Friday, February 25, 2011

Permanent Residency

Thanks so much to all the readers of my blog who sent me wonderful comments and emails in response to my last post. I appreciate all of your amazing words of encouragement and read them over and over! Thank you. (I write you today from the sunny 3rd floor office...!)

Today, the professor and I are off to have our medical physicals for our Permanent Residency application. When we moved to Canada in July of 2009, we were granted work permits. The professor's permit is tied to his job. These work permits mean we're allowed to live and work here, but if something should happen to the professor's job...we'd need to leave. Of course, we hope that doesn't happen!

This is unsettling, as we've moved all our belongings here, bought a house, and set up our home in Winnipeg! So, we started the process to gain what's called "Permanent Residency." This step is much like a green card in the USA, but we don't have to compete in quite the same way to gain a place. (Immigration rules are different in different countries.)

Another thing is that the step of gaining "permanent residency" is a step along the way to gaining Canadian citizenship, if we want to do that. We could also keep our US citizenship in this case. When the babies are born here(hopefully healthy and full-term...), they will be both Canadian and U.S. citizens.

One thing most Canadians don't realize about this residency process is that it takes a while. It's also not free. We've been saving up so that we can afford to pay the fees associated with this application for Permanent Residency when the time comes.

Although Manitoba really encourages immigration--it's in the news here all the time-- I don't think the average local realizes how expensive this is for newcomers. For instance, it took us about a year to get access to a regular Canadian credit card. (with a very low credit limit...) That's because, even though we'd bought a house and came upon the invitation of the Canadian government... we didn't have any credit history in Canada! Instead, we had to pay a currency exchange fee both every time we used a US credit card, and more fees every time we had to move money from one country to the other to pay a bill. It was an expensive year. We paid for things in cash whenever we could.

Today, we'll need to pay something in the range of $400 cash just for these physicals (Not free as they are part of a residency application and not for our basic health and well being) and I will have to return later to follow up with another expense, an X-ray, since I can't do that today. (X-rays aren't ok for pregnant women who can avoid them...)

Why do I mention all this? Immigration is a fairly complicated (and expensive) experience. Lately, I've been thinking about all the political upheaval in the news. This causes refugees and immigrants to move every day. They do not all have the advantage of speaking the local language or having access to bank accounts...let's face it, they have very few advantages. Some escape with just the clothes on their backs.

Today, the windchill is -40 in Manitoba. I feel very lucky to have warm clothes so when I go out in a few minutes, I won't get frostbite. I think the North American "locals" --be they Manitobans, Canadians, Americans, etc. take their status, their safety and their citizenship for granted. Sometimes we need to be reminded of all the luck and privilege we've been afforded.

The professor and I have had to turn down a lot of wonderful invitations to the theater, fancy dinners out, etc. in the past year and a half when we realized we'd need to save up our money instead for all these expenses--and of course, fixing up our house so we'll have a roof over our heads. In the end though, we don't feel we've suffered...because actually, we feel pretty dang lucky most of the time...

(It's a "count your blessings" kind of thing.)

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

view from the office

You may remember last summer a house was demolished right across from our house. Since then, I've been watching a new building take shape across the street. This is a building that will house 3 condos and even has garages in the back. It's quite an undertaking. Today is bright and sunny (and even warm for a Winnipeg February, at 16F/-9C). I decided to snap a photo so you can see the construction progress too. It's through a window, so that's why it is a bit smudgy.

Lately my world has gotten much smaller, so I haven't been able to come up with a lot of blog photos. The professor provides me with some, but a bright and sunny February day in my office is now worthy of a photo...let me explain. As the "pregnant with twins" experience progresses, I am learning more about my body and about the human body than I expected.

For instance, when I saw the doctor last, he pointed out that right now, in the middle of my second trimester pregnant with twins, I was experiencing the symptoms and physical size of a normal woman at the end of a normal singleton pregnancy. That, when I got to the third trimester, I would be in a place (in terms of size, symptoms, etc.) that most pregnant women never go. He told me this at a morning appointment and I must admit that it took me the rest of the work day to process the information and/or block it out. He probably just thought he was being honest with me, but I wasn't sure I wanted to know that information!

