Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sleeping for the weekend

Mr.Q & I were invited out to watch his company hockey team play last night. Knowing it would be a testosterone-fest (a charming one, but nonetheless....) and having had enough of people for the day/week/month, I opted to stay home. I was looking forward to a night of solo knitting - maybe getting another repeat done on my OWL stole; maybe getting a few little chores done; watching Pirates of the Caribbean again (haven't had me a Johnny fix in awhile; also, it's good knitting-viewing.) I even had a new bottle of Baileys I could crack.

And, with this whole lovely evening spread out in front of me....I fell asleep at 8:30. And with one exception, I slept right through till 8:00 this morning. My back is a bit stiff, and my brain is still a bit fuzzy...but otherwise, I feel great! I guess the last week tired me out more than I realized.

It's sunny out, and I'm solo for today as well (Mr.Q had to go in to work today) so those chores may just be put on hold again. One must take advantage of the sun when he shows his face in these parts!

(The one interruption to my sleep last night - at about 1:00 AM, the coyotes were out again. Eerie and cool...but if they're taking up long-term residence in the neighbourhood, we may have to start keeping the cats in at night. Hrmm.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wake-up call

Drowsing in bed this morning, trying to decide whether to get up or doze a few more minutes...I am jolted awake by a new sound. Two or three coyotes near the house, laughing their asses off. I thought I saw one the other morning by the bus stop, coming out of the pre-dawn fog, her silhouette back-lit by the streetlamp, all surreal and creation-myth-like. It was good to hear them this morning.

After establishing that all the cats were accounted for, I lay back and listen to them go on.

It must have been a great joke.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Now that's more like it!

Friday's pizza-beer-&-sweats date night was just the thing after a long week. But not, as you can imagine, terribly romantic. More like, re-living college days. So, we took Saturday off as a designated "Date Day." (Yay for procrastinating on housework, too!) We started out with an early lunch at Finch's, a sweet, quirky little pseudo-European cafe downtown. Mr.Q had the "house breakfast":

And I had a baguette sandwich from heaven (umm...bleu-Brie? YUM!)

We had a poke around a musty old used bookstore before heading to English Bay for a walk. Passed a brand new community garden while on the bus - It doesn't look like much here, but I have something of a fondness for them, and I hope this one does wonderfully:

(In fact, we saw another on the way home - seems there are a few of them going up around the downtown core. Very cool!)

When we got down to the seawall, we stopped for some fancy-pants cupcakes to bring home (sorry, no pics, they got et too fast!) and got coffees to keep our fingers warm while we walked. It was quite cold by the water, and rather grey - but no fog! Which was quite the treat, given the blanket of it over the city for most of the past week.

We had ourselves a leisurely stroll along the seawall, until we got to one of the wee Aquabus docks. Being on no particular schedule, and with no particular plan, we decided to take one across to Granville Island. It's a short ride, about 5 minutes, but kind of fun, and a lot faster than taking transit!

We enjoyed it a lot more than the pictorial evidence might indicate:

I have no idea why we weren't smiling. I'm sure we looked like total turistas, too. Oh well! Anyhoo. We poked around Granville Island for a bit - the yarn shop, the bookstore, the market - before ending up (inevitably) in the Kids' Market. Which was, without question, the highlight of the day. There is a shop inside with a lot of puppets. Whenever we're in the area, Mr.Q is compelled to stop in and entertain himself for quite some time. (Truth be told, he also entertains me, quite, but I do worry about the impressionable young children in the immediate vicinity!)

Some of my favourites:

Yaa-aaa-aaa-aaarn! (Yes, he was really making sheep sounds. Loudly.)

It went downhill from there.

"Would you like to see my toes?" (If you don't get that, I'm not explaining it to you. It's a camel. You figure it out.)

"If Peter Yarrow sings that fucking song one more time....!"

I neglected to photograph the beaver puppet. You're welcome. And Mr.Q's favourite, a cat-fish he's named "Steve" was (fortunately) out of stock. ("Steve" has rather unsavoury dietary preferences.)

Not much was going to top that, so we headed home after we'd had enough of the puppets. Had a nap. Another movie night. It were a good day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Big Night Out

It's Friday, and a pay-day Friday at that. Mr.Q was supposed to have a practice tonight, but it was cancelled. So you can guess what that means...Yep. Date night! Squee! And sweet woolly FSM, do we have sizzling plans!

