Wednesday, June 24, 2009

taking it outside

summer is finally here. it sure took long enough coming. i can finally safely say that i won't be posting any more complaints about unseasonable snow until september. hopefully october, but i don't want to get my hopes up. stupidass prairie weather.

one of the great things about my new house is that my some of predecessors were (and still are) gardeners. thanks to these fabulous people i have deliciously cool ferns near the front door. i like ferns because they make a little ecosystem all their own. no matter how hot the day gets things stay cool and breezy under the ferns. bugs can go there to cool off. many do, when things get blazingly hot. when i was a kid i tried to hide from the sun under a bank of ferns and got chased out by a million irate bugs defending their territory. bugs aren't the best at sharing, it turns out.
the previous inhabitants of my home also planted strawberries. i will have berries soon. there are no words for how much i'm looking forward to the sun-warmed berries. is there anything better on this planet? maybe, but not by much.

i have daisies. the summeriest flowers i can imagine.

lilacs. my boy eats these by the fistful. i did that at his age, until i became agile enough to dissect the flowers so i could have just the nectar. eating lilacs is one of my favourite annual traditions.

i also have lily of the valley and a bunch of other nice stuff already flourishing without my help.

because of the preexisting plants i don't have a whole lot of space to plant. i don't mind, since i've had no time at all to be working outside over the last few months. it turns out that work, school and childcare all take up a great deal of time. who knew?!?!?
i've been container gardening to compensate for the lack of garden space. i've never done container gardening before, but so far it's pretty straightforward.

the simplest kind of container gardening is bringing houseplants outside and letting them soak up the sun. my homepeppers are infatuated with their new environment. i've never gotten such a fantastic number of peppers at once, and never seen such fat, tasty looking peppers. my salsa will be damned good this year.

my tomatoes are happy and flourishing, and so am i. i hope you are, too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

emotional exploration

i'm taking a counselling course in school. it's done in five days, (yay!) but for the past two months i've had a flurry of newly learned counselling skillz circling my brain. (i'd rather have nunchuck skillz, thankyouverymuch)

i've been trying to use these skills whenever i can, since practice makes perfect and all that. it's been frustrating, though, since the two people i spend the most time with aren't really into exploring their feelings.

me: little boy, how do you feel about that?
the boy: how do i feel about it, mama?
me: you tell me.
the boy: no, you tell me. how do i feel?
me: you feel... ticklish! (big ticklefight ensues)
me: no, seriously, how does this make you feel?
the boy: how does it make me feel?
(many repetitions and explanations later)
the boy: it makes me feel.... good. mama, what makes me feel good?
me: .... (having forgotten what we were originally talking about)

i don't even try with the baby.
so, you see, honing my counselling skillz at home is a little difficult. do you want to know how this makes me feel?

Monday, June 8, 2009

what not to do

i ate a whole mocha cake in less than 24 hours. hell, less than 20. maybe 15. or less. it was a lot of cake and i now regret it, since my toilet is currently clogged and i have a lot of poop. it turns out that eating a whole cake makes you poop lots. don't do it if your toilet is less than operational.

also, don't flush a huge chunk of rotting rice. sure, you might think that the rice will break up into little pieces in the toilet and flush down beautifully, but if you think that you're wrong. then if you have to poop lots because you were a serious cake glutton you will end up with a stinky, stinky bathroom.

tonight i was going to take a bath, but i had to change my plans because the air quality in my bathroom is quite bad. really bad. shitty, in fact. so i ended up doing homework instead.

so, to sum up, flushing rice is bad because it won't flush so when you get goopy cake poop it will sit and ferment in your toilet bowl, preventing baths and forcing you to do homework when you'd rather not.

the moral of the story: don't leave rice in the fridge too long, it leads to poor hygiene.

my apologies to twilight fans everywhere

i have been watching twilight. all i can say is:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

according to facebook quizzes:

i will get married when i'm 19
(i was 20)
my marriage will last forever
(um, no. but 6 years is forever when you're 3, right? so it depends on perspective, maybe)
i should marry johnny depp
(HELL, YEAH. although marriage isn't actually what i think about when i think of him)
if i am an 80's tv character, i am punky brewster
(sure beats alf)
i should have 3 kids
if i am a cheese, i am brie
(Your personality is rich and classy, with an exterior that some may find daunting to stomach, but is well worth the discomfort once they get to know you. You have expensive taste, but not flashy at first glance. You are much better once the atmosphere has warmed up a bit. Strong yet gentle, it takes a distinctive person to appreciate you.)
i'm really 22 years old

ok, that's enough for now. a girl can only take so much self-revelation before lunch.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

when he grows up he wants to be a man

you know the kid in every crowd that's crazy and all over the place and you think to yourself 'man, i'm glad i'm not that kid's mom' or 'geez, that kid's mom is definitely doing something wrong'?
today i was that kid's mom.

i like to think that my boy is well behaved and likable, generally. i've been told many times by many people that he's bright, funny, polite and a joy to be around. apparently they were lying.

