Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kilts, or, How I Spent My Weekend

Supervising and helping out at the studio during the dance exams was fun, but resulted in...a lot of empty time. But, lucky me! I have a way to fill that time. Between the weekend and two hours bus riding every day this week, I have made some real headway on the FBIL's kilt hose.


I saw my boss/dance teacher this evening, and she told me that all of my dancers passed their exams, and most did very well. I'm quite pleased!

The new job is going well. We've been keeping "banker's hours" for the past three days, which has made for a nice, gradual way to work myself back into having a full-time job. I am the database master! And I'm enjoying it! Weird...

Hmm, what else...Oh! I should talk about the knitting! Ok, so the feet are almost done. Hopefully I'll be able to get them done tonight while watching the Senators kick some Duck butt!!
Then we start the impressive part: the cables and shaping up the leg! I'm not sure how easy on the brain it will be to try to do all that cabling on the bus. I am thinking of getting a large purse/small bag to facilitate the on-bus knitting. I figure I'll get something biggish to hold the project, charts, stitch markers, along with my usual purse contents and my headphones for my mp3 phone. Oh, cheap vinyl purses! How happy you make me when you actually look like leather!

In other news: I love Vietnamese food. L-o-v-e it. I love that when I go into the little pho shop up the street from our temporary office (where I've been working this week) I get a large pot of tea before I even order. I love the enormous, two-meal-servings, "small" bowls of pho. I love the tofu in their vegetarian offerings. I love that my enormous meals come to way less than $10. I love that the guy who runs the place is so nice and pleasant and friendly and knows me already. I love it!

Wembley pic!


It's horribly blurry, I know. She wouldn't stay still, and my phone-camera has pretty horrendous shutter delay. But doesn't she look like she has a giant smile, a la Dr. Teeth of the Muppet Show?! That was her birthday gift earlier this month (yes, I bought my dog a birthday gift, you want to make something of it?) and she loves it. She particularly likes the squeaky tongue!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I have sunshine-y plans!

This weekend was more like two work days. We had our dance school exams! My students all did fairly well, I think (hard to say, as I wasn't in the room of course, and the examiner doesn't give the teachers too many hints on the day of the exams. But I'm hopeful for my girls. I had a good time out at the studio, and all the extra time I spent with my teacher/boss was a real delight, and I feel as thought I truly got to know her better.

And she made me a little offer. Our performing troupe is going on a trip to Russia to dance at a multicultural dance festival (the MacCulloch dancers have been to China, Spain, Belgium - twice, I believe, - France, Mexico - twice, - Scotland several times, Bulgaria...) and this year's group of travellers is sadly lacking in highland dancers. Am I sure I wouldn't like to go? The only reason I hadn't agreed to go was financial, but now I have a good job, and three weeks vacation annually. So sometime this week I'll see if I can use a week or so at the end of the summer!!! How excited am I at the possibility that I'll dance in Red Square?! Oh wow!!

I got a fair bit of knitting done, as well. I am about three inches past the toe increases of the FBIL's kilt hose. I'm hoping that the next few days will see the total completion of the feet; I'm really looking forward to the pattern-work on the legs of the stockings.

And I'm watching Houseboat. Cary Grant and Sophia Loren...charming!

Oh, right...the sunshine-y plans: I'm planning to take pics of the kilt stockings during my lunch hours downtown. Prepare yourself!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


To the right, you will see the button for K.A.Y.E - the Kootchie Awareness Yarn Extravaganza. I was fortunate to be the winner of the January drawing by the lovely Bezzie. And I received this:
It's lovely yarn, but I'm not sure what to do with it! I believe I have about 550yds-1/4lb of Midnight Celestial Sock Yarn from Mystical Creation Yarns. It's lovely, sproingy yarn. But do I knit socks, and what pattern? Or do I knit something else, maybe use it in a cardigan somehow? I can't decide.

So this is what I'm doing. Contest! You send me an email at with your suggestions for what I should do with the yarn, and the winner will be the person whose project idea I choose. The prize: a set of stitch markers in a fulled and embroidered stitch marker pocket.

Put on your thinking caps!

Keyword hits

I just checked out my site stats, and I was surprised and very proud of some of the hits that have brought people to my site.