Pizza, beer, sweatpants, and a movie.

I mean really, does it get much sexier than that?

We are on fire, I tell you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nobody told me...

And then there're days like these. Where I have to explain that you can have friends, and make friends, but you need to be really careful if you say you do friends. Where I have to try not to laugh when a brainstormed list of "interesting places to meet people" includes "a massage place." Where I have to explain that the meaning of the phrase "double date," in English, does not include trading off.

(This doesn't even touch the vocab question about the use of the word "diameter" in a discussion about what men look for in women. The question asked with very definitive hand gestures, at chest height. Also, whether or not an alphabetical list of adjectives to describe people could reasonably include "Shaved" for S. And they weren't talking about heads or chins. The women, thankfully, were a little tamer in their discussion. At least when I was within hearing distance.)

(There is a very sweet, shy 17-year-old Korean guy who's getting quite the education in this particular class! I don't think he's stopped blushing in 2 days. And if he grinned any wider, it'd prolly split his face.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


One very cool way to start a Tuesday morning: Walk into class at 8:57, and notice that a mere handful of your students are present. Realize that the rest are in the student lounge watching the news. Toss your carefully-crafted lesson plan out the window. Cram yourself & aforementioned students into a room with a hundred other people (including your bosses) from a dozen different countries, most of them definitely not Caucasian, to watch Obama take office. Note that most of them probably only understand every other word, or less, and they're still glued to the screen. Then, note that a good chunk of those with the widest grins are from the Middle East.

Be glad you didn't insist on starting class on time.

(And - dudes - Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, playing together? Dude!)

On a far smaller scale, but equally satisfying in its own way: we're having home-made pizza for supper tonight. On panini flatbread, not home-made dough, so it's kind of cheating. But there will be artichoke hearts, and possibly even feta. Which should more than make up for any crusty shortcomings.

And there may well be sci-fi geekery to follow.

Yep, a good Tuesday indeed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fire in the hole

I had quite the mind-blowing day at work today. In the best way. The kind where I walk out thinking "Frak, I love my job!"

Started out first thing this morning with my Grammar class, as's full, with 16 students. Which can be quite a handful, since it's a super-low-level class. There's a lot of miming, and charades, and sound effects, and badly-drawn pictures involved. But it's also kind of fun. At the moment, all 16 of my grammar students are guys: 2 from Brazil, 2 Koreans, and 12 from Saudi Arabia. This last can make for an interesting - and loud - class, since culturally, it appears that he who shouts out answers fastest and loudest is considered the best student.

Now, to be fair, they are all pretty nice guys who are keen to learn, and who belie a lot of the stereotypes we Westerners might subject them to. I get little or no attitude from any of them, and the few that do give me trouble tend to do the same for all their teachers, regardless of gender or age. Still, every once in awhile, a few get caught out when their cultural ideas are challenged.

Like today. When I was explaining why it's better to use the term "police officer" instead of "policeman." "Because then you don't have to worry about finding a different word, regardless of whether the police officer is a man or a woman."

A few eyes bugged so far out of heads at that thought, it was funny. It got better, too. "Fill in the blank: My brother lives in Seattle with ______ wife."

Shouts from around the room: "MY!" "MY!" "MY!"

"So, you guys are saying that my brother lives in Seattle with my wife? Does that sound correct?"

Almost unanimously, "YES!"

"So...why doesn't my wife live in Vancouver with me, then?"

Again with the buggy eyes. It was brilliant. And then (I couldn't help myself), I asked about my brother and his husband. I love those little "teachable moments"!

So. That was Moment #1 today. Moment #2....well, you decide. In the afternoon speaking class, once a month, we have "monologues day". Students have to speak spontaneously on a topic I choose for them, with little or no time to prepare. The idea is that it's practice for a speaking proficiency test administered by the school. (OK, really it's an "oral" test, but I knew your minds would go all guttery on me if I said that. Dirty, dirty people!)

My set-up is this - I put a list of 12 numbered topics on the board, and give them a few minutes to talk with each other about general ideas (but not long enough to plan anything). Then they come up to the front one at a time and roll dice to determine which topic they'll have to speak on. It's random stuff - tell me about your best vacation, your favourite high school teacher, your worst holiday, which superpowers you'd like to have, etc.

