Post in Three Parts

We are here at the lake for eleven days, and the plan was that Elliot was here with his mum and dad for the first week, and then off they’d go home (Alex has to work) and then the pace of things here would dramatically drop off. It would be me and Joe, Ken, Amanda and Joe’s mum and dad, and all of those people are considerably more amenable to me sitting down with my laptop or plowing through knitting, and each of them is able to swim in the lake without my direct help. In short, I thought getting to my computer for the first bit would be hard, but then it would be easy, and instead Meg decided to stay with Elliot, and just Alex went home and we are so delighted to have them both here a little longer, but the idea that these few days would be easy going has evaporated.

Today it’s raining and grim, and nobody is in the lake lest they be hit by lightning (that is actually a thing) and Joe and Ken (Poppy and Poppa) have Elliot off playing foozball, and I’ve got a few minutes to catch up here, and in the new spirit of trying to blog – here I am. I figure we’ve got a few minutes before it all goes sideways, but that’s still enough to tell you about a bit of knitting.

(Whoops. Wrong. The sun came out and it was suddenly a gorgeous day and I went for a quick dip and then Ken was going for a kayak and I went with him, and then I was coming back up but Amanda was ready to swim, and then I was absolutely coming up, but Megan came down with Elliot and then I took him in swimming – and then suddenly it was time to get supper on. Sorry about that.)

When I left to drive up here (about four hours north of Toronto, on the edge of Killarney, for anyone who’s into parks) I imagined tons of knitting time, a wild rumpus of knitting. Hours stretching into days of knitting. I packed a partial sweater to finish, a pair of socks that only had one done, another pair of socks where the first wasn’t even finished, a whole  sweater for Ken that wasn’t even a swatch yet, and then panicked as I imagined these hours of knitting and tossed in an insurance skein. The astute among you will note that this means I intended to (while cooking for 9 people three times a day, and doing my fair share of childcare) knit at least one thing a day. Obviously, this was bananas. Completely insane. I am a fast knitter but even I cannot get knitting done without knitting time, and despite decades of effort, remain unable to knit in my sleep.

Still, in between birthday parties delayed until we could be together, and rounds of champagne, games of “Guess Who” and swims in the lake and long paddles with Ellie tucked in the front of my kayak… I did manage to finish one thing, and start another. Voila, my Simple Summer Sweater.

Yarn is Rowan Cotton Cashmere, and I love it.

The idea of a summer sweater cracked me up – cotton or not, I simply cannot put the words “summer” and “sweater together. It’s more than 30 degrees in those pictures – Meg and I waited until sunset to keep them so it would be a bit cooler and I am still roasting in it.  The weather is set to turn in the evenings the next few days, so I know it will get loads of use eventually.

(Whoops again, dammit.  I was going to finish this post last night, but oh we had a lovely supper. A huge storm blew though with a tornado watch (no warning, don’t panic) and everything. We sat here, eating our suppers and watching a fierce thunderstorm roll in across the lake and batter the windows, and as we finished the storm ended, and minutes later we had a clear sky and a lovely sunset.  We knit and chatted into the evening and I didn’t finish this post. Sorry.)

Obviously I’m not going to get through a million projects while I’m here. Obviously I’m not going to post a thousand times. I have gotten as far as starting Ken’s sweater (Oshima for Him, which I seriously believed I’d finish on this trip, but it’s going a little slowly.

I’ve missed these people so much, and to have them all back with me makes it hard to say no to anything.

Rock Water Tree

Yesterday Joe and I tossed Elliot (and a great many of our worldly goods) into the car and drove north.  Meg and Alex followed in their car with the dog and lots of their worldly goods, and we drove for four hours- with Ellie looking out the window and saying “rock, tree, water, tree, tree, tree, rock, water…” which are essentially all you can see if you look out the window in Ontario, allowing for the occasional large mammal.  (No bears or moose were spotted yesterday, though not for lack of effort on the part of the diligent child.)

