24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

Hello all!

Just thought I'd take a brief pause from eating, drinking and spending $$$ (or, rather, £££!) to drop you a quick line...

Yesterday we did some last minute Christmas shopping (and here I thought that since I had the whole week before Christmas off, this would get done a bit sooner than normal - but NO). The stores here are madness at this time of year. I felt as though I had been on a marathon by the time we finished.

Can you believe I have not yet been in a LYS? I feel as though I'm slipping into some form of withdrawal. However, at the prices over here it's probably best I not venture into one... and besides, PayDay is not for another six days or so!

Time to resume eating...

Ho ho ho,


19 December 2007

greetings from London!

Well, we're here and having a great time thus far... and I even managed to knit a hat with my Malabrigo on the plane and am halfway through a matching scarf! (you'll hvae to wait for pics until I get back to Canada, unfortunately... but it is lovely, lovely stuff!)

I have to say, though, that it's very disorienting being in a place where we all speak the same language but everything is different. I nearly got myself killed crossing the street yesterday because I looked the wrong way for the traffic, for example!! This, I hadn't expected. I also have to keep reminding myself to times the prices by two and add a bit... at first everything seemed so cheap - until I remember that one pound = two plus dollars!

(I shall have to remember this essential fact, for example, if I trip across a LYS and snap up all the Rowan ASC in the place because it only costs £7!!!! as opposed to 'it only costs $7'! I trust hat J will remind me of thisact of vacation life...but then agin J has never seen me in a LYS and this sight in itself could well destory the relationship!)

In reality the only cheap thing here is the alcohol - it costs about the same here as in places in the US I have been, meaning half what it costs back home. If I had to live here, I don't think I'd ever stop drinking!

And, funnily enough, the computer keyboard is different! Only slightly, but for exmple I had a big problem finding the @ sign... and there are no double quotation marks. So, any typos in this post are to be blamed on the keyboard rather than on the fact that I am enjoying my fourth cheap pint of the day.

(On this topic... they label the beer cans here with anti-drinking information. For example, the can of beer in front is me, which is 440ml and 4.0% alcohol, advises me that it constitutes 1.8 UK alcohol units and, moreover, that 'responsible drinkers' do not exceed 3 daily alcohol units (for women -four for men). By my calculation, this is one and a half cans of said beer. I don't think that Canadian beer drinking units could ever be this stingy... especially given that the normal alcohol content for Canadian beer is 5% and 4.5% is about as light as it gets.

And what would be the point of drinking 1/2 can of beer anyway??

I'll stop boring you all now... hope you're all keeping warm and storm free...


17 December 2007

all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

... but desperately hoping that I will actually be able to. Check out what Air Canada has to say this evening on their website:

Flights to/from Toronto, Montréal, Québec, Ottawa and Halifax

MONTRÉAL, December 16, 2007 - Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz advise that winter storm conditions are expected to cause delays and cancellations to flights on Sunday December 16 and Monday December 17.

AGHGHGGH!!!! Go figure - the first time I'm leaving the country in years and we get the first December storm in the same amount of time. Sigh. The evening news tonight said that anywhere between 60 and 90 per cent of flights leaving from Pearson were cancelled today. I'm just crossing my fingers that this discrepancy together with the evening news' usual propensity for hyperbole means that I will in fact be winging way eastward tomorrow morning as planned.

So meanwhile, to avoid a panic attack, I'm just doublechecking to make sure I've got everything I need for the BIG TRIP.

First, money to get out of my country and into two other ones...

Why are different currencies different sizes, anyway?

And - here's some proof that Canadians are more pragmatic and realistic than Brits. Viz. the Queen as depicted on the British 20:

... and on our 20:
I mean, come on! The woman is 80 years old for Goddess' sake!!! Sheesh! Am I about to enter into La-la land??

And this reminds me: I will have to keep in mind that all this money has different values. That is to say, if I see Rowan stuff in a shop in London marked "9" I shouldn't get excited and buy it all. The pound is worth just over double the amount of the Canadian dollar.

But I digress. Next... passports?

Check. (This photo, by the way, almost didn't happen. JJ put his passport away safely two years ago... so safely that it took us the better part of two evenings to actually find it. Found the three previous ones easily enough though! I thought for a while that I'd be going away alone...this is almost funny now, but not quite - we were, shall I say, not amused.)

Next - umbrellas for the rain deluge promised us in London.

Guess which one is JJs and which one is mine?

And - extra smokes (just in case they've stopped selling them in the UK. One never does know these days). I'd better make sure I have enough for the flight...

Check. Oops. I forgot - you can't smoke on airplanes any more (it's been a while since I went overseas, as you can tell).

So - necessary medication for flying:

Check. And what about the insurance policy in case we run out of money halfway through the trip?


And, of course, the new cut and colour:

(This photo does not really show just how red the new 'do actually is. Nor, thankfully, does it show the ears which have also been dyed red. Really should break out the debit card and pay Topcuts $44 to colour it for me... how about that for a resolution?!)

