Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lying Fallow

I've spent much of the last while trying to regain the normal rhythms of a regular job. Somehow, the two and a bit years of being a student messed with my programming and I have found the transition to Federal droid exhausting. The early mornings, the meals to prepare, the laundry... The small details of daily existence overwhelmed me for a while, and leached my creativity. Sure, I did some desultory knitting and quilting, but nothing epic.

Next week, I celebrate my one-year anniversary with my new job. It's been a steep learning curve, but I feel as if I'm getting into the swing of things. The one year mark also ends my probationary period; not that I'm not good at what I do, or a slacker or anything, but it's still nice to know that I'm permanent now.

My urge to create again has been rising since the fall. I have wonderful friends who enable me in every way possible, and after some adventures at CSNF,  specifically at the Farthingale's booth, Kate and I have been stewing over corsetry.  Over the winter, we've found a wonderful and skilled teacher and arranged for lessons on how to master these complex garments.  We've had our final lesson and are close to completing our first corset, but Kate and I are hopelessly hooked.  :)

I've also decided to up my sewing skills by enrolling part-time in the Fashion Design Program at Algonquin College.  Almost everything I know about sewing I've taught myself, and it's time for some more formal education.  I'm excited about the chance to learn and grow, and have updated my sewing room (new cutting table and storage) and tools (a new serger!) accordingly.

I think perhaps I will want to share more as I embark on this journey, so with this post I poke my languishing blog and wake it up.  :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Going Big

I have a birthday coming up on Sunday, and a rule about birthdays: never spend them alone at home. Especially birthdays that are divisible by 5, and even more so for the decade markers, which I may or may not be celebrating this year. :)

With hubby away in Afghanistan, there was only one option for this year: go big. Very big. This big.

Tallin, Estonia (82)

11 days on the ship in the Baltic Sea, with 7 ports of call, not including the embarkation in Copenhagen. This is a big of a life-long dream being fulfilled, as I am partially of Finnish ancestry, and that area of the world has always fascinated me. Icing on the cake: meeting some of my Finnish relatives in Helsinki on the 12th.

Or is the icing on the cake the fact that the girlfriend I'm travelling with got us upgraded to Executive First class on the Toronto-Copenhagen flight? Champagne and beds on a plane... now *that's* travelling.

Somehow, with all this excitement, 40 doesn't seem so bad. Who can be depressed about another decade when one's in Oslo, Norway? Not me! :)

Follow me here on the ship's bridge-cam, and I'll try to post when I have time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Two-Four

Mummy Linda came for a visit from Lacombe, Alberta. There was frolicking with kitties...

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There was a spa day at Le Nordik...

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There was a wonderful overnight jaunt to the Wakefield Inn...

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More glorious food than you could shake a stick at...

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And gardening. Finally.

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There were also giggles with friends, visits with stepchildren and so much more. It was a wonderful visit and I miss you already, mummy.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011


The harsh winter did my garden no favours. Half of my perennials won't be coming back, both floral and herbal. Even the mint died, and that stuff is more tenacious than many a weed. About 20% of my garlic was winter-killed, soft and rotting in the ground, and another 20% of the bulbs were thrown out of the soil by frost-heaves, despite my careful mulching in the fall.

Spring Garlic

Between that, the f^*%@ing miserable "spring" weather, my discovery of Bryson Farm's lovely organic, heritage veggies delivered right to my door, and the outdoor water ban imposed on my community until August (!)... my gardening craving is just simply non-existent. Two weeks until the last frost date, and I have no seeds started and no plans.

Spring Poppies
The few wild-sewn poppies in my front garden are about a week away from blooming... if you go back to last year, they were at this point in early April. The season is almost a full month off last year (which, admittedly, was early.)

I know that come summer and warm weather I may regret this decision but I can only think of three things I want to plant this year aside from my poor garlic: rosemary, more mint (may it rest in peace), and basil. Oh, and maybe cherry tomatoes. Hey, maybe some sugar-snap peas, too...