We’ve rented a cottage on the water for the next ten days, and while we’re not gathering the way we have in the past for this time of year -some of the family can be with us and I’m trying to celebrate what I’ve got, rather than what I wish could happen. We’ve got the five of us now for four days, and then we add some more people to the mix and I can’t wait. (There are going to be some hugs for the first time in a long time.) I did loads and loads of meal prepping and planning so that I could spend a lot of time relaxing and knitting and spending time with some of the people I’ve missed so much. Joe and I still have to work while we’re here (If you’re a Patron, there’s a video coming today!) and later today (there is a foosball table here that I think is going to buy us all a lot of time) I’ll start on the Karmic Balancing Gifts.

I have also brought with me more yarn than is reasonable, even for me.  I have a whole sweater to start, two pairs of socks that are midway, and some extra sock yarn after that, and essentially to run out I would need to finish a project a day – which….

I’m actually on track to do, at least today. Joe drove the whole way here yesterday so I got almost a whole sleeve knit in the car, and now there’s just thirty two rounds to go on this sweater. I can’t believe I’m going to finish – I’ve been working on it so long it feels like a permanent fixture.*

*I motivated myself by not bringing a sweater for this trip at all. Nothing quite like being chilly to help you get a move on.

Well I might not count these

Good grief. Typing this to you from bed- eyes barely open, four year old flaked out diagonally beside me. You know those days where every time you look at the clock you can’t quite believe there was apparent international consensus to speed the earths rotation and thus shorten hours, but that’s the only reasonable conclusion? I woke up this morning and thought there was real potential here, but every time I glanced at the clock the thing had speed on to some impossible time, and the next thing I knew it was park/wading pool time with Elliot.

(Elliot pictured here driving this toy car that someone donated to the park earlier this year. It’s broken, the door is weird, the steering wheel doesn’t steer, you have to move it with your feet like Fred Flintstone and every kid for a kilometre around is bloody obsessed with it. Competition for drive time is high. When it is Elliot’s turn he practically squeaks with joy.)

Now, here is the thing. Me, a park, a kid – I got that scene.  I practically invented that scene. When the girls were little in the summertime we did chores in the morning, had our lunch noontime and then went to the park/pool every single weekday until it was time to come home and get supper on the table. That was even simple because they drain the pool at 5 and it’s a natural signal. They’d pull the plug and over the girls would trot, trained right up to the schedule.  I would have 4 hours every afternoon to read and knit and write and I loved it. Loved it I tell you, and so this summer it seemed like a no-brainer for how Ellie and I would spend our afternoons together. It is the same park and everything, and he is a supremely civil child (far more than the wild things I raised) and yet… nothing gets done there. Not a thing. Not one.

(Completely gratuitous picture of Penny, a very good dog. I am not a dog person, but I am a Penny person, and though I’m not usually responsible for her I was today, and I cannot blame her for my lack of production. She lay on the grass and smiled. It’s hardly a complication.)

I have been dragging this sweater to the park for weeks (Pattern- Simple Summer Sweater – scaled for my skinnier yarn. Yarn: Rowan Cotton Cashmere that Ken gave me for my birthday.) and making almost no progress. I couldn’t figure it out, it’s park knitting. When the girls were wee I got so much done there, but today I figured out what’s gone wrong.

It’s not Ellie. As I pointed out, he is a tremendously easy and sweet child. (We will not mention the other day when I asked him to do something and from the living room, he shouted “THAT’S A NO FOR ME DAWG.” Blame his mother.) I realize now that it’s the Covidtimes. I’ve got eyes on him 80% of the time to make sure he stays reasonably distanced from the other kids (we’re not saying no to playing of course, but their wee unvaccinated heads together unmasked is a no, naturally) and that surveillance takes a toll on the knitting, and also, without any friends really (he’s just starting to make a few as we open up a bit) he’s used to having and needing his grownups as play-buddies.

I can walk and knit, and talