Friday, November 29, 2013

one last look back

Like many in this city before us, we had to cover up all the holes we made and erase every single speck of dirt we left behind from the unit we occupied before we could truly begin to settle into our new home.

I have moved 18 times in my whole life (I quoted 22 a couple of times recently but this is because some moves count as double) and I have never lingered as long as 3 days after the move out at a place I am leaving behind.

And boy oh boy it was a tough job, refreshing the smallish 2-bedroom apartment we called home for 2 and a half years. 

We marked that place as a family of four with every dent, every hole, every stain on every surface.  There we slept. There we cooked, we crafted, we worked, we played. We formed and stormed and normed and performed. We grew together inside those walls.

With every hole I covered up, I saw us:  Lamplight on a baby girl who laughed and laughed and lifted her legs up and down with my wheels on the bus singing. I saw the boy's fingerprints behind closet doors - DNA evidence of the hide and seek games that were played. I saw all the places we put up a bookshelf or a mirror or a hook, only to take them down again.  I ran my fingers one last time over the the gouge made by a birdhouse wrenched from the wall as it was used as a stepping stool over and over again by toddlers who wanted to peek through the kitchen passthrough. The same little birdhouse became home to the chickadees that made a family in our little patio: the little patio we left with chalk and mud on the stucco - more evidence that we were there, that we lived there.

It's no wonder both the boy and the girl protested every proclamation that we were leaving their home behind. Those walls are the only home they can remember. 


So we cleaned and we patched restlessly together, the wife and I (and with the help of my father-in-law and blessed friends) while the toddlers restlessly ran around enjoying the echoes that bounced back from the walls of the empty rooms they know they will miss. Together we said our goodbyes and our thanks to that space that is now someone else's home. 

After all the moving and cleaning and patching (which by the way, had to be redone by the painter because apparently patching is not one of my strengths. I recognize this now and vow to nevermore waste 10 hours of my life doing this), good riddance. 

Moving forward together is a gift I don't intend to waste. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

wind rushing

I had a completely different blog post planned after my last update but, well, life took over. There is much going on right now. Much - not natural disaster much in any sense, but we are juggling Much. There are so many balls in the air and passing through my hands and touching the top of my head in so many directions that the colours blur and I fight the pressing urge to let it all drop.

I have been feeling short of breath.  I failed to give my wife an earnest deep breath when she asked and it was then that I realized that holding my breath has become my new resting state.

It's my cousin's last week in Vancouver. In the time he's spent with us, he's become a knitting buddy, closer friend, and a favourite of my littles. We are all going to miss him dearly but happily (and necessarily), we are cramming in some quality time with him, doing all the the fun things we can - amid all the Much.

Today we picked the boy up from school and then we chased the sunset to Iona Beach just in time to behold a dusk-lit horizon swathed in orange, mauve, and white.

I needed the ocean today.



I needed to run with the wind: with it, against it, beside it, with my the children and my cousin. Together we  danced in defiance and in celebration of the power of the wind's whipping chill. We laughed. We giggled. We brrrd. We bent with the reeds and skipped with the grass. Then we fled the ocean front and made for the marshes where the wind punched less and we ran some more.

I needed a reminder that everything, our big move, the work, the mothering, my faults, our triumphs, the littlest most annoying things, other things - all of it: problems with solutions. There are indeed bigger wallops in the grand scheme of the universe and the fierce force of mother nature. We are all connected. Everything happens for a reason. I can only do what I can.


We only lasted 15 minutes. We were not dressed to break the wind or to brave the cold. So by the time twilight gave in to darkness, we were safely in our car, breathless and grateful.

I am still holding my breath but the wind, it's still in my hair and in my lungs.

3 more sleeps and then we move. I can't help but think that once we're home, once we claim our new space, that there will be three little birds at my new doorstep, singing of melodies pure and true. Or toddlers bickering. Either way, every little thing is going to be all right.

---

We breathe with relief now because we've heard from our families and although there has been some damage to their property, everyone we know and love in the Philippines seems to be safely social networking. I can't say the same for my paternal grandmother's Leyte home town. Please consider doing something to help the Philippines recover from Haiyan's rampage. Everything counts, even your prayers and happy thoughts. 