today my boy got kicked out of toddler storytime at the library. i didn't even know it was possible, but my kid managed. true, he was being a pain. he couldn't sit still to save his life. he was jumping up to see what the baby and i were doing, checking out all the doors in the hallway to see if any were unlocked, sitting down for part of a story, running over to tell me about the story... he was being disruptive and hyperactive. i was not impressed, but i can't exactly give the kid a stern talking-to in the middle of storytime, you know?

and in his defense, storytime was pretty awful. normally the storyteller reads slowly and with expression, and gets the kids to hop around between stories so they can focus better. normally my boy loves storytime and has no problem. today there was a different woman, one who speed-read without taking breaks between books. her goal was to read as many farm-themed books as she could cram into the time allotted, apparently. her style really didn't work for my kid. the other kids looked pretty restless, too, but none was jumping all over the place like my own precious crack-addled monkey.

when the assistant asked us to leave i wanted to sink into the floor. i grabbed my kids and hauled them, screaming, from the room. i grabbed some kids' movies and headed for the checkout desk. the woman who had asked us to go was there, and as she scanned the movies she offered me some colouring sheets. i declined, wanting to get the hell out of there, and she asked innocently 'oh, your kids don't even sit still long enough to colour?'

i muttered something about too many colouring books already and left.

do you think she meant that in a bitchy way? it sure sounded snarky, but that librarian is usually really sweet. it sounded mean, though... i don't know. what i do know is that my little guy is crushed that we can't go to storytime any more.

Monday, June 1, 2009

the making of a home: living room edition

the new couch has turned my living room from a room with scattered, random furniture, some of which was comfortable for sitting on, into a cohesive living room. i have no before pictures, but check out my 'after' shots:
here you can see my chair in one of the only places in the house that i can get internet. i spend a lot of time in that chair.

eventually i'll put that dresser in a bedroom and get something more conventional to hold the tv , and i need art for my walls, but i really like my living room.

mother nature hates me

this week i finished planting. i converted my front yard into an urban tomato farm. i'd decided that i'd just grow tomatoes this year, since i have limited time & space, and of all the things i grow, tomatoes bring me the greatest joy.

but then, five minutes ago, mother nature gave her opinion.and apparently she didn't think much of my gardening plans.she especially hated my very favourite tomato plant.i guess when the hail melts and things dry out a bit i'll convert my failed tomato farm into a carrot and beet farm. yippee.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

an educational sunday post

denise from summerland scrubs on etsy (who makes my favourite lotion) wrote this up when i asked her what to look for or avoid in bathroom-y products. it's rife with really good information. enjoy.

What to Look for in a Bath & Body Product(When You're Trying to go Au Naturale)

There are soooo many ingredients in bath and body products nowadays, it can make your head spin. It is easier, I find, to eliminate choices by ingredients you feel(or that have been proven to be by scientific testing) to be harmful to you, or your environment for that matter. Then, once you have found a fairly wholesome product or two, you can contrast and compare the ingredients by what they do for your skin, hair, etc.(like cocoa butter verses shea butter).

To start off with, I will go over some ingredients that are both unneccesary and harmful in one way or another in bath and body products. Also, it's good to know that the closer to the top of your ingredient list an ingredient is, the more there is of it in the finished product.


You will see these on your shampoo or lotion/cream's ingredient list as Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, and the like. Parabens are a group of compounds that include an alcohol. They are mostly used as preservatives. The dangers of parabens have been outlined by scientific researchers. They are close to estrogen in their makeup. Estrogen applied externally (as in shampoo or lotion) has been linked to breast cancer. These can cause problems in a growing child's reproductive system and cause problems in men as well. And, they irritate the skin in a big way. Anyone with sensitive skin should never use products with these in them. The worst version is sodium methyl-paraben. It has been banned in Europe, yet some companies in the states still use it (one of which is known for being GOOD for the skin and clearing acne. Part of the name sounds like "newt"). Parabens also cause premature aging and skin cancer by increasing production of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that constantly rob your body of nutrients to try to make itself whole. So, free radicals are bad as well. But, those are in your environment and can be squelched with a lot of healthy antioxidants.

Mineral oil-

While mineral oil isn't necessarily bad for you, it's bad for your skin. Once on your skin, it keeps your skin from breathing and causes it to break out. It also can cause dryness if you use a product with it for a long time as your skin will become dependent upon it and then stop producing it's own oils-just like people who use lip balm all the time seem to suffer more from dry lips. It also causes premature aging as a result. Mineral oil also goes by the names liquid paraffin, paraffin wax, or petrolatum.


Synthetically derived from coconut. This often contains 1,4-dioxane, which is a chemical known to the State of California and the federal government to cause cancer. Very bad stuff!


There are bad fragrance oils out there, but I see them less and less. The ones you want to stay away from contain phthalates, which are chemicals used to soften plastic for industrial use-they are found in a lot of high end fragrances(it gives the scent staying power). The best way to avoid phthalates is to buy items scented with essential oils, or buy unscented products. If it just says "fragrance", you're best off to avoid it. Or buy from someone who uses phthalate-free fragrances- like me! But, they have to mention it, or you have to sometimes ask. But, most people who use them will advertise it.


- Ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol. Simply, they dry your skin and make you more susceptible to molds, viruses, and bacteria. And, they STING like the dickens if you put them on your legs after shaving.


-Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is the main one you'll see, is a detergent. It is what makes your shampoo or body wash foam up. The Journal of the American College of Toxicology has reported that this detergent breaks down the skin even if used lightly, and keeps the skin's proteins from rebuilding (the skin will not regrow properly and age prematurely, i.e. collagen is a protein). It is used around the world in clinical studies as an irritant-they actually use it for the purpose of irritation! And, just like the alcohols, it makes you more susceptible to infections (like you can get sick more often because of it.) Last, but not least, if mixed with certain chemicals it can become carcinogenic, i.e. cause cancer. These effects were found on skin, hair, and eyes. So your skin will break down, hair will fall out, and you could go blind. And, the substitutes for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate aren't much better. Sodium laureth sulfate, cocamide DEA or lauramide DEA or look for the prefix, word, or syllable PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, eth (as in sodium laureth sulfate), or oxynol. These are "gentler detergents". But, they are often combined with our old friend 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer. Also, according to a 1998 report from the federal National Toxicology Program, two DEA-based compounds‹cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA‹ have been demonstrated to be cancer-causing in at least in one species of animal. According experts on the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel (established by the Cosmetic Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, a cosmetic industry trade association), both sodium lauryl sulfate and its close chemical cousin ammonium lauryl sulfate "appear to be safe in formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by thorough rinsing from the surface of the skin."

Whew! That was a long one. But I want you to be informed after you read this. Armed with knowledge, and all that.

That's alot of the stuff you want to stay away from. If you see something on a label you don't recognize, Google it. It will come up somewhere-at the very least, on Wikipedia. You should at least be able to figure out if you want it in the product you're thinking of buying. And just because something is derived from natural sources doesn't mean it's safe. Now, here are ingredients you may want to look for, and I use them in my products as well.

Cocoa Butter-

Coming from the cocoa bean, this is one of the best moisturizers you will find. It readily absorbs into the skin and imparts a sheen, treats eczema and dermatitis, protects sensitive skin from the environment and keeps skin moisturized. It is naturally rich in vitamin E which helps to soothe, hydrate and balance the skin and provides the skin collagen which assists with wrinkles and other signs of aging. It can be applied straight to hair and wrapped up after a day at the beach for a few hours, wash it out-and repair all the damage you did that day. Best used for dry hair as it can be greasy or weigh hair down with other hair types.

Shea Butter-

Comes straight from the shea or karite tree from seeds inside the nuts that this tree bears. There is a particular "belt" in Africa where this tree grows wild, so therefore all shea butter starts out organic. It is quite plentiful, so there's no need to farm it. The best kind is unrefined, which means the oil is pressed from the seeds, filtered for impurities, and that's it. It is beige colored naturally and has a pleasant light scent. Benefits of this butter include: Evens skin tone & returns luster to skin & hair; Absorbs quickly without leaving greasy residue; Shea Butter moisturizes & protects skin & scalp-especially over processed & heat-treated hair; shea butter doesn't clog pores or block hair shafts; revitalizes, softens & maintains skin moisture; naturally rich in vitamins A, E & F which are some essential vitamins needed for good skin balance; penetrates deep into skin to help restore elasticity; benefits your skin by keeping it clear & smooth; shea butter benefits include soothing some scalp & skin irritations. This is a middle of the road moisturizer - it's not as greasy as cocoa butter but it offers extra moisturizing over light moisturizers containing no butters.

Avocado Oil-

Coming from one of my favorite fruits(guacamole, Mmmmm!), avocado oil is also one of my favorite oils. It's not as heavy as your run of the mill olive oil, the smell isn't as strong and fruity as olive oil, and it has wonderful moisturizing properties. It is a favorite of massage therapists, and you will find it in many a massage oil. It is full of vitamins A, B, D, E, protein, and lecithin. It is high in sterolins, which fade age spots and repair sun damage-these sterolins also are responsible for the softening and super moisturizing effects; it is excellent for rejuvinating and regeneration of skin. In a study done at the Department of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in 1991, it was found that avocado oil significantly increases the amount of collagen in the skin; helps relieve the itch of psoriasis and eczema; it is easily absorbed into deep tissue; it also has anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. This is one of my favorite oils, and I use it whenever I can.

Goat Milk

-The natural ingredients in goat's milk nourish and replenish the skin. Goat's milk products have been proven safe and beneficial for people with many kinds of skin problems including acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Studies in nursing homes have shown that goat's milk soap is beneficial for the skin care for elderly people. Great for babies' skin, too! Goat's milk has many beauty benefits.

