Friday, April 28, 2017

making

Nothing gets me back in my "work groove" better than a little quiet and a chance to do things and make stuff.  This past week has been pretty darn productive.  I've written two articles (and one will go live this weekend sometime), I've done some blocking and knitting, I've mended some clothes--which instantly increases what I can wear again...it's all good.
Both twins are also somewhat better settled when they are back at school, so I love routine.  Part of that routine is getting to do something absolutely crazy beyond producing meals for everyone else--It's eating a homemade lunch, by myself.  Better yet, the lunch doesn't comprise of a calzone or sandwich (things I could eat one handed while trying to feed those babies, for instance) but rather a salad.  here's an improvised delight I ate yesterday.  One cut up leftover baked potato, some spinach, some dilly beans--canned by me in long ago hot summer weather, some leftover 'mediterranean' type salad on top (cut up tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, with oil, vinegar, and Italian herbs), topped by plain yogurt and some peanuts for crunch.  Eclectic?  yup.  Good?  You bet.  And...I did not have to compete with two five year olds over the salad, which, by the way, is an issue.  I have two boys who love salad but will eat it all before I get to serve myself any!  
 Also on the schedule?  Writing up a pattern to submit as part of my local festival's collection!  Here's the sample, all blocked and tidy.  The yarn?  Handspun flax, from TapRoot Fibre Lab.
That one bead?  Recycled glass, purchased from an African fair trade vendor, at a long ago street fair.  Having a deep stash is great when it comes to finding that perfect bead or button...
Happy Spring Making!
Joanne

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Monday, April 24, 2017

to be hospitable

Here's my latest piece for the Jewish Independent in Vancouver:

Obligation to be hospitable

Note: If you're in Winnipeg, the version that will come out here on Wednesday is a little different, but the point is the same. :)
Picture explanation:  This is my twins' version of a tent, built in the living room this winter. --It's spring now, but it is snowing here today, so still relevant!  If you read this article, you'll get the tent reference.  It's about being hospitable and welcoming people in...(if you can fit in this one!)

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Friday, April 21, 2017

The post-vacation

Written on Thursday, 4/20...to the tune of the chain saws and chipper
So, today is the first day back to kindergarten after a (long) school vacation.  I was celebrating this day like it was a national event (it's not).  I am so tired and ready for this return to a normal schedule!  I longed for quiet and for a chance to catch up on my work.  Maybe do some necessary shopping errands without holding onto a twin with each hand.  Maybe even (gasp) nap or knit or read without interruption.  Hah.
Today was also the day (long scheduled?) when the streets would be cleaned, since they are covered with grime and sand from winter...and I figured it might be a little noisy.  It, however, seemed very noisy indeed.  I finally heard the street cleaning truck honking continuously as it crossed the busy street.  When I looked out the window, I realized that honking was loud, but ....the crew taking down a very large tree directly across the street?  Louder.
I had noticed that the fine dining restaurant had posted something about having a summer patio with a liquor license.  Great, we thought, directly across from the kids' bedroom...but no, that was not everything.  Apparently also, a tree had to come down.  This picture here shows a cloudy cool day, a cherry picker, guys in bright yellow, with chain saws, a chipper....can you sense this noise?
Ok, whatever, I thought, I will proceed onward.  I started challah rising (I had carefully planned things so we would run out just before Passover.)..and that worked.  However, while waiting for the bread to rise, I realized the extent of the noise.  Ok, no catch-up nap, I thought.  I will try to work.
Freelancing is a thing that takes momentum.  I do it best when I work at it every day, even If it is a little at a time.  Facing my work after nearly two weeks off due to school vacation?-- has felt overwhelming.  It was so even after I got up to my computer.  I answered a couple of emails, and reviewed the situation.
Right, there was the super nice rejection from a newspaper editor (fine) but no idea where to send that piece next or how to revise it.  Next, another piece I thought really needed a home, about finding ways to normalize breastfeeding....it too had been rejected.  Why?  Apparently the feminist/religion oriented place I had sent that didn't have any interest or room for it.  (Instead, of course, publishing articles on shopping, actors...very important topics for women, I'm sure). Was I being too essentialist in my focus--that breastfeeding should be pitched to a "sisterhood" kinda place?  Should I rewrite?  Was it because all this work,no, all my writing was subpar?
(Chain sawing continues) it hit me then that I was too tired to try to rewrite or attempt work.  In fact, it felt like I was trying to start a new job or something, and clearly, that was not the case, just re-starting after a stretch of nonstop five year old twin activity...so, I went back to challah, eating lunch, cleaning up, etc.  (Watching challah rise is not rewarding...but if I fall asleep, I won't get it into the oven promptly.). If I do not get the challah baked, I will not have time to do the errands.
Yeah, this would be the kind of work day when either you would do menial stuff on auto-pilot, or take a sick day.  And then you would come home to this weird, intermittent chain saw noise.  Oy.
You may have wondered why there wasn't a blog post for a while.  I was discussing dinosaurs, making a lot of kid snacks and meals, moderating fights, chasing bikes on training wheels, going to parks, supervising art projects...and now, I clearly need time to recuperate after vacation!