A friend of ours out here is assembling boxes of gently used items to send out to those that have lost everything. So that's part of what we're doing, but we know that many organizations have committed to help. My aunt recommends donating through the Humanitarian Coalition of Canada because the Canadian government has committed to matching our contributions dollar for dollar. 

I hope that all is well in your world. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

update from the eye of the storm

Oh my goodness it's been a long time.

I have missed connecting with this space and you good people that visit.

I was caught in a swirling tunnel that had me right up against a virus that left me without a speaking voice for over a week, then bumping into some knit city wonderfulness, then catapulting into a trip to toronto, then knocking through a house full of boxes, heart-warming deliveries - all amid the chaos of all the fall mothering that included pumpkin patches and last-minute halloween costume-making and trick-or-treating and impromptu parent-teacher meetings. 



The particular ride isn't over yet either. There's housework and work-work and surprise visits, actually moving into our new space, all immediately followed by holiday merriment.

My cup runneth over with the furious, delicious, chaotic, obstacle-ridden, irresistibly enchanting, powerful promise of change. 

I've been mentally preparing some catch up posts in my head and then, after our big move on the 22nd, I hope to be back here regularly again. I am finding, even now, a moment of stillness helps to calm the whelming panic that I am trying to keep very much at bay.

*The Philippines has just been walloped by an actual massive typhoon. Thinking of our families there and hoping that their recent social media updates are actual indications that they are safe at home and very minimally impacted by its force.

Friday, October 11, 2013

on coming out day


I have a lot to say about coming out. But if I was to strip my experience down to a single word, I would describe the act of coming out very simply as hard.

I’ve been coming out for the better part of 18 years and it’s still hard. There are days when coming out is like accidentally opening a portal to Narnia. There are also days when it's more like a barefoot trip to Mordor.

In both cases, you’re really just battling different versions of how you see yourself -  fantastical and horrific. And then if it’s necessary, you draw on your arsenal of weapons to soften or block the blows that come your way: humour, nonchalance, silence, wit, and the choice to simply walk away. 

Sometimes you get lucky and you return from the epic journey unscathed, and with lifelong friends whose help you couldn’t do without. Other times, you return to yourself scarred and unrecognizable and choosing to heal is Everest in and of itself – if you’re lucky enough to emerge as victor to the episode.

This is my experience, anyway. I've been on both ends of these epic spectrums, as well as many places in between. I can say that I have survived my coming out stories with exhales of tremendous relief. Until, of course, the next time.

Because there is always a next time. Every day is Coming Out Day in my world: moments where I clarify that I have a wife and not a husband; instances where I find myself compelled to tell a stranger that my children have no father but they have 2 mothers.

Every time is a test. Every time, I make a decision to screw my courage to the sticking place and to mine own self be true.  Because there is no way I am gong to miss an opportunity to lead by example so that my children will know what to say and how to act when they inevitably have to come out to their friends about their queer family. Every time, I hold my breath. Every time, I brace myself to block a negative reaction. Sometimes I do myself proud. Other times, at the worst of it, I overshare and regret it. But overall, I count myself among the lucky because in this country, I have every right to say that I am a lesbian in any given context. 


This morning, I kissed my family and wished them a Happy Coming Out Day.

If you or someone you know has ever had a coming out experience and if you've ever helped someone through the process – small as a comic strip or large as a fight against Voldemort – take a moment and give your courage a nod of acknowledgement. Happy Coming Out Day to you, too.


Aside:
The use of upper and lower case letters is brought to you by a dear friend and neighbour who I've been irritating has requested that I pretty please start doing so. For you, Alyssa. :)



Monday, September 30, 2013

knit parade: my beacon hill cardigan

i've waited such a long time to share this with you. 








