Tag Archives: knitting

Grateful, even with the bucket

I told people over the weekend that I was done school.  They thought that meant I was done my Masters.  That’s not what it means.  It means that I’m done for the summer, and that’s not even true.  I have to edit a colleague’s paper, and then read over how she’s edited mine (but at least I have a good first draft, which is 11 pages more than I had yesterday!), and then I have to edit my ethics application, and THEN I’m really on summer vacation.  Then I have 2 courses, some research, and a thesis to write, and then I’ll be done my Masters, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  First I get to go on summer vacation.  Granted, I’ve done lots of summer vacation things already this summer, but mentally, emotionally, and physically (I was living in Nanaimo for the most part dammit!) I have definitely not been on vacation.  Jeremy can attest to that, but he probably won’t unless I’m not around, because he might be a little afraid of my reaction.  I can’t say that I’ve been the most patient this month (even though I used to say that patience is for chumps, I didn’t mean that being patient with your friends or partner was chump-ish… I just meant that you shouldn’t wait to do things because waiting is dumb).  I can’t say that I’ve been especially thoughtful this month (although I did knit Jeremy an entire surprise sweater, which is pretty thoughtful.  And which really hurt my wrists, which makes typing 11 pages in a day hard.  Dammit again).  I can say that I swam almost every day this month, that I spent time with my flowers every chance I got, and that I was almost always grateful for where and how I live.  You would be too, I think.  Except for maybe the toilet part.  I don’t think everyone would be grateful to give up their flush toilet for a bucket.  I can’t think of very many who would be, actually.  I certainly wasn’t initially… but I am grateful that I don’t use gallons of clean water every time I pee.

All of these things may be too much information.  The sunset’s really pretty right now.  I’m going for a sunset stroll.  Look at the pictures.  You’d be grateful to live here.  Even with the bucket.

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My top 10 Spring Break activities that actually happened

So I’ve been writing this post in my head over the past few days, while weeding the strawberries of nettles (I am, by no means, against the nettle plant.  I am, however, against all sharp and spiny and stingy [not stingy as in miserly, but sting-y, as in nettle-y] plants interspersed with my berries or my flowers.  NOT FAIR.), or while formatting pictures for this poster I had to do for school, or while driving up and down that island beside this island.  So I have ideas about this post, but they’re all pretty meandering.  I would not be surprised if the post is the same, even if it makes a claim to be a list.  Just thought you should know.

Climbing rose

Climbing rose

Kerri’s top 10 Spring break activities that actually happened

10.  Finishing my poster.  I had to do this poster for my Master’s.  It took way longer than I thought it would.  I finished it.  It was pretty.  It felt good.  Now I have this poster that I spent 2 days making and I don’t know what to do with it.  I guess there is always the woodstove.

Baby asparagus.  Only 2 more years!

Baby asparagus. Only 2 more years!

9. I got my haircut.  I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for a long time.  My mom told me not to shave any parts of it.  Then she said that I shouldn’t listen to her.  So I didn’t.

8.  Weeding the strawberries of nettles.  Also the blueberries of wild blackberry.  While I, for the most part, enjoy weeding, I especially enjoy weeding when the roots are really long and tangly, and the ground is pretty soft, and the weeds themselves are pretty big.  I like getting a big pile of weeds without a lot of work, especially when a significant part of that pile is root mass.  I get enjoyment out of it similar to the enjoyment I get when I pop an awesome pimple.  You should try it sometime.  The weeding part I mean.  We have lots of blackberries you can try it on, anytime.

Tractor sign.

Tractor sign.

7.  Beer on a patio.  In the sun.  A whole lot of years (6?  7?  I don’t remember) Jer and I went on our first date on Easter weekend.  We had beers on a patio in the sunshine.  A seagull shat in my beer.  Friends joined us and things got raucous.  It was an amazing day.  This was not that, but it was beers, on a patio, in the sun, with friends.  In April.  Win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater.  I win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater. I win.

6.  Fancy cocktails with friendfamily in the city.  I like fancy cocktails.  I like beer too, but fancy cocktails are special, and when we were in Calgary we went out with my cousin to a hip place and got to pretend that we weren’t bumpkins for a few hours, and there was a painting of a turtle in a suit, and we drank cocktails with names like “The Dirty Pigeon” (with tamarind and a salty cucumber!) and “The Meat Hook” and “Corn and Oil” and it was a lot of fun.  It made me feel young.