"Emily Hilscher"

"jon woodward toronto globe mail"

"universal sock calculator"


"blocking dream swatch"

"korea virginia tech apology"

All of a sudden, my blog seems so topical!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shruggin' along

So it's still raining, I'm still cold, I'm still working on the shrug, and I'm still watching Lord of the Rings (come on, it's like 11 hours long! Bezzie, if you ever feel like coming to Canada, you can make all the smart-ass comments you want. The Man does it all the time; I'm very accustomed to it!). But I'm hopeful that the shrug will be done by this evening. Sort of depends on whether or not I end up teaching at the studio tonight.

You know what I am really looking forward to doing? Getting a few new knitting books! I leafed through Alterknits when I was at Michael's picking up some el-cheapo stitch markers the other day, and it had some neat ideas in it. Possibly nothing I really need a book to cook up, though; I was digging the ribbon-laced sweaters and wristwarmers, but I'm pretty sure I could add eyelets to my knitting. Still, I may need to make a little trip to Chapters soon to at least ogle some books.

Back to the shrug.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May showers bring...May lawns??

I am cold. It has been very rainy for the past 12 hours, and now I am chiiiilly. So I will snuggle up in my first sweater, all wool, and my puppy, with a cup of hot chocolate, my latest project (which I will unveil within the next day or so, hopefully with an accurate free pattern as well!) and watch Lord of the Rings. It's been several months since I watched it, and I love this movie. Howard Shore: will you compose a soundtrack to my life?

Updates: The birthday scarf is coming along twice as slowly as it did the first time. I cast on twice as many stitches, so that tracks. The alpaca stockings....totally stalled. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I should just knit a teeny shrug out of the alpaca and forget the stockings for now. Hrm. Ummm, I have no other projects on the go, although I have just remembered a promise
to a friend as yet unfulfilled. I should get on that....

Cheerful days to you!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The strange irony of employment

I, my dear and lovely reader, have a job.

It would seem that, just as the wonderful knittyheads predicted, there was a delay in contacting me following my interview a week and a half ago, and the people at Citizens for Public Justice think I'm the best candidate for the position! Yay!! I'll be working in the fundraising department, doing some data entry and some correspondence drafting. Might be a little boring at times, but I will always be doing something that will be helping other people, worthy people, refugee people! So I will be able to forebear. I am very excited! I baked some celebratory cookies, thus successfully gaining back, in one day, four of the six pounds I had lost. Well done. Oh, and if the dough looks weird, it's because it was weird. That reduced-fat, non-hydrogenated margarine may be good for reducing guilt when making good, stove-top popcorn (with an old-timey crank!) but it is not good for making cookies. Use butter. Or heart-stopping, artery-destroying hydrogenated Crisco. They're cookies, for goodness sake; they aren't supposed to be healthy!


Do you know what this whole job thing means? Ok, it means a lot of things, but do you know what small list of incredibly fabulous things it means?! Let me tell you (in no particular order; I'm honestly not sure which excites me most):

1. We can pay off our debts, including my moderately-giant student loans! No more collection agents' letters or calls!

2. I can look forward to seeing friends from university without having to anticipate how best to phrase "teaching dance classes and seamstressing" so it sounds impressive and not entirely sad.

3. I can buy YARN. And actually pay for patterns, rather than only relying on what I can find on the inter-web and what I try to cook up in my wacky brain.

4. We can pay off our maxed-out credit card (calm down, our limit is a grand, but we maxed it out in wedding business two and a half years ago, and have barely touched the principle since. Boo) and then, with my new employment, can use it for moderate purchases online (read: fancy schmancy yarn from far away! And cheap online deals! Elann, here I come!) which we can then immediately pay off. I'm not sure which excites me more: the prospect of a growing stash (well, actually having a stash) or being able to pay for things outright, rather than constantly juggling payments. Both are so attractive!

All that said, I'm mostly looking forward to getting the monkey named Ontario Government Student Loan off my back, and putting some money away. Maybe an RRSP, which we can then put toward the down-payment on a house. Or just rent someplace downtown. Because let me tell you, I have had enough with the suburbs. Am I old? Am I boring? Have I given up on life? No, to all of the above. So what am I doing surrounded by people who are all of those things, I ask you?