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this is the sweater i volunteered to test knit way back when. and the pattern is stunning. it was an epic 6-week endeavor - complete with an all-over stitch pattern, 2 skeins worth of frogging, alternating skeins of handpainted yarn, and the search for the perfect buttons. 

i should've photographed it months ago. but i only go the go-ahead to share the sweater very recently. so i thought i'd take the my beacon hill sweater (official name) out for a walk on the train tracks on the day we got over 100cm of rain.


all in all, i'm very proud of my work on the beacon hill sweater and know that i'll be wearing it for many, many years. the design is classic. and so quintessentially me. and warm. so warm. 

beacon hill cardigan by jane richmond
hand-knitted using madelinetosh vintage in graphite

designed by the lovely jane richmond (whose patterns i have been known to knit over and over again), the beacon hill pattern can be found in the newly released cascadia: a gorgeous book full of knits by west coast designers, brought to you by the knit social ladies

i have grand plans to knit everything in the book. at some point. someday.

for now, i fully intend on wearing my beacon hill sweater to knit city, where i can be sure to meet other sweaters of its kind in a multitude of colours. i'm getting excited just thinking about it, actually. i get to see some very cool people again. and i get to meet the yarnharlot. she's going to teach me a thing or two. and then there's the market. 

yup, i'm totally doing a giddy dance in my chair.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

all is well

i am still recovering from the week i just had: a full work plate, the challenge of mothering, housekeeping. the usual really, but much more intense.




it's partly the weather. there is no mistaking it. fall is definitely in full swing here. the rain has been constant, so our inclination to divert our attention outside is subsiding. but really, we have just become that busy. every single bit of it is a blessing, though. because with the bustle and the busy-ness comes more regular exposure to the kindness of strangers, family, friends, and neighbours. with our efforts at reaching out and taking a chance outside our comfort zone, we get lucky.

very lucky. some examples:
  • i entered a contest and won a gorgeous book of knitting patterns by tin can knits
  • we are getting the 3-bedroom unit that currently houses antonia-the-dishwasher. we move as soon as the end of november, if we can swing it.
  • our new home comes with fabulous features that the current occupant is giving to us for free: like shelving, lighting, fun - yet tasteful - wall finishes, and a faux fireplace - electric fireplace included (knitting by pretend-fireside? yes.)
  • not very long ago, we never knew any of our neighbours by name - not in toronto, nor in our first vancouver home. now, we have amazing neighbours who are happy for us, offer to help us move, cut our hair, teach us how to can salsa and tomatoes, teach music classes, sweep fall leaves at the boy's request, give the wife driving lessons, and deliver all sorts of delicious treats to our door like perfectly good hand-me-down clothes or toys, waffles, cookies, scones, russian crepes, piroshki, cupcakes, spring rolls, garden vegetables, and plants to add to our own garden
  • we've rekindled our friendship with an old friend who is so very kind to us and has offered to give us a night out and watch our children
  • our vancouver family is always here for us: to hang out with and drive us around almost every time we ask
  • not to mention all the nominating alma (who is having a pretty amazing sale at her etsy shop these days) has done for this blog
  • once upon a time, i was the only knitter i knew. now i've got a good number of virtual friends and there are in-person recruits aplenty in my life. it's just been amazing spreading the knitterly love
  • friends and family forgive us our inability to stay in touch or reciprocate gifts
  • i have the generous support of management and colleagues to get me through all of the newness in my current position
  • the wife and i haven't seen each other all week. we miss each other's actual company. but there isn't a second that we aren't working as a team to keep things going at home
all i've wanted to do today was fall into a puddle and wallow in my physical and intellectual exhaustion (oh how some quiet knitting in bed would've been so good all day). mostly there was a lot of difficult tag-team parenting: the four year-old suddenly lost the ability to listen and ramped up on his argumentative skills. thankfully, the wife had a store of patience to share. but now that i've given myself this time to reflect, i realize how much relief i've been granted by the universe and the community that envelops us locally and virtually.

even when sleep isn't possible, the mothering gets tough, or the pasta gets homophobic - there is so much to be thankful for. every good thing counts, however little - and serves to counter or heal the inevitable bruising - both actual and metaphorical - from the punches i didn't see coming. 

and now to tackle the latest mountain of dishes (wherefore art thou, antonia?)before i settle in for the night with the season premiere of grey's anatomy and my knitting to keep me company, along with the memory of my paternal grandmother who died 4 years ago today. she taught me the value of affection and unconditional love. and her smile has never left me.

i hope you're having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are.