I made me a sweater.  It's orange.  It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it.  Seriously.  I win.

I made me a sweater. It’s orange. It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it. Seriously. I win.

5.  Rock and stick throwing parties.  When we got our land stumped last year, a bunch of rocks came to the surface.  Some sticks too.  Then Jer bought a tractor.  Rocks and tractors don’t get along so well, so I decided to have a rock and stick throwing party.  I thought friends would figure that I wanted them to work for me for free.  They didn’t.  One of them even googled “rock and stick throwing party” before deciding that it was probably a weird Denman Island thing, and hoped that it wasn’t going to be too competitive… I think it’s awesome that my friends trust me enough that I can host a work party with an unclear name and they’ll come and work… before going to the beach and drinking beer in the sun.

See?  Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons.  Orange.  WIN.

See? Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons. Orange. WIN.

4.  Planting all of the flowers.  Well, not ALL of the flowers.  But lots of trays of the flowers, and 2 50-foot rows of the flowers, and there are still all of the flowers coming in the mail.  My lilies are dividing and conquering and growing tall, and my starts are starting and they’re coming.  It’s going to happen!  Be ready for all of the flowers!

"Goats, eating fire-starter".  Almost "Goats, on a fire."

“Goats, eating fire-starter”. Almost “Goats, on a fire.”

3.  No diggity by a campfire.  In harmony.  On an acoustic guitar.  That is all.

2.  Hiking in the mountains.  In the sunshine.  On Vancouver Island with a friend and in Canmore with my mom.  To lakes.  In the sunshine.

The rhubarb is growing!

The rhubarb is growing!

1.  Not working, and especially not commuting.  Do you know how much time I would have in my life if I didn’t spend 5 days a week going to work?  I could ACTUALLY plant all of the flowers.  The blackberries would be exiled to the fences.  The nettles to beyond the fences.  I would knit all of the sweaters and blankets and shawls and hats and socks.  I would hike all of the mountains.  I would drink all of the cocktails and sleep in for all of the mornings.  Until at least 7.  I would miss my job, as I do (a little) right now, especially after drinking all of the cocktails and buying all of the yarn for all of the sweaters.  I would miss my job, but one of the best things about having a job is the days you don’t have to go.

This carrot top was haunted.  Naturally.  As in we didn't carve that face.

This carrot top was haunted. Naturally. As in we didn’t carve that face.

The lack of fingernail dirt

I knew when I started my Masters that I would be giving some things up… namely the month of July and the joy of dirty fingers and toes, music festivals and late nights and lake swims and beach fires that month entails.  I knew that I would be living in Nanaimo for the month of July, completing two courses, and I knew it would be hard. Of course I knew that the schoolyear part of the year was going to be hard too.  Life already seemed full before I went back to school… being a farmer and a full-time teacher was a lot.  2 and a half hours of commuting every day takes a sizable chunk out of my waking hours… I was busy last year.  I remember being busy.  At least I think I remember being busy. This year I’m busy.  Like officially seriously busy.  Like I don’t write a blog anymore busy.  Like there has been a serious lack of dirt under my nails busy.  I don’t take many pictures either.  I don’t walk my dog enough and I certainly don’t do enough dishes… although I have done them twice in the past 10 days (and Jeremy didn’t even have to rewash them), so that must count for something, right?  I do still knit.  Every day.  I don’t know how busy I would have to get in order for that to stop.  I don’t actually know if it’s possible – I would probably just sleep less.  I think I already am sleeping less.  Hrm… Things are good.  I’m not going to tell you what things, or how good, but they are.  Spring break is coming up and Jeremy is planning a trip and I don’t have to and my dog is coming with us and that makes me happy.  I’ve (almost) finished 2 out of 5 chapters of my thesis, and that also makes me happy.  I just finished knitting an orange cardigan and it’s the prettiest thing and Jeremy’s going to make me alder wood buttons and, well… orange cardigan with handmade buttons?  And then there’s the flowers… my hyacinths are blooming and I think they have the prettiest smell in the universe, and my lilies are all poking their heads out of the ground, and so are all of these other plants that I remember planting but didn’t label (because I’m like that), and we have trays and trays of seeds in the windows (including 3 of flowers) and they’re all sprouting and my fingernails are still clean and I should probably go do something about that 2nd chapter that’s (almost) finished, because soon almost won’t be enough, but not before I give you some pictures. I’ll try to come back soon.