PS: I re-evaluated late last night (Thursday evening.)  Chain saws ended by 1:30 pm.  I made dinner from scratch, baked 3 weeks' of challahs, answered emails, ran necessary errands, took care of little boys and even bought them "work books" after school.. (a new and exciting twin craze, where we practice numbers and reading at the dining room table)  For me? A 20 minute nap, a cup of coffee, a good audio book while I cooked...and...time, over two days, to write a blog post about a rough and loud re-entry into our regular schedule.  It should all get easier from here, right?

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Sunday, April 09, 2017

Why polar fleece isn't as good as real (wool) fleece


Here's a link to my latest CBC piece:

Make green clothing choices to protect Lake Winnipeg from microplastics

Always a bonus-- it has a sheep shearing picture!
Otherwise, we're super busy over here...getting ready for a big holiday, and with kids on vacation, so posts may be few and far between for the next few weeks.  We'll just have to see how it goes!  Wishing you lots of wonderful spring holidays/events with your family, too!

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Saturday, April 01, 2017

work-life balance AND glasses!

The Jewish Independent in Vancouver just published this piece:

The work is not solely ours...

(and again, if it is familiar, that may be because you are subscribed to the Winnipeg Jewish Post & News...)  My work is not in syndication or anything, but it does sometimes get reprinted. :)

This article makes more sense when you consider that I stepped down from two big volunteer activities recently.  I served on the board of one, and was involved with another from its inception--and I just realized I needed to step down and cut myself more of a break.  It has taken me a long time to start feeling better again, and I needed to find more time off somewhere.  My twins, household, and work life aren't going anywhere, so I had to reconsider some other obligations.

To be honest, I've been relieved since I did this, but it was a hard decision.  I didn't think I spent so much time on it, and in fact, had no idea how much time I spent on volunteering until I stopped doing it all.  Whew.

In other big news, one of our twins just got his first pair of eyeglasses!  It's a big adjustment, but he is very excited about the whole thing.  I'm hoping it helps a bit with learning to read and will improve some of his depth perception, so he does not fall quite as often.  It's been a big week around here.

No pictures right now, but imagine a very proud 5 year old who just chose his own black "Ray Ban" frames and is thrilled to have the glasses.  A big deal!

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

You are here.

Here's my latest opinion piece on the CBC-Manitoba website:

7 parenting strategies to help you skate through the end of winter


Although my boys are now definitely older than this stock photo, this is how several of us felt this past week!  We have been taking turns with having a bad stomach bug (rotavirus) that is going around.  I keep hoping we are done with it, but as one of my twins said yesterday (and his face looked green), his tummy felt all 'wiggle waggly.'  So far, both adults in our household have had it the worst.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone!

This morning, while walking dogs and dodging ice and puddles, I heard honking and saw long lines of Canada geese flying north in formation.  It's getting warmer outside...and that is a very good thing.    Take care!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

High Fashion

 On Thursday night, March 16th,my design, the Spire Smock, from Knit Green will be featured in the Reel Green fashion show as part of a collaboration with the Manitoba Fibre Festival.  I think the sweater will be keeping a mannequin warm...but it's hitting a fashion runway, nevertheless!

When I handed the sweater sample over today, a knitter saw it and inquired...and the great thing is that you too can have a sweater like this one!  The pattern's available. :)  (and you don't have to do it in orange if that isn't your color, of course....)

At home, I'm featuring another fiber entirely.  I purchased this tow flax roving at the Manitoba Fibre Festival from Taproot Fibre Lab.  I've had it waiting patiently for quite a while, but just couple of weeks ago, I began to spin it.  I'm almost finished with the first 100 g bag.

I love it!  It's delicious to spin, and I cannot wait to do more.  It is a great departure from wool, and is offering me a very gentle start after a while when I wasn't managing any spinning at all.  (Note: Despite what my spinning teacher taught me 30+ years ago, you can start and stop when spinning linen.  No problem...and if this were really a serious issue, well, historically, women with small children would never have spun any linen)

Last but not least, I came upon a very nice image of the Due North Mittens over here on Instagram, knit beautifully by thewolfandtheblacksmithswife.  Lovely mitts!  I hope they are keeping someone toasty.



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