No offence intended, but I really do hope that this is my last blog post for awhile (and I'm sure you don't want to hear the big ol'whine which you will get if I'm grounded for a couple of days!) I'm not sure how much opportunity I'll get to blog while away but I will try to check in with you from time to time. If I don't manage to - my heartiest wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas and a stellar New Year! I'll be back on or about 5 January and will see you then!

16 December 2007

the Tilted Duster!

Well, the storm I was carping about earlier todayis raging outside but I don't care because I have finished the Tilted Duster!! I managed to get it done before the trip! (now, whether I'll get the other work I have to do done is another story...)

Aphrodite wears it very well, don't you think?

Not really fair of me to pose her outside given the 6 inches of snow that has fallen today... but at least she's got a fancy jacket!


Pattern: Tilted Duster by Norah Gaughan (Interweave Knits mag, Autumn 2007)
Size: 32"
Yarn: Rowan All-Seasons Cotton - seaspray, espresso and mocha
Needles: 5 mm Addi Turbo
Notions: Buttons from Lettuce Knit:
... and Romni (these are vintage buttons - aren't they fab?)

Date started: 9 November 2007
Date finished: today

- a very straightforward but fun pattern. Great TV or public knitting (I knit most of both sleeves and some of the skirt while commuting). It knits up quickly with the bulkyish wool.
- I'm glad I went with the ASC as I like the way it shows the ribbing off.
- I decided that the pattern begged for some extra colours. The assymmetry of the espresso and mocha is due to the fact that I had only one skein of the mocha. I quite like it though. Initially I was going to do the front side rib panels in a third colour but am now glad I didn't.
- it is a very flattering pattern and I will be wearing it tomorrow to Jolly Olde England with my new taupe cords!

Oh, and what is Aphrodite wearing underneath?

This t-shirt is from Fresh Baked Knits in Kensington Market. Well worth a trip if you're coming through Toronto.

Now, off to the laundry room... sigh.

the seventh circle of hell

... is colder than one might think.

This was the scene facing me when having to journey out to the dreaded Forest Hill Market.

And this was the back window of JJs car right after he drove it home from work in the storm!

I scraped, I brushed, I swore... and then I drove at the rate of apprximately 30 km/h to...

This was the scene in the parking lot:

I was very briefly heartened when I entered the complex to see this cheery display:

...only to be almost immediately depressed by a dry cleaning bill of $39.75. And then to the LCBO:

I really find it difficult to believe that anyone would actually be idiotic enough to take a shopping cart the size of a small pony:
... into a "boutique" liquor store approximately the size of my living room but containing 10,000 full liquor bottles (as opposed to the 10,000 empty liquor bottles I will get to schlep out to the recycling bin tomorrow...).

(I tried to take a pic inside the store to show you just how ridiculous this would be. However, a cop - a real Toronto cop, mind you, not a wannabe Intelligarde "cop"- stopped me. He told me that it was illegal to take photos inside the liquor store. I answered that I found this very difficult to believe, and suggested that his time would be better used arresting the woman who was braying into a cellphone at top volume and butting into the 10 person line at the same time. He disagreed. I didn't think I should push my luck, and put away the camera.

The Toronto Police Force budget last year was something along the lines of $740 million. This was an increase from the previous year - every other municipal budget line in the same year was cut. I must tell you that it is really very heartwarming to see my tax dollars so hard at work.)

However, apparently this is a big issue since they had about 15 copies of this sign plastered around the entrance to the shop. I tell you no lie. I counted them - it was either 14 or 15.

I tell you, it's enough to drive you to drink!

I picked this cocktail as it best reflected my state of mind after talking with Mr. Policeman.

I also picked up the requisite elixir for JJ:

(I keep asking him why this grouse is so famous. He keeps replying "Ah'd have te kill ye if ah told ye, hen.").

And, in my usual generous spirit, here is a gift for someone else:
This is intended for and Mrs Super Mario. Well, kind of. I'm keeping the Bombay Sapphire martini jug for myself.

And now on to Loblaws:

This is the entrance to the store. Anything else I typically want in the store is at least 2.5 km away from this point. Grr.

So I navigate my cart (I have owned a car only once. It was a Fiat and I think it was smaller than the shopping carts at this Loblaws) past the requisite display of stale Italian Christmas cakes:

Does anyone actually eat this stuff? I've never really been tempted. They look nice, but the shelf life of seven years puts me off.

After about 15 minutes of trying to get through the store and arguing with morons who block the aisles with their carts:
I reach my destination.

It is a real testament to the powers of The President that I even bother to come into this damned store, I tell you.

So, here's what I scored:

Candies for the kids of Super Mario:

Canadian candies to take to JJ and JC (JJs sons - I anticipate no little confusion over the next three weeks...):

Maple syrup to smuggle into the UK and sell for at least 10 times the face value:

Christmas crackers (I liked the penguins!):
And... these disgustingly sweet soft sugar cookies that I'm always compelled to buy. I then bring them home, eat half of one, pick up the two teeth that fell out of my head immediately after, then give the rest to JJ to take to work.

