Saturday, November 07, 2009

Another dress for Peanut!

I'm actually updating! Wow!  Still no knitting, I'm afraid.  For awhile there Peanut was going to sleep in the evening, and I'd knit for a few hours before she woke up for her first dream feed.  The last bunch of weeks, though, she's been finding 8-11pm a particularly fun time of day.  Lots of playing, lots of smiling and laughing and climbing of stairs, but not a lot of sleeping, so certainly no knitting for me.

There's been sewing, though!  I am so extremely pleased with this dress, I can't even tell you.  It's a little massive on her, and given her increasingly slow growth (what can I say, she takes after me) it will likely fit her for the next year...at least.


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It's brown twill with rudimentary applique of flower petals and leaves.  The cotton prints for the petals and leaves were included when I ordered some totally awesome print corduroy for another dress for her (I'll have pics of it...someday!) and I was thrilled to come up with a way to use these little quilting squares.  It's the same simple A-line drafted pattern I used for her first twill dress, but with one buttoned shoulder instead of snaps on both.  The contrasting stitching is a variegated thread I found in a $1 bin at the fabric store, and it's just fantastic around the trim and for the topstitching on the applique.  I adore this dress, and plan to make many, many more like it.  And yes, I plan to open an Etsy shop to list them.  :)

Just because I think she's cute, here's one more:


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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Adventures in baked goods

So I've been wanting cookies for the past few days. But we ran out of flour, and while our neighbourhood is supplied with Italian and Vietnamese and Chinese food finds, it is sadly lacking in the way of an affordable grocery store for simples like plain wheat flour or eggs.

No flour. No eggs. No cookies? Hardly. Introducing Egg-less Chickpea Peanut Butter Cookies!


chickpea cookies


Here's my attempt at a recipe (since I don't measure and don't write things down, it is understandably approximate):

1/4 cup butter, softened
3 really, really heaping tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
dash vanilla
2 cups scant cooked chickpeas, well drained
2 heaping tbsp ground flax

Have your chickpeas cooked and drained. If you're using canned chickpeas, rinse them to remove excess saltiness. In a food processor, whiz up the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Add the chickpeas and whiz on high until it's fairly smooth looking. Add the vanilla and flax and give it another spin. If it looks like a very soft dough/batter at this point, leave it as it is. If it seems too runny, add a few more chickpeas to even things out.

Drop by tablespoons-full onto a cookie sheet (I used a silicon baking sheet to keep them from sticking) and bake at 375*. Now, I'm not really sure how long I baked them. After 10 minutes or so, I smooshed them with a fork, then baked them for another 5-10 minutes. The first batch baked for a shorter time than the second batch, and I think they taste better baked more than less. Remove to a cooling rack when they are golden brown and look fairly dry and 'done'.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sadly, oh so sadly

*sigh*  There are no words.

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Who would think just a few yarn-overs could be so easy to forget, and could cause such a problem.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let me introduce Nancy

Back in June, on the 20th to be specific, Nancy came into my life.  She was a birthday gift from my mother.  Two days later, I watched The Man cart her, along with my wedding gown (including the crinoline!) with his guitar on his back, down the street immediately after the fire.  When I asked him why he bothered to carry her out of the house, he said "It was a birthday gift."  He wanted to be sure that I had one of my birthday gifts, particularly since I had such a wretched birthday.

So here she is.


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And here's what we've been working on together.

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I have so many other plans, too.  I loooove her!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cheap and Zesty

No, not me: dinner!

When a family is living on one income, money can get a little tight.  When a family experiences a house-fire, bills can add up.  Combine the two, and you get: inventive cheap dinner blog posts!

Start two cups of rice to cook.


Chop one onion (I used half of a big Spanish sweet onion - they were cheap) and press or mince two or three cloves of garlic.  Heat some olive oil in a large pan, and add the garlic, then onion.  Saute until it starts to sweat.

Add half a green pepper, chopped.  If you have celery or anything else, add that.  Keep it on medium heat.

Add a tablespoon or two (do I ever measure anything?  No, I do not.) of chili powder, some cumin (saaaay, 1.5 teaspoons) a teaspoon or two of cayenne (more if you have a tongue of steel) and salt and pepper.

Now add your protein.  I used veggie mince (essentially texturized vegetable protein: believe me, it tastes better than it sounds) but you could use ground and browned meat of any sort, or any sort of legume.  I think lentils would be particularly fantastic in this.  Stir it all together.  If it doesn't look very red, add more chili.

When the rice is nearly done, add two chopped tomatoes.

Serve over the rice, preferably with some shredded cheese or some yogurt or sour cream.  I think some shredded lettuce over the top would be delicious, as well.