Kinda sounds like I do have plans for the garden after all, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


When I was in high school, I was a part of a very close and vibrant church family. My mum required me to go to church but she didn't specify which one, so I chose one where several of my high-school friends were members. I found a wonderful family there; I felt valued and included, rare commodities for a teen-aged girl. That church and its youth group formed a safety net for me and became the whole of my social life.

I moved away from that sleepy city after graduation from high school, moved away from Christianity a few years later, and more recently moved away from organized religion altogether. I have too many issues with specific theological points to swallow the pretty fairy-tales, not to mention the rampant hubris and blatant arrogance of religions when they invariably make the claim that they are the ONLY one way to God, and everyone else is wrong. Only frail, weak, stupid humans could make up a story like that.

I don't miss my faith. I am fine with the framework of beliefs I have created through the destructive process of testing every belief and tearing it down if it did not hold weight. I am left with a rather minimalist view of God, and He and I are okay with that.

What I do miss, though, is the sense of belonging that comes with attending a church. A community of people who all hold the same beliefs is a powerful force, and I have effectively painted myself out of that warm glow. I have a neighbor across the street who is quite active in the JW community, and every Saturday when nicely-dressed people pull up in their cars and come into his house for post-church coffee and fellowship, I am envious and lonely for that type of interaction.

My mum feels this, too. She, like me, is post-religion yet longing for community. We discussed going to church anyhow, but in order to be truly accepted into a church family, they need to get to know us... and our lack of belief would eventually betray us.

In an era where families are geographically peppered throughout the globe, organized religion has failed so many of us, and technology seems to isolate us even further, where does one turn to find a sense of community?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crisis of Self

I met someone a few days ago who challenged my sense of satisfaction with my accomplishments. At roughly my age, this person has obtained a doctorate in a challenging field, published papers, taught at a university, and is an active and acknowledged contributor in a related field. When, I wonder, do they sleep?

Up until I read their bio, I felt pretty good about myself with my service to country, honours in college and shiny new career. For a short time after, though, I felt that it was a pretty pitiful pile of accomplishments. Their acts are writ large on the stage of the world, and mine are far more humble. I yearned for the kind of greatness I saw in the deeds of this person.

This little crisis of self lasted a whole day or two until I realized that although my doings were far less public and attributable, they were no less important; by participating in peacekeeping missions, I have in a small way contributed to the stability of the world in general. By serving my country, Queen and government, I have protected and defended Canada's interests in a rather direct way.

We have both made our contributions to the world, and neither is less valid than the other. Having realized this, though, I also came to the realization that academic success is still something I crave; college is by no means the end of my scholastic journey.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcome Back to the Real World

When I told my husband I intended to take three months off after graduation, he looked at me incredulously and asked what on earth I would do with myself for all that time. I listed it all off: the quilting, knitting, cross-stitch, the books I wanted to read, the games I wanted to play, the yoga classes I wanted to attend, the weight-lifting routine I intended to take up. There was no lack of things to fill my time with, and I was looking forward to building the life I wanted to.

Now, three months later, having had that precious gift of unstructured time, I've learned some things about myself. It was surprising for me to learn that without any sort of structure, I am not half as efficient as I usually am. I didn't get half as much done as I thought I would (but I sure did a lot of gaming...) Apparently, I just do better with deadlines.

Another thing that surprised me was my thirst for the company of others. I've never considered myself a terribly social creature but without work or school colleagues I found myself looking forward to having to go to the grocery store, just for the simple human contact.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my time off, 'cause I totally did, but it was a revelation. I look forward to starting my new job tomorrow, to having a reason to get up in the morning, to meeting new colleagues and perhaps new friends, to learning a new trade, and to rejoining the real world, already in progress.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Five Months Later...?

