Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A normal snow day

Scene from the back door, 8:15 AM today

Growing up in Virginia, any day that looked like this would be a day off school.  Hah.  The truth is that in a northern climate, winter snow is a way of life--and nothing is cancelled unless it's dire.  In fact, we need the precipitation, it has been a 'dry' winter so far without much snow. We have a blowing snow advisory, and maybe it could be called a blizzard, if the wind picks up.  It's messy, and I have a medical appointment later on today.  I haven't even seen any plows.  And yeah, the school bus came by as usual at 7:50 or so.  There were some half-hearted attempts by twins--at play-shoveling while waiting for the bus.  (We'll do real shoveling after the wind dies down.  Right now, there is just no point.)
I had a brief exchange recently with someone about how to clean a throw rug.  Note: I do not do this while recovering from pneumonia...  I recommended the "clean in the snow technique."  
Take it outside, put it on a patch of clean snow.  Stomp on it. Flip it over, and stomp again.  Hang it up on a porch railing.  Beat it with the stick end of a snow shovel or broom.  Let it air out--outdoors.  Bring in, hang to dry.  Put on floor.
"What an interesting use for snow!" She responded.  (I'm paraphrasing here.)  ...Uhh, when the snow is around from November to April?  We manage to find things to do with it... although both boys seemed chatty and excited about the prospect of a possible indoor recess rather than sledding today, given the windy, snowy weather.  (Yes, we have outdoor recess until the windchill is -28C.  That's about -18F.)
In the meanwhile, I'm passing a long a link to an article I wrote that went live online and in the Vancouver Jewish Independent last Friday:
If you like to read these occasional links, you may be interested in downloading a copy of From the Outside In. It's a collection of some of the older essays in this vein...You can also buy it online in hard copy.  (These are the Canadian links, if you want to check it out in the US, it's right here.)
Is it snowing where you are? If so...Stay warm!  Wear your tuque!  :)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Oh well

I had a lot of plans in mind for January. Somehow, the month has escaped.  Here is a photo of some handspun that I dyed while I was sick.  I shouldn't have been doing it, but I've had several days when I felt sort of better and wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment.  This was some grayish/oatmeal Border Leicester/Romney wool, blended with a small amount of mohair.  I spun enough for a kid's sweater.  I started spinning this in July, when Wolseley Wool, my local yarn store, hosted a few spinning nights.  (It gave me a great excuse to leave home and spin.)

Naturally colored wool makes a great palette for dyeing because the colors come out with depth--textured and rich in the end.  This quick snapshot doesn't show the depth of color, it was cloudy, but I dyed the yarns to order for my kid, blue and green, and left it out in the dining room for all of us to admire and enjoy a shot of color.

Both my twins were home with me for a week due to illness--today is their first day back at school, I hope they make it through the day.  (More on that another time, when I am more energetic.)

A couple of details in the meanwhile.  I left home to teaching my spinning class, which was well-attended and went very smoothly, considering all the illness and antibiotics at home. There are 11 new spindle spinners in the world!  Hurray!  (I hope they keep up the good work!)

Whenever I am really sick, I enjoy a good wallow in bed with a book when it is possible.  Since I had two little kids home with me, that wasn't always an option, but I did discover something. Rosamunde Pilcher's books are now available as ebooks, and you can download them from Amazon or check them out from the library.  I have been a fan of her books since I was a teenager.  Everything is sort of ok at the beginning of every book, but in the middle, there are hot baths, cups of tea, bracing whiskies, dogs, cats, warm farmhouse kitchens, and eventually, at the end, it is always "happy ever after."  There is something to be said for this kind of reading while sick.  I own some of these books, and I prefer real books to ebooks...but these were written long ago and some are out of print.  Here are a couple links through Amazon to the ones I have read (again) so far.  I'm now in the midst of Voices in Summer.

If you're not sick and up for an exciting spy series, I've been really enjoying Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope mystery series, but only when I wasn't sick and thinking straight!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Well, at least now I know why I was feeling so crummy.  I got a phone call yesterday--Monday--saying someone had looked at my x-ray and saw I had pneumonia. (I got my chest x-ray done at about 7;45 Thursday morning) Yup, I was sicker than just flu for all that time.  (Good thing I didn't keel over in the meanwhile, huh?)  So, now I am taking some lovely antibiotics.  Things still do feel like I am swimming, quietly, underwater a lot of the time.