Tasty!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A little fire follow-up

If you've been reading this blog for longer than two months, you likely noticed this post. Since the lace looks about the same (a big blob of grey) I thought I'd give a little update on our post-fire situation.
As I wrote back in July, we have a new condo. It's nice. We like it. The main floor is pretty awesome: very lofty-warehouse-chic, with it's high ceiling and open-concept and wall of floor to ceiling windows. What the kitchen lacks in cupboard space it makes up for in fantastic appliances. The upstairs is alright, but it is much, much smaller than the last place. This is posing some serious issues with regard to unpacking. In order to unpack, we need to have a place to put everything, but in order to have that place we need to get the boxes out of the way and unpacked but in order to unpack them...you see? What we are calling "Peanut's Room" is, in fact, wall to wall boxes, about four feet high. It's a damned good thing she still sleeps in bed with us: there is no room for a crib anywhere. We'd have to put her in the living room, I think, if she was in a crib.
The neighbourhood isn't bad. On one hand, we really like it. There are a lot of kids down the street from us, and they often congregate at the concrete barricade (the block is divided to prevent through-traffic) in the evenings, so once Peanut is walking (could be any day now!) I think she'll really enjoy playing with her fellow toddlers. There's a fabulous little Italian grocer at the top of the block. The Man has discovered that their fresh cut bacon is both better quality and cheaper than the cheap bacon from the supermarket, so he's quite happy making weekend bacon runs. And I need to start generating some income if only so that I can support my cheese habit. They have the BEST CHEESE.
We're walking distance - granted, a long walk - from a farmer's market, where I have found the best garlic of all time. If you are on the knittyboard, you may have seen my thread in GHS about garlic storage. I still have to figure out how I'll get and keep a stock of this garlic all winter. It's just too good to go without. Buying local produce direct from the grower is nice for so many reasons, amongst them the fact that it's usually less expensive (at least, for the vegetables and fruit I've been buying, it is). We like that.
It's not all cheap bacon and garlic bulbs, though. While the street is largely residential, one end of it - our end of it - is primarily commercial.  There's a large storage facility for Public Works, a paint store/warehouse, and a smallish factory with several businesses including a presentation company (supply equipment for staging and events) and a couple of printing houses all right across the street from us.  There is a giant semi backing down my street (because, with such a narrow street and that concrete barricade, they have no choice but to back all the way past my house) just about every single day, and almost invariably while Peanut is finally having a nap.
It's infuriating.  Add on top of that that places to which we used to walk in ten minutes now take about forty-five minutes and it has really started to make me wonder if we made a mistake.  I'm sitting in our living room, the street outside quiet and dark, our main floor so bright and funky, and I want to love everything about this place, but I know that there could easily be a big Penske truck backing down the street at 2am tomorrow morning, should that presentation company strike a gig late at night.  And I know that I've barely seen my very, very good friend K all summer.  She lives around the corner from our old place, the one that burned, and took us in the morning of the fire - plied us with tea and strawberries and homebaked bread - and now it's a chore just to spend a few hours with her.  It makes me sad.
We may have prioritized a little incorrectly.  It seemed so important to get a place as soon as possible, and someplace really nice so that we could essentially pretend that we wanted to move.  Unfortunately, we may have missed the mark with this one.  In fairness to ourselves, though, we only saw this place in the evening and on a holiday, so there was no way to know how much commercial traffic comes through here.
Homelessness is unpleasant.  No, we were never living under threat of having to live under a bridge or in a box or in a shelter, but we were definitely without a home of our own for two weeks there.  It was so unsettling it may have driven us to choose a home too quickly.  Not having a place of our own was just too uncomfortable, too scary.  And the real kicker is that it now appears that the building that burned isn't being demolished.  It now appears they will rebuild from the inside out all the units which were burned.  The latest report is "all except the last three units".  So our former home will sit, empty and unloved and untouched and unharmed, for about another year.  While we live here.  It bites.*
We'll likely stick out our year and then move back into the core.  We really did adore living downtown, despite all the drawbacks, like lack of parking, noisy neighbours, sirens, and drunks wandering around the street.  I think it's where we're meant to be.
For now, I'll just have to be patient, and get used to long, long walks to see my friends.
*I know, I know, living immediately adjacent to a construction zone would bite, too, even worse, perhaps, than living where we currently do.  Plus, there's the whole "danger" issue.  I think, as a victim of peril, that I have the freedom to be mildly irrational.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Toddlers are terrible models

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Can you believe that these are the best photos I could get, out of the 30 or so that I took?  Toddlers are so uncooperative!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

A bit of Peanut, too

Just to reassure you that Peanut is still as cute as ever, I thought you may need to see how she's doing these days.
One of my very favourite aspects of our new place is the front load washer.  I really adore our front loader.  It is made of awesome.  Peanut thinks so, too.
TV?  Who needs it!  Just get a front-loader!
She'll watch her diapers go around and around and around.  It's fantastically adorable.
Just like our last condo was, this place is a stacked townhouse.  And just like the last one, we are in the upper half of the stack, which means that there is no way for us to clean the outside of our own windows.  Fortunately, the condo corp takes care of that, which made for about a half hour of entertainment for Peanut.  And that, in turn, allowed me to eat my breakfast and get some blogging done in peace.
Watching the nice man in the cherry picker wash the windows.
She watched the nice man in the cherry picker as he washed all our windows, and he got a great kick out of seeing her, too.

And sewing, too!

Yesterday afternoon, Peanut had a long nap.  A really, really long nap.  And despite what I just wrote in that last post, she did, in fact, sleep deeply and soundly, and didn't need any help to stay asleep at all.  It was, quite frankly, awesome.  
The Man was outside on the balcony getting a sunburn reading, and I decided to be randomly productive.  In about an hour and a half, I had this.
Jumper dress for Glynis

I have to admit, that one of my favourite parts of having a little girl is making clothes for her. Little tunics and dresses are just so ridiculously easy and fast to make, and they're cute, too! All this one needs is buttons for the shoulders, and she'll have a summer dress, and a cold weather tunic.