So, yes, here it is, week 24 and I can't lie, I am out of breath quite a bit these days. I take medicine for heartburn (which I have nearly continuously) and I have to eat in only small amounts--all the time. I have to rest a lot. I am outgrowing the maternity clothes. This experience is causing me to slow down and take notice. I do a lot of sitting still and I haven't been going out as much. I don't cook as much, either. I do a lot of reading, working, knitting, and hanging out with a dog or two.

That said, I do not want to have to give up my sunny 3rd floor office just yet! My house has 3 floors and a basement. Some days, I really need to limit my stair climbing, so I plan out my trips carefully and make little piles to bring from one floor to the next. (The professor does a lot of the transporting so I don't have to...) I bring snacks with me when I go up to my office, because a quick trip to the kitchen (1st floor) is really out of the question on an hourly basis!

When I get settled on the futon (note the extra pillow to support my back!), I don't get up very much. The laptop gets put on my lap and that rolling stool becomes my foot stool. My feet are up and I start working and answering emails.

I am also slowly--very slowly--trying to tidy things up in here. This is because I suspect that someone may end up staying in this room and sleeping on the futon when it is time for the babies to arrive. Perhaps it will be the dog sitter, or a relative--it's hard to tell. I also don't know when or if I will no longer make it up to my office anymore. While I don't keep things very tidy normally, I'd rather not leave it in a mess for months, either!

There's no reason to suspect I won't be able to get up to my 3rd floor office. I'm in good health and no one in the medical profession has said a thing to me about bed rest. No one with any medical training has said anything much to me about twins and how they often are premature. However, lately I've been constantly reminded by others that I should "prepare" for all this. The others are relatives, acquaintances--random, well-meaning people who don't actually know the status of my health or well-being. Usually they are doing this long distance, so if I do have a problem, they won't be here to help, either. They just want to worry me with scary information that I probably don't need to hear--at all. If something more serious should happen, I'll experience it myself soon enough. No need to anticipate what probably won't happen...yet, I hear a lot of people who can't wait to tell me what they think is "the worst." I can't see how this is helpful, but it surely does produce needless anxiety.

Every day that I go up to my cluttered, sunny 3rd floor lair makes me happy. I am trying to clean up, really I am, simply because I'd feel embarrassed if anyone had to maneuver around here right now but me.

What I am hoping is that the visiting person who ends up staying in this room appreciates all the fibery books and supplies on hand. Imagine all that reading material... I'd love to be put up in someone else's studio--but in the meanwhile...

If you get an email from me in the next few weeks, please keep hoping it comes from up here. You know, from my sunny 3rd floor retreat, where Harry the dog usually sleeps on the futon next to me. I hear one can do email and write/edit on bedrest, but I'd really rather not find out!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011


I am at home today, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. In fact, I am really excited about not going anywhere at all. On Monday, I was supposed to have a work meeting. It got cancelled. I was so relieved...turns out that teaching spinning while pregnant with twins is more work than I'd expected and I needed an entire day to recuperate.

On Tuesday, I had a meeting with the buyer of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Shop. I love this shop and several people had suggested that I see if my handwoven rugs would possibly be something they would be interested in stocking. The short answer is no--they don't have room for it, and tend towards chenille handwoven scarves and painted silk ones. While these are nice things, my scarves are all, umm, warmer, made from natural fibers and planned with actual use in our cold climate. So, even my wool/silk/mohair/pygora scarves were not appropriate for them at this time...they seem to like stocking the floaty impractical ones instead. That's ok though, if they are looking towards spring, good luck to them! (spring is a long way off here!)

All this said, it was a fine experience because the buyer treated me with respect and was a real professional. I never felt like I did bad work or that my rugs weren't worthy. "Not enough room for things this size" was an ok outcome. I could live with that and maintain my self-esteem. Good. I still have a lot of 2 foot by 3 foot handwoven rugs on hand, but someday, I'll manage to sell them or give them away...I hope.