Good things are coming. (I love lists right now for some reason,)
 #1. It is supposed to really warm up here, right up to freezing, and that is a huge deal for us in winter.  Can't wait for a little warm break.
#2. I made this cheerful, bright salad as part of our "leftovers" dinner--like a rainbow on a cold sunny white winter day.
#3. I saw a very beautiful promotional video for Quince & Co.  This is a Maine yarn company that is run in a really eco-friendly way, with thoughtful designers and knitters behind it.  I have long admired the yarn, even if I am too far away to touch it all myself.  I thought you might enjoy this 3 minute video, too. (I get nothing out of passing this along other than the enjoyment of watching it again.)

Experience Quince from Quince &Co. on Vimeo.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

On the brink

You may have been wondering what happened to me.  (Me too, frankly....)  So, first, there was winter break. It was long. And hard. We'd hoped to do all sorts of fun things. We did fit in a play date, a classmate's birthday party, 2 museum visits, and a couple of meals out. We went to a kid's theatre production. We tried hard to set up fun things to do. However, we were stymied by a few crucial things:

1) The professor was sick.  He often gets sick at the end of a term, as an academic term can feel a bit like a marathon to a teacher sometimes, but this time, he was sick with what we thought was a respiratory or cold virus, more or less all break.

2) Like much of North America, we had some extreme cold which meant that it was just too cold to go anywhere.  Unlike most of North America, our extreme cold means you can get frostbite on exposed skin in 8-10 minutes.  We aren't talking "put on an extra tuque" weather, or zip up your parka, wear some snow pants or anything like that.  That's normal cold for Winnipeg. We're talking wind chills of -40 or lower for days on end.

We get this in Winnipeg, it's not a huge shocker, but it's hard over winter break when you are trapped indoors.  Plus, although our hot water radiator heat works well and gas fire places, designed for British Victorian homes without central heating, were pouring out the supplemental heat...there were problem areas.  Like, our 100 year old house does not have insulation in the outside walls, and if you stood next to an outdoor wall for more than a moment, it felt like Harry Potter's dementors were sucking out your soul.

3) Kids can get restless when trapped indoors. We had indoor toys and games lined up, but ended up resorting to weird made up games like "button hockey" and "Swedish scooting" and other things you could play on the floor without hurting anybody or freezing to death.

4)Somewhere during break, one twin got sick with a virus with a fever, and even though we'd all gotten the flu shot, we now suspect it was a mild case of the flu.

5) On January 5th, I had a big birthday, and I announced we would go out to dinner, since I didn't want to have to bake my own cake or make dinner.  The windchill was about -25F(-32C) when the family walked to the restaurant and back.

Finally, after many days, we were rounding the bend. The kids would go back to school. I would start working again. Finally, I would get to be alone sometime soon...  On January 7th, we went back to a normal routine, and on Sunday morning, we went to a kid music class, where I didn't feel all that well. Yeah.  Hah.

I started running a fever on January 7th, and it got pretty high before it went back down again.  I ran a fever for 5 days.  I had the flu the way everyone is scared to get it--the reason for getting the darn flu shot in the first place. (I did, honest!)  I literally helped get the boys on the bus, went back to bed, and stayed there nearly all day every day, all week. The dog kept me company. I felt like dying was a really good idea somewhere in there. I wished someone would loan me a 2 by 4 once or twice.

I did get to a medical appointment ("congrats, you have flu") and my temp was over 39C at that point. (103.5F) I eventually got a chest x ray on Thursday morning, but I still have not heard back about it.  A person could have died of pneumonia by now... and although my fever is down, I'm still coughing a lot.

I had to reschedule several appointments last week, and I'm hoping to catch up sometime soon, assuming I get better sometime. Twin #2 and the professor seem to now be having mild versions of the flu, but we may be kidding ourselves, we are running no marathons over here. In the meanwhile, here's a new article I wrote during winter break.  It has an odd resonance; I hadn't mentioned the flu as a plague, but now I think maybe it's relevant too:
We should be more civilized

Stay warm and stay well, everybody!

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