It's unbelievable, I know.

Today's post is about - *gasp!* - knitting.  I'll give you a moment to recover from the shock.

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Better? Ok.  So, after we lost the house in the fire, we were the recipients of some incredibly generous, considerate and helpful acts of kindness. One package we received, however, wasn't so much something necessary as it was...really awesome.  Kashmir Knitter bestowed upon me a cone of Colourmart Cashmere Cotton lace weight.
Wow.  For a few weeks, the cone sat on a shelf in the living room.  I'd look at it.  Occasionally I'd pet it.  I just didn't know what to do with such wonderful yarn!  It's this heathered charcoal grey, delightfully soft and beautifully fine.  I wanted to be sure I'd make the best possible use out of the yardage, as well.
Many, many (and did I mention many?) Ravelry searches later, I determined that the yardage of that single cone was more than enough to make a small cardigan with lots to spare.  So I've decided to knit up the spare first, as it were.  Hence, Laminaria.
Laminaria I

It won't be much to look at until it's blocked, but it's such a lovely knit.  The pattern is never boring, but also quickly memorized.  I am really, really enjoying it.  Every night, I take Peanut to bed, nurse her to sleep, and on those nights when she's co-operative and sleeps soundly right away, I sit back up, turn on a dvd, and knit my shawl.  She's never been a particularly deep or sound sleeper (she's like her mother that way) and tends to need a little maintenance to keep her sleeping, which is why I stay in the room most evenings (so long as she never wakes all the way back up, I never have to try to get her all the way back to sleep).  Also, The Man has been busy most evenings on work in the living room.

I'm about two-thirds of the way finished the shawl.  Give me another two weeks or so, and I should have my very first finished and blocked piece of lace to show you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Something interesting is happening in birth: Part I

Yesterday evening, I attending a performance of the play “Birth” by Karen Brody. The play was staged by Three Sisters, a company of professional actresses in Ottawa, and was staged in order to raise funds and awareness for the Coalition for Breech Birth. The Coalition was founded by consumers, women who had had their births stolen from them by a system which refuses to admit the reality of breech birth, a system which fails to instruct its physicians in catching breech babies, and allows those physicians to coerce mothers into unwanted, unconsented and unnecessary caesarian sections.

The play is beautiful. It tells the story of 10 women's births with their first (and in one case, second, third and fourth) children. There are stories of joy: a woman chanting a mantra as she births squating, supported by her husband and her doula, believing and trusting her body; a woman kneeling in a pool in her home, her three children beside her, cheering her through her labour. But there are many, many stories of sorrow. Women coerced into deviating from their birth plan, into denying the needs of their own body. Women treated with disregard and disrespect while pregnant and while labouring. Women assaulted while birthing: cut, without need or consent, while bringing her child into the world.

It's extremely difficult to watch, even when staged in a minimalist, Vagina Monologues-style format. An actress, mimicking birth, telling the true story of a true woman's birth, screaming, not only in pain but in terror, in sorrow, in rage, at the realization that, just as she reached between her legs to feel her daughter's head being born, her doctor, her practitioner, was slicing through her perineum. Watching it, it was not just unethical, and not just assault: it was rape.

This is happening. This happens far more often than we'd like – and than any physician would ever dare – to admit. This is one of the realities of birth in North America. Women experiencing the trauma of rape during their births.

What do we do? Me: I'm getting mad. I'm getting really, really mad. I'm getting vocal. I'm pissing people off. I'm happily making an obnoxious ass out of myself. But here's one of the problems: too often, when we start talking about birth choices, and making options truly available to women, those who've chosen non-traditional births (I'm using the word traditional in the, well, traditional sense, to mean the sort of births that women have been having since the dawn of Creation) and gone a more medical route, become defensive. Arguments start being made about the importance of medical intervention, the value of pain-managing medications, the reassuring availability of caesarian sections.

I struggle to express to people that my issue is not with their personal choices – after all, those choices should be theirs and theirs alone – but with the fact that for many, many women, their choices are not their own: they belong to a nurse, a doctor, a midwife. But not to the labouring parents.

I'm not fighting other mothers to make decisions the way I would make them: I am fighting a system that is telling mothers, all mothers, what decisions to make about their bodies, their babies, their births. I am not in the practice of fighting mothers. I am fighting the medical establishment. I am fighting social norms. But I am not fighting the mother in front of me.

For far, far too many people, birth continues to be viewed as a black and white issue. You're either all-natural, crunchy-granola, kum-ba-ya and western medicine is the work of Satan, or you're not. And so many of the people – men and women – seem to assume that we who are natural-birthers, who are birth activists or working with birthing women, see things that way, too.

I don't. Western medicine has saved countless women and children from certain death. This is a fact. Surgery has literally saved the lives of mothers and babies I've known. And thank God for it. Thank God that J, our prenatal instructor, and her son were saved when she suffered a placental abruption with her first birth. But thank God, as well, that she was able to go on to have two midwife-attended homebirths after that.