Monday, September 23, 2013

stand still









i believe this was the last really warm day we had before fall's nip began really imposing itself all around. three weekends ago, these photos were taken. we were so ready for fall, then. we came to conquer with long sleeved shirts, sweaters, rain accoutrements. we even brought butternut squash soup. but we were met with a searing, startling heat. the kids stripped and played in the water while the wife and i were trapped in our long sleeved shirts and under our summer sweater kal projects.

(my sweater, as you may recall, is at a stand still. the wife's sweater is going so well. she's knitting from the top down and is at the bottom of the sweater. the part of the process where you feverishly want to keep knitting through work and sleep and toddler squabbling because the suspense of getting the thing off the needles is just too much. i'd show you a picture but she and that sweater is attached at the hip. they are at work right now.)


we haven't been back to the river beach - or anywhere so care-freeing since. some play, some lovely times with friends, to be sure. but mostly, life has been a flurry of hurry up and wait since my last post.

we've heard about another death in the family, also distant. our cousin lost her father.  my heart is broken for her. i never knew the man. and they had a difficult relationship. but i fear the ground beneath my feet and the air i breathe would never do again, were i in her shoes. i want to rush to her side to comfort and feed in her time of grief. but, rather unfortunately, there is a space between us that only she can cross. so instead, i stand still and wish her love and peace as she comes to terms with her loss.

we are hearing today - officially, about whether or not we get to move to a unit that has opened up in our coop. we saw the place over the weekend and actually fell in love. it's not that much bigger than our home now. but it boasts features that our current unit does not: 3 bedrooms, a more spacious living space, a safer entryway for the kids, closer park proximity, and my personal favourite - a dishwasher! a dishwasher! i plan to call it antonia and make it my kitchen best friend. that's an hour and a half back to my day, yo. my entire adult life has been a dishwasher-less, apartment-living existence, and my new kitchen bff is going to give me back an hour and a half of my life every day. good friends like antonia-the-dishwasher don't let friends ignore the dishes to knit, not her. she will do the dishes for me so i can go forth and knit 100% guilt-free, whilst watching all of my fall programming. oh yes she will.

of course, if we move, it won't be until the end of november. and there is muchmuchmuch work to do (on top of the daily grind) before antonia-the-dishwasher and i get to the business of getting to know each other. so for now, we stand still: plan, dream, and brace ourselves for all the packing in the universe.

and then there is the work-that-pays. it's ramping  up in a learning-curve kind of way: work i know how to do but because some of the rules and the players are entirely new, it's bit of a challenge. living out in vancouver and working with colleagues and clients across the country is challenging on most days, but i've had it down for a while now. except that higher profile projects + new players + new sets of rules + my remote location = a bit more whelming that i am used to. i plan to rock the pants out of all of it though. and i will.

for now, i have to force myself to recognize that standing still is an opportunity: to remember to take a chill pill breath, to take things one step at a time, to choose not to rush, to realize that it takes time to learn new things, that i can do all of this on very little knitting time (gulp), that blogging can wait.

i have a feeling my entries will be few and far between in the coming months. yes, months. i hope to be around as often as the 1-3 entries a week i've been doing. but in the event i am not, know that the stand still is over in one area or another and that i'm working hard to find my rhythm so i can rock out to the ever-changing beat of the chaos of our days.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

knit parade: yarn chicken

if a game of chicken is one in which someone dares to you to face your fear factor fears, than it follows that yarn chicken* can be defined as a game in which a knitter isn't exactly sure whether or not she or he has enough yarn to finish a project and forges forward by casting on anyway, yardage (and gauge) requirements be damned.

that's how i've been playing it, anyway. yarn chicken, that is.

for example, i played yarn chicken with my owley flugel sweater for the summer sweater kal and lost.

sweater front

sigh. although the yarn is rather reasonably priced (and so, so worth it the extra shipping and potential customs charges), my yarn budget is stretched to the limit at the moment and i've decided i'm going to fight back the tears be an adult about all of this and just let the sweater hibernate until i can get off the yarn diet. which may be awhile, because life happens.

there's the whole front left side still to do. then i'm supposed to pick up stitches for around the collar and then 8 rows of 1x1 ribbing. i think i'm gonna need 2 more hanks just to be safe.

sweater back

but isn't the sweater going to be so cute and awesome? it really, really is. 

wanna see the inside of my sweater? 


