Monday, 31 August 2009


Last week one of my former students, Mykel (Myke) De Haan tragically died when he was hit by a VIA train last Tuesday night.
The accident occurred just moments after Skip and I passed the spot on the GO train on the way home from the Jays game. Myke had just finished basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School - a goal he worked very hard to attain.

Myke was a student in my guitar class my last year of teaching. At the time, he had long red hair and was dating one of the other students in that class. He was a very pleasant and friendly student and I very much enjoyed having him in my class. I'm not sure why but I can't stop thinking of Myke, how his life has been snuffed out so prematurely and for such a stupid reason (putting coins on the railway tracks), and how his family and young friends are getting through this difficult time. I will be attending the visitation at the funeral home this afternoon. May he rest in peace.

Teddy Kennedy died that day as well and I've watched as much of the coverage of the tributes and funeral services as has fit into my schedule. I very much enjoyed the celebration of his life from the John F. Kennedy Library last Friday evening. I enjoyed the anecdotes that were told, laughing out loud several times. I was impressed with what both John McCain and Orrin Hatch had to say admitting that although most of the time they disagreed with Teddy's politics, they liked working with him on getting the work done and loved him as a friend.

And now today I hear that the father of a former colleague has died.

That's three. I think that should be it for deaths 'close to home' for quite some time.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Stitch 'n Pitch

Last night Skip, Scooter and I attended the Blue Jays' Stitch 'n Pitch game against the Tampa Bay Rays. I was certainly dressed for the occasion. Here I am patiently waiting for the GO train.

Although it was far from a shut-out, the Jays absolutely stunk.

However, Martina and I soldiered on, knitting, purling, frogging and tinking in spite of it all.

Today we test-drove a 2008 Hyundai Sonata. It was a somewhat squooshy ride which would probably be great on the highway to Texas but not great for Skip's motion sickness. We've asked the salesperson to keep an eye out for a Tucson or Santa Fe in our price range. I still am partial to the Kia Rondo we test-drove last week but have lots of other makes to look at. We're not in any hurry but I think it's a good time to buy a car as dealers are wanting to make room for the 2010 models.

This morning I learned of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. I've been glued to the coverage of his life and was impressed to learn that once a week for four years he helped a little girl with her reading (I assume in a Washington, DC public school) , that he attended the funerals of every fallen soldier from Massachusetts and made personal condolence calls to many friends and acquaintances on the loss of one of their loved ones. He had certainly 'walked the walk' himself. I am so glad he got to see Barack Obama get elected and participate in the inauguration. He didn't live well into old age but he certainly lived a full life. May he rest in peace.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Two More FOs*

I've been on a real sock knitting jag lately. Yesterday I finished the Christmas stocking.

I may retire my 1961 stocking and claim this one. At least this one is somewhat stretchy so Santa will be able to cram lots of goodies into it.

This evening I finished the Charade II sock knit with Araucanía Ranco Multy yarn.

Tomorrow is the Stitch 'n Pitch game. I have to figure out what to take to knit. I guess another sock would be a good idea. As I use the 'magic loop' (one circular needle), I wouldn't have to worry about dropping a needle. But if I find shorter 3.75mm needles to use on the bamboo drop stitch scarf, I'll take it.

I did two Zumba classes today. I drank tons of liquids and did a lot of sweating. I like to think I'm sweating fat right out of my pores. The second class with my favourite instructor, Laura, ran without any breaks between tunes. That definitely kept my heart rate up. If I get up in time tomorrow, I'll go to the 9:30am BodyPump (weight-lifting) class.

I downloaded from iTunes and watched the last night's 2nd episode of Season 3 of "Mad Men" today. What a show! I'm not sure why a couple of scenes were included but I'm sure it will become abundantly clear as the season unfolds. I love the sets and costumes and the drama is gripping. The various story lines could go in any direction at this point. I eagerly look forward to next week's installment.

*finished objects

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Socks and an Anniversary

I finished the Earl Grey socks I'm knitting for Chris, my former student who is now an ordained Catholic priest.

I have cast on another Charade sock. This time, I'm using the Araucanía Ranco Multy yarn that I purchased at The Woolly Lamb in East Aurora, NY last week.