It isn't so simple as saying “old is bad: new is good”. It's equally not so simple as saying the reverse. There is a place for life-saving medicine in birth. But let it be life-saving. Let's not let it be time-saving or pride-saving. Let's not let it be about the doctors. Let's let the reasons for intervening in a birth be good ones, important ones, lives-hanging-in-the-balance ones. Let's not let it be about dates or estimated weights or breech presentation. Let's let it be about need.

So I will continue to tell people about birth. I will continue to cull statistics and research results and store them away in my mind for those conversations with sceptics and the uninformed where there is the possibility of educating one. More. Person.

And maybe, someday we won't have to. Maybe, just maybe, someday...everyone will already know.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heartbreaking.

Some things certainly put events into perspective.

A fire, a lost home, a new neighbourhood we aren't loving, tension because of all of it, financial worries...
Nothing; immaterial when compared to utter tragedy.

Hug your babies. Hold them close, and thank God for them.

Monday, July 06, 2009

And still quicker!

I'm piggy-backing (The Man pointedly says "stealing") someone else's wifi, but I'm not a scoundrel, so this will be very quick indeed.

We're in the new house. It's great. It's chaotic. The entire contents were moved in in less than three hours, but considering it wasn't packed properly, with care and organization, it's a mess. We have found all the parts to the stereo, though, and the kitchen is more or less organized, so things continue to improve.

Cable guy should be here on Saturday, so until then, I'll be scarce. Tomorrow promises a long walk to a friend's house to grab some mail, some grocery shopping (all our perishables and edibles were left behind, so we have literally nothing) and then, surprise! more unpacking.

I hope to post again soon with pictures and fun.

Keep on keepin' on.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Even quicker update :)

Looks like we have the condo we saw on Wednesday. We still have to meet with the property manager, but his assistant who showed us the place is confident we have it. Hopefully, we'll sign the lease and get the keys tomorrow morning, and have our things moved in by the evening.

Our contents are all retrieved, and need absolutely no special cleaning. I viewed the contents, and opened a bag of bedding (the bedroom is the room most likely to have gotten smokey) and all I smelled was home. No smoke at all. So no delay and no additional costs.

It's been a very good day. :)

Quick update

Very quick update on what's happening here. The contents of the house were removed yesterday, and in about an hour we'll be going to see it all and find out about what will be entailed to clean it. We may be able to just launder everything ourselves, since there is no real smoke damage or soot.

We've put an application in on another townhouse condo for rent. It's near Little Italy and on a quiet residential side-street, with a home recording studio where The Man and I recorded our friend's album just this past winter. The guy who owns the studio has two small children, so Peanut may be able to make some friends.

We're feeling hopeful, which is a massive step up from how we had been feeling only Tuesday. We know that things will work out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Providence and Acts of Grace

It may seem trite, but his week has truly been an exercise in living in grace and appreciating blessings.

This fire was massive. It burned for hours before it was discovered, and by then, it was in the small hours of the morning, when we were all deeply asleep. More than a third of the row of units were gutted, the roof over them entirely consumed. Despite that, no one was hurt. Even all the pets in the row escaped.

Somehow, with all the destruction, even in the very next unit, our contents are largely unharmed. We will be able to retrieve essentially everything.

As I wrote yesterday, we've learned that only licensed contractors can retrieve the contents of the house. What I learned only two weeks ago is that my cousin Greg has recently gotten a job working for just such a company. You can call it a coincidence. I call it a blessing. I call it an act of grace. Even though we can not be in there, insuring everything is packed up, that everything we want to save is retrieved, he will be there, looking out for us.

I have a childhood toy, my "lovey" if you will. His name is Bunny. He is, at this point, little more than a rag. To anyone else, he would look like nothing special or important, or even worth keeping. It would be difficult to describe him to be certain that he was found and packed up with the rest of our possessions. But I know that Greg will remember Bunny; he had a bunny just like it. I know that I can tell Greg that Bunny is in there, somewhere in our bedroom, and that he will find Bunny, and bring him out to me. It's just a small childhood toy, but I slept with that rabbit every night until past adolescence, and I don't like the idea of simply abandoning him.

Bad things happen. But my cousin got this job at this time with this company.

I call that Grace.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Condemned

We woke up at a normal hour this morning and had some breakfast in our suite. My sister-in-law brought us some groceries last night, so I was able to have a bowl of yogurt and some grapes from the fruit basket The Man's office had sent over yesterday afternoon. The Man took Wembley out for a walk, and came back about ten minutes later, rushing into the room. He told me he had run into one of the other residents from our building in the hallway, and that there was some news on the building. He recommended we get to the house, so I strapped on Peanut, and we walked over to the site with Wembley.

The official word is in: the city has condemned the building. Because it is condemned, we cannot enter the house. Contractors will be hired to retrieve as much as is salvageable, which in our case should be just about everything.

I will never set foot in our home again.

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It is certainly true, and important to remember, that there were no fatalities, and that is a very fortunate thing. To call it miraculous would not be an exaggeration, considering the nature of the fire. What I keep hearing and reading is that "no lives were lost". I'm not sure that's an accurate assessment, though. It isn't just about our possessions, even. We lived in that home. It was our home.

We loved living there. Peanut spent her first summer, just a year ago, gazing out that living room window at the trees outside. She had just learned to crawl up our stairs. She had only just discovered, only just last week, how fun it could be to pull herself up at our nearly-floor-length bedroom window to look out, slapping her hands against the glass, and giving it kisses.