(see what i did there? i distracted you from the visual effects of my clumsy seaming. all i can say is, don't look back. don't. look down, it's even scarier.)



i know. when i shared this seaming predicament with the sskal ravelry group, the reactions i got included sincere sympathy empathy, cold sweats, racing hearts, and pure relief that although their project had some necessary seaming involved, their sweater did not look like it had been gutted from the inside.

after all was seamed and done, a pet fuzzball!

clearly, intarsia is not my strong suit. i tried many messy things seaming this sweater. and while i'm okay with the things i've done inside my sweater, i am not inclined to show anyone my gutsy seaming job. nope, you cannot make me. okay, maybe in exchange for the yarn i still need to finish this sweater. but nothing else can make me.

i digress.

because in the interest of full disclosure, i apparently play yarn chicken all the time. okay, 3 times, including above sweater. 

because in the interest of trying not to buy yarn, i turn to the stash. and i don't gauge swatch. 

because in the interest of living a life that is not motivated by fear, i like to live dangerously.

in the end, what i get out of each yarn chicken experience is another finished accessory or 2 and um,  spawn of the yarn i was trying to use up in the first place. ahem.



in my defense, i didn't buy the shibui stacatto yarn that i only needed 2 feet of, to finish this rae scarf (which i love). my cousin and now converted knitter (yes, i've been recruiting) bought it for me because he is a sweetheart.



i have no defense for buying more madelinetosh dk (lovely plied yarn). it's not even the same yarn as i started knitting these rathrevor gloves with. i originally used madelinetosh merino dk (single ply heaven),  the yarn shop isn't getting any more of it in the victoria gothic colourway. but about 5 feet into finishing a pair of gloves, i caved.


so, to conclude: i suck at yarn chicken and intarsia. but since all 3 knits were meant for me, it matters not. and i still have the yarn that i started with. that is, except for the yarn i need to finish my owl sweater.


good times.

*i did not coin the term yarn chicken. i saw it in a comment on instagram. i can't remember who posted it or for which photo but it was yarn harlot's. lots of people comment when she posts a photo. i have no idea if yarn chicken actually a thing outside my own definition. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

herald

on friday morning, i woke up to a surprise. once again, this little blog of mine was selected as part of schmutzie's five star friday - alongside some truly wonderful and prolific bloggers (including nathan pyle,  whose letter to his son resonated with me rather loudly as a mother and as a woman. i've faved it for later parenting reference).

i am humbled and honoured. i can only express my gratitude to alma who nominated me (again) and to schmutzie, with borrowed words from the bard.

"silence is the perfectest herald of joy.
i were but little happy, if i can say how much."
                         - william shakespeare

the post that was featured is one that i struggled to write because the sobering effect of a hard look at the mirror included the gnawing hangover thud of mothering guilt. i was trying to work out what i felt was a mothering fail.

i've said it before. i'll say it again. mothering is hard - not least because you're responsible for little humans, their health, their well-being, and their early views of the world around them. every day mothering forces me to face my demons again and again, urges me to shatter hard-coded reflex reactions, and encourages me to just be better. and the truth is, i'm not always better. i'm just not.

there are many moments in a day when i feel like a super hero. i feel a surge of pride when the work that i do at the job-that-pays is recognized in some way.  i am triumphant when a meal i prepared from scratch is well-eaten. i am all full-on-whelming-heartening-joy every time a babe sits on my lap just to be there, just  to hold my hand. i even give myself a bit of smug relief when my night time routine included story time giggles and has the kids in bed by 8:30. i feel like a champion every time i'm happy with the knitting.

oh but then my kids watch tv far more often than i would like. i have yet to find alternative ways to channel the urge to yell. i knit more than i clean. i have flaws. and if i was being completely honest, i'm okay with them. because these are things i can change: problems with solutions, choices i can make, things i can do differently. 

and yet, every now and again find myself intoxicated with guilt: mothering, housekeeping, working, loving, friendly, neighbourly guilt. i can't see straight and i sway. buzzed with regret and with judgment impaired, i hear voices that aren't mine until finally, i collapse into a shallow heap. 