Goat's milk is high in vitamins and minerals and contains lactic acid. Lactic acid is a colorless natural substance, derived from sour milk, and non-bovine sources such as fresh goat's milk. It was discovered over 200 years ago in fermented milk. It is known that Cleopatra and other women used to bathe in sour milk to obtain beautiful skin. Benefits of Lactic Acid are: intense hydrating properties; helps with photo-aging and sun damaged skin; acts as an exfoliant to the skin, leaving it softer and rejuvenated; stimulates collagen production; acts as an antibacterial agent; acts as an astringent; is used for skin problems such as acne, impurities, oily skin, breakouts;and is used by dermatologists and surgeons in chemical peels, in higher concentrations.

I use organic goat milk since I do not have a goat farm nearby to buy it from. But, it's just as good.

Wakame Seaweed-

This is a new addition to my line, but I've been very pleased with the results when using it in masks. It is the favorite used by the Japanese people due to its health and beauty benefits-it's used in Miso soup, which I have tried and it is quite good. I use it dried and then ground to a powder mixed with honey and aloe gel as a mask, and then add a little water when ready to use it. It leaves my skin very soft and smooth. My skin even felt soft and smooth upon rising the next morning-my hubby couldn't stop stroking my face. Its benefits include its antioxidant properties as well as its nutritional value; it is a rich source of B vitamins and contains minerals like iron, sodium, potassium and calcium. Additionally the algae contains a chemical called sulfated polyfucose which is an antioxidant that shields skin from environmental pollutants that would cause the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for various forms of skin aging, including sagging and wrinkles. Wakame moisturizes, smoothes and heals. It does this by limiting hyaluronidase, a process that breaks down skin's hyaluronic acid. This acid serves to keep skin firm by acting as an adhesive, keeping collagen and elastic fibers intact. Without hyaluronic acid, skin may sag and dark circles may appear around the eyes. I honestly did not believe the claims, but upon using it just once I was a believer-I even used it under my eyes. I will be listing some Wakame Skin Smoothing Mask in early June. I have it made up, I just have to list it.

Coconut Milk-

I have been substituting coconut milk for goat milk in a bunch of my products lately so that Vegans can also enjoy them. Coconut Milk is actually the white liquid obtained from compressing fresh coconut meat-not the liquid people often drink when opening a fresh coconut, as I often did as a kid. Coconut milk contains, instead of the lactic acid found in goat milk-lauric acid. Half of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk are composed of lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal. It has been confirmed by skincare experts that topical use of coconut milk can help cure some skin conditions. Coconut milk, when used with cleansers can take away dirt and oil from the skin. It creates a clean, soft, and smooth complexion. Plus, it smells nice in a plain lotion. The kind I use is just coconut milk and water, plus a natural preservative. I don't use coconut milk which contains thickeners like guar gum and the like. It also makes any soap it's used in sudse up quite a bit more, making it a great choice for use with hard water. That is why I use it in my Coconut Milk Smoothie Bath Gel.

Kokum Butter-

Kokum butter is obtained from the Indian tree Garcinia indica. It is used in skin care products because of its ability to soften skin and heal ulcerations and fissures of lips, hands and soles of feet. Kokum butter helps reduce degeneration of the skin cells and restores elasticity. Use kokum butter is soaps, balms, belly balms, foot care products and other emollient skin treatments. I don't presently use this butter, but you will see me use it in the future. Most likely as a foot balm and the like.

That is pretty much the skinny. If you ever have a question on bath and body ingredients or products, please feel free to convo me through my Etsy store, I'm always looking into new and interesting things-I would even be willing to make you a custom product if there's a certain butter, milk, extract, or oil that you would like to try in a product. Or, if you find a recipe you'd like me to whip up for you-I can do that, too. I have quite a stash of ingredients and always like to try new things.

Come by and check out my products! Thank you for reading this little article, and thank you for posting this!

Have a great summer!

Denise Van Winkle, Owner and Soapmaker, Summerland Bath & Body

Saturday, May 23, 2009

fun for the whole family

i was given a couch yesterday. it's one of those fantastic couches with removable cushions. my kids have never had one like this before. so, of course, i taught them how to make forts.they liked it. a lot.

this week has been really hard. i took too many hours at work, was swamped with schoolwork, and didn't do anything fun at all. the work was shitty (pun intended, see previous post) the homework was tedious and uninteresting, and i was really lonely.
and yet i've been much happier this week, with all its suckiness, than i was before i moved to my new house. the realization that even a really bad week can't drain my joy at being here, being independent, was huge confirmation that i've done the right thing. i know that things will get better as i improve at managing my time and learn to say no to shifts. I'm told that this is the hardest part, and if this is the worst it gets i'm just fine. i'm laughing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


i intended to blog last night, but instead when i got home from work i went straight past the computer, put every stitch of clothing i was wearing in the laundry, and had a painfully hot bath.

let me tell you about my evening.

i work for an agency that staffs the homes of people with intellectual disabilities. they frequently have other disabilities, too. the agency keeps sending me into homes that i haven't been trained in, where i can sink or swim. i'm not a huge fan of that practice.