The life we built was in that home. We'll build another one, and the construction of that life has already begun, but the one we had is lost. We feel rather lost. As much as I am comforted to know that we'll more likely than not end up with most of our sentimental possessions, and not having to replace everything, I still just want to go home.

And I can't.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fire, or, Homeless

The Man and I awoke to the crackling sound of fire Monday morning.

I was awake, nursing Peanut, and heard a strange sound, like the tapping sound of rain falling on taut plastic. I lay in bed, nursing, and contemplated the sound, trying to sort out what it could be. I could see a bit of sky through the bottom of our bedroom window: the sky looked to be the dark blue of a clear nighttime sky of the first of summer, not the grey sky of a rainy day. The sound was also wrong: it was the rhythm of it. Rain has a certain rhythm, a certain musical quality - which is why I love it - and this sound lacked that. It was just ongoing and...impossible to place.

Peanut was nursing in her sleep, and I was reticent to wake her in the middle of the night just so I could know what the sound was, so I lay still in the bed, wondering. But every fibre in me urged me to go to the window and look out.

I felt The Man stir beside me, and turned my head to see him wake and roll half-way over, looking toward the window quizzically.

"I don't know what that sound is," I whispered, not wanting to wake Peanut. "Can you go see what it is?"

He would have gotten up and gone to the window even had I not spoken. He walked gingerly to the window, peeked out the blinds, screamed, and ran out of the room. He yelled "Fire!" back at me, as he was half way down the stairs.

I leapt out of bed, waking Peanut, who started to cry, but settled as soon as I picked her up. "Do I need to get out of the house?" I called to him, just as I got to the window and saw the bright red and yellow of flames reflecting off the building which backs onto our bedroom.

"Yes!!"

I ran to the closet and tried to find a sweater, but the one I knew was there seemed to have disappeared. I recalled an ancient and enormous wool zippered cardi in a basket of blankets over near the bathroom. With Peanut in my arms, I ran, found it, and ran down the stairs to our first floor.

The Man had found his phone and dialed 911. He was saying to the dispatcher that there was a fire several doors down from our house. His was not the first call. He hung up. We could hear sirens, I think, though it may have been just screaming in my head. I was hyperventilating and shaking and repeatedly saying "Oh God; Ok; oh God; Ok."

I had a pair of slip-on sneakers at the top of the stairs to the front door. I put them on, and handed Peanut to The Man. I grabbed my favourite babywearing wrap from the hooks, also at the top of the stairs, where we keep them, tied it around myself, and put Peanut inside. He had Wembley on her leash already.

I looked at The Man. It had been maybe 60 seconds since we'd gotten up. I asked him, "Is there a single thing in this house that we want?" because I couldn't think of anything, anything at all. He didn't answer, but ran to the bookcase, about 20 feet away, and grabbed the wedding album. He was right beside the coffee table, where our laptop sits. "Grab the laptop!" I told him, "It has all Peanut's baby pictures on it."

And we left.

Our neighbour was outside, looking...bereft, and clinging to her 10 month old daughter. We stood on the sidewalk, watching smoke pour out of the dormer window a few units down to the south from our townhouse. Fire engines had arrived and were all over the street. Water was spraying through the air. We moved across the street and waited.

I watched flames escape the roof of a central unit. I watched the flames spread further south, along the roof, and the next unit to the south catch, and burn. Then I watched the wind turn. I watched the wind drive the flames north. I watched as smoke escaped the chimney, and then the dormer window to the loft of each unit, moving north. Moving toward our unit.

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The townhouses are stacked; our upper unit, and the unit immediately below us are the only two without smoke or water damage. Firefighters had to run water lines through the units immediately next to us; they suffered both smoke and water damage.

condofire

The Man has been in twice to salvage belongings. On his first trip, he grabbed our kilts - my dancing kilt and his wedding kilt - my wedding gown, including the enormous crinoline, his guitar, some of Peanut's clothes, and the dress form my mother had gifted me for my birthday. I received it on Saturday, two days before my birthday; two days before we woke to fire. An inauspicious beginning to my year, to be sure.

Our unit is untouched. No smoke or water damage. Our contents are unharmed. We are incredibly lucky. We will likely be able to save almost everything, though I'm worried about how things will fare given the refrigerator full of rotting food (including milk, breastmilk and eggs), the half-filled bag of dirty cloth diapers in the bathroom, and the rapidly increasing temperatures in the city.

We're still waiting to hear what will happen with our home. We're in a hotel at the moment, thanks to the Red Cross. We have a lot of friends in the city, and our families are all around the city as well. We have a lot of people taking care of us, as well as an outpouring of support and offers of clothes for all three of us from the women of the knittyboard.

We'll be alright. For now, we're homeless, but not hopeless.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Management, or, Choosing your choice

I've been thinking about birth choices a lot lately. A good friend of mine - friends, in fact, as I first met the husband, goodness! fourteen years ago, while his wife and I met nearly ten years ago when we began undergrad together - is 30 weeks pregnant, having walked a long and hard road to get here. After two excruciating miscarriages, one of which was shockingly late, she and her husband want not only a healthy baby, but a healthy and natural birth experience.