For this summer, at least, we are staying here. I've finished most of the work on the backyard; let's see if it actually sprouts! We pulled that damned dogwood stump out of the top left corner on Saturday (huzzah!) and regraded the whole yard, then seeded. Hopefully the grass will grow soon. I'd like to use my little yard! I have designs on getting two cedar lounge chairs, and a little bistro table for the corner. Maybe I'll hang some flower boxes from the fence, and maybe some sort of outdoor art on the side "walls". Ooh, maybe some pretty outdoor lights! I love Christmas lights; I'd leave them up in the house all year if I could. Hey, why not? I'm artsy; shouldn't I be eclectic and strange sometimes?

Since the last few/bunch of posts have been image-less, I am remedying that error today. Here we have the backyard, pre-stump-removal, and post-stump-removal. Wembley has inserted herself into both pictures, attempting to make herself as filthy as possible. This dog loves to hang around in dirt more than I can tell you. She is a white dog. She gets very, very grimy.

On to the subject of knitting, and the strange irony of employment. Now that I will (soon) be able to afford to buy yarn, I will have a greatly reduced quantity of time in which to play with my yarn. Boo to that, but yay to the yarn - hence the irony. My LYS - which I adore - always has yarn at a much-reduced price in baskets on the floor. And lookey what I found yesterday!


Yup, Rowan! For $5 a skein! I bought two skeins (Mum helped me ball one yesterday afternoon, the other is waiting patiently) with which to knit a teeny shoulder shrug. My thought is this: I live waaaay out in Orleans (suck!) but my office will be downtown in the core (right near Elgin! And my friend Katie! And her daughter Isla! And their church with the fabulous acoustic! And the possibility of noon-hour rehearsals if the church will let me!). Long bus-rides are in the offing, in the heat of the summer. So light summer tops and dresses are in my future, but I feel very strongly about greatly exposed shoulders in the office (id est, they are generally rather inappropriate), hence the shrugs. I'll knit various little shrugs to wear in the morning when it's brisk-er and in the office, and then at noon and in the afternoon on my way home from work, I can take the shrug off to bear (bare!) the heat. Lovely, cheap Rowan yarn, small, transportable, practical project for the's heaven.


I picked up some - four balls! - of el-cheapo sock yarn for the FBIL's wedding kilt hose. I really need to get started on those, pronto. I have another ball or two in the same colour, but possibly a different dye-lot. No problem: I can use them for the turn-down cuff, so any slight difference won't be an issue. I'll keep you posted on how they go. I'm a little terrified...but reassured. They are just socks, just cabled socks. Besides, he has these skinny little legs; I won't need to do much shaping on the calf at all to have them fit.

Oh, yeah, the concert. It went well! I finished the blue satin in time (phew!) and sounded pretty good. I was sick, and I definitely noticed the difference between singing healthy and singing feeling the way I did, but it was still pretty good. Nah, it was awesome! Papagena was so much fun! Getting to really play a part, not just sing it, was super, and my baritone, Thomas, who sang Papageno was superb. We got an ovation as we went scampering out of the hall at the end of our duet: very cool. Carmen was a blast. I did my best to really 'sell' it, and my acting friend with the college diploma in theatre said I did well, which I take as a very high compliment. She's fabulously honest. The other duet and trio I did were...alright. Not perfect, but not bad. All in all, I'm proud of myself, and really looking forward to singing again, soon. Maybe this summer. Ooh, now I can actually bankroll my own project! Exciting!

We close with a Wembley-pic. It was her birthday on Thursday. She's a big girl of two. I am going to miss my long days at home with her when I start my job. Maybe, when we move downtown and I can walk to work, she can be the office dog and come with me! Here, she is in one of her favourite hangouts: 'daddy's' knee. Such a snuggler...


Thursday, May 10, 2007

In which the author wishes she had WiFi so she could post from the outdoors

Remember yesterday? Well, I decided that it was time to get off my tuckus and do something about that yard. Since the dogwood was taken down, it's looking a much more usable size (it was a really big dogwood!) so I'm feeling rather motivated. I'm currently on my little mid-morning coffee-and-biscotti-and-internet break. I'll tell you my plan, then get back'on out there!


Alright, I just wasted like 15 minutes trying to draw you a picture using Paint of my backyard. Didn't work. Anyway, it's small, with a garden bed on each side of the yard that curves, so the corners are freaking deep (too deep. I don't want to wade around in the plants to weed them). The dogwood was in one of the corners. So I'm making that bed about 1/5th the size it was, regrading and reseeding. The result should be grass, lots more of it, and lower maintenance. I also picked up some seeds for climbing plants - Nasturtiums, Morning Glories and Scarlet Runner pole beans - to cover the unattractive wooden "fences" that wall in the yard. Hopefully I have enough sun. I probably don't, but what's a few seeds in the hopes of pretty?