It's been months since I last posted. The fourth and last semester of school ate me alive, but in a good way, I think. In the New Year, after the last exams and graduation, my husband and I ran away to the Adriatic (Croatia and Montenegro) for three weeks, taking a much needed time-out from the work/school/family stresses that had accumulated over the last couple of years. Now we're back and I am enjoying a brief hiatus; I begin my new career in mid-March and am being determinedly unemployed for the duration. Time enough to read, knit, quilt, sew, sleep, game and remember the pleasures aside from writing just the right piece of code.

I've fallen out of the habit of seeing everything in third person, perfectly formatted for sharing in this venue. Whether this habit will return as my new life coalesces around me remains to be seen. I miss you, my global sounding board, strangers and friends alike; I trust our dance is not yet done.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Morning's Meditation

The background noise in my life has risen to deafening heights over the last few months. It's been such a slow progression, I didn't consciously notice, but over the last two weeks I couldn't ignore it anymore. Family, stepdaughters, school, work and other forces added to the general din until I could barely think.

I have no school classes on Wednesdays, so decided to treat myself to some yoga. A year or so ago I was going to yoga two or three times a week, but it eventually caused me pain in my hips so I quit. (I'm an all-or-nothing kinda gal; the thought of simply scaling back didn't occur to me at the time.) This morning, though, it seemed the right thing to do, and truth be told, the studio had beckoned me for some time.

It wasn't the right thing to do; it was the perfect thing to do. I turned off the smartphone that had only added to my interior noise, slipped off my shoes, unrolled my mat, and spent some precious time just being in my body. Stretching. Breathing. Being. During the final meditation, the savasana, I silently cried, so delighted to have connected with my self and my soul in such a vital manner. I felt washed clean and ready for the day.

I can see a great deal of yoga in my future as I seek balance and peace in the eye of the hurricane.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Looking Ahead

The end of my second work-term is coming up very quickly. It's funny how the first term seemed like it was a year long, 'cause I was kinda bored and frankly under-utilized. This second term I had a super-cool development project to work on that immersed me completely every day... it seems like I've only been there a couple of weeks but sure enough, they were both four-month terms. I leave my current employer with regret, but enough seeds have been planted that I can reasonably hope to find employment there again after graduation.

My semester this fall looks pretty dreamy... I don't have classes on Mondays or Wednesdays, I only have classes Tues and Fri morning and Thurs afternoon. Although on paper that time looks "free" I know I'll be working my tail off: this is our project semester and it might get very hairy. However, I've been hand-picked as a member of a coding "dream team", so that might soften the blow a little... having skilled coders at your side is always a plus for the project.

Aside from the project course, I have Data Communications and Networking, C++ and Advanced Database Topics. I ordered my textbooks already and can't wait to dive in. Is it wrong to love school this much?

It is my intent to take a couple of months off after grad, particularly if I nail down a job early. I'd love to take a month and rent an apartment in some warm (Mediterranean?) country, and soak in the local ambiance, eat myself silly and bask in the non-freezing weather. I'm undecided as to where I might travel, and I throw this out to my wise readers. Where might be a great place to bide a month in the middle of the brutal Canadian winter? Does anyone know anyone who has a cheap apartment/timeshare/condo somewhere warm and not American?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today, In the Garden

Dinner on the patio was perfect this evening; the weather complied beautifully and I had a wonderfully mindless book to indulge in while I ate. The breeze was gentle, yet the movement of a single hair on my arm made me look down.

There, perched on legs seemingly finer than my hair, was a tiny baby spider. All gawky, spindled legs and hardly any body to speak of, he flew in on the breeze and landed on my arm. Curious, I watched as he did a cursory exploration of the moonscape of my arm. After seconds, it stood still and raised his tiny body away from his legs and into the wind. Although I couldn't see the silk, he was exuding his next parachute. Sure enough, soon he achieved lift and rose from my arm.

The gently breeze caught the silk thrown to it and lifted the little spider above the fence in seconds. I watched him until he was invisible to me.

