it knits up. This pair is in Socks that Rock Queen Rock colour, and it was knit on a KP 32 inch circular, size 1.

Chantal's Jaywalkers

As you can see, it striped quite nicely on the legs but is pooly in the feet. My other pair is exactly opposite, which kind of amused me. (Photos of the other socks will probably be in the next entry.)

Next up is one of my favourite pairs. I decided back in the summer that I was going to knit my sister's boyfriend a pair of socks, but I changed my mind several times on what kind of socks they'd be. But then, inspiration struck, and I contacted Dani over at Sunshine Yarns. (Memo to friends who never know what to buy me: Dani has gift certificates and I LOVE her yarn. She is the one who dies the fabulous Gryffindor yarn.) She did a fantastic custom dye job for me and sent me the yarn for these:

Dave's Roughrider Socks 2

Dave's first guess (reasonably enough, since he lives with the Gryffindor socks) was that these were Slytherin socks. But they are, in fact, Roughrider socks. As in the CFL football team that is Saskatchewan's only professional sports team, and therefore is much beloved by Dave and pretty much everyone else in the entire province. (There's not a lot else going on in Saskatchewan.)

He was very impressed, and was most amazed at how accurate the colour was. (Dani kicks ass.) He wore them for all of Christmas and enjoyed them immensely, particularly since they managed to be warm but not sweaty. I'm very pleased with them. They were knit on the Addi size 1 40 inch. Straight stockinette, nothing fancy. These were in Dave's stocking.

Beth also got socks in her stocking. We always put silly Christmas socks in each other's stockings (this year I didn't get any, but I did get sock yarn which is even better so no complaints here), so I decided I'd make her some. However, since she was also getting a sweater, and got a pair of socks in August (you can see why my Stitch N Bitch thinks I only knit for my sister!), hers were the last pair to get knit. Hence, they are kind of little short socks, but she likes that so it's ok.

Beth's Christmas Socks 2

Aren't they festive? Those are, again, straight stockinette socks in KP Sock Garden Hollyberry, knit on Addi size 1s. (I stocked up on that yarn before they discontinued it.) They also fit very nicely.

And then, there is my crowning glory. The socks that, six months ago, I was absolutely convinced I'd never be able to knit. The socks that taught me how to read charts, and more importantly, how to read my knitting. That's right. The mighty Pomatomus.

Kristy's Pomatomuses 2

These took me longer than any other pair but I think they are the nicest. They're for Kristy (who better appreciate them, dammit), and they turned out really well. As you can see in this picture

Kristy's Pomatomuses

they pooled totally unevenly, but I don't care. The scales are fantastic, and they are also the first time my mother ever looked at something I was knitting and said "goodness, how do you do that?" That was a proud moment. These are in Socks that Rock Ruby Slippers, which is an awesome colourway, and were knit on my KP Size 1, I think.

So those are the first five pairs of socks. The other three pairs will follow shortly - their pictures have been taken, I just haven't put them up on flickr yet. Stay tuned! (I know, you're waiting with bated breath.)

It was a lot of sock knitting, and I'm a little teeny bit burned out on socks. I think once I finish that other sock, I'll take a small break. I've already made myself a hat and am working on a pair of mittens (my first mittens! I love mittens! They're so cute, and the thumb is so neat, and they're so fast and easy compared to socks!), and I've ordered the yarn for my Rogue and for the first baby blanket I need to make, but I think I'll be back to socks after a week off. Once they aren't deadline socks, I suspect they're going to be a lot more appealing.

Plus, I have yarn for my own pair of Gryffindor socks. And that is going to rule.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Branching Out into Branching Out
When I started knitting Branching Out, I'd never knit lace before. But I understood all the theory behind lace, so I figured what the hell? The whole idea behind Branching Out is exactly what it says it is, right? And all these internet knitters are totally nuts about lace, so why not see what all the fuss is about?

So I started it. And I knit a little, and then I frogged it. And started it again. And frogged it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I probably knit that first repeat ten times. I took it to Britain to knit on the train (fewer distractions on the train), and I sort of kind of started to get it. I got to the second repeat with minimal disaster - not to suggest that it was flawless, because it was far from it, but I was surviving.

And then I didn't touch the stupid thing for almost six months. It was near the bottom of my list of Christmas knitting, as I had other things planned to give my mother. Also, being that she is a total rock star knitter, I didn't really want to give her something crappy. She never knits for herself anymore, having been sidelined for years by a shoulder injury and now pretty much limiting herself to baby outfits (and they are always incredible outfits), but still. She knows her shit. Plus, she taught me how to knit so I felt like I needed to really not suck.

So between the total sucking and the lack of time and the million other things to knit, it got sidelined. I picked it up again after finishing almost everything else with about two weeks to go. I knit a repeat or so, and then discovered that my lovely laceweight yarn was tangled. Like, really, really tangled. And I stared at it for a while, and then I decided that I couldn't face untangling laceweight.

So I frogged it. It was only about three repeats, but it was still painful. I ditched the yarn and rummaged through my stash until I found another skein of laceweight: Shadow in Jewel. It was a lovely colour that I knew mum would like, so I wound it up (the previous yarn predated my winder and swift, so it was wound by hand rather poorly, hence the horrible tangle that ate the universe) and cast on again.

And somehow, it stuck this time. I switched over to the chart, having learned how to chart from Pomatomus, which was ONLY in chart form (thanks, Cookie, for making me love your socks so much I was forced to learn charts!), and suddenly I was actually getting it right. I only wanted a little wee mini Branching Out for her to wear to work with the blazers she wears all the time, so I didn't need one that could actually go around the neck or anything. I did some math and figured 22 repeats would do it. I knit it in every spare minute - coffee breaks at work, parties - and I learned to tune things out when I needed to work on the lace rows and join back in on the purl rows.

There was a while there where I had to put it down, because I was convinced I'd run out of time. Beth's Christmas socks weren't done, I still had to weave in eleventy million ends, and there was all that wrapping to do. But then I had two days off, and I finished the sock, and suddenly, it was do-able.

And here it is.

Branching Out 1

Mum loved it. Her first remark when she opened up the box was "good heavens, did you make this?" Which for someone who is as knitty as she is, is quite a compliment. She wore it around all day and said she was looking forward to showing it off to all her friends. I can't even remember anyone else ever knitting her anything (the same theory as buying books and yarn - too intimidating!) so it was nice to be able to do that. It was probably the most satisfying gift I gave this year.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
A Samus for my Sister
As mentioned in the previous post, I knit my sister a sweater. I don't have the photos of her wearing it yet, but I do have the ones I took before I gave it to her.

This sweater was actually mentioned several times on this blog, but not directly. It was the mystery project mentioned here. You see, if you look at this sweater, it has a rather elaborate cabled waistband. I had a spreadsheet on my computer set up to do this (I didn't use charts yet, so I needed the written instructions), so I was tied to my chair in order to knit it. (Uh, not literally tied, although sometimes I got very tangled in the yarn.), and the first half of the waistband took forEVER.

Fortunately, as I mentioned rather cryptically in that entry, I learned how to cable without a cable needle (Thanks, Grumperina!), which sped the process up a great deal.

So here it is in all its glory. This is Samus, from Knitty.

Samus Cuff Detail 2

Samus 2

It was knit in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hollyberry, on a Denise size 7. I have no idea how many balls of yarn I used. (Sorry. I'm a bad knitblogger.) It is lovely and pretty and my sister really likes it. I'm going to put some form of closures on it (a zipper? Toggles? This is to be decided), but other than that it's all done, including the endless, ENDLESS applied i-cord around the entire edge of the sweater.

It is an excellent pattern and very easy to follow. Instructions were clear, photos were helpful, and the sweater looks great. It's pretty good for my second sweater ever, I think. (Tubey was the third.)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
When my family asked me for my Christmas list this year, the number one item on it was yarn. Yarn is an excellent present for me. I like yarn! I use yarn! It is something I will get to enjoy and think of you! But much like many people don't like to buy me books because I have a lot of them and know a lot about them, most people are a little nervous about buying me yarn. (Reasonably enough.)

Fortunately for me, my sister does not feel the same way. Whose sister rules? My sister! (And her boyfriend too, although I'm not sure how participatory he was in this. However, I can't fault that as my sister received a hand knit sweater, photos to follow, so it's not like Jamie was highly participatory in her gift. Although he does clean the house while I knit, so he did help.)

Anyway, Beth went with my stepmother-in-law on a trek to several yarn stores around Vancouver, where she lives. In my stocking, I found this!

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the colourway Flames which I specifically mentioned to Beth as being one I was very partial to. (Have I mentioned that my sister rules? She listens to me talk about yarn and looks at websites and makes encouraging remarks! This pays off as I knit more for her than anyone else, so it's a sound strategy, but it is nonetheless appreciated.) This was in my stocking. Yay!