Afterwards, I got to go see my friend Margaret (who organized the spinning class) and who works at the Cornish Library. The Cornish Library was built in 1914 and has just the right mixture of old library hush, good organization, and friendliness. I was over the rejection quickly.

Yesterday I had a business meeting for a freelance editing opportunity. It was downtown in a building with 24 floors. I had to park on the street, negotiate some icy/melty sidewalks, and spend a good deal of time during the meeting worrying whether my 2 hour parking meter was up! It was also scheduled over the lunch hour (11-1:30) which wreaked havoc on the pregnant-with-twins eating schedule, which is near constant, these days. (That is, when I am not having heartburn or throwing up, both of which also happened this week.) I was likely the most on-task person in that meeting, because between thinking about food, the bathroom, and whether my car would get towed, I wasn't in the mood for small talk! Turns out I don't like meetings as much as I used to.

All this coincided with reading When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd Edition--well, I don't know that I had the 3rd edition, but reading an earlier edition from the library still worried me. Apparently I should be eating and resting a whole lot more than I am doing right now. If I do enough eating and enough resting, there is some chance that my future offspring might be born at a good birthweight and maybe, just maybe, not born too prematurely. This seemed sort of important information that no one has told me at the doctor's and I'm trying to take the advice to heart.

So, I am thoroughly enjoying a whole day at home. I am trying to keep my feet up. I'm off to eat again...and I'm going to try to take this seriously.

Good thing that I can do editing while sitting down...babies also need a roof over their heads, and our ice dam experience means we likely need a lot of insulation and a new roof this spring.

That's the news from here! Hope you're well and considering putting your feet up too...

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Monday, February 14, 2011

spindle secrets

1. Ice dams seem to be under control for now. Demolition of our 3rd floor bathroom plaster was successful--we now have an entire wall that is covered with insulation and plastic/taping. It isn't pretty but the plumbing all works, so that is fine for the present time... our second floor bedroom still has an enormous hole in the ceiling and will have that until the spring melt. I have been knocked for a loop by all this weird unexpected house renovation. That said, we're now working on roof estimates so if you have a roofing company recommendation in Winnipeg that does insulation too, let me know, please!

2. My spinning class on Sunday went very well. I'm very tired out --shlepping around twin fetuses while teaching is a lot of work, it seems--
but there are 10 new spinners in the world! Hurray!

3. Geri asks:

What are the specifics of the spindles you're assembling for your class? Are the whorls readily available from a home centre? Does the hole in them readily fit a particular dowel size? What is the size of the dowel (spindle)? I'd love to learn the specifics if you don't mind sharing.

Well, the short version is that there are some very basic "making a spindle" instructions in practically every how-to spindle book. There are even instructions in my book, Fiber Gathering.

The basic information is: you need a weight and a stick. Here are some other great books that have illustrations or information on how to make/use a spindle:
Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert

Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool

Spinning in the Old Way: How (and Why) To Make Your Own Yarn With A High-Whorl Handspindle

Productive Spindling

I strongly encourage anyone who is even remotely interested in spindling to check out some of these extremely useful books. There are also many wonderful resources online and at your local spinning store/guild/friend's house/spinning class.

Now, some of you are wondering why I'm not revealing all the exact details of these spindles. Well, first I'd refer you to this post. One summary on this end is--I sometimes get paid to teach people how to spin. I've been spinning about 25 years, and I spend a lot of time learning and thinking about it. I don't think any of the information is top secret. I am also certainly not the only one who knows how to spin out there!! However, I also am sure you will understand when I say that I don't need to help you re-invent the wheel (err, spindle) either. There's lots of information out and ye shall find.

Even if I did want to write a "recipe" for how to make a spindle and give it away for free, I'm afraid it wouldn't work. Everyone lives near a different hardware store. Some folks sell dowels or sticks in metric and some don't. Some people use whorls that aren't toy wheels and some use other kinds of weights. Oh--and I don't always use the same size dowel and whorl. I buy what's available and I teach people to spin on many different types of spindles with different weights and sizes. I don't always make/teach the same thing because there isn't just one way to make a spindle or spin. I'm flexible about it.