That tiny little spider, who had a body about as long as the points of three pins lined up and a brain correspondingly small, had landed in an environment that was hostile to its growth. It sussed that out in 10 seconds flat, and literally threw his body to the wind and God, trusting that a softer, more hospitable landing lay somewhere within his reach.

How can a tiny baby spider already know what we humans spend our whole lives trying to understand?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Systems Check

Sitting here in a coffee-shop, ripping out a couple of inches of crap-tastic sock (too tight across the arch) and not enjoying the process. Jaywalker pattern, should be easy but I have flubbed it up enough for three socks worth of knitting. So I thought I'd try mobile blogging, and get some swype practice while at it. Much quicker with swype than with piddly hunt and peck touch keyboard...this is the future of input, my friend. Dance class in an hour, just waiting for hubby to appear and make my heart race as always. :)

(tried to add an image but go figure, my Google phone wants me to use Picasa and I'm a Flickr kind of gal.There's probably a work-around but I can't be bothered at the moment...will upload at home.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

From the Society Desk

In an unexpected move, Ms. Geek Muffin of Ottawa, ON, formerly of Vancouver, BC, married Nexus One in a secret ceremony this week. It was known that she currently was engaged in a relationship with Nokia barphone, but close friends and family knew that she secretly lusted for the sleek Motorola Milestone. Interestingly, Nexus is the faster, more full-featured big brother of Milestone. Says one source in the family, "I guess it makes sense. When she decided to throw away her 7-year relationship with Nokia, she decided to go big or go home."

In mourning about the shocking decision are Ms. Muffin's MP3 player, camera and travel alarm clock, to say nothing of Nokia, saying "She doesn't need us anymore, now that she has Nexus." The laptop is taking it slightly better as his position in her life is assured, but acknowledges that plans for a GPS in her life are now highly unlikely.

Ms. Geek Muffin is unavailable for comment at this time, as she is busy compulsively clicking on the courier website, tracking the location of Nexus, who is expected to arrive early this week from his home at Google Headquarters.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dress Up

If you know me well at all, you'll know that I have a thing with clothes. I have a saying, "Every day is a dress-up day" and I live by it. I am notoriously over-dressed for every occasion, rarely ever in pants, and never wear the same outfit twice in a month. My closet is enormous, a walk-in of epic proportion; big enough to be a bedroom in a smaller house. The size of that closet was a major selling point of this home.

I don't actually spend a lot of money annually on clothes, though; perhaps $300 a year on average. That's because I indulge my guilty pleasure through frequent crawls in Value Village. Two or three times a year I go, spend perhaps $80 or $100 and walk away with several new outfits and separates. I love second-hand clothing; it's cheap and you never really know what you'll come away with.

My big find this time was a spectacular dress. It reminds me of something Audrey Hepburn might wear in Breakfast at Tiffany's, or a little bit of Jackie O... check this out.




There's not a single crystal missing on the collar and sleeve edging, it fits like a glove and was painstakingly made by hand by someone. All I need are long royal blue gloves and a little hat to perfect this dress... and an invitation to high tea somewhere for the opportunity to wear it. :)

All that for $14. Can't beat that!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stash Enhancement

It was time to bring my sewing machine in for annual maintenance, and fortunately, my girlfriend Lisa's was due, too. We made a date to drive to the Pfaff dealer in Arnprior on Saturday to drop them off. Sure, there's a Pfaff dealer in Ottawa, but I wasn't impressed last time I took my machine there for maintenance and now prefer to go elsewhere. Besides, my sister-in-law's mother works at the quilt shop in Arnprior... that doesn't entitle me to discounts, sadly, but the company is good.

I have a load of fat quarters in stash and was determined to walk out empty-handed, and it almost worked. Then, I saw the bolt of fabric that was made with me in mind, and the next thing you know I was juggling co-ordinates and trying to figure out exactly what to do with the beautiful stuff. Here's what I added to stash that day, despite my best intentions:


That center green one is the one that I lost my composure over. It's orange and green and leafy and so very me.





See? I was doomed. Now to find a project to showcase it in.