This was the first package under the tree that I unwrapped. It's handspun hand dyed yarn, and that's all I know. I'm pretty sure it's 100% wool, and the colours are really awesome. It's a little scratchy so I gave it a bath in wool wash and we'll see how it is after that. Suggestions welcome for what it would look best in that doesn't need to go next to the skin!

And, finally, the really awesome one - this is 100% silk. Woo! The colours are GORGEOUS and it's 100g of laceweight, so I could really do something quite epic with this. I have no idea what. I'm a little intimidated by it, actually - I feel like I'm not smart enough for this yarn. But I will soldier on and make something with it. It's already wound up and looking pettable over on the desk.

I did get many other excellent gifts - a laptop backpack (which will be really useful for travelling when I take my laptop, as it means I won't have to take a backpack AND my laptop case), both seasons of Veronica Mars (woohoooo!), a gift certificate for the bookstore (yay!), Season 1 of ER on DVD, and a shirt that I picked out myself. But the yarn is the most exciting, I think. Jamie bought me yarn for my birthday, but that was yarn that I specifically asked for. This is randomly chosen yarn! By a non-knitter! Isn't it impressive? Clearly the knitting knowledge is in the genes even if she doesn't know how to knit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Christmas: Original Flavour
So we're 50% finished with Christmas. Today, it starts all over again with Christmas Eve II: Christmas Evealoo.

My sister and her boyfriend get in this evening, and so we're wrapping presents tonight and watching Muppets and hanging stockings, and then tomorrow we're having a full Christmas. Which is actually quite excellent, because yesterday we spent about four hours opening presents (yeah, I know), so it was nice to go see my parents and just hang out, and this way the presents last for longer.

As detailed in the previous entry, the highlight of my gifts was the impending Wii, but my in-laws also got me a variety of highly excellent things. My brother- and sister-in-law got me a hilarious Pirates of the Cowibbean shirt, in which a cow is wearing a peg leg, an eyepatch and an earring and has a parrot on his shoulder (hee), and the dice game from the Pirates movie. My other brother- and sister-in-law got me a really nice outfit, and their kids got us a board game. (Artifact - I hear it's good. Do any of you friends of mine know how to play so we don't have to try to figure it out?)

My mother- and stepfather-in-law got me a subscription to Entertainment Weekly (woohoo!), a movie gift certificate and a pile of gift certificates for my favourite movie rental place (which my father- and stepmother-in-law also got us, although for a different movie place, which means I can rent a ton of TV on DVD to watch while I knit), some snacks, a variety of little goodies in my stocking, a chocolate fondue kit, and SHOES!

Whee! Shoes! Now, usually I am not very exciting about shoes, because I wear my Dansko clogs pretty much all the time and my running shoes if I'm not wearing my clogs. But my clogs have a tear in them, so I asked for a new pair. So I got a $200 gift certificate for Gravity Pope, which is the best shoe store in town that happens to carry the Danskos. Awesome! I'm way too cheap for shopping there usually, but this meant I could go shopping with abandon. I looked up their website and discovered they were having a HUGE boxing week sale, so I called up Kristy today (ah, it's good to have friends whose immediate reaction to "wanna go shoe shopping?" is "let me get my coat.") and we headed down. Normally I would avoid Boxing Day shopping (unlike in the U.S., it's a holiday here so everyone in the universe is out shopping except for the poor people who work retail), but since I'm busy the rest of the week it was my only chance to go before Sunday, and I figured they'd be sold out of everything by Sunday.

It was an absolute zoo in the store, not helped by the malfunctioning security system that kept going off randomly. After several attempts by the helpful shoe guy to find my size in clogs that were on sale, he brought me a black pair and a brown pair. (I was tempted by the red ones but they weren't on sale, and I decided I'd rather have two pairs than one red pair, even though they were excellent.) I settled on the black ones and decided that if they didn't have any other shoes I liked in my size, I'd get the brown ones too. I rejected several pairs - I have big feet and many shoes make them look like boats - and a lot of the ones I liked they didn't have in my size.

But then I spotted these.


They aren't as pink as that photo would have you believe - more of a purple. And they are so cute and, more importantly, comfortable! And they are totally the cutest shoes I've ever owned, and they were on sale! So I got both my clogs and these for only the price of GST. Woo!

I'm going to wear them to the airport and freak out my sister. The fact that I have purply sparkly shoes with a heel on the will totally knock her over. Hee.

And tomorrow is another round. Woohoo!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Ok, technically, it isn't the first gift I've gotten - I got Cars from Kristy (I watched half of it earlier today while wrapping and knitting a mitten), a headlamp from Mel so I can knit in the dark (particularly good in the car when someone else is driving), a page-a-day knitting calendar from Erin and Ashley (woo! Nerdy!), as well as a restaurant gift certificate from them, and a hilarious sock monster kit from Colin, which is going to be a source of great amusement to me, I think.

BUT! Jamie and I just got home from church, and we exchanged presents as per tradition. Since we're running around with each others' families on Christmas Day, we do our presents after the midnight church lets out. It's technically Christmas but it gives us a few minutes to ourselves.

There was a little tiny box under the tree for me, and I thought it was the earrings I'd requested. (Lest you all think I've become some pod person who wants bling for Christmas, I wanted sleeper hoops, which is pretty much the plainest kind of earring in the universe.) But I opened it up, and it was Jamie's cufflink box. Inside which was a coupon for a Wii.


I asked for one and totally didn't think I'd get it (well, I knew I wouldn't get the physical item since they're impossible to get, but I didn't think I'd get a coupon either), because when I told Jamie I wanted one after playing it a while ago, he told me I was being whimsical and didn't really want one. But apparently, he played it and realised that, actually, it's really ridiculously fun and I wasn't just being whimsical.

So as soon as they're available for people who DON'T want to get up at 4AM to line up, I'm getting a Wii, baby!


Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you have an excellent day.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The first gift is given!
After a frenzy of photographing and wrapping earlier today, all the knitted gifts have had their pictures taken (as well as a group shot), and are wrapped up and waiting for their recipients. I was a little nervous that they weren't all going to be done before the first one had to go out, which is why I stayed up half the night weaving in ends, since I knew the first gift would go out today.

And that gift was...Tubey!

I'm not putting all the pictures of Tubey right onto the blog, because some of the photos have little bits of other gifts on them. So if you know me in real life (unless you're Jamie, because he was here when I was taking photos so obviously none of them are for him), don't go click over to flickr, okay? It doesn't give much away, but still. You can enjoy the pictures here on the page - there's only a little hint of one other gift, and it's for someone I'm pretty sure doesn't read my blog anyway.

Here's a shot of the neckline.

Tubey's Neckline

A closeup of the colours:

Close up of Tubey

And here's Erin wearing it! (She has a shirt on underneath that got a little bunched up, but you get the idea and you can see that it fits really well.

Erin wearing Tubey!

One of the crucial elements of Tubey is the cross-back measurement. This pattern is knit in two tubes (hence the name), with the sleeves in one big long section, which means there's not a ton of stretch across the back. I was quite nervous about this, because if it doesn't fit well it's (a) uncomfortable, and (b) looks crappy. Before Erin moved into our basement suite, a bunch of her clothes were stored in the garage, so I snuck out one of her shirts (I knew she wouldn't think it was creepy - we lived together for a year so I frequently handled her laundry and not in a creepy stalker way) and measured it across the back. After that I basically just had to hope for the best.

The back of Tubey

It fits perfectly. Yay! Even better, Erin really likes the design, as I thought she would. It suits her, she likes the colours, and the fit is excellent. Woohoo!

I started Tubey on, I believe, August 11th, and finished September 22nd. (I didn't, however, weave in the ends until yesterday, because there were a million and I HATE doing that.) It was a fast and pleasant knit, and a very well written and easy to follow.

Tubey was knit in Knit Picks Swish, which I HIGHLY recommend using for this sweater. It's not too expensive, it's soft which is great for a next-to-the-skin sweater such as this one, and the colours are very nice. It's also washable, although we haven't washed it yet. (Since Erin and I share washing facilities, I decided not to attempt to wash it without her seeing it. She almost busted me several times as it was!) The colours are black, ballerina, bordeaux, and I think the other one is capri. (I didn't take very good notes, clearly.) It was knit entirely on a KP Options needle size 7, with magic loop for the sleeves.

It was a great knit, and I am so freaking happy that Erin liked it so much (she totally squealed, as predicted), and it fits so well. Here's hoping the other gifts are equally successful!

(Even better? Currently in my lap is a mitten. A mitten for ME! Which is already well past the cuff. Yayyyy! I'm even using DPNs, which I haven't done in about six months. I decided to go old school for my first mitten. And after making a million socks, it is just speeding by! I'm using Socks that Rock heavyweight, and it is looks awesome.)
Done. Done!
Sweet merciful heavens. I did it. I just wove in the last end on my last sock. There is still one thing blocking in the other room, but everything's woven in on that so it just needs unpinning.