last night i was in a home i'd never been in. two elderly, deaf women lived there. during dinner, loud, ominous noises came from one woman's rear end. scary noises. later i got to see the result of the noises. all over the bathroom floor. the linen closet was devoid of towels and there were only four squares of paper towel to be found in the whole house. on top of that, i couldn't find the surgical gloves. and this was a serious puddle. the light brown fluid had spread out all over the floor. i was barefoot and it soaked into the crevices in between my toes. the bottoms of my pants wicked it up. as i cleaned it up (with my bare hands) the cuff of my shirt dipped into it. i was a human shit sponge.

as i was cleaning the woman was sitting in a bath, theoretically to get clean. the water was brown with stuff floating in it. she couldn't stand in order to shower, so this was the best we could do. freaking gross. when she was ready to get out i rushed all over the house, searching for a towel. nope. she waited in the tub while i looked, screaming at me that she was getting cold, and what's the holdup?

i eventually found a towel. they were in a closed cardboard box in the back of a closet.

seriously, folks. i am very, very underpaid.

Monday, May 18, 2009

the plant speaks

i was just talking with one of my tomato plants, and i thought i'd transcribe the conversation for you here. the plant, of course, is called tom.tom: please let me go outside.
me: no.
tom: but look out there! things are green! and i'm big and need to live out there!
me: not until this shitty weather ends.
tom: but i love shit! i thrive in shit, literally!
me: that was a poor choice of words, sorry. you can't go outside until the unseasonably cold weather ends. i don't want you to get snowed on.
tom: *grunts sadly*

seriously. we had snow last friday. tonight it's going down to freezing. tuesday, wednesday and thursday nights it will get below freezing. what the hell is this?
this past weekend was may long, here on the canadian prairie. it's typically the weekend when every gardener is out there planting and watering and trimming and generally getting gleeful over the coming summer. but not this weekend. i didn't see anyone working in their yards when i was out on sunday. it's unnatural. it sucks. i don't like it.but tom doesn't like it even more than me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

a dork in love

i'm not into science. believe me, it's at the bottom of my list of interests, generally. i'm not particularly fascinated by genetics. or old japanese men. or german monks, especially ones that have been dead for 125 years. and normally gardeners don't give me the hots, although i'm sure there are exceptions.

so why do i have crushes on these men?

this is david suzuki. every canadian knows of him, most revere him. he's an environmental activist. also a geneticist. and he likes gardens a great deal.
and this is gregor mendel. 'the father of genetics'. he's known for fiddling around in the gardens in the abbey where he was a monk, figuring out the natural laws that govern trait inheritance. so what's with this? is it the glasses? the thin lips? the appearance of intelligence, kindness and serious hotness?

don't tell anyone, ok? i don't want to be known as that chick with the thing for geneticists who garden. although i might be. but shush.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

pardon me while i uncross my eyes

did you know that human physical characteristics, as those of other organisms, are predominantly determined by the protein composition of body cells and tissues and enzymes and other secretions that they produce? or that if we consider all 23 chromosome pairs and the further complications of recombination during meiosis, we can predict that one individual can generate thousands of different combinations?

i didn't.

did you care?

i don't.

i remember liking the elegant logic of mendel and his peas when i was in high school. crossbreeding green and yellow peas, seeing what colour their offspring would be - it was straightforward and, to my mind, interesting. but protein synthesis, alleles, amino acids? no thanks. ugh.

the kicker is that this is all for my anthropology class. physical anthropology, though. i don't get to take cultural anthro until i finish this class. it's like the university is trying to scare people away from an interesting subject by making the intro class as tedious as possible. i'd much rather be flipping through old national geographics, looking for saggy-breasted women to make collages with. i'll do that another semester, i guess.

tonight i'll read another chapter from that godawful text, tomorrow after work i'll read one more then write a paper on all of it while it's still fresh in my mind. then i need to read two chapters from my counselling text (less dry, but very repetitive) and write something on them. it's a good thing that i have no work or kids on monday. i guess.


Friday, May 15, 2009

back on the bandwagon

for almost two months i've cruelly neglected this blog. i'm sorry. i'll try not to do it again.

the blog isn't the only thing that's been languishing in the bitter winter of my inattention. apparently blogging, picturetaking and knitting are linked in my life. i know this now because i haven't done any in any signifigant way since early april. before i was knitting a pair of socks a month, taking a zillion pictures and blogging almost daily. these days i've been doing schoolwork, earning a living, keeping up with housework, reading, walking, lots of stuff, but no knitting, photography or blogging. is it too late to start again? can you forgive me?

i hope not.

so anyways, i made this sock in april:and since its completion at the end of april i've knit about two inches of its pair. i suck. but the sock (a modification of the nutkin pattern) is slow, painful knitting. it looks cool, but is not worth it. and i feel that this design would look better as fingerless gloves, with a longish arm part. i may make that one day.and i don't like the yarn as much in sock form as in skein form. alas. it just sort of looks like a messy pile of colours here, instead of something beautiful and subtle.