I've been counselling her - over facebook, no less - as to ways she may accomplish this feat. Because a feat it is, when presented with a society that views birth as a medical event, and a medical system designed to take the mother and father out of the equation. What she would like is a homebirth, attended by a midwife and a doula. What she will have, as a result of her small-town location, will be a hospital birth, attended by an obstetrician she will likely not have met previously, and an army of nurses on rotating shifts.

She fears unnecessary interventions. Monitoring, pain "management", epidurals, pitocin, episiotomy, Caesarean section. But it is not a fear of needles or a fear of incisions: it is a fear that she will be denied the opportunity to birth her child, to allow her body to the work for which it was designed and built, to inform her life, including her motherhood, with the profoundly affecting experience of birth. Moreover, she is afraid of being denied choice.

It can be argued that some choices are entirely personal, and others which could be considered far more public. Choices which affect the wellbeing of others are, in a very strong sense, public choices, though they are elementally personal. When we make our personal choices for our lives, we should, generally speaking, make our choices for ourselves, and usually not, I think it is fair to say, as a means of some sort of political activism. Activism is all well and good, and I've certainly done some (*ahem* check out my new banner) but when it comes down to making choices as to how to birth your child, in that regard, all bets are off. We need to make our choices personally, not publicly, if you understand me.

That said, I wonder how the choices made by other mothers in the days, weeks, months preceding my friend's birth will affect her and her husband's experience in that hospital. Will the willingness of other mothers to lay still, semi-reclined, for convenient - and largely unnecessary, though no nurse would ever admit to it - monitoring of the fetus increase the likelihood that my friend will be pressured to do the same? Will the success of nurses pressing the use of pain management and labour management drugs, such as pitocin, on other mothers serve to bolster those same nurses in their almost inevitable fight with my friends? Will enough mothers agree - willingly or not - to these interventions only to have labour "fail to progress" resulting in "necessary" c-sections contribute to the already existent cloud of doubt surrounding natural birth in a hospital environment?

What fights will my two dear friends be forced to fight, while at the same time labouring? How will the choices made by other mothers, by other fathers, affect the establishment or denial of my friends' right to choose for themselves and for their child? I don't believe, truly, that we should be considering others when making deeply personal choices, and goodness knows the choices made regarding pregnancy and birth are deeply personal, but I can't help but wonder these things, and wish to heaven that there were some way to arrange to be in the maritimes when she goes into labour. Because I foresee a fight for them to experience birth the way they are meant to experience it, the way they have set out to experience it, and wish I could stand with them in their battle.

While these deeply personal decisions are just that - personal - I do wonder at what point we must admit that there may be larger societal implications because of them. And, if so, what personal changes must we endeavour to make, in an effort to positively affect the public good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Peanut!

One year ago, at this very time, my midwife was in my home, confirming that I was in labour, that yes, my membranes had certainly ruptured, and I was most certainly having our baby that very day.

One year.

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How can it be, my darling girl, that it has been a year? Wasn't I carrying you within me, next to my beating heart, only last week? Didn't I only breathe you into this world on a wave of compulsion and agony and ecstasy only yesterday? Did my ears not just ring at the sound of your first cry, before you were even fully born, only moments ago?

I remember so clearly holding you to me, as you first nursed, and you wrapped your tiny, hour-old arm around my side, gently brushing my skin with your tiny fingers,discovering your new world, your new mother, this new love. I will cherish and remember that moment, that sensation, for the rest of my life. So tender and precious, so new and foreign. So mine.

Twelve months of growing and trial and wonder and learning and amazement as you've grown to be your very own little person. You have thoughts, likes and dislikes, you play games and have a sense of humour, and are one of the sunniest, most darling children I have ever met.

There are days when I wish I could stop the passage of time so that I can just keep you as you are today, so small and cuddly and full of discovery and others when I wish I could go back to when you were so tiny, when things were so difficult, and appreciate you even more, hug you even closer, and know with surety that everything would turn out well.

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You are astonishing, dear child, and as great a gift as any could be.

Happy birthday.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Two days, or, Spring!

The weather this week has been exceptional. Warm, but not too hot; sunny, but with a soft breeze, and with grass and leaves and tulips springing up all around. Peanut and I have taken the opportunity to be out enjoying the season.

On Monday, we did a certain amount of 'playing tourist' in this capital city in which we make our home. We wandered up past Parliament Hill, and discovered that it was Music Monday, a day on which school children across the country hold small concerts. A large choir was singing on the steps in front of Centre Block. We listened to the end of their singing, then walked on, across the grass of the lawn, past university students enjoying a post-exam laze-about, and some kids playing ultimate frisbee. This happens on the lawn all the time. It's a truly public space, right amidst the workings of our government, and Ottawans make use of it. I'm not sure that's something you would see in most capitals. There's even noon-hour yoga on the lawn during the summer. I'm sure Peanut and I will have pictures of us participating to share once that starts up.

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We walked down Sussex, where the high-end shops in Ottawa are located, and up to Major's Hill Park, hoping to see some tulips. This week marks our annual Tulip Festival, a tradition dating back to 1953, and one which is of particular importance to our church congregation, as it was our church that the Dutch Royal Family attended while in exile in Canada. Princess Margriet was baptised at our font, the same font where Peanut was baptised last August.

Unfortunately, there weren't as many tulips at that park as I'd hoped, but we did spend some time in the grass.