That means two sweaters, eight pairs of socks, and a lace scarf, all ready for Christmas. And with a whole day to spare!

Of course, I still have to wrap everything tomorrow. Oh, lord. But first, a photo session! I will take a bunch of pictures and do a post-holiday wrapup some time later this week once I've given away all the presents.

I can't believe I actually did it. My god. Last week I'd pretty much given up on any hope of finishing the scarf, but here I am! With more than 24 hours to spare!

What the hell am I going to knit now? I might actually have to cast on something for myself!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Nerd Tree
There has never really been any doubt that Jamie and I are big nerds. We aren't necessarily the same kind of nerd, although there is definitely overlap. I am a book nerd, a knitting nerd, and just sort of a general nerd. Jamie is a music nerd (although a very specific type of music nerd, as he's never heard of Debbie Gibson and didn't recognize Prince, so he's obviously not an 80s music nerd), a Lord of the Rings nerd (although not a terribly hard core one), a Star Wars nerd, and also a general nerd although not in the same areas as me.

Our Christmas tree is a pretty good reflection of this nerdiness. (Note: if you really want to see close ups of our ornaments, you can click the photos to go to flickr.) Trumpet

This is only one of the many nerdy instruments on our tree. There are two trumpets (this one is really heavy and actually quite realistic, at least to my unprofessional eye), one saxophone (a tenor, alas, even though I play alto), a French Horn, and a lot of bells.

Then, there are the Star Wars ornaments. I went on a bit of a spree last year and put a bunch of them in Jamie's stocking.

The M-Peror
This is the M-Peror. Yes, groam. He has a little matching friend on top of our tv, where he lives with the Spud Trooper and Darth Tater. I wanted to get the R2-Potatoo, but he's expensive and hard to find.

Naboo Starfighter
This is a Naboo Starfighter that makes battle noises! It's pretty cool, actually - you can see the little R2D2 riding in it. (Yes, I had to ask Jamie what kind of ship it was. We also have two mini ships - the Millenium Falcon and a TIE Fighter but I didn't take photos of those.)

He talks!

Darth Vader here is actually quite elaborate. You press a button and he breathes and says a variety of ominous things. The sound is surprisingly good for, you know, a tree ornament.

Darth and the Death Star
Look, he's overseeing the Death Star! Hee. I didn't notice the well-placed ball until I'd taken the first picture but then I couldn't resist another one.

Frodo and Sting, who doesn't glow but is surprisingly pointy.

Frodo and the Naboo Starfighter
Frodo and a Starfighter, together at last.

Now, you may be thinking that thus far, this is an awfully Jamie-nerdy tree. Fear not.

This is the super awesome hand knit sweater ornament that one of my Knitty Secret Pals, poppins, made for me. Isn't it cute? It's pink and stripy and it's the first ornament I put on the tree. It's sitting straight across from my knitting chair where I can see it. I kind of want to make myself a full sized version - I like the colours!

Reading Girl
This is one of my favourites. Debbie gave it to me last year, because she said it made her think of me. Hee. I like that people think of me when they see nerdy reading things!

Dorothy and the Lion
This isn't a great picture, but check it out - her shoes are TOTALLY sparkly. My mother-in-law gave this to me several years ago.

Fresh Eggs
This is one of my favourite ornaments simply because it is just so random. It is exactly what it looks like - a little teeny wire basket with eggs inside. It is very small and I have no idea what on earth it has to do with Christmas, but it is very cute and silly.

This isn't actually on our tree, nor is it specifically Christmas, but man is it nerdy.

That is the Disneyland Castle, with Mickey and Minnie standing in front, lit up by Christmas lights on our mantle. I am very fond of it and it looks particularly nice this time of year. This might be the nerdiest thing in the whole room, but it is also my favourite.

This isn't nerdy, but it's very sweet.


Jamie's cat Pood died several years ago, so Jamie made up little photo ornaments for all his family.

So there you go. Don't worry, there are plenty of non-nerd things on the tree, much to my mother's relief, but those aren't quite as entertaining. I like that our Christmas tree reflects our personalities. It wouldn't take long for someone to figure us out, looking at this tree.

The mess in the rest of the room would go a long way to get to know us, too.
No more shopping!
The Christmas shopping, it is finished! Halle-freaking-lujah.

Of course, I am such a fabulous friend that I'm taking Mel shopping on Saturday. Yeah. Saturday December 23rd. AKA the worst shopping day in the universe. I am clearly the greatest friend in the history of the universe. (Especially since not only does it mean dealing with stores, but missing several hours of possible knitting time.)

And now Jamie has put the lights up on the tree, and we've had the traditional light-putting-up while watching Beverly Hills, a classic Christmas tradition to be sure. (Jamie is totally getting sucked in and it's hilarious. His alternate dialogue is worth the price of renting the stupid show.)

Even better than being done my Christmas shopping? I'm done work for a week. A glorious week of nothing to do but wrap presents, eat, open presents, and sit around. Ok, and knit furiously. Whee!

Oh, and face shopping on Saturday. Right. Woo.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Finishing the job
The applied i-cord that ate the universe is finished. Its recipient is blocking as we speak, and the heavens are rejoicing.

Although I inherited many delightful things from my mother (ability to read really damn fast, mad bad poetry skills, a knack for libraries, etc.), one of the things I'd rather have passed on is her hatred of finishing knitting projects. By finishing, I mean the actual seaming, blocking, etc. I hate it, and I'm not very good at it. Mum is pretty good at it (reasonably enough, since she's been doing it for like, 50 years at this point), but she foists it off whenever possible.

I might actually take a class. I plan to knit myself a Rogue in the new year (WHEE!) and the yarn store I go to a lot offers one on one finishing technique help, so I might knit up the parts of the sweater and then take a class to help me finish it. Because I don't want to knit up that whole glorious sweater and then wreck it in the finishing. Maybe that can be my Christmas present to myself.

Anyway, it's done, and blocking, and the only other sweater waiting to be finished is Tubey which has NO SEAMS (yay Tubey!) and just needs eighty million ends woven in.

And Pomatomus has less than one repeat left before the toe, and then there's the straight stockinette, and my god, the end is in sight!

And then I just have to wrap everything. Gah.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Year in Review
So. How was 2006? Since I was lousy at updating here this year, I figured I’d write a brief year in review post. Not least because part of the reason I’m lousy at updating is my life is not really daily post exciting, and I’m running out of things to talk about.

2006 started off rather unusually for me, in that I really didn’t know what was going to happen. My life previous to this year was fairly planned in advance. 2005 was a major event year, with two major vacations, a move, and getting married all lined up in advance of New Year’s. 2004 was a little more unpredictable, with a new job and a proposal that I wasn’t anticipating, but I also moved that year and much of the year revolved around that – planning with Erin for our apartment, finding an apartment, moving into it, settling in, etc. 2003, I was still in school, which is always kind of predictable, and although the post-school life was a bit of a gaping maw, it still felt a little more predictable.

This year, though, I started the year without any major plans for my life. For the first time since 2002, I didn’t move in 2006. This was a significant life improvement, let me tell you – an entire year that didn’t feature a single box to be packed or unpacked, aside from presents that I mailed. (Those are the good kind of boxes to unpack.)

January was not a very exciting month. We were totally broke from Christmas (we’ve toned down somewhat this year in the hopes of not being quite so broke afterwards), and most of the month was spent bopping around at home. I went to visit Jana, briefly, for the first time in several months. But apart from that, January was pretty uneventful.

February, of course, featured the Knitting Olympics, which although it may not seem like a major event, was fairly pivotal. That was the point in time where I went from being a fairly enthusiastic knitter to a totally obsessive one. And given that I knit my first pair of socks during the Olympics, it was also the beginning of a slippery slope. I think, if my math is correct, that by the end of the year I will have made sixteen pairs of socks since February. That’s pretty good! (I’m no stariel, but it’s not too bad for my first year of sock knitting. I’m sure there will be more next year.)

The other major event of February was my much beloved Lucy’s death. I still try not to think about it too much, because it depresses the hell out of me and I miss her more than I care to admit. There was a brief moment last night, decorating my parents’ tree, that it hit me again, because Christmas has always featured Lucy as long as we’ve lived here. It’s strange and sad that this year, neither my sister nor my cat will be here on Christmas Day. Fortunately, my sister is coming the next day. I wish I could say the same for my kitty. I miss her.

In March, we went to Vancouver and Victoria to visit the various and sundry people who live there, which was quite delightful. I hadn’t been to Vancouver since my fourth year of university, and it was nice to be able to hang out there for a while. Jamie hadn’t been in even longer, and it was good to be able to go away for a fairly low key vacation.