Thankfully, all these spindles will work. If they didn't, humans wouldn't exist--we humans would all have frozen to death, naked without textiles, thousands of years ago!!

I know some one out there will think I'm purposely withholding vital information here, and that's not my intention. I just don't have the time/mental energy/desire to create a pattern/design/recipe for this that I can then have edited, formatted and sell efficiently online right now. I also can't afford to always do this kind of thing for free. However, I can point you in the right direction towards making your own, and I hope this post is a good first step.

Congratulations to the 10 new spinners in Manitoba! I am so excited to welcome you to the world of spinning!!

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Icy Silence? (no)

The delay in communicating with you, dear blog readers, is not because things were quiet over here. On Saturday, there was an emergency effort by a roofing company to remove ice and snow from our roof to get rid of some of the ice dams. This was good, but the not good part is when it took 4 hours of work because they had forgotten their extra tall ladder and couldn't reach the roof and needed to go home and get it. (whoops!) I'm more concerned because they may be charging us for that time. Oh well, I have to say, it is only money...and my impression is that we'll be spending a lot of it very soon to fix up this situation.

So, the saga continued. On Tuesday, a nice contractor came out to visit because the insurance adjuster sent him. He determined that our beautifully painted 2nd floor bedroom would need the entire ceiling replaced, and there was no point doing that until spring when the last snow melt happened. Until then, it will likely just drip and rain indoors. Good thing we can sleep in the room next door. Good thing #2? We are not setting up any kind of nursery before the babies arrive, because right now, we're sleeping in that space. (No, this aspect of things doesn't worry me in the slightest. Two babies can sleep in dresser drawers or laundry baskets if necessary...) My only regret is that I wish I hadn't happened into a construction zone in my house in this way.

Also on Tuesday, we were encouraged to start calling roofers because we need to get this fixed in a permanent way. Of course, roofers too only start work after the snow melts. I found myself at the top of the call back list when I explained that, well, I was due to have twins this May/early June so could the insulation/vapor barrier/re-roofing maybe happen quickly? (I don't usually take advantage of physical issues in this way, but heck, this shlepping around of two fetuses is hard work. I was at a low point.)

Then, Tuesday, in the late afternoon, the contractor calls back. He says that the 3rd floor bathroom plaster is too wet to be safe. It is an "emergency" job and can he send two guys and a plumber to rip out that plaster and put up a temporary vapor barrier (plastic) and some insulation right away? He gave me the option of today, Wednesday, or tomorrow, Thursday. I chose Thursday. I needed a bit of breathing room.

These pictures show how small our little guest bathroom is--and if you see this sloping ceiling on the left above the toilet? It is all crinkly, saggy and wet. Most important, you can notice the yucky brown cave color. I don't think the professor and I will miss this color scheme at all...we're looking forward to this somewhat inopportune chance to repaint this space and make it slightly brighter and less cave-like. (Removing the drippy damp will go a long way to help with that, right?!)

Meanwhile, I've been making spindles and assembling spindling kits for my "learn to spin" class on Sunday. Every bag gets filled with a certain amount of wool roving in different colors, some informational brochures, and the spindle, of course...The show must go on. Today I need to finish doing that, because starting tomorrow, I'll need to have all that organized and sheltered from a bathroom plaster demolition.

Oy. By evening, I had resorted to a comfort food dinner of oatmeal, an apple, and ice cream. I couldn't even knit. Demolition? Yes, demolition.

Must go--I just got a phone call from the gas company. We're about to have our gas fireplaces (installed in September) officially inspected. Is our number up this week for house fix-its and repairs?

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Friday, February 04, 2011


That is, ice dam. We don't have leaky pipe damage. We have ice damming. In case you haven't heard of this, the Wall Street Journal helpfully explains it here. Apparently, lots of folks in our neighborhood have ice damming this year. Lucky us.