One of the students in the class is an absolutely lovely young man. He's sweet, with a wicked sense of humour, and he always has a smile and something nice to say to everyone. One of those souls that just make you happy when you see them. He also happens to be from Iraq. And today, he volunteered to go first.

The question this student from Baghdad "rolled" was: "Tell me why your city is the worst in the world."

Well. Umm. Well. Ummm......

I'd have let him choose something else, except that he kind of chuckled, said "I'll have no problem with this one," sat himself down at the front, and started speaking very calmly and eloquently. There was no drama or self-pity in his delivery - he just spoke very simply and honestly about what he knew.

He told us that his city used to be the best in the world, but now it was the worst. He talked about living there under "the regime" and then with the sanctions, how people stopped caring about education and music and art, and only had time or energy to worry about surviving and getting enough to eat. How it came to seem that all anyone could think about was fighting each other. How he hoped that the new generation would change things, but he didn't know how their minds would be changed, or how they would learn anything else but fighting. But still, he hoped his city would be the best in the world again.

He choked up more than once, but he didn't hesitate. He went way over his 2-minute limit. There was no way I was going cut him off. (How do I mark that?!) He had half the class in tears. It was so powerful. And then he got up, went quietly back to his seat, and smiled encouragingly at the next student to go up. (And believe you me, after that, not a one of the rest balked at being asked to talk about super-powers or first dates!)

I could intellectualize it a whole bunch - how good it was for other people to hear that first hand, from a classmate they've come to know and like. How it puts a real face on the news stories we're so inundated with. How it puts a lot of things into perspective for those of us living with extraordinary privilege. How good it must have been for him to tell a little of his story, and have it really heard. And that would all be true.

But the truth is, I don't even know how to begin to articulate what went on in that classroom. And I don't know that I need to. Having been thoroughly humbled, and my mind blown wide open, I just needed to put it out there. So, there it is.

One of the many - and by far the most compelling - "teachable moments" that I get to learn from, too.

Yep. I do love my job.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I'm totally stalling on getting my O.W.L. project started, and since it's halfway through January, I really need to get my arse in gear. I have got to get it at least cast on tonight. Hopefully even a row or two knit. To be fair, I've been mucking around with swatches and gauge, and even trying an idea or two for a border....though I've decided to go with someone else's take on that, and save myself the work. I'll be knitting this variation of Print O' The Waves, in this yarn - Malabrigo Sock in "Persia" - the colour in the photo is reasonably true:

I got the yarn while braving the madness that was the Belated Boxing Day sale at Three Bags Full...since one of my Christmas treats from Mr.Q was a $75 gift certificate, it seemed like the place to be....but it was a zoo! There were lines outside:

To pass the time, I practiced my Kinnearing ninja skills:

(That's beentsy on the right...bonus points to anyone who can ID the anonymous blogger on the left!)

There were line-ups inside (basically every person you see was somehow in line):

There were other bloggers in the line-up outside, as seen from the line-up inside (shout out, gals, coz I don't have all your blog addies handy):

I was in line for over 90 minutes. With my knitting, of course, and good company, and lots of good knit-spotting to keep me entertained. I got myself a sexy new knitting bag:

And (a rather pricey impulse buy, but I don't regret it one bit) a fair-trade Lantern Moon basket:

Of course, I also had to get things to fill the basket and bag. Aside from the Mal, I got me some Cascade, for this bag:

And some alpaca laceweight that I'd been eyeing for about 6 months or so:

And then wrapped it all up with a leisurely pseudo-Indian/Afghani lunch with a few of the other nutters. It was a good day, and I was surprisingly restrained. Though I did have a hard time not laughing when Mr.Q asked, "So, how much of that gift certificate do you have left?"

Poor, poor dear.

Anyhoo. Not much going on, really, otherwise. Got a bit of a raise at work, which is nice. I was told it would have been more, except for that whole "economy thing." Which I buy, actually, ESL not being the most stable industry at the best of times. But I guess they didn't get the memo about "opting out of the recession."

Poor old Bagheera gets to go back to the vet next month for some work on his teeth, and we decided to have his lump removed at the same time. We got an estimate from the office know it's going to be bad if they need to give you "an estimate"! Anyway, it's about what I'd figured, but still pretty ouch. Especially since we've got tuition and books for Mr.Q's first round of apprenticeship courses coming up at about the same time. Eep!