April was the beginning of the Oilers playoff run that would consume the city and my family for two months. That’s really the only eventful thing that happened in April – it was not a very exciting month. May was much of the same – we started going down to Whyte Avenue after the games to enjoy the mayhem and just participate in one of those rare group insanity moments that are entertaining until people get stupid about it. (Flashing? Kind of amusing. Lighting stuffed sharks and ducks on fire? Probably dangerous, but still a fairly witty commentary. Lighting large fires out of things you found on the street? Less entertaining.)

June, of course, brought our trip to Britain, which was awesome. We were there for about three weeks, some of which overlapped with my family. There are actually a couple of entries about the trip (I know, it’s a miracle) here and here. It also brought the loss of the Oilers in game seven (which I’m still embarrassingly depressed about). Sigh.

July featured the tail end of our trip, the Exhibition where Jamie discovered that he can no longer handle spinny rides and nearly barfed more than once, which means he will be totally lame on the teacups in Disneyland and therefore can ride them with Jana, who is equally lame, and Ben (Jana’s husband) and I can have our own teacup and spin like maniacs, woo!

July is also when I began my ridiculous Christmas knitting list. I had a few other things to finish up (mostly socks), but the only non-Christmas gift I have knit since August was a Gryffindor tie for my Halloween costume. I feel like that’s pretty impressive, actually – I don’t usually have that kind of dedication. I can’t wait to be able to post about all the things I’ve knit, because I’ve learned a ton and my knitting has improved a LOT since the summer, so I should actually have some knitting content after Christmas. (Some of you are thrilled, and some of you are groaning, I’m sure.)

The main event of August was my brother-in-law’s wedding. This actually also took up a lot of July, as Jamie and I were extremely helpful and did a lot of legwork and moral support. I was also extremely useful on the day of and was greatly appreciated for my mad wedding planning skillz. I also decided that my Welsh relations should hire themselves out to come to weddings, because it wasn’t quite the same without them. (I am looking forward to my sister’s theoretical wedding for this exact reason, because I figure it’s the only other wedding I’ll get to go to with a bunch of my friends and all my excellent relations. And I should really write another entry about the rest of our wedding, because it was super awesome fun.)

Post-wedding, I went to visit Jana for a while and go on a yarn crawl, which was a nice break from the wedding madness. Then, all of a sudden, summer was nearly over and it was Fringe time, which featured meeting Nathan Fillion, among other things.

September featured a new laptop, Neville, who I am quite fond of but will probably never love like I loved Giles. It also mostly featured knitting that I can’t post about yet. (Why didn’t I do this post next week? Oh well. Next week maybe I’ll do a Knitting Year in Review.) It also featured a new job, which is about five minutes away from my house and very convenient. (It’s actually the same job, just in a different place.) I also chaperoned band camp for Jamie, which made me feel approximately eight hundred years old. (Damn kids.)

October rolled around and NaNoWriMo started to gear up, along with Socktoberfest. I did knit several socks in October, but I also discovered that the Edmonton NaNo community has become kind of insane, and planning NaNo is starting to get fairly time consuming. Thank god for Karen, who agreed to be my co-ML this year. We got things together, threw an awesome kick-off party, and then had an excellent November. October also started out with a super fun random road trip, in which Erin and I drove to Red Deer to meet up with Jana. We stayed in a Travelodge (in the Sleepy Bear Den, featuring creepy bears everywhere you looked. We got a free stuffed bear which has since become a running joke between all of us, where we try to hide Creepy Bear somewhere to freak the other out. He even came to Calgary with me at the end of the month and hid out in Jana's bathroom cupboard and in her bag.), and hung out and painted our nails and watched bad TV and I taught Jana how to knit. I had to talk Erin into coming, but we had an awesome time and we're planning to do it again at some point. It's amazing how getting out of town can improve your mood by so much, even if it's only an hour and a half away and you're staying in a random motel. I also went down to Calgary with Jamie, who had a conference there, and hung out with Jana and went yarn shopping and generally did very little besides read, knit, and hang out, and it was very restful.

November, of course, featured very little besides NaNoWriMo. There was a little bit of knitting when I was procrastinating, but mostly novelling and planning NaNo events, which I think actually took more time than the novel itself. I did, however, hit a personal word count record with over 70,000 words, but I think the novel isn’t great and I liked last year’s better. Oh well. Can’t win them all, I guess.

Jana and Ben did come and visit though, which was awesome. We went to the Waterpark and just generally had a very fun time. It was nice to see them when we weren’t scheduled for fifty thousand things – generally they come up for a wedding or something, so it was nice just to hang out. I think I've seen more of Jana this fall than I have since she moved away, and it's been awesome. They're coming up again next week for her cousin's wedding, and even though I'm working part of the time it will be great to see them. I'm going to go visit in January, partly to hang out but also to see their NEW PUPPY who looks insanely cute.

NaNoWriMo was very successful, and our Thank God It's Over party was also a big hit. It was nice to be able to reclaim our lives, though, and Karen and I both had a total non week the first week of December to recover.

December so far you're pretty much caught up with, since I've actually been updating. (Thanks, holidailies!) And now I just have to hope that the knitting is done in time (one thing has been abandoned as unrealistic, once I realised that I still have to WRAP all of these things!), buy a couple more gifts, and try to find the Christmas spirit that so far hasn't really hit me.

It's been a good year. Nothing very eventful (aside from our trip, I suppose), but I'm not really complaining. I like things to be mostly predictable. It doesn't make for thrilling blogging, but it makes for pretty good living. And these days, I'll take that. There was a point in my life where I'd have bitched that my life was boring, but now? Boring doesn't seem so bad.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I don't understand this city. They finally decided last week that they were going to plow all the residential streets (which, you know, woo hoo and everything, but this shouldn't be such a huge deal, because we live in freaking Alberta and therefore they should flipping plow the god damn streets all the time!), and so this morning I got up to find the plow out in our crescent. Woo! Fortunately, I park out back, so I didn't have to plow-dodge to get out (which Jamie did), but when I come home for lunch I park out front.

So I headed home at lunch time with great enthusiasm because I was looking forward to not having to slalom down our street. Except I turned onto the street before ours, and it was...not plowed. And then I turned onto our street and it was also not plowed. The crescent at the end of the street? Totally plowed. The street leading to the crescent? Still snowy. The street that the plow had to DRIVE DOWN to plow our crescent.

What the fuck? Who's running this gong show? And they wonder why people make fun of municipal government. My god.
DVD Nostalgia
I'm not sure if Dawson's Creek or Beverly Hills 90210 is worse, but I spent two hours today watching the latter. (Fitting it in around the Survivor finale, which is possibly the worst of the lot, but my favourite won so I don't care.)

I didn't really like this show much when it was first on - I was nine when it started, so some of it was kind of lost on me. My sister, though, was 11, which was the perfect age to be totally sucked into all the drama. And we tended to watch each others' shows even if we didn't like them, because we had this elaborate system of sharing the TV that we both understand perfectly and nobody else, including our parents, can grasp even now. (I don't know why - it's perfectly logical.) Anyway, as a result, we watched mostly the same stuff and as a result dragged each other into a lot of shows we wouldn't have chosen on our own. (Beth gets credit for Friends, which I really objected to watching, and I get credit for The Simpsons, which Beth thought was stupid. There are many other instances of situations where we grudgingly admitted defeat several months or years down the line, but those are the two notable examples.)

Anyway, this show takes me back to being a pre-teen/teenager more than any other show, I think, probably because unlike almost everything else we used to watch, I haven't seen a single rerun since the show ended. And it's just so nineties. My god. The hair, the clothes, the slang...gah. It's like a bizarro time capsule in soap opera format.

And of course, I'm dying to watch the whole show now. Stupid addictive TV on DVD! I've got the first four discs out right now, and I'm going to burn through them this week while I knit. And then I will go back to the movie store and rent the rest of the season, because I have no shame.

On the knitting front, I've pretty much admitted defeat on the lace scarf, but everything else is going well. I'm going to have to have a Pomatomus blitz one day this week, but I'm starting to think I might actually make it! I'm nearly half done the applied icord that ate the universe, and once that's out of the way I can actually see the end in sight.

Fortunately, I've got the West Beverly gang to get me there.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The circle of life.
Late. Sleepy.

Why is it that I can stay home and stay up half the night knitting and watching TV and not feel like I'm going to die of exhaustion, but the minute I stay out until nearly 3 I may keel over any minute. I suspect I'm out of practice. I drove home down the party strip in Edmonton, and there were dozens of scantily clad girls trying to hail cabs and looking freezing, and it seems like a long time ago that that was my life. (Not that I was ever scantily clad in December. I was rarely scantily clad in the summer, although I did occasionally rise to a skirt. However, girl in fishnets and mini-skirt? You're dumb. It's cold! We live in Alberta! It's December! At least put a pair of freaking tights on.)