As a point of interest my paternal grandmother had at least one parent who was an Araucanía aboriginal from this region in southern Chile.

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of Ollie joining our family.

Back in the summer of 1999, Fred and I returned home from our honeymoon (which had been delayed by a year due to our teacher's strike) in Puerto Vallarta to a very sick cat, Eddie, who subsequently died at the beginning of August. I went through the stages of death and dying in record time and a couple of weeks later Scooter and I ventured to PetsMart to see what kitties were there that needed a new home.

Back in 1983 I decided I needed to adopt a cat. My mom suggested I give the prospective kitty the 'purr test'. This involves picking up the kitty and if it starts to purr and rubs against you, it passes the 'purr test'. It worked with Stanley and we tried the same technique at PetsMart that day. We already had a female cat, Mouffie, and we thought we'd get another female as they are more submissive than male cats. The female kitten I picked up just wanted to get away from me. However, she had a very cute twin brother who did pass the purr test. That was it, Ollie (who was 5 1/2 months old at the time) went home with us.

Ollie didn't stop purring until he finally passed out from exhaustion that evening.
I took him to the vet the next day and he purred so loudly during the examination, the veterinarian couldn't even hear his little heart beating.

Scooter was only 5 1/2 years old!

Ollie was long and rangy. Skip says he's the world's longest cat.

Ten years later he still has a very loud purr but it alternates with his frequent naps (and snoring), pestering us to feed him and head-butting us when he wants attention. He charms everyone who meets him. He is a very satisfactory cat.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Dinner at the Farm

Every year our friend and former colleague, Joan, hosts a very tasteful soirée at her farm about 30km north of our place. Joan teaches in Taipei, Taiwan and returns to Canada for the summer. Since she's been doing the China gig after her retirement from teaching, the only time we get to see Joan is when she has us to her gastronomic event. She puts out hors d'oeuvres for people to nosh on all afternoon - tepanade, patés, crudités, eggplant spread, hummus, etc. etc. For dinner, Joan serves gazpacho, cole slaw, leg of lamb, grilled vegetables and portobello mushrooms (pictured), garden salad with a vinaigrette dressing and the world's tastiest risotto.

There are usually about 40 people in attendance and we dine al fresco near the orchard.

Anyone celebrating a milestone birthday, a retirement or anniversary has dessert prepared in their honour. Here's Joan announcing the dessert menu:

In preparation for this evening's feast I did a 1 hour BodyPump (weight-lifting) class this morning followed by 30 min. of cardio on the elliptical trainer. Tomorrow morning I'm hitting the gym in Bowmanville for a 9:30am Zumba class and will also do the 5:45pm class at the Oshawa Centre.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Lotsa Fun in the Summertime

Skip and I made our way to Fredonia, NY on Wednesday to visit with a couple of friends from Japan who are staying in the area for a few days. We met up with Todd and Shingo at the guest house where they are staying at Lily Dale - a spiritualist camp about 16km south of Fredonia. We all went for Mexican food for dinner and then strolled around Lily Dale.

The next day we met up and decided to go to Lake Erie State Park so Shingo could see one of the Great Lakes.

Skip captured a shot of me skipping stones as I had done as a youngster on the shores of Lake Huron where I spent the first 10 years of my life.

Then we drove to a winery that conveniently had a lunch menu and we dined al fresco overlooking the lush, green fields. We then went to Chautauqua where an arts festival is in full swing but it was going to cost $17 just to go in and walk around so we just peered through the wrought iron fence. Then we circumnavigated Lake Chautauqua en route to Lily Dale stopping briefly for Skip's and my first taste of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream that just happened to be located in a Tim Hortons. I had Sinless Cake Batter ice cream with Reese's Peanut Butter cups mushed into it - the smallest scoop they could make. It was deeeeelicious. After a lovely dinner at the White Horse Restaurant, we said our goodbyes until the same time next year. It is planned that Todd, Shingo, Shingo's mother and Todd's friend, Chris will come up to visit us, touring the Niagara region on the way.

Yesterday morning, Skip and I made our way to East Aurora to The Woolly Lamb where I spent about an hour ogling the lovely yarn. I ended up purchasing the Fall 2006 Knitscene that was on sale for $1 and

a skein of grey Cascade Heritage sock yarn,

a bare skein of Cascade Heritage sock yarn to dye,

a skein of Araucanía Ranco Multy sock yarn, and

a skein of lovely, squishy Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine sock yarn.