The gift of laundry

I’m tired.  Almost flattened kind of tired.  We had a whole lot of lovely friends show up yesterday, and it was awesome, but after the holidays (which were amazing, and super easy, but still exhausting… you know what opening presents and eating rich foods is like, and if you don’t at this time of year, you should invite yourself to my house and I’ll show you) it was… well, tiring.  There is a chance that I’m mostly tired because I carried a three year old friend up the big hill from the beach, but I’m going to blame it on the holidays.

Dapper explorers on the beach

One of my favourite parts of the holidays was giving Jeremy’s brother a sweater I had knit for him.  He asked me to knit him one 2 summers ago, so last year for Christmas I gave him yarn, and then this year I gave him the sweater.  It’s the EXACT same sweater that I knit for Jer a couple of years ago, and taking photos of the two of them at the beach was awesome.

Matching sweaters

One of my other favourite parts of the holidays was the ridiculous dog bone that our neighbour got Mia.  Smoked cow knuckle.  She devoured it in a morning and didn’t poop right for 2 days.  She’s (almost) back on track.  That may have been too much information.  Sorry.

Cow knuckle

Jer’s brother also got a chainsaw mill for Christmas.  He came over and used it with Jer’s chainsaw.  Now Jeremy is ogling one of his own on the internet.  I got a new laundry rack on pulleys that attaches to the ceiling.  It’s really cool.  I did laundry on Christmas day to try it out.  I’m not guaranteeing how long THAT’S going to last, and it certainly didn’t convince me to put the laundry away… I don’t know what kind of gift that would take.   Chainsaw mill

Options if I’m unable to find a teaching job next year

1) Knitting

Broken seed stitch socks

Broken seed stitch socks

Featherweight cardigan

Benefits include the fact that I do this anyways and that I can literally (not figuratively, I promise) do it with my eyes closed.  Drawbacks include the fact that I refuse to knit with crap yarn, so would spend all of my earnings on more yarn (this is what I do already with all of my earnings from knitting).  Additionally, even if I knit 24 hours a day, I don’t think I could even make enough money to buy dog and chicken food.  Maybe I should go to the Equator and run on a beach ball at 1000 miles an hour, because then the sun would stop moving in the sky.  Maybe then I could knit fast enough.  (I was listening to a Radiolab podcast on the way to work today… did you know that every day is 54 billionths of a second longer than the day before?  This is officially the shortest day of the rest of your life.  Huh…)

2) Flower farmerGaillardia - not another word for a yucky stomach illness

Iris, but not the grape kool-aid kind

Tree peonyThere’s lots of benefits here too… like the fact that I own a farm, that I like to get my hands (and feet for that matter) dirty, that I love flowers and all things colourful, that our bees are all dying and could use all the help they can get… the list can go on.  I’m trying my hand at this too, but with one farmer in the family who needs a farm enabler, I’m not sure that farming flowers is really going to help this situation.  We live on a small island and we’re not really equipped, especially the way that BC Ferries is going, to expand our sales off island.  And some people here like to buy our vegetables, and I’m sure some will love to buy our flowers… but lots of other people here like to grow their own, so I’m really not sure that this is the way to financially support us.  It sure does make me happy though.  Maybe less so when it’s raining out.  Or the deer broke through the fence.  Or when there’s too many thistles and blackberries and prickly things.  Or when thrips eat all of my gladiolas.  I don’t know if I’m emotionally tough enough to be a full-time farmer, come to think of it…

3) A herpetologist

Snake eyeballs Inside-out snake skin 35" longI don’t actually want to go back to school to study snakes, even though I think they’re incredibly cool and I love that they eat critters in my garden.  Mostly I just wanted to figure out what the word was for a person who studies reptiles, use that word, teach it to you and show you these pictures of a snake skin that I found in our garden, full with peeled-off eyeballs and everything.  It was still moist when we found it, and the snake was nearby and super shiny.  Plus, I don’t know if the government, or anyone really, funds herpetologists any more than they’re funding education…

Any other clever ideas out there?