Anyway, instead of being out all night drinking, we were out all night playing video games. Oh dear, we've become lame. It kind of cracks me up, actually, that from the age of about 14 to 17 or so (when I started university), activities with friends tended to be renting movies, watching tv, playing games, whatever. But mostly staying in. Then, there was a five year flurry of going out every weekend, drinking and dancing and picking up guys and staying out until all hours. We'd survive on four hours of sleep on a regular basis which I totally can't do any more. And now, we're back to staying in most nights, playing games and hanging out and watching movies. (Although I guess we were technically out tonight, as work let me use our program room for Karen's birthday party.) It's all a giant cycle, I guess. Circle of life, blah blah blah.

Still, we generally have better food now, and can go home whenever we want because our parents aren't picking us up, and hey, back when I was in high school we didn't have Guitar Hero! Which is ridiculously fun, and my husband is alarmingly good at it. It is a close runner up for best game ever, but that honour still goes to Rayman's Raving Rabbids for the Wii, which is the most hilarious and insanely fun game I've ever played in my life.

DAAAAAAAAAAH. I'm going to bed.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Tree guy
It's the little things that put you in the holiday spirit. Don't get me wrong, I like the big things, like presents or turkey or family or whatever, but it's really the little things that do it. Things like watching the Grinch (already done once and likely at least another time before Christmas - it's a good wrapping movie), or listening to a particularly good Christmas CD, or eating a Christmas only cookie.

One of the big little things for me, though, has always been our tree guy. I don't even know his name - it was only last year that I discovered it wasn't Ed, even though he worked at Ed's Trees. But every year for the last fifteen, probably, we've bought our tree from the same guy. He remembered us every year (probably because we buy a really good tree so he makes lots of money off us), and he was very excited two years ago when I was getting a tree for my first apartment. He even gave us a deal on it. (It was a pretty puny little tree, although I was VERY fond of it.) He always gave me a chocolate when we paid, and there was something very satisfying about the continuity. I am in charge of picking the tree - it's only Dad and I that get to go, although Jamie has been allowed to accompany for the last two years since Dad has been sick and needs the help in tree-hauling. I sing Christmas carols loudly in the car to Dad's protests, even though he secretly likes it. We don't tell mum how much the tree costs, and everyone's happy.

But this year, there was a different tree guy. We got a perfectly nice tree - two of them, in fact, one for my parents' house and one for us, but it just wasn't the same without the tree guy. I don't know where he is, and I can't ask because I don't know his name. But it's sad, knowing that we have a tree that was sold to us by someone who wouldn't know us if he saw us on the street.

Maybe he retired from the tree business, or moved away, or just wasn't there today. I don't know. But I missed my tree guy.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Letters from a shopping trip
Dear Bookstore,

Thank you for having awesome Christmas music and helpful staff. The Charlie Brown Christmas CD is an excellent choice. Also, the parking is so good! How often can you say that ten days before Christmas?

Dear Bookstore owner,

Thank you for giving all your former employees a discount. My bank account is forever in your debt. Or, more to the point, I suppose, it isn't in fact in your debt. Thanks!

Dear Books,

Why must you be so irresistable? I work in a library, for god's sake, and yet I still wanted to bring you all home with me for myself. I didn't, but it was close. Quit it with the interestingness!

p.s. just kidding. Please don't stop being interesting. And please leap into my mother's bag for me if you see her in the store.

Dear Visa,

It's almost over, I promise. Only two more presents!

Dear drug store,

I know it's not your fault that the benefits system can't accept two different last names. But damn, that's lame. It's 2006! Almost 2007! I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has a diferent last name from her husband-who-has-the-benefits.

Dear benefits,

I love you and your delicious cheap drugs, but damn, get with the times! Different last name! Learn it, live it, love it.

Dear giant pile of snow that I parked next to,

You are very hard to resist. Nine-year-old me would have been all over you. Do you think people would look at me strangely if I climbed on you?

Dear lemonade,

Thanks for being on sale! I was going to buy you anyway, because I love your deliciousness enough to pay full price, but my husband glares at me if I don't wait for a sale.

Dear lineup,

Thanks for going elsewhere this evening! That's the first time ever that I didn't have to wait in line at that grocery store. Thumbs up!

Dear self,

Remember to shop at 6pm on Thursdays, as apparently that's the lineup free portion of the evening.

Dear corner by my house,

You are really freaking slippery and I'm getting tired of your attitude every time I try to turn into the alley to get to my garage. Even Erin is slipping on you and she has a brand new car! Knock it off. It's been above zero all week! Melt, damn you!

Dear husband,

Thanks for making dinner even if you put my pasta on a PLATE like a weirdo. It's still tasty, although I think it's tastier in a bowl. Still, pasta on a plate that I didn't have to make myself is tastier than self-made pasta in a bowl.

Dear knitting,

Aren't you done yet? God.

Dear blog,

Sorry, knitting calls.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Victory at the Laces!
Several months ago (like, June, I think), I started a scarf. A lace scarf, Branching Out to be specific, which was a fairly major step for me, since I was kind of afraid of lace. Winding the stupid yarn by hand nearly killed me, and I managed to get about one and a half repeats on the scarf after several froggings. I think I probably started the stupid thing about five times, and it still wasn't quite right. I gave up for a while, because there were other things higher on my Christmas priority list.

I picked it up again yesterday (not because my other knitting is done, but because of a brief moment of optimism that my other knitting WILL get done), and discovered that the yarn is...really damn tangled. I got a few more repeats out of it, but after about half an hour spent detangling, I made the agonizing decision to abandon it. I had another skein of laceweight yarn, and I didn't want to hate the scarf so much I couldn't stand to knit it.

So I pulled it off the needles. Today at lunch I wound the yarn and cast on again, and I've already gotten two repeats done. And the really awesome part is I haven't screwed it up yet. At some point when I was muddling through the repeats yesterday, something clicked. And now I can knit it without my brain exploding, and not only that, but I can actually follow the chart.

A chart! This is revolutionary! The chart revolution was actually due to Pomatomus, which came without written instructions. (Reasonably enough - that pattern would be impossible to do in words.) When I started Branching Out I avoided the chart and just went by the written instructions, because my brain doesn't work in visuals very well and generally prefers words. But somewhere in the Pomatomus process it clicked, and now I can zip along on a chart like nobody's business.

So sorry, chart people, for doubting you!

Now that I've written about it, though, I'm sure it's going to turn into a horrible disaster. Tempting fate and all.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
My stomach is disgruntled, my eye is weird and puffy and twitchy (no, it isn’t pink eye, because I’ve had that before and recognize its horrible awfulness immediately, because I had the worst case of pink eye ever that appeared in less than an hour after spring concert one year and then didn’t really go away for nearly TWO MONTHS because it kept jumping from eye to eye like a gross pink pogo stick), and my wisdom tooth hurts. (Well, more specifically, the area around my wisdom tooth hurts.)

Aren’t I just full of the holiday spirit today?

On the bright side, I returned all my overdue library stuff today (yes, I am aware that it’s disgraceful given that I am here every day), which marginally improved the state of the living room. Very marginally. Our house is a total disaster, but I have been knitting in every spare moment and using the to-knit list as an excuse to avoid it. Jamie is stupidly busy and never home, and so things are in rather alarming disrepair. We’ll have a major clean at some point, but that’s hardly an exciting event to look forward to. I like having a clean house, but man alive, I hate the cleaning part. However, if we don’t clean, there isn’t room for a Christmas tree (have I mentioned that our house is small?) so at least there’s motivation. Time, on the other hand, may be a problem. We are now at less than two weeks till Christmas. I’m busy tomorrow night, Jamie’s out Thursday, we might be going out on Friday, and Jamie’s weekend is ridiculous and my Saturday is booked solid from 9am to midnight, probably. And then suddenly it’s a week till Christmas and gaaaaah!

I hate days like these.

But I have Thursday evening free for Survivor, so I can knit around that, and then I have Friday off, so I can spend the whole day knitting with another bad TV marathon, which means another trip to the video store for more delightfully awful DVDs. (They didn’t have Beverly Hills when I was there, which is a damn shame.) Saturday I have to work, but Sunday evening is the Survivor finale, and my incredibly exciting life can continue.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Of carjackers and charity
Non stop action this evening after a slow couple of days. Just as Jamie and I were about to leave (both in separate directions), the back doorbell rang and Jamie opened the door to find a cop with a police dog. He needed to take a look inside our garage, because there was a carjacker on the lam in our neighbourhood, and the light in our garage was on.


Keep in mind the kind of neighbourhood I wrote about just the other day - this is a lemonade stand and water fights on the lawn kind of neighbourhood. Not generally one you'd associate with carjackings! But we're pretty close to Whyte Ave, which is apparently stabby central these days (one of the hockey blogs I read rather hilariously suggested calling it an "Edmonton handshake" or a"Whyte Ave how'd you do" if you get stabbed on Whyte, which is clearly very offensive and horribly demeaning to those who have been stabbed but is nonetheless very funny, and don't worry, I'm already going to hell anyway), so it's not totally inconceivable that this sort of shit would happen.