Bagheera's been a pretty low-maintenance cat, though, for most of his 13 years. So we'll suck it up. And how could we refuse such a dignified old cat?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back on Track

Thanks to all who posted words of sympathy and encouragement. (Not to mention offers of chocolate and booze!) Things are much better now. I found myself some yarn that is much better suited to the project, and which is a lot easier to work with. Don't get me wrong - the Sea Silk is dead sexy - this stole just wasn't its destiny.

Also, I found someone in my Rav group to help me figure out how to carry the yarn when I switch skeins...(thanks, Damselfly!) Now I can do the thing properly, and not worry about weird things happening with colour changes, working from 3 skeins of variegated yarn.

I survived the madness of the belated boxing day sale at our LYS...yikes! It was a madhouse, and then some. Enough that I may pass on the next one. Which says something! Photos of chaos (and pretty yarn, and my sassy new knitting bag) to follow soon...

Hopefully I'll get the new stole started tonight, and post pics of that, too.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

[insert cuss word of your choice here, and bring wine]

Rickin' frackin' blarg. And poop.

I did a swatch with the Sea Silk last night, and it really wasn't working. I didn't want to admit it - what with the meltdown that was the winding of it and all - so I put it aside, and came back to it tonight. Cast on and started another swatch. Patiently knat until even the wishfullest-thinkingest part of my brain was twitching in horror.

It's not just that the silk doesn't have a lot of give, which makes it a bit of a challenge for me to knit...I could get over that, really. It's not even that I can not, for the life of me (and after much experimentation), figure out how to switch between skeins without the one edge looking like I'm trying to strangle a Wookie...I get that it's the price I pay for using hand-painted, and I'm not prepared to over-dye this stuff like I did with Tuscany. So I'd have stuck with it and figured out how to carry the strands, or whatever the frack I'm supposed to do with it.

Except that no matter how much I want it to be otherwise, no matter how much I keep knitting, or how dim the lights, or how I squinch my eyes....the colours in the skeins are so different that they can't help but stripe. Obviously. And not in a good way. Definitely not like one of those squashed-face cats, so ugly it's cute. Nope.

More as in squashed-ugly like roadkill. Only it's blue and purple, not red, and there're no innards involved. Also, it probably smells better. But otherwise, it's practically the same thing. Knitting roadkill. Good times.

Obviously I'm not taking this well. And I don't even think there's any chocolate in the house.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am supposed to be swatching for my O.W.L. project tonight. However, that also means trying my hand at charting...which means math...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Also, it just took me the better part of an hour (or more) to wind the bloody skeins - I'm using some Sea Silk that someone sent me in a swap a long time ago, and one of the skeins got really, really tangled about 20 yards from the end.

Yes, there was cussing. Swearing, even. No tears, but if not for the (saintly) patience of dear Mr.Q - who not only put up with my tantrum, but helped me unravel the mess - well, it's possible that blood may have been drawn. As it is, I'm just taking a short break for the sake of morale, before I get back to my "homework."

In the meantime, I've finished projects for three of my classes...One, Herbology, was simply a case of getting my "greenhouse" in order. Which meant playing and sorting my stash. No arguing here! It was most fun. There may have been fondling. I'll never tell.

The wee bit of knitting that was handed in follows...First, a soft, lacy washcloth for Charms homework (the assignment was to "knit something that makes you happy, as a Patronus charm against seasonal angst" - what better than something to use in a hot bath, with a glass of wine?):

The other was for Arithmancy, which required students to create something using their "numbers" (Gladys Quimby: Character: 2; Heart: 4; Social: 7) and, for bonus points, use corresponding colours. I did another washcloth, and managed to finagle the numbers to get my House colours:

(Yes, I am a geek. And?)

(And...I'm having way too much fun!)

Alrighty. Back to the homework.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Photographic Evidence

Whew! We finally got a card reader for the new-to-us camera was becoming urgent, as classes have started for the Harry Potter Knitting & Crocheting House Cup on Ravelry, and I need to be able to post photos of my finished homework assignments.

So, while I figure out how to use the new toy, here a couple belated pics from Christmas, taken while I was first playing with the camera...The Quimby Christmas Tree:

A typical Saturday afternoon, Chez Q:

And a typical morning wake-up call, Chez Q:

It not-so-fun's snowing. A lot. Again.

I think the novelty has officially worn off.