this is my front door, as seen from inside the house. can you see it? i noticed the other night that the words 'men's toilet' are on the door, but painted over. my jiffy markers and i are renewing the letters. i do one letter for every chapter of my text that i read and write notes on. it's slow going, but filling in the letters is actually a good break from the mental strain of memorizing page after page of dry information. i'm hoping to have all of the 'men's' filled in by bedtime. we'll see, since the kids are getting ornery from all the inattention they've recieved today. i might need to actually aknowledge them and, you know, feed them or something, at some point. sooner or later.

i'll try to blog again tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


hey, just stopping in to say hi. i just finished writing 15 pages of homework for one of my classes so my brain is fried. i'm going to go home and not think at all until tomorrow.

things are going well. i officially have two jobs now, although neither is giving me any hours at the moment. i'm told that will change soon. my tomato seedlings are gearing up to go in the ground, school is fine, and tonight i'm going to make fried rice for my dinner. tomorrow i hope to buy a laptop, but it depends. i keep emailing and calling about laptops i find for sale online and things keep not working out. yesterday i spent ages waiting around a burger joint for a guy to show up, and he never did. as we waited my kids ate their weight in fries. i've learned that trying to get an affordable used laptop with two little kids in tow, riding the bus, sucks. seriously. ugh. but eventually i'll have one and i'll be able to start blogging again.

anyways, internet, i love you and miss you like crazy. i hope to see you again soon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

movie review: lars and the real girl

this is the story of lars. he's a sweet, reclusive man who lives in his brother's garage and does whatever it takes to avoid human interaction. he develops a delusion wherein he believes that his new 'real girl' doll, a life-sized, highly detailed sex doll, is an actual person. his brother and sister in law freak right out, unsurprisingly, but the witty, wise, beautiful family doctor/ shrink (!?!?!?) tells them to play along with it. lars brings his 'girlfriend' to church, an office party, his childhood haunts, etc.

most of the acting is excellent (although bianca, lars' 'girlfriend' is a little stiff.... *giggle* *snort*) the setting is perfect and the story is both sweet and interesting.

i do, however, have a couple of problems with the film.

it's the job of filmmakers to construct a scenario and the job of an audience to believe it's real. when the filmmakers do their job right (the truman show or et, for example) the audience easily believes a fairly ridiculous situation to be real. it's called suspension of disbelief. i had a hard time suspending my disbelief while watching this film. the people are too good. a gentle, lonely man goes crazy and carries an anatomically correct, well endowed doll around with him, talking to him. everyone he encounters looks at him askance for about three seconds and then plunges headlong into pretending it's normal. a whole midwestern small town cheerfully goes along with the ruse, even forming emotional attachments to the inanimate object. if just a few people had persisted in finding the whole thing ludicrous the movie would have worked for me. but a whole town commiting to helping out a man with a mental problem? the stereotype sticks in my throat. the actors may as well have worn placards that said 'this is a small town in the midwest and 'round here we support each other and stick together, goll'durn it!'

my other issue is the way the movie repeatedly opens potentially interesting cans of worms and then abandons them. lars' horror of physical contact, his terror when confronted with the idea of childbirth, his desire for a rite of passage, his relationships with his brother, sister in law, doctor and the cute girl at work... i understand that there isn't time in the movie to really delve into multiple complex subjects, but rushing past all these topics was annoying and frustrating.

all in all, this movie was ok. it had huge potential and failed to live up to it, but it wasn't terrible.

book review: fool

forgive the lack of links, i'm posting from the library where i can only have one window open at a time, and the internet is slower than a slug in molasses. ugh

i'm a longtime christopher moore fan, but his last few books have caused my faith in him to falter. fool, moore's interpretation of shakespeare's king lear, follows in the unfortunate recent tradition of mediocre books. you suck and a dirty job were
sort of funny, i guess. fool isn't as funny as them. it's not that moore isn't trying. he is obviously trying very, very hard. he just seems to have lost the spark
that made coyote blue, fluke and lamb three of my favourite books, both in terms
of hilarity and interesting treatment of an interesting subject.

when writing fool christopher mooreseems to have reverted to his 13 year old self. in a random sampling of 5 pages (16, 63, 98, 150, 199) i found:
sexual/ bodily function jokes/ mentions: 13
religion jokes: 2
other jokes (mostly monty python-type humour) : 4
3/4 of these were jokes were in the first two pages. even the author, it seems, got tired of the juvenile humour.

shakespeare's king lear is complicated enough without a bunch of 'funny' extra scenes and scenarios added in. the book is a confusing mishmash of historical periods, shakespeare quotes, (from his collected works, not just lear) comedic embellishments and added plot twists for the sake of added plot twists.