Anyway, there was not a carjacker in our garage. Erin had just left so the light from the garage door opener was still on, and we were pleasantly carjacker-free. Always a good thing.

Fortunately, from that I went to Stitch n Bitch, where we were wrapping up items for the charity knitting drive that the person who runs our SnB organized. We had around 300 hand knit items ready to go out to the Edmonton Women's Shelter, and my faith in humanity was greatly restored. Well, my faith in knitters, anyway. It was fun, and I got some knitting done, and many people admired my Pomatomuses (as they should, because that pattern is amazing), so I got to be societally useful and hang out with fun people at the same time.

SnB actually kind of reminds me of NaNoWriMo a little bit. It's this eclectic bunch of people that I would never otherwise come across in my daily life, all hanging out due to one common interest that other people probably find pretty weird. And while I wouldn't hang out with some of them outside the context of NaNo or SnB, it's fun while I'm there, and many of these people whose paths I never would have otherwise crossed turn out to be the type of people I would choose to hang out with. It's nice to know that in this weird post-university life where your friends are no longer in all the same places as you and your activities aren't arranged for you, it's still possible to meet people.

(Knitting update: Finished a sock today, and Pomatomus is well into the foot. My god, there is light at the end of the tunnel!)
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Lame but productive!
Man. I was just talking to my sister on MSN and realised that in the last 24 hours, all I have done is eat, sleep, watch Dawson's Creek, and knit.

That is possibly the lamest weekend in the history of the universe.

Fortunately, I'm going out tonight which may redeem me somewhat, and I have big exciting plans to watch Amazing Race when I get home, which isn't exactly going to win any coolness awards, but at least it's better than Dawson's Creek. And I have gotten a ton of knitting done! By the end of the evening I should have the leg of my second Pomatomus finished (those of you who are knitters are probably familiar with that pattern, those of you who aren't knitters probably don't care, and those of you who actually know me in real life should not google that because it's a present for one of you!), and considering I cast it on yesterday at about this time, I think that's pretty damn good.

Tomorrow is two weeks to Christmas. I don't have too many days off between now and then, but I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I can get this ridiculous list actually finished. Here's hoping, anyway.

That said, memo to self: next year, choose something a little less time consuming for mass production than socks. Maybe nice wrist warmers or something. Because this is ridiculous - with the exception of a Gryffindor tie for my Halloween costume, I haven't knit anything that wasn't a Christmas present since August. I want to knit something for myself!

Of course, there are now FIVE babies due in the first six months of next year, so it looks like it'll be all baby stuff, all the time. Five! That's crazy. And I'll just recover from that and maybe have time to knit myself a hat or something and it'll be Christmas all over again. Good thing I like knitting for other people.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Party like it's 1999.
I am having the girliest evening in the history of the universe. I rented four discs of Dawson's Creek (god bless video stores with excellent tv on dvd sections and nice staff who don't make fun of what I'm renting) and have been knitting for three straight hours. Unfortunately, I totally fucked up the last ten rows of my knitting and just frogged it, but that doesn't really reduce the ridiculously girly evening thus far. The yarn is even pink, for god's sake!

Jamie is out, although he did ask a lot of questions about the show when he was briefly home for dinner, and I suspect that he could easily get sucked into making fun of it. (Which is really all I'm doing. I picked discs at random based on ones I seemed to recall Pacey being all cute in. What? Oh, like you don't like Joshua Jackson. And it was rent three get one free!)

I have to say, though, this show has been somewhat ruined by Katie Holmes's recent insanity. I don't really buy her as the delightfully innocent Joey Potter anymore. Not that she was ever very believeable.

Am I blogging about Dawson's Creek? Jesus. What is this, 1999?

Also went Christmas shopping this afternoon, which was wildly productive but mostly on my mother's behalf. Knitting going well. Now if you excuse me, I have a really bad show to watch.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Do you think it's a sign?
There's this house a little ways away from us that always has a ton of Christmas lights. They've got candy canes all along their eavestrough, and a Christmas tree of lights on top of their front door, and all sorts of other crap all over their house. And then they have a huge stinking spotlight on a sign that says "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

Which is all fine and good, but if that's the case, shouldn't you tone down the large quantities of godless lights? Maybe they just want to make sure other people see the sign. Catch their attention with the overuse of lights and then surprise them with the sermon out of nowhere. Because, dontcha know, there's nothing more effective than a lawn sign to make people change their minds. "By god, you're RIGHT! I'm going to return these gifts and throw out the Christmas tree when I get home! Thanks, anonymous sign!"

I kind of feel the same way about bumper stickers. We saw a really awful anti-abortion one at West Edmonton Mall a few weeks ago, and we were speculating as to whether anyone has ever actually had their mind changed by a bumper sticker. Like, what, you're just sitting in traffic, and the overly cutesy rhyme on the car in front of you is going to cause a sudden epiphany? Wow, I had no IDEA abortion was actually murder! Bumper sticker, you've saved my life!

(I only have one bumper sticker on my car, and it's a Barenaked Ladies one that says BNL in the style of the European country stickers. It amuses me, because at least five people have seen my car and asked "ok, I have been trying to figure it out for three kilometers, but I'm stumped - what country is that?" I also have a bumper sticker that says "I'd rather be knitting" but I haven't put it on yet. Mostly because my car is always really dirty. But neither of those are trying to convince other people of anything, they are merely statements about me.)

In other news: Christmas shopping continuing to be under control, with several more presents purchased in the last few days. The second sock of the most recent pair is now onto the gusset decreases, with two more socks to go after this one. The end is sort of, almost, possibly starting to appear in the distance. There is hope for me yet.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Golly, mister, I'm just a girl!
So yesterday pretty much sucked. It was like the nine circles of hell, except every single circle was a different kind of bureaucratic hell. Doesn’t that sound like fun? It started off ok – I had the day off, so I slept in and puttered around the house for the first part of the day. I finished a sock (woo!) and cast on its mate, and once Jamie got home I talked to him for a while and we figured out our plans for the day. I got dressed (eventually) and we headed out.

First stop was my parents’ house, where we were signing the papers to officially sign the car over to me. (Don’t ask, yes we should have done it ages ago, nobody tell the authorities!) We filled out the little bill of sale, and Dad conspired with Jamie on a few Christmas presents, I drooled over their two new PVRs (like TiVo, but through Shaw, and I'm so jealous I may die), and oh, picked up some mail. (A few things still go to my parents.) The mail featured two letters from Revenue Canada – it’s a pain in the ass to change addresses with them so I haven’t done it yet, since I figure I can still get mail at my parents’ so it’s not a huge deal.

So I open up the two envelopes from Revenue Canada. One of them tells me that they’ve reassessed my taxes, because they reassessed Jamie’s taxes. Fine, we knew that, because he got a reassessment notice last week. Never mind that they’ve reassessed us once already – apparently they just like to change their minds on a whim down there. Oh, by the way, please send us $400.

Gah. Stupid bastards! Thanks for sending it right before Christmas, JERKS. God, I was pissed.

So then I open up the other one, and it’s another reassessment from the GST credit people. I am not exaggerating when I say this is at least the fourth reassessment from these guys on our GST credit eligibility. (I don’t even understand how they decide who gets it or what the hell it is, so don’t ask.) Once we combined our accounts after we got married, they decided we didn’t get a GST credit any more, so we had to send back what we got in 2004. Despite the fact that we didn’t get married until 2005. Stupid and annoying, but whatever. But then they reassess us again, and send me a cheque. But then Jamie gets a notice saying he has to send them a cheque, despite the fact that I got one from them. Does nobody talk to one another down there? Apparently not.

So I’ve been getting smaller GST cheques of late – it used to be around $80 a cheque, now it’s been around $40. Whatever, it’s free money, no complaints. Except now they’ve reassessed us AGAIN, and they want $100 back.

WHAT THE HELL? These stupid government agencies apparently just reassess on a whim, and then decide it will be a delightful Christmas present to send you a bill. Thanks a lot, jerks.

So I stomp around the house for a while, and then we head off to the AMA to deal with the insurance. Whoopee – more money to spend! Just what I was in the mood for. We get to the AMA, and go to the registration people only to be informed that we need insurance first. Fine. We go to the insurance side. After waiting for a while (this is why I keep knitting in my purse), we get directed over to see this guy.

We explain that we want to add a car to Jamie’s existing policy, which already has me on it so I can drive his car. He starts rambling about what we need to do and the accident he was in last week and how he didn’t get collision and regrets it and so we should definitely get collision! At first, he’s just kind of mildly irritating but sort of amusingly stereotypical, so I ignore it. But as we get further into things, I realise that whenever I ask him a question, he answers Jamie.