It’s hard to weed with your eyes closed

I was lying in bed early this morning, wishing that I was sleeping, trying really hard not to think about how I don’t have a job for next year and failing miserably.  I decided, as I have many times in similar situations, that I really need to start meditating again.  I remembered the place I was in in the spring of 2008 and how 10 days of silence, attempting to clear my mind and feel everything in equanimity changed that place.  I remembered the peace and the feeling of satisfaction that spread through me.  So I sat up and spent 10 minutes trying to find that place… then I heard the coffee percolating downstairs and whatever clarity I was muddling towards vanished and was replaced with the fog that precedes my morning coffee.  So I got up and drank my coffee and forgot about meditating, and about not having a job for that matter.

I ended up in the garden, and wandered around aimlessly for a bit.  Jer was gone for the morning, and as I haven’t been around a lot lately, physically or mentally, I am not sure of the priorities.  I know that blueberries are to be dug, I know that everything is to be watered, I know that lots of things are to be seeded or transplanted, but I don’t know what or where or how to do it so that it doesn’t have to be done again.  So I sat down to weed the onions.  I pulled grass and buttercup and thistles and bindweed, and I did it slowly and peacefully (if one can call causing the death of many living plants peaceful).  I got dirt under my fingernails and between my toes and it made me feel better.  Not all better better, but some better.

I went to get a massage recently because my carpal tunnel, caused by treeplanting, compounded by knitting, revigorated by gardening has flared.  My massage therapist asked me what it feels like when I stop knitting and stop gardening.  I looked at her questioningly… stopped knitting?  Stopped?  Like took a break?  I knit when I read, when I play cards, when I’m sitting on the ferry.  Sometimes I knit at red lights.  Stop?  It made me think about whether I glorify the act of being busy, but I don’t think I do.  I choose to do slow things, like knitting and growing organic food.  I choose to sit on my bum and weed onions by hand.  I choose to do lots of things that keep me busy, but they’re meditative for me.  I don’t know if actual meditation – the kind I did in Bolivia, sitting still for an hour to clear my mind – is what I need.  I think I just need to get dirt under my fingernails every day.

Here’s some pictures.

The pictures pretty much tell the story of our lives lately – it’s been hot, so Jer jumped in the pond.  Some plants are doing well, but it’s hot and dry, so lots of others are struggling through.  The kale’s not so juicy, and the salad greens are confused.  We had our first farmer’s market of the year, but for a long variety of reasons we didn’t have many vegetables… so we made jam.  Frogs are filling up the pond, and that’s about all of the exciting details!

The capacity of knitting and friends to unsuck life

Last Monday wasn’t a lot of fun.  I had a rotten optometrist appointment, and then the chicken that Jer tried so hard to save died in the night.  It died in it’s box, inside the house, and I heard it’s death throes and it made me feel like crap.  Stinky smelly pustular crap.

Because Monday sucked, Tuesday did too.  Until I came home.  Jer was in a really good mood, or at least put on the face for me, and it totally changed my week.  Then our best friends from Bella Coola came for a sleepover on the weekend and it was awesome.  Every time we see them we talk about how awesome they are.  And how lovely their son is.  And how happy we are to be their friends.  So even though we lost another chicken on the weekend (and by lost, I don’t mean we took it out of it’s pen and don’t remember where we put it.  By lost I mean something else took it out of it’s pen and left a pile of it’s feathers for us to mourn over.  We’re pretty sure that someone is a hawk.  I like hawks.  I don’t like this hawk.  I don’t quite dislike it enough to wish stinky smelly pustular death throes on it, but I would love for it to clothesline itself on one of the buntings that we’re hanging in the chicken yard.  Stupid hawk.), we had friends to hang out with, and the weekend was totally not sucky, but pretty awesome.

The other non-sucky part of last week was the knitting.  I received the million and a half yards I ordered for Barb’s sweater, and I blocked my 2 sweaters and socks.  See?  I got to wear 3 new knitting projects last week, and I got to cast on 2 others.  Plus, I just started watching Buffy.  Totally non-sucky.

Pattern - Harvest Dew with Brainless gusset

Pattern – Harvest Dew with Brainless gusset

Pattern - Olive

Pattern – Olive

Pattern - Lewis

Pattern – Lewis