while reading fool i probably chuckled aloud five or six times, a pitifully small amount considering the book is 311 pages long. i had been hoping that this would be the book where christopher moore shook off his current slump and resumed his former brilliance, but alas, no. please try again, mr. moore.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

book review: house rules

house rules by rachel sontag is a phenomenon. it's the autobiography of a young woman. more specifically, it's a memoir focused on sontag's family relationships.
one could say that this is yet another voice from the world of white, middle class girls claiming hurt because daddy didn't understand them and never really loved them. however, that would be neither accurate nor fair. yes, many parts of this tale fit the cliches, but the author's father was exceptionally cruel and controlling. her mother was exceptionally self-deluded and impotent. most importantly, the author herself is exceptionally skilled as a writer. her story is told as simply as possible, given the complex nature of familial relationships. i highly recommend this insightful, truthful, beautiful and heartbreaking book.

book review: oryx and crake

last night on the airplane i finished reading oryx and crake by margaret atwood. i was sad to see it end.
margaret atwood is a blatantly brilliant canadian author. her the handmaid's tale is her most famous book, but she has written a veritable library. her work is usually dark and visionary. oryx and crake is no exception.

i believe that atwood was trying to write a book that would belong on the shelf next to brave new world and 1984 when she wrote oryx and crake. her book shares their tone and vision, but her book is not quite as chilling as the others. on the other hand, i found oryx and crake to be more readable, with better characters. i'm actually quite torn when it comes to deciding if oryx & crake is on par with the other two books or if it falls slightly short. i couldn't tell you. you should read it yourself and let me know.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

good news and bad news

the good:
i got a job! maybe two, we'll see. and school is great. and i love my new house.
the bad:
my laptop died a sudden death. so no internet at home or when i'm out and about. just stupidass library internet. and no using my laptop to play movies and music, keep track of my schedule, play games, read books or file my recipes. i'm really, really lost.
the good:
i get my tax return soon, so i will have a new laptop within a month.
the bad:
a MONTH?!?!!? are you kidding me? what deity did i offend.
the good:
i have a job! maybe two, we'll see. and school is great. and i love my new house.

so anyways, don't expect much from this blog in the next little while. definitely don't expect pictures. i think i'll take up cleaning my house obsessively to fill the void left by the computer's unfortunate demise. that will be me over there with the rubber gloves and toothbrush, scrubbing the grout for the eighth time today. harrumph.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

first night

the evening after i moved i worked and worked and worked, getting almost everything unpacked and set up. there are still things to do, like procuring wall art and a microwave, but i'm happy with things, so far.

after i'd gotten completley worn out unpacking, i made tea and sat in this chairwith tea, knitting, and a good friend nearby. with so many sore muscles it was just perfect. (by the way, i'm making a modified version of nutkin socks in lorna's laces sock yarn)
then i fell into bed and slept and slept and slept. in the morning i looked up, saw that everything was well with the world, and went back to sleep.

Friday, April 3, 2009

moving in

my new house is spacious and full of light. hardwood floors, lots of windows, colourful walls, big rooms. also some small rooms, but enough big ones that the place feels like a palace. to the left is the dining room, to the right is the sunroom. the fireplace is decorative only, but it's brick. the built in shelves are the fanciest ones in the place, but there are actually lots of areas with them. the windows are old school, as is the trim. the whole place has a comfortable, funky feel to it. there's an eat-in kitchen, making this spacious dining room extraneous. not that i'm complaining. on the far right you can see the desk in the sun room. my plants will be in heaven.

so, overall, i approve of my new accomodations.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

some news

tomorrow i start school. you didn't know i applied to school? that's because i didn't tell you. fear of rejection and all that. (rejection from the school, not you readers. i know you'd stick with me through thick & thin)

anyways, i'm beginning a social work program, to be finished in the next five years. hopefully less. i don't actually want to be a babysnatcher or anything like that, but a few jobs i've seen that appealed to me in the past while have required a bsw, so maybe i should get one. the alternative is continuing to be unable to get a good job and so wasting my life at jobs that bore and underpay me. i'm thrilled to finally be moving on with my life instead of remaining an unhappy housewife.

speaking of moving on, i'm relocating on thursday. i will take up residence in a nice little place not far from here. it has a fantastic south-facing sunroom, it's near a park and a library, and no metal music will be played on the premises. yes, you read that right, my partner is not accompanying me on the move. but the kids are, half-time. more on that another day.

i'm also desperately looking for a job.

and the new place won't have internet. not for the first month, anyways.

so between the kids, school, (hopefully) work, and adapting to living on my own after spending a quarter of my life with my partner, i don't think i'll be blogging daily. i'll shoot for weekly. but you'll get to see how i transform an already beautiful space into a beautiful living space that is mine. fascinating, non?

so anyways, i'll be in touch.


Monday, March 30, 2009

musings of an english nerd

i was running all over town today, waiting in lines and waiting areas and at bus stops, and i had a lot of time to think.

sometimes that's a bad thing.

so..... the word 'duped'. it means 'fooled', right? between the way it looks and the meaning, i assume that it's derived from 'duplicity', meaning trickiness and dishonesty. but 'duped' seems like it was once short for something. what would the word for someone who has been the victim of a duplicitous person be? duplicitousified? duplicitiated?

as ever, i went to the internet for a resolution to my query.

this is what wikipedia has to say about the word duped.

more helpfully, the online etymology dictionary sez:
dupe (n.) Look up dupe at
1681, from Fr. dupe "deceived person," from M.Fr. duppe (1426), thieves' jargon, probably from phrase de huppe "of the hoopoe," an extravagantly crested and reputedly stupid bird. Bird name is from L. upupa, imitative of its cry. The verb is from 1704.
dang, i gues i'm not always right. who knew?

and now, because this post isn't dorky enough, an assortment of english related xkcd comics.