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Today was another lovely day, so we walked for hours again. This time we headed south from our house. First we hit the natural supply store for some baby-friendly sunblock (Peanut was a bit ruddy when we got home yesterday; she's inherited my exceedingly fair skin, so it needs protecting!) and then stopped off at a coffeehouse for a sandwich. Peanut entertained everyone who walked by, grinning at them from her armchair.

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Onward south we walked, through the Glebe, past Lansdowne Park and over the canal. We walked through Sunnyside, stopping in little baby and child shops and consignment shops, and generally just wandering. We found a pet food shop which sells the brand of food we like for Wembley (it's harder to find than, say, something like Purina) and checked out the new Milkface location. Britt was in, so we got to say hello to her, and she got to exclaim over Peanut and how sweet she looked wrapped up in our babywearing wrap, Ulli.

Then back towards home. As we crossed the bridge over the Canal, I noticed how beautiful it all was: the grass and trees against the water, and all right in the middle of the city. And I thought, why would I ever want to leave? Some days, my heart fairly aches with love for this city, with all its grass and trees and water and arts and music and festivals and old churches and politics and activism and history.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

A whole month? or, Actual knitting has happened!

Yes, I've actually started and completed an entire garment. Huzzah!

Of course, that garment is a little baby-sized sweater, done top-down and entirely seamless, but hey, it's an accomplishment!

I've also discovered that trying to get photos of a sweater while on a baby who is rapidly morphing into a toddler is rather challenging. She won't sit still anymore!

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Pattern: My own
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Lime
Size: 11mo Peanut
Mods: none. The beauty of drafting your own pattern!
Comments: The neckline ended up way big, and the body isn't as long or as loose as I had planned (this is what happens when one 'eyeballs' a knitting pattern). I was hoping it would hit about mid-thigh, rather than just below the hip and that the body would have more of a trapeze shape to it. I plan to get some narrow ribbon and thread it through the first row of stitches to cinch in the neckline a bit. So, not a complete success, but a good first try!

Blocks, or, Post-feminist my ass

I recently saw some decoupaged wooden play blocks on a website and thought "Cool. I could do that." So I've been looking for unfinished wooden blocks, which is more than a little challenging, sadly. In the course of my search, I tried Toys 'R' Us, though I didn't really expect to find them there. I was right. I clicked "Blocks" at the left of the page, then "Building Blocks" of the options that presented, and found various blocks, but no plain wooden cubes. Then I noticed the various "Narrow by..." options at the left. One was gender. I clicked "Girl" just to see what would happen. Instead of three pages of different building blocks sets, creating all manner of different creatures and objects, I now saw only seven items, all packaged and marketed for infants and toddlers. Apparently, girls are only interested in blocks during their infancy: as soon as they are old enough to appreciate that they aren't actually boys, they want to play with dolls.

F*&king gender roles.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three seasons, or, ten months

Ten months ago, Peanut joined us.

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She's a little monster some days, but she's my little monster, and I can't imagine not having her here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Polywog, or, partially frogged

Just over two years ed ago, the wonderful and venerable Bezzie started a little project known as KAYE: the Kootchie Awareness Yarn Extravaganza. As luck would have it, I happened to have my annual rootin' the very month she began this monthly drawing, and lo and behold, my name was drawn for that very first skein of yarn! Sadly, the yarn sat, untouched and unattended in my stash for quite some time. Fortunately, before I had chosen a destiny for that yarn, and before I had even balled up the hank of yarn, I discovered that the lovely sock yarn she had gifted me was, in fact, some of the notorious Mystical Creations yarn (Ravelry link). A little soak in a bowl of water, and the yarn bled Smurf blood, so I took my first adventure in dye setting armed with a plastic freezer bag, a large portion of vinegar and a microwave oven.

At last, the yarn was ready to be knit, and I decided that some brightly coloured baby legwarmers would be just the ticket. I got to knitting and...I didn't love them. I was nearly halfway done the first one, and I just didn't love what I was seeing. The fabric was lovely and soft, but the I just wasn't feeling the stripes. Thing is, I'm not partial to self-striping yarn most of the time, and these stripes just weren't doing it for me. Besides, Peanut already has two pairs of striped legwarmers: does she really need a third? Still, I pressed on, and decided to make the knees of the legs a little thicker, since the yarn is rather soft, and Peanut is extremely close to learning to crawl. I began a simple slip-stitch pattern on the knees and...

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I adored the result! The yarn now, instead of striping, created a gently mottled fabric, not pooling, just delightfully flecked with colour and shade. The fabric was absolutely beautiful!

So I frogged it back to the ribbing and started again, knitting the leg entirely in the slip-stitch pattern. It's totally worth it. :)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Why not, or, Watching her world

Why not put your baby in the window?

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Obsessed, or, 'Round and around and around...

I've been spending a lot of time on my feet, lately.

I finished this.

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I'm busy working on this.

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The spindle is currently sporting some Corriedale. I bought myself a total of 200 grams of roving, so I have loads of spinning ahead of me. It's pretty fabulous.

I've already warned The Man that I will need to get a spinning wheel someday. I don't see this obsession abating any time soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nerdling, or, The Traveller

Did I ever mention that I'm a total nerd? Well, I am. Big-time. Like, there-are-maybe-five-episodes-of-Star-Trek:Next-Generation-I-haven't-seen kind of nerdy. I don't own memorabilia or shirts or go to conventions or anything, but I have watched a LOT of Star Trek.

