Thursday, April 02, 2020

Boosting virus testing

This opinion piece I co-wrote went live today in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Manitoba must boost testing capacity

And, it’s snowing in Winnipeg.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

waving from home

I've been teaching my kids since there's no school now.  Yesterday, twins learned to sew on a button for the first time.

The good news is that everyone here at our house is fine, we have food, shelter, and good company.  We're all trying hard to work together.  My professor husband is managing his class online, and working in between helping with twins.  I have done a bit of writing when I can stay up late enough, or fit it in.

The rest of the time, I've been homeschooling two eight year olds, cooking, trying to keep things even remotely clean (hard with twins, two bird dogs, an old house and a spring melt), and keep everyone afloat.  And Passover is coming, and we need to get ready for that, too.

For me, it's not that different than usual, because I usually work from home.  However, I now have a lot less time to do it, and very little time to do it alone.  (Right now, twins are out bike riding with their dad helping them maneuver their way through all the snow melt puddles...)

The bad news is that I appear to have lost one of my writing gigs.  Today I received my copy of the Winnipeg Jewish Post & News and to my surprise, my column wasn't in it.  I contacted the editor to ask what had happened.  Apparently, my column didn't run--it was an oversight, but oh, by the way...from now on, he would no longer be paying columnists.  So, if I wanted to write for free, he would still put my columns on the website. Things change fast during a pandemic.

I'll be direct.  I was paid $75 an issue to write for this publication, which is not very much, but I wanted to support the Winnipeg Jewish community, so I did anyway...but I didn't write for free.  (Freelancing is, after all, my job and not my hobby.)  The editor did hook me up with the editor of the Vancouver Jewish paper, and for a while, both papers would publish my column and I would get paid more.  But now, due to the current crisis, I'm unsure of if and when my column will run again.  No more publication = no money from that gig.

Again, we are lucky, we have food, shelter, heat and health. (for now.)  I am grateful for what I have...but just now, I'm really sad and surprised to lose this-- I'll no longer be writing a column every other week for the Winnipeg Jewish community.

If you're sad about this too, contact the Jewish Post & News.  Show them your support.  Maybe somebody could help sponsor the column and help keep the newspaper afloat during this hard time...cause writers deserve to sometimes earn money to eat, too. 

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tips to stay sane

I wrote this on Monday,  the CBC ran it today. (Wednesday)
Things are changing fast,  I hope this will help if you are home, have kids, and are considering hitting the booze early! (Joke!)
Top tips for families to stay sane

The piece went online fast. Here are a few additional ideas, off the top of my head, that may help.

-If you have stairs in your home, and are healthy, consider stair climbing as exercise.  No, it is not Stairmaster!  It is running up and down your stairs to get our heart pumping and do aerobic exercise.  It will burn off some energy! (use caution, do not do this if you aren’t up to it!)

-If you’ve got a multi vitamin right now at home, it is not a bad time to take it.  Our diets may change during this time and this may be a helpful boost to your immunity.  I say “may” because doctors disagree on this one, but a single multivitamin is not generally harmful. (Again, practice moderation!) On a personal note, I know that Vitamin D really does help me get through Winnipeg’s winters...

-Step away from the news!  If it is stressing you out, take breaks from media.  24/7 newsfeed is bad for our mental health.

-This is a stressful time.  Make sure you talk about it with your family, especially your kids.  We have had a lot of meltdowns in my house, we are all worried.  It is only natural.

Take care!  Stay healthy!

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Everybody, WASH!

Nearly two weeks ago, I wrote this piece, which appeared in the Vancouver Jewish Independent newspaper on Friday:
Be sure to wash your hands 

A quick summary?  Handwashing and social distancing are ancient ways of preventing the spread of disease.  Hoarding's not new either.  You can find it all spelled out in the Torah.

That said, here is a particularly funny memory I had (and mentioned in the article) --of Sesame Street.  You can see that this skit was done long ago, when Mr. Hooper was still alive.  The news, about washing, isn't new...but this skit? Well worth seeing it again!

I hope you are healthy, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing. 
Wishing you all good things,

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Friday, March 06, 2020

What's on in March...

Sorry for the blog silence.  It's been a season of colds, Sally, our old dog, isn't feeling good and needs vet trips, and we've had a few other human medical appointments.  And meanwhile, I've had some articles run as well...
Over on the CBC, I had a piece come out about how the current Manitoba government is offering us $45 million in road infrastructure repair for the province's 150th birthday..and isn't prioritizing anything for a greener, more sustainable future or a future that celebrates or recognizes our diverse population.  (Happy anniversary, honey!  Here's a new vacuum cleaner?)

I didn't post anything about it at the time because I didn't know when it would run, and then the comments were full of some inappropriate stuff.  (so inappropriate that the comments were removed...)
I had a column run in two papers about how we can keep learning if our libraries stay afloat.  This winter I spent several weekend afternoons on the couch with a sick kid and good books.  Here's a link to Words of praise for libraries.
My article about how basic tools make a difference for handspinners went live over on the Spin Off Magazine's blog: 6 Handspinning Hacks....
Here's a photo of how you can use a dog waste roll core (a cardboard tube cut open) to create a bobbin for your spindle...when you are done spinning, slide the roll right off the spindle!  It's a Spindlewood spindle, in case you are curious...

Or you can use a toilet paper roll for your ball of handspun, and when you are ready, you pop out the roll, insert your thumb in the space left, and use both ends of the handspun for making a 2 ply yarn.

The hack that got left out?
Cotton bedsheets from the thift store: Every now and again, I end up with a lot of free or inexpensive fleece. I skirt and sort, shake out vegetable matter and contain the washed fleeces in countless number of sheets from the thrift store. 

Next topic: And, if you're a knitter and celebrate Purim? In honour of increasing your joy in Adar, you can download The Hamantaschen Noisemaker pattern for free, using the coupon code:
(ends midnight, CT, US & Canada--on March 10th, of course.)
Please consider this some virtual shalach manot from me to you!
Have fun! Have a great holiday!

Last, but not least...happy International Women's Day. Yes-We still need it...equal pay, equal opportunities, adequate healthcare and childcare access...we still need a day to talk about all this and more.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Value each other--a Valentine

Valentine's Day is a chance to show how much we value each other.

Today, my article about kidnapping, human trafficking and MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) went live here, on the Jewish Independent website:

When Joseph went missing

This is a serious issue, and it's not just something that happens to "other" people or other communities. Moms, daughters--our family members, people we value--are going missing.

Valentine's Day also made me think about how my household makes stuff to show we care about each other. This morning, one of my kids gave me a handmade beaded bracelet and a lot of art he's made me.  I've hung up the art!  I am wearing my "mom" bracelet!

In the last few years, I've focused on designing things and offering special releases and sales for Valentine's Day.  This year, there's no new design and no 'special' sale. Why?

I've spent a lot of time reformatting older patterns lately so that they are now Low Vision Accessible.  This is a long process...I'm not done. This means knitters with vision challenges can use a pattern with easier to read, larger fonts, single column formatting, no italics, and photo descriptions.  It takes time to redo each pattern, but --I am doing it because I value all of us, and it would be great if all knitters could find patterns that they can read.

Reformatting these patterns also helped me to see that many of my patterns haven't sold a lot of copies, and perhaps they have only sold when they were on sale.  I try not to make my patterns without a sale, they are accessible.  However, the message sometimes seems to be that only things 'on sale' or 'free' are good.  That message doesn't value me or my time or efforts, either.

My choice for Valentine's Day this year is to be proud of my knitwear design work, to keep trying to improve it, and also, to stop 'de-valuing' it, too.  So, no sale today.  Does this mean fewer patterns sold overall?  Maybe.  Does it mean I earn less income from patterns?  Yes...I'll need to find a way to make up that loss elsewhere in my freelance work.  At roughly $5US a pattern, it is not an easy way to earn income, even without a sale.

However, we, as people, have great value. Everyone is important.  I'm trying not to let financial issues get in the way of recognizing matter who we are or what we create.   Each person has value and is a gift.

 All of these knitwear patterns, including "Deir Hart" and the "Thump Thump Mittens"--are available
on Ravelry and on Lovecrafts.

More importantly, let's value each other every day...not just Valentine's Day!

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Friday, February 07, 2020

Value of work

This week got lost entirely.  I've only made slow progress on a variety of work fronts--I had some medical appointments, and it's been cold, which makes everything seem harder and more tiring.  Today my article ran in the Jewish Independent (a version also ran in the Jewish Post & News earlier this week):
What is the worth of work?

I think about this often because much of my work -as a writer, designer, maker or mom-- isn't compensated or valued in the ways that society sees as important.  (That is, I don't earn much.)  For instance, I ordered two pairs of wool tights and by the time they came to Canada, I'd paid an awful lot per pair.  (taxes, fees for postage and handling, etc.)  But one pair arrived with a big hole on this seam!  The shop reimbursed me for the pair of tights, which was great.  I was able to mend the hole, and now I have what amounts to a $90 CDN pair of tights--which I got for free, because I know how to mend.  Whew!

I also got to fix three pairs of little boy jeans this week...iron-on patch, and then I use the sewing machine to stitch the holes up as well.  This sort of reuse and repair is nothing new, but it does seem less common among their classmates than I'd expect.  These skills are less common now, and seen as something special or an important statement about the environment.  And yes, I care about the environment, but I also hate to buy new jeans when my kids wear through them this fast!

If you're a spinner, are you going to any spinning retreats?  For the most part, I don't go to these--I have young kids and they need me.  Also, these events are expensive and usually on Shabbat (Friday night to Saturday night.) But they do look like fun!  I was recently asked if I wanted to contribute to a "goody bag" for Plyaway, which is happening in April.  I thought it might be fun to include special coupon codes for my knitting patterns.  

The coupon needed to be in black and white.

So, part of my work this week?  Creating a fun graphic to include on the coupon.  I transformed the photos for the Due North Mittens into something new.  Here were some of the steps along the way.  If you happy to get a coupon in April, you may recognize where it came from!!

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