on saturday morning, i woke up to 2 simultaneous text messages. a great aunt passed away, claimed by cancer. and an old neighbour, one of my first canadian friends (and my grade 8 boyfriend of 2 weeks, i think) perished in a motorcycle accident. i haven't seen nor spoken to either my lola or my old friend in many, many years. but i feel their loss and deeply cherish their memory. it is my fervent hope that they lived their lives to their definition of the fullest and that they met their passing with peace in their hearts.

i am reminded that despite all the worry and the drama and the noise - real or imagined, pressing or passing, near and far, virtual or in-your-face - to see what i have in front of me, to do what i can, give up the guilt - just give it up, and just live.

this here blog - this public journal i began to practice creativity, where i share photographs and stay in touch with friends and family; this space that i use to focus on the loveluckbliss of our days, has also become the breath that i take to sober up from regret: to give myself the opportunity to look at a blank page and reflect on the possibilities of a fresh start. 'tis a recurring theme.

i truly appreciate the five star recognition, alma - and schmutzie. and to you for stopping by and having a read, whether you comment or not, i thank you for following along. i am humbled by your visits.



this morning, i woke up absolutely walloped from all sides by 2 restlessly sleeping toddlers, unaware of their growing strength. i had a mountain of job-that-pays-work to work through and housework i already know i'm going to avoid. and by golly, there will be knitting. it's going to be another loveluckbliss kind of day.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

inside

someone called me outdoorsy recently and i almost laughed out loud. if you knew me growing up, "outdoorsy" wouldn't be a word you'd use to describe me.

and while it is true that i am actually outdoorsy - as in, i really do enjoy being outside in all kinds of settings - i really love being home.

and bringing the outside, in - well, it's my favourite, too.

while outside is starting to look a lot like fall, the days are still are hotter than my senses are choosing to believe. 






i want to stay inside. 

i want to eat food that makes me feel lit from within. i want oatmeal in the morning (already happening). i want my oven to pretend it's a bakery and dole out cookies and muffins and breads of all kinds (not quite happening). i want to decorate my house with pumpkins already.

i want to knit full time. 

check out the sweater i'm hoping to finish in time as part of my summer sweater kal shindig. the pattern is called flugel - a classic batwing silhouette that i'm rather smitten with these days. 


and since i can't have a pet owl, i thought i'd have one perch at the sweater's centre, using the chart from a pair of mittens i'd been meaning to make.

the yarn is quince and co. puffin and it's fluffy and meaty and delicious to knit with. so i can pretend there's already a veritable chill in the air.  the yarn is left over from a failed attempt at a sweater for me - which allows me to feel warm and fuzzy because i'm using stash yarn.

now this sweater, belongs to the wife


she's doing well, is she not? she's never made a sweater before and she dove right in with an adult-sized garment for her. she's knitting beeline and the using cascade 220 heathers. we're rather in love with the colour - a lichen green with teal and amber highlights.

neither of us know whether or not we're going to make the kal deadline with these sweaters but we're having fun with it anyway. these days, our date nights double as knit nights and i think it's pretty romantic that we're in this together.

and just in case you thought i was kidding about wanting to knit full time, you should know that i celebrated finishing the kids' sweaters by casting on 4 sock projects at the same time. you know, just the right amount of hardcore knitting to while away long car rides and commutes or to accompany late night tv watching and audio book listening.


i want us to have warm feet when the going finally gets cold.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

summer sweater kal: the finished sweaters














  






we took the kids and their finished summer sweater kal cardigans to the river beach for a shot at fishing and a bit of a photo shoot. the boy willingly modelled his sweater - which he claims to love. but the girl was having none of it today and that's just fine.

i'm really happy with how the kids' sweaters have turned out. i'm also well relieved that they are finished before the kal deadline (many thanks to the wife who sews buttons on for me. i don't love sewing buttons.) i may have already started a sweater for myself, with high hopes that i may just sneak it in. but time and circumstance will tell.  and in case you were wondering, the wife's sweater is getting on well, too. more on both of these anon.

we hadn't been to the river since before we went camping. today's leisurely visit through our favourite and familiar stomping grounds seemed to be just what we needed to reconnect as a family before the boy's school year officially begins.

have a fantastic first week of september!