I then reached the checkout line, which resembled what I imagine the line at the movie theatre on the opening night of a Harry Potter movie would look like (I wanted to take a picture, but unfortunately Mr. Policeman came by at the exact moment bearing his dinner in hand. He butted in line, by the way.)

In leaving the store, I heaved a sigh of relief, and noticed some pretty things.

The sight of the flowers near the exit was also cheering:

Don't you love this colour of yellow?

Ooh - aah!

So, for once as I left this godforsaken place, I had a smile on my face. It lasted approximately four minutes, or until I saw this road sign:

Why the hell are they doing construction in WINTER?!?!

And then I saw this, a sight always guaranteed to make my mood even worse than it normally is:
Can someone explain to me how the price of gas can go up and down seven cents in three days? We bought it the other night at 99.0/litre. Yesterday it was up to 105.6. Today, 102.8. Is it not, in all likelihood, the same #$&*($@#&* shipment of gas they're selling? Legal theft!!

Anyway, I managed to make it back home without further ado - and just in time to heat up the dinner I bought for us at the churrasqueria earlier: roast lamb and potatoes cooked with pork. MMMMM.

Happy Sunday... I'm very happy because now I don't have to go out to Loblaws today. Almost happy enough to forget that I have about a million pieces of clothing to wash... and a paper to finish revising...

Grr. I am my own worst enemy, really. Better relax by doing some knitting for an hour before the laundry room opens!

15 December 2007

more shameless consumerism

I know, I know - this is the second post today. And I still have another five or six hours of "real" work to get done in the next day and a half, together with at least six loads of laundry, packing for a three week trip and trying desperately to finish the Tilted Duster.

However, you'll soon see why I couldn't wait until tomorrow to post.

I headed out into the blustery storm weather to get last minute errands done. To cheer myself up from standing in line at three banks and the drugstore and having trudged 20 blocks in the snow, I went and got a haircut:

A bit shorter than I had thought it would turn out - but hey. At least I won't suffer hathead for the rest of the winter. "A la garcon", as they call it in "the Greece" (why does every other language feel the need to bastardize French expressions? Hmm...).

I must say, however, that I am shocked at the amount of grey (which doesn't show up too well in the photo, most of it being in weird clumps at the back). Why couldn't I have that nice elegant salt-and-pepper look?!?

So, this necessitated another trip to the Shoppers to pick up some of this:

Pretty bold, eh? I was going to rush to dye it before JJ gets home from work (puir wee JJ, working for 12 hours on a Saturday!), but I figured he'd get enough of a shock with the crop job. He won't be best pleased - although I don't really think he should complain, as my hair was even shorter when I met him five years ago and that look worked just fine for him, apparently...).

Anyway, I still needed cheering up, so I headed to Knitomatic - hey, after all the yarn shopping this week already I felt I owed Haley a visit as well.

And here's what I saw when I first got into the door:

Noro Silk Garden!!

(I don't know what's gotten into me. Until this week, I haven't even thought about Noro since I made this hat with Kureyon a couple of years back!

My first ever crochet job, by the way. I then managed to promptly forget all I learned. Sigh. Anyway, about the Noro - let's just say that Cat Bordhi has a lot to answer for!
It's her fault that I thought about Noro again. I take no responsibility for my actions.)

But, Cat Bordhi didn't cause me to buy this:

Rumplesilkskin, by Fleece Artist. (It is actually called "Rumplestilskin" like the guy who slept for 20 years - or was that another guy? I forget! - but I like my name better).

But really, could you have passed up this colour?!
Ahh....reminds me of the seaside in Greece. A necessary antidote for the December foulness that is the Canadian winter, in my view.

(Where on earth did Good Kristina get to? I wonder if she gave up and left early for the vacation???)

On my way to meet B. for a lovely falafel lunch, I picked up something for dinner at the Bathurst subway station:

... and some after-dinner mints.

I also managed to lose my gloves when I was out. Luckily I have another three pairs of fuschia gloves! And, on the upside, being gloveless enabled me to knit while waiting 20 minutes for the $#$@#$@$ Bathurst bus. I should note that, although I am a fearless Outlaw Knitter, I do not recommend knitting outside when it is -8 C ("feels like -15 C!!!!" Thanks, Weather Network! And for my friends in the US, this is "17.6 F feels like 5 F") and snowing. But at least I got another repeat done on the Tilted Duster!

Unfortunately, when JJ gets home I have to make another foray into the cold - heading to the dreaded Forest Hill Loblaws to pick up dry cleaning, buy fudge and hit the LCBO. I would love to stay in and knit - but they're calling for a huge storm tomorrow and I'm not big on shovelling myself out of the parking garage... wish me luck!)