-No photos of this. Imagine icicles hanging from the eaves of our house and you've just about got it. Otherwise, the photos would look just like this text--black and white. It's cloudy out today.

I've had a nice appointment with the insurance adjuster to discuss the damage in our bedroom and elsewhere...We didn't like the color of the guest bathroom anyhow, right?! I've put in a call to see if someone wants to wander over and remove this snow from our roof in the meanwhile. We'll likely be having a contractor come in and do estimates.

It also looks like this summer might be the time to have our roof redone...Cause, you know, after the babies are born, I won't be getting a lot of rest anyhow, right? What's a little hammering in the meanwhile?

Here are a few reviving views of Florida from our trip to keep sunshine in mind. Actually, we've had a remarkable thaw over the last day or two. It's gone from -40 to just about freezing! No wonder why it is leaking water indoors... that's 70 degrees Fahrenheit! 40 degrees Celsius!

I've taken advantage of the weather to go out to visit a friend, to take a walk in the neighborhood to have dinner out with another friend and even to stop for a gelato on the way home. The sad part is that it turns out that even in wonderful warm weather... (32F, 0C is WARM!), I still get out of breath. That is just because at this point, I've got two fetuses pushing on my breathing parts. Oh well. I did enjoy the outing!

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

distracting views

Well, the boiler pipe leak hasn't gotten worse. The house is warm and toasty and I am almost over being grouchy and tired by yet another stupid plumbing malfunction. That doesn't mean it's fixed yet--oh no, the plumbers are busy (and/or sick) and in the great scheme of things, this is probably a small leak and a minor house disaster. Also, before I hear the "I told you so" chorus from people who think we shouldn't own an old house, (Uhh, yes, you know who you are, family members) well, I'll repeat my houses and new repairs sometimes cause problems, too. These things just happen sometimes. For some reason, these things are happening to us A LOT these days. Oh well. Life is like that!

If only this had happened BEFORE the big bedroom paint job!! We're trying not to cry about that, but the professor did such a beautiful job before this happened.
OK, in order to avoid dwelling on something we cannot fix, let's distract ourselves. If this reminds you of the way you keep a toddler from crying by distracting him with a new toy? Well, yes, that still works on me. I'm all for distraction when these unavoidable housing problems spring up.

Quick, look at that lovely Lido Key beach photo from Florida. Yes, this is what the beach looks like in Sarasota. White sand, nice views, warmer weather....Ahhh. I'm taking a deep breath here.
Since beach views are not always reviving, here are a couple of pictures the professor took during my book signing at Picasson's Moon.
This is a really fun yarn shop where the staff is so kind and helpful and the yarn choices are pretty interesting. The interior decoration--funky clutter, complete with lots of chairs and cushions, books and antiques--really makes it stand out.

I was there signing books and visiting from 4-7 pm and my charming professor kept stopping in to make sure I was still doing ok. He took several photos, including this close up of me signing someone's copy of Fiber Gathering. You may notice here that I am wearing the Tank Empire pattern sample from Knit Green. I am amazed by how versatile this tank top is in practice. It's good in hot weather worn with just a camisole underneath it and it is a superb vest during the Florida winter. What I didn't expect to find is that the A line shape makes it a very useful maternity item as well. You can't see my belly here, but it really covers it up!
It looks to me as though few or no people have posted or attempted this pattern, at least when you look at the statistics. My only guess is that the gauge information is offputting. The gauge information is for a cotton/linen yarn that shrinks when blocked. If you'd like to make this for yourself but want to substitute another kind of yarn, look at the gauge after blocking. Knit up a swatch in your yarn choice, block it, and then worry about matching gauge to the information for after blocking. That's how you'll come out with the right size when you knit this.
I hope sometime to knit this project again in another color or two...this tank/vest is a staple of my wardrobe, especially when I travel or teach about my books!
Distraction accomplished, I feel calmer now. I will keep slowly posting Florida photos while waiting for the next housing fix to take place...I hope this post distracted you as well!

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