I mention this. He says it’s Jamie’s policy so it’s a privacy issue, and therefore he can only talk to Jamie about it. Well, that’s great, bucko, but I’m sitting right here so even if you’re talking to Jamie, guess what? I’m going to hear what you say! So you could acknowledge my existence without compromising his privacy. But apparently not, so I suggest that perhaps we can make it a joint account so that, you know, he’ll talk to me. He says that we can just do that over the phone, so I seize the opportunity to deal with this guy less than necessary and go with that.

Next up, he starts to explain how much it’s going to cost. Jamie’s insurance comes up at the end of December (worst timing ever!) and he paid it last week for the next six months. So when he gives us the quote for December to June, I point out that Jamie’s portion of that is in fact already paid.

Yeah. He seemed to think that I just wasn’t understanding the math (terribly complicated that it was, you understand), and got very huffy (to be fair, I was pretty huffy too), and said, incredibly condescendingly, “let me see how I can explain this so you’ll understand.”I sort of stared at him for a minute, and then said, “no, I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. I’m not disputing the amount, I am saying we already paid part of it.”So he starts writing down numbers and huffing and puffing and glaring and me, and then he starts to explain it to Jamie. Ok, first of all, thanks, I can in fact add two numbers together and you don’t need to treat me like an idiot. But the fact that he was STILL ignoring me sent me nearly over the edge. Even Jamie was starting to get irritated at this point, and Jamie is hard to irritate. (Unless you’re putting things on him when he’s sleeping.) So he picks up the phone and calls somebody else, and he’s clearly trying to explain that this lunatic woman is being insane and could this person on the phone please tell him how to shut me up.

Except the person on the phone pointed out that yes, we had paid part of it, and no, we didn’t have to pay the entire number that he kept trying to find ways to explain to me, and if he just turned the page over it was right there on the back!Of course, he didn’t apologize or admit that I was right or anything, but whatever. We didn’t have to pay twice; good enough for me.

So Jamie paid (he gets air miles), and we left to head back over to the registration side of things. Where they promptly told me I couldn’t register the car in my name if my name wasn’t on the insurance. Which you’d think the insurance guy would have known. So back over to Mr. Insurance we go. I explained that we’d need to make it joint so I could register the car in my name.

“But why don’t you just register the car in his name?”I stared at him. “Because it’s my car.”“Yeah, but you guys are married! It’s not like he’s going to leave town and not tell you!”I stared at him again. “But it’s my car.”“Well, that’s a lot of work for not really any good reason.”

“Regardless, it’s my car and I want it in my name, and besides, we have different last names so it’s probably smart to have both of them on the insurance.”“Oh, you probably confuse a lot of people with that different last name.”

At this point, I was seriously about to explode. What the fuck business is it of this guy if I didn’t change my name? (Which I didn’t, by the way, for those of you who didn’t follow the saga of Sarah’s name. It is the same as it’s always been and Jamie’s name is nowhere in there. I am surprised by how happy this decision has made me.) Jamie, fortunately, recognized the signs of me about to lose it, and suggested that he could deal with adding me to the insurance. This was a wise move on his part.

So I went back over to the registration side, where I ordered two marriage certificates (yes, we’ve been married nearly 18 months and don’t have marriage certificates; what of it? But this idiot made me realise that it would probably be prudent to have proof that we’re married, and since I was there I figured what the hell.) and got a new license, since the old one had my parents’ address on it. (My new picture looks remarkably like the old one except my hair is pulled back. The nice registration lady told me she thought it was much nicer – she was very friendly and quite appalled at the insurance guy.)

Jamie FINALLY made it over, and was followed very shortly by obnoxious insurance guy. He came over to me and said, “well, now that you’re on the insurance, I guess we’ll need your signature!” And he was just so fucking condescending about it, like, I was playing at being a man or something. Gah! The nice registration lady rolled her eyes at me very sympathetically, and then proceeded to get our registration done in about two minutes.

So now I have to decide if I can be bothered to write a letter suggesting that perhaps this guy should realise that he doesn’t get to tell people whose name they should have insurance in, or imply that cars aren’t for girls to worry about, and that perhaps ignoring the person who owns the fucking car that he’s insuring is not the best policy. Because really, it isn’t 1950, here, it’s 2006. And guess what! Women can own cars and they don’t need to have their husband’s name on the insurance to do so. And sometimes they don’t even have the same name as their husband!Jesus. And after that we had to go to Future Shop AND Best Buy, and I stood in about fifteen lines and dealt with at least another three kinds of idiotic bureaucracy, but at least I got some Christmas presents bought, and Jamie took me out for a pity dinner afterwards because he recognized the signs of impending explosion, and by the end of the night I was mostly recovered.

I’m still pissed about that guy, though. What an idiot. Heaven forfend a girl wants to be able to deal with her own goddamn car. Perish the thought!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Stuff on my Husband
We live on a very quaint kind of street. It’s a crescent, so there’s pretty much no traffic, and there are a ton of kids (all of whom seem to live either next door or two doors down) who are constantly outside doing very imaginative things. They never seem to be inside playing video games or watching tv, and from our front window we frequently see them zooming by on bikes or rollerblades or scooters. (In the summer, obviously. Currently we are knee deep in snow and nobody is scooting anywhere. There is only trudging.) They have lemonade stands and draw on the sidewalk and are generally quite delightful neighbours, in a very stereotypical kind of way. (Their mother is also quite sarcastic and very friendly, even though we TOTALLY CANNOT REMEMBER HER NAME. Argh.)

Included in our picturesque neighbourhood, of course, is a myriad of friendly animals. There are a pile of bunnies who seem to live in the area (snow hares, which are brown in summer and white in winter), and we see them fairly regularly and their footprints even more frequently. The people two doors down have the cutest puppy in the world (named Belle, I learned at the lemonade stand, and my word, it is cute. And yes, it’s named for the Disney character, and the girls were very impressed when I knew that), and there are also several cats around.

Much though we get mocked for it, Jamie and I are fond of these neighbour kitties, and I bought some treats to give them when they came to visit our stoop. (We have a great stoop.) Two in particular came quite regularly, and would sit on our stoop and eat their treats and let us pet them.

Jamie seemed to find it quite hilarious to wake me up in the mornings by bringing a visiting cat in and putting it on my head. Sometimes my stomach, but usually the head. Now, I was woken for years by my cat batting my nose, so I don’t actually mind being woken up by a cat, but it was always a little alarming.

Unfortunately, I think I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve been up before Jamie, so I could never retaliate.

Until one night, when I came home really late and found a cat on the stoop. Now, usually they’re home safe in bed by the time I get home, but this one particular evening the cat had escaped for a night on the town. He was sitting patiently there, obviously hoping for a treat (having missed dinner, obviously), and as I gave him a treat a thought occurred to me.

So I picked up the cat (very friendly) and took him into the bedroom. Jamie, naturally, was fast asleep, so I put the cat on his head.

Man, it was funny. He took a minute to wake up, and when he did, he was totally confused and couldn’t figure out (a) what was on his head, and (b) why it was there. But the best part was, the next morning, he had no recollection that he’d been woken up with a cat on his head. (Karen loves this story. She gets absolutely hysterical even remembering it now, and I think it was at least six months ago!)
Anyway. The moral of this story is that my husband remembers nothing from when he is half-asleep, which has led to many temptations of amusing things to do to him when he’s asleep. I mostly resist, but tonight, I gave in.

I’m making a pair of socks for someone with the same size feet as him, and he’s been very helpfully letting me try them on him periodically to check for sizing. But he went to bed around 11, and I hit the part where I thought I’d need to decrease for the toe fairly soon. So I went into our room, turned on my lamp, and untucked his foot. I pulled the needles around (I use magic loop, so one big long circular needle) and tugged the sock over his foot.

He didn’t even move. I burst out laughing and he still didn’t wake up, so finally I poked him (I know, I’m a terrible wife, but it was really funny!) and asked him if he knew what I’d done. He still had the sock on his foot and he had no idea. Man. Hilarious. I went back 20 minutes later to check it again and he still didn’t move! That is a sound sleeper.

So now I’m really tempted to start a website called and see what I can get away with. Any suggestions?

(He’s going to kill me for this entry.)

(And incidentally, the sock is only 14 rounds away from done! Victory is in sight!)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Strange Christmas
This Christmas is going to be a little weird. First of all, my sister isn’t getting into town until Boxing Day. So Christmas Day itself will mostly be spent with my in-laws, with a brief foray over to my parents’ house, which is, no kidding, six blocks away from my in-laws’. (That’s really why we got married. Sure, there was love and commitment and all that other crap, but really, it was the convenience of holidays that sold us.) We got the easiest set up of all our siblings – my sister-in-law’s family lives in B.C. (although they rarely spend Christmas with her family), my other sister-in-law’s family lives about an hour outside Edmonton, and my sister’s boyfriend’s family live in Saskatchewan. Given that they live in Vancouver, they win the “least convenient holiday” prize. So this year they’re spending Christmas in Saskatchewan and then coming here afterwards.