Penny Karma's recent post inspired me to share with you the day I outed myself to anboyfriend.

I had just gotten to his place and he and his roommate were watched ST:NG (see, 21 yo boys don't need to pretend that they don't like ST:NG; they can be all open about it). And then-BF says to the roommate "That's The Traveller, right?" referring to an alien creature on the screen. Before I could think, I said "No, The Traveller is more human looking and greyer." Jaws hit the floor, and I was mortified at what I had just done.

Slowly, the boyfriend and roommate turned away from the screen to look at me as I stared shame-faced into my lap.

"You watch Star Trek??" they exclaimed.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Done! or, Ugly but awesome

This is an incredibly satisfying sight.

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Inconsistently spun, only somewhat evenly plied, with areas of over-twisted ply, broken plies, enormous slubs...it's practically unusable.

But it's mine!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A little change, or, Where's the knitting?

As you may have noticed, I've made some little changes to the blog. I'm still not entirely sure about how I feel about it, but it's a start. Change is good, though.

I really wish I had more knitting content to show you, truly. There are things I want to knit but I'm lacking the necessary yarn or needles or both, so they haven't actually happened. Boo. Fortunately, the weather has warmed up, so a walk to the local yarn shop isn't going to result in frozen extremities or necessitate insane numbers of layers of clothing. It's quite pleasant, actually.

I have some posts cooking in my head, but they are unrelated to knitting, so I'm considering starting a second blog to deal with birth choice and other related posts. It would be good to muster all my doula-related thoughts in one place.

All in all, this is a pretty nothing little post, I'm afraid. Here's a gratuitously unnecessary baby picture to make the visit worthwhile:

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Once more around the sun, or, Four

Four years ago, on a day which much nicer weather than today's rain - cool and gently snowy - we promised forever.

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Happy anniversary, darling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Slowly, or, What rush?

I was recently turned on to a blog, Vancouver Doula. It's well written, positive, informative, and generally fantastic; I became an instant fan. In her most recent two posts she has written about the 'slow' movement, and linked to SlowPlanet. In reading posts there, I thought about the speed of my life, and how it has changed dramatically with Peanut's arrival. Instead of rushing to work everyday, sitting stagnantly at my desk, rushing through tasks, constantly watching the clock, Peanut and I have our own rhythm to life. We aren't scheduled because I see no reason to impose a schedule on her when I, myself, don't thrive on one. We walk about the city as we have gotten rid of our car (have I mentioned lately how much I adore living downtown?) and we take our time doing...everything. Consider that phrase now: we take our time. Not someone else's, not some prescribed routine, just our time, whatever that is.

That's how I view her birth, actually. By some reckoning, she was "early", born at just under 36 weeks gestation. I often wonder what would have happened had I called my midwife the day before she was born, when I first thought my water was breaking. Would we have been sent to the hospital to have labour stopped artificially, to have steroids injected to try and plump up Peanut's lungs "just in case"? When, then, would she have been born? At 38 weeks? 39? 40? She was done, ready to come out and meet us, ready to cry out to the world that she was here, ready to be named, ready to be cuddled and kissed and adored from curly head to tiny foot. I can't imagine denying her her rightful birthday, the day she decided was best for her to be born. May 19 was her day, and she knew it; the rest of us were simply unaware. Our labour was timeless, as well. I didn't watch the clock, didn't time contractions, didn't think about how quickly or slowly things were progressing, just existed within the liminal space which is labour, where only the mother and baby can exist, knowing that some things cannot and must not be rushed or controlled, but simply be allowed to happen, simply allowed to be. So many things can benefit from slowness. Buying a loaf of bread may be easier and faster than baking my own, but it doesn't fill my home with the smell of yeast, the warm smell of baking bread, the sense of creating.

Slowness requires patience, requires trust in the gradual unfolding of things, and that, in itself, is challenging and work. There is a lesson to be learned in slowness.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New, or, Outward Words

Finally! We have a new machine and I am, once again, able to communicate with the world (ok, with the handful of people who are remotely interested in what I have to say)! While I adore staying home with Peanut, it can be rather cloistering at times, and blogging and message-boarding and facebooking definitely help to keep me connected with the outside during these long, cold days of winter when leaving the house is more of a pain than a pleasure.

The light in the afternoon, however, is often quite delightful at this time of year.

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What do you think of the photos cropped using the Golden Ratio? It makes me feel all fancy and Renaissance-y!

Friday, January 30, 2009

As promised, or, Don't Spill!

I did a bad thing.

I spilled iced tea on the keyboard of our laptop, our only functional computer.

This post will be brief, as a result.

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Pattern: Shalom Cardigan
Yarn: Eco Wool+ in navy
Needles: 6.5mm circ (maybe 30cm long?)
Mods: many, most notably that it is not a cardigan at all, but is a top-down tunic.

I really like it, though I feel like the neckline doesn't entirely suit me. I may yet knit on a cowl neck. Or just wear it with a big bohemian scarf. But the yarn is awesome! One giant skein to knit the whole tunic, with leftovers! The wool softened up beautifully when blocked, too.

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