Friday, March 27, 2009

my wishes re: reincarnation

i am trying to be very, very good in this life so in my next life i will be reincarnated as a well-cared for housecat.i will wallow in the sun.a lot.

sockly love

my boy hears that i love him at least a hundred times a day. he can't walk past me, or even be in the same room as me, without me swinging him into my arms and squeezing him half to death while kissing him all over and/ or threatening to eat him. there comes a point, though, where the same thing repeated enough times becomes meaningless. and so i made him probably already know this, (daffodylic, megan and llama all do) but a handknit socks are actually hugs. long, warm, cozy hugs that wrap around your feet and you can wear all day and then to bed.
^this is a picture of me hugging my son.^

first green!

by the time march rolls around i simply feel dead inside. too long trapped inside, too long since i've seen the sun. but the day i start my seeds i start to feel a little more hopeful. the day i see the first green in my plant pots the clouds obscuring my soul roll back and all becomes well in the world.the first green was today.hallelujah!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

planned childbirth

don't bother trying to call me tomorrow, and don't look for me online, i'm going to be in labour.

'what?' you say, 'you're pregnant? i had no idea!'

'well, i'm not. i haven't been in a while, and i probably won't be ever again' i reply.

'but you said you're going to be in labour tomorrow. you mean labour as in childbirth, right?' you ask, confusion dancing across your features

'that's right. i'll have midwives in attendance, checking my vitals, even'

at this point i quit being so mysterious and explain myself.

'you see, dear reader, i'm helping my midwife-friend out. she's leading a workshop tomorrow for her fellow midwives, demonstrating some sort of midwifey technique thing. and she needs someone to demonstrate on. i'll get to expose my well-hidden thespian side and spend the day giving birth. how's that for random?'

'oh, yes,' you agree, nodding vigorously 'that is very random indeed'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


this morning i woke up to this:stinkin dirty rotten filthy snow. spring was supposed to be coming. what the hell?

i've been job hunting, mostly coming up empty. it's disheartening and discouraging and depressing and lots of other words that start with d. today, out of the blue, a former employer called me up and offered me a job. four twelve hour shifts a week, sleeping. with benefits, a pension plan, holiday pay... i would get paid to sleep. seriously, paid to sleep. the money is crap, but enough. especially considering the type of work i'd be doing. which is, by the way, sleeping.

i had to turn it down since the hours conflict with my partner's work schedule.

excuse me while i go sob in the bathroom some more.

paid. to sleep.

Monday, March 23, 2009

money well spent

i have the world's best thrift store a few blocks away, and i visit it as often as i can. if they had customer loyalty points i'd be set. anyways, today i scored in a phenomenal way.see? even batman* likes it. i like it, too. knitting in a chair with no arms is marvelous. plus it looks's like winning the lottery, getting a vintage armless armchair for 15$. surely the sweetest deal, ever. i also got a more traditional armchair for another 15$, and they're both incredibly comfortable.

*not relevant to this post, but in the picture and potentially making you scratch your head in bewilderment: my kids use rolled up, taped together flyers as light sabers. i don't allow toy weapons in the house, but i can't forbid everything that can be used as a weapon. flyers are free and don't hurt when they fight with them, so i can live with that. but i think i'm one of the only people whose kids get all giddy on flyer day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

frigging awesome

my friend is getting married in a month, and i'm a bridesmaid. we have a lot of shared history (25 years, ish) and i love her to pieces, but we have nothing in common. my friend has a trendy townhouse, an important job, a successful fiancee, and is well off. she's stylish, classy, socially appropriate... like i said, we really have nothing in common.
so what the hell does someone like me give someone like her for a wedding present? i'm not actually able to get anything fancy, and she already has everything.
so, of course, i went to ravelry to solve my problem.
ravelry has a lot of patterns, but most don't scream 'classy and modern!'. even if a pattern did, i'd have to opt for the pattern that whispered it, instead, and i couldn't find any of those.
finally, i found this: a mobius shrug. with less texture (and no vile moss stitch) a more urban colour, and some mohair, it could be just the thing.
i wanted it to be charcoal, but i coudn't find the right yarn. in the clearance section, though, there was estelle watercolours (acrylic & mohair) in a creamy colour. don't tell my friend, but her present is costing me less than 2$. i grabbed my biggest needles, cast on an arbitrary number of stitches, and i was in business. it has very nice drape, a lovely luster and a subtle shimmer. my plan i to knit it like a scarf until it drapes comfortably around the shoulders, twist it once, and sew the ends together as invisibly as possible.
the result should be elegant, warm, and soft. if not, my credit card and i will be making an emergency shopping trip.