I got a call from the place I interviewed last week. We shall see. I'm starting to wonder if it really is the perfect job for me. The busy season for the position is November - March, during which I really can't take any days off. It's also a busy rehearsal/performing period, and if I am lucky enough to get a principal role doing Gilbert and Sullivan next season, I may need a week or two of reduced hours, not mandatory overtime. Meh. We'll see.

I haven't had a pic for a post in a while. Keep forgetting to download them from the phone/camera. Maybe later today. And I know, I know, I still haven't really posted on Saturday's concert. Honestly, I'm still trying to find a picture of myself in which I don't look positively, well, fat. I'm not, I know I'm not, but everyone who took pics managed to get me looking chubby. Not good for the self-esteem, let me tell you. At least my new trend to eating lots of raw veggies and working outside seems to be working: 5lbs down! Doesn't help with how I looked last weekend though. Maybe I'll find a screen shot that will work....

Must go play in the dirt now!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Well this sucks.

*Direct quote from the opera concert on Saturday, after I (Papagena) am told I cannot make-out with the new-found love-of-my-life, Papageno (Thomas Franzky, a truly dear baritone). I cheated it out to the audience and huffed off-stage like a melodramatic adolescent. It drew laughs, as intended, and was fun. Soon as I get the DVD, I'll do a little Youtubin' and post it here.*

The weather is beautiful today. As it was yesterday. Seriously, it's 25C, with light clouds: perfect weather. I want to be outside. But sit in my back yard which is full of yard waste (we destroyed the dogwood!! Ha haa!!! It is GONE!!!!) and sadly lacking in grass (too much freaking shade from that freaking dogwood. But it's gone now! Boo-yah!) and the size of a postage stamp. And I can't listen to Lucia Popp singing Strauss and Orff and Dvorak when I'm outside, so here I am, in my dark house, wishing I had a decent yard, or a nearby cafe with a patio to sit and read and have a drink and hang out with the puppy. But no, I live in the burbs, where there is no life, no energy, no vibrancy. Boo.

I haven't heard from the people who interviewed me a week ago. They said they'd be in contact by Monday. It's Wednesday. No way I got the job. I'm really starting to think I should just bite the bullet, wait tables, and be done with it. Is it entirely pathetic for a married 26/7 (birthday's next month) from an "elite" undergrad programme and aspirations of operatic stardom to wait tables like a highschool student? Or is it just in-keeping with the performer lifestyle?

Does anyone, ANYONE, have any brilliant ideas as to how I can avoid collection agents coming after me for debts I cannot pay? I hadn't realised that the only thing keeping me from worrying about all this student debt disaster was the stress of the upcoming shows. Now that they are done, I have nothing but time to think about how entirely destroyed everything is. I am filled with so much hope, and so much despair, at the same time. I hope for my performing potential and future, and I despair of ever being able to afford the training and the agency necessary to make it happen. I'm not depressed at all, just very very worried. All the time.

Wow, this post was not supposed to be this heavy. See, this is how my mind works now. Always coming back to the heavy stuff. No fun. But hey! Sunshine and leaves and I spent three hours with my friend Katie and her daughter yesterday, outside, walking around downtown. Isla is seriously, one of the most fun children to be around since...ever! She's very interactive and just a delight. She has crazy curly hair, courtesy of her daddy and lovely blue eyes and an enormous smile. She's a joy.

Let's end there, with sunshine and babies. Ah.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Big weeks

Full of lots of busy-ness. I should write a nice long post, but honestly, I'm beat. Also, I am terribly lacking in photos. I was just too busy to remember to take them. Hopefully, I can find pics of my costume for Papagena from the concert Saturday (it's pretty wicked, if I do say so myself) and get a pic or two from my mum of the second half as well (the lurvely sapphire-blue satin).

I had an outrageous time, lots of applause and compliments, which is the sort of validation everyone needs from time to time. I hadn't really performed since last year, so it was good to knock the dust off again. I had such a wonderful time...I really want to give a concert of my own, sing my own repertoire, find my own accompanists and co-singers...maybe someday soon.

A more substantial post to come!


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