Two doors down was The Needle Hive, a quaint cross-stitch shop where I purchased three little French Country designs:

Then we headed northward to Williamsville where we were going to be spending the night and got checked into our motel. After a delicious dinner at Italian Gardens we spent 2 hours in a Barnes and Noble. All I bought was a Maggie Sefton novel, "A Killer Stitch" that had been discounted 77%. Each of Sefton's knitting mysteries include a delicious recipe and knitting pattern. This one has a recipe for Mint Chocolate Fudge and a Cable Knit Scarf.

This morning we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and then did last-minute shopping at WalMart and the Lockport Outdoor store (Skip's favourite) before gassing up the car at Smokin' Joe's (on the Tuscarora reserve) and heading to the border. On the way home, we picked up Scooter who is joining us until next Sunday.

It wasn't a very long little holiday but we sure had a great time visiting with long-time friends and shopping to our hearts' content. I sure love the summer.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Company's Gone...

It was a busy weekend. My sister and my niece and her family arrived Friday evening. Saturday we dispersed, Tay and her gang to the Toronto Zoo; Skip, Scooter and I to 'Taste of the Danforth' and my sister stayed home to relax after 5 days on the road.

The rain held off all afternoon even though it was overcast, which was a good thing because we were quite comfortable strolling up and down the Danforth.

I cooked dinner for all 8 of us and felt somewhat like an octopus in the kitchen. I think it was the largest group I'd ever cooked for.

Yesterday they all headed home and I rested. Last night I finished the first Earl Grey sock

and have cast on the second one. No second sock syndrome for me.

I have one more band to knit on the Christmas stocking, then will need to get back on the Triangle Leaf Shawl.

Today is a two Zumba day. I went this morning in Bowmanville for 9:30am and will go again at 5:45pm to the Oshawa Centre.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


I love having company - people visiting and spending the night. I'm not generally that interested in keeping the house that neat and tidy and throwing a party or having overnight guests forces me to get things organized.

Recently my office/guest room has been so cluttered that walking across the floor has been quite precarious. I have had yarn storage issues as well as many half-completed projects piled up. On top of that, I am quite 'acquisitive', that is, I have a lot of stuff AND I'm not what you would call a neat freak. All week I've been puttering away and last night finished getting the room ready for guests. There still is a lot of 'stuff' but the floor is clear, the spots have been cleaned from the carpet, the surface of my desk is visible and most stuff has been organized or at least tidied up.


Progress is being made on the Christmas stocking. Since taking this photo, I've finished the reindeer band and inserted the waste yarn for the afterthought heel which will be red.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Mid-Summer Socks

After browsing through some Ravelry patterns I got a 'bee in my bonnet' that I wanted to knit a Christmas stocking. I found the recommended book in a neighbouring public library and assembled 4 colours of DK weight yarn.

I started it yesterday and am quite pleased with how it's turning out.
I have left the name band blank and will duplicate stitch the name of the recipient when I'm finished with the knitting. I may even keep the stocking for myself. I still treasure my 1961 Christmas stocking that was originally my brother's (I'm not sure where mine ended up) but would be fine with retiring it for a newly knit one.

The Mix-and-Match Christmas stocking pattern has 17 designs to choose from. I've done the holly and am working on the snow flake but also would like to do the reindeer and some trees.

I'm also working on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Earl Grey sock pattern using On Your Toes with aloe 'heathered charcoal' yarn.
I wanted them to be a dark grey hue but the yarn seems to be a more brown in appearance. I'm knitting them for a former student of mine who is now an ordained Catholic priest and thought the plain stocking stitch with 1x1 intertwined cables down either side of the leg and foot would be understatedly appropriate.

These next couple of days I'll be a whirling dervish around the house preparing to have 8 people sleeping here on the weekend. My niece, her husband, two children and my sister are staying over for a couple of nights on their return trip from Ottawa. Although we certainly have enough places to sleep, I need to clear the required floor space. It's always a good way for me to get the house in order and get a bunch of piled-up stuff sorted through, filed and/or discarded. Thank goodness Friday is recycling AND garbage day.