So my family Christmas is on the 27th this year, which means we’re having full duplication. Last year, we spent most of Christmas with my family with a stop in at the in-laws, where we opened stockings and presents with all of them and then went back to my parents’ house while they had dinner and everything. This year, though, since neither of us will be at home, my parents are having roast beef on Christmas and we’re doing full blown Christmas all over again on the 27th. Stockings, tree, dinner, turkey, everything.

Fortunately, I really like turkey dinners and presents, so I’m not really complaining about twice the Christmas. This also means three stockings, which is quite excellent – Jamie and I do our own stockings at home (we decided last year that we should really try to establish a few traditions of our own rather than entirely mooching off our various parents), then we get a stocking at each set of parents’ house. Clearly Santa stays busy with us around.

Although we don’t do a lot, it is nice to have a few of our own things going for us at home. We live in a pretty small house, but we have room for a respectable tree (real, of course – fortunately Jamie and I have nearly identical opinions on pretty much all Christmas traditions, which makes spending Christmas with each other’s families much more manageable. Theoretically, anyway – ask me on Boxing Day), and over the weekend Jamie hung up our very tasteful lights, which feature lovely blue LEDs down our banister. We have a nice mantle, even though we don’t have a real fireplace (Jamie got a fake fireplace from his parents for Christmas last year, which sort of cracks me up), and we have enormous white stockings with gold music all over them. It’s all very tasteful. Jamie runs mini lights along the top of the mantle, and they reflect off the mirror and behind my little crystal Disneyland castle. (Shut up, I love it.)

We come home from church on Christmas Eve, at which point it is technically Christmas Day, and we open our presents, which dates back to before we got married. We wanted to have a moment to ourselves at some point on Christmas, and everyone was usually in bed post-church so Jamie would allow presents to be opened since it was technically Christmas by then. Last year, Jamie went to bed post-presents, so I filled his stocking, and then he filled mine in the morning. (He gets up before me. This is also how we did Easter this year – we each got our own hunt. His was ready when he got up, and mine was ready when I got up. It’s actually very convenient.) We got up in the morning and opened stockings, got dressed, and headed over to my parents’, where we had stockings with all six of us. (The stockings last year were a little out of control as all of us bought for each other’s stockings. This year we’re scaling down a little, I think.)

This year will be similar, except I suspect we will miss stockings over at my in-laws, because my niece and nephew will be there and I don’t think they’ll want to wait. But there will be stockings there for us, and then we’ll have breakfast with them (I have no idea what they have for breakfast on Christmas, actually – my family does cinnamon buns and fresh squeezed orange juice) and then presents, which will take a million years because there are 10 of us and they go crazy for presents in that family, and then we’ll go see my parents (no presents, though – saving those for the 27th), and then head back for dinner.

It’ll be strange, not being with my parents all day and not even seeing my sister. Not to mention the rather obvious lack of cat. Last year, I bought this stupid wind-up monkey for my dad’s stocking. It played the cymbals as it marched along, and Lucy LOVED it. She was blind and kind of decrepit, and we hadn’t seen her play with anything in months, probably even years, but she just latched onto this silly little monkey and batted it around for ages. We were all very aware that we were lucky she was alive after her near miss the previous Christmas, and watching her swat that monkey was probably the highlight of our Christmas. We won’t have to keep her away from the tree, or make sure she doesn’t try to eat the presents, or put her inside the boxes that the presents come in. I can’t put fifteen bows on her head and try to tie ribbon to her tail. It’ll be strange and sad and lonely, but we’ll survive.

At least my in-laws have a cat. Maybe she’ll sit still for the ribbon tying.
Monday, December 04, 2006
When it was bad it was horrid.
So the holidailies prompt for today is to write about Christmas music. Given that I write about Christmas music every year anyway, I figured I’d actually follow the prompt.

Ever since I moved to the library closer to my house, I rarely use my iPod in the car on the way to work. Before, I had a 15-20 minute drive to work, so it was well worth hauling out my iPod and transmitter thingy and hooking it up. But now, it’s usually about five minutes in the car and I’m at work, so by the time I hook up the iPod and then disconnect it, I’m spending more time fiddling with it than I am actually listening to it. If I’m in a particularly crabby mood, I’ll make the effort, but generally I just listen to the radio for those few minutes.

I was flipping stations this morning (I hate radio commercials), and I discovered that one of the stations has switched over to holiday music. (Miraculously, they actually waited until December to do this, which these days, is leaving it remarkably late. I think today might have been the first day of it, actually, which means it’s only three weeks of Christmas music! Given that I’ve heard people in other places say their stations have been in holiday mode for several weeks already, I should make a point of appreciating the station for actually waiting until you could legitimately claim it’s the holiday season.)

Christmas music to me is very firmly divided. When it is good, it is very very good, and when it is bad it is horrid. I hate bad Christmas music with a fury that is not worth the amount of effort it requires to uphold. Stuff like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is bad enough – those goofy kind of dorky songs get on my nerves, but not in a blinding rage kind of way. But then you have the ones like that god damn Cat Carol about the fucking cat who DIES on CHRISTMAS and sure, it’s nice that he saved his little mouse friend but hi, my cat almost died on Christmas two years ago (and did die in February, and I miss her and am kind of depressed about Christmas this year but that’s another entry), so let’s avoid the horrible maudlin songs about dead cats, please. There’s also this stupid song about a river, and how she wishes she were a river, although I’m not clear on why because I change the station as soon as I hear it. I’m really not sure what it has to do with Christmas, either, but I only hear it on the holiday station.

So there’s the bad Christmas music, and there is a lot of it, and unfortunately it’s mostly what gets played in malls and such, I think because they’re trying to minimize the Jesus content and focus on the Santa side of things. Which is really a shame, because the Jesus music is clearly superior. I say that as a totally non-religious agnostic who doesn’t really care about the whole “true meaning of Christmas” crap, because in my house Christmas is about hanging out with your family and eating a lot of turkey and wearing Christmas cracker hats even though Dad bitches about it every year. (I do go to church on Christmas Eve, but that’s only because of Jamie, and I really only go because I like the midnight candlelight service with all the carols, because I get to sing descant parts.) Anyway, despite the complete lack of religion in my family’s holiday celebrations, we are all (with the exception of my Grinchy dad who only pretends not to like it) big Christmas music fans, and we all like the Jesusy stuff best. And it’s always the obscure stuff that my mother and I like best, too. My favourite Christmas carol? Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. I got a great blank look from someone on that last week, but it’s a glorious song that also has the major advantage of not being overplayed, a rarity with Christmas music these days. I’m also very fond of Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. That one reminds me of The Children of Green Knowe, one of my favourite books as a kid that got turned into a highly excellent BBC mini series. (As did many of my favourite childhood books.)

This year is a bit of an unusual one for me because I’m not in any sort of musical group. This is probably the first time in, well, ever, that I haven’t had any Christmas concerts. Even my playschool used to have them when I was little, so I’ve been in Christmas concerts from age three or so. So for the first time that I can remember, I haven’t been singing or playing or practicing Christmas music for three months already. It’s kind of nice not to be sick of it already, but I do miss it, particularly singing it. Fortunately, there’s the Christmas Bureau singalong on the 22nd, where people from choirs all over Edmonton come and rehearse for an hour and then have a live broadcast to radio in the Winspear, and people come and watch and give donations to the Christmas Bureau. Even though I’m not in a choir anymore I tag along, and try to bring friends. (I figure I’m an alum of various choirs, and my husband conducts one so I get all the information.) It’s great, because it’s all standards since there isn’t any rehearsal time. Very festive without weeks of endless rehearsals – my kind of concert!

Anyway, this morning’s commute featured two Christmas songs: It’s Christmastime by the Barenaked Ladies (my all time favourite band, and although their God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen with Sarah McLachlan is my favourite of their Christmas music, this one is good too), and The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. I conveniently got out of the car just as something cheesey was starting up. Well timed commute indeed.

Can you even call it a commute when it’s only five minutes? Probably not. (And if you’re wondering why I drive instead of walking, it’s so I can go home for lunch, which rules.)

Sock update: Past the heel on the sock I started on Saturday night, and well into the gusset decreases. Given that I actually have a weekday off this week (and the whole weekend! It’s a Christmas miracle!), I’m optimistic about the speed with which I will finish it. However, I’m still expecting karma to kick my ass, although I’m hoping the enormous yarn tangle yesterday was my comeuppance. (If it wasn’t, though, the likely comeuppance is running out of yarn, since I didn’t get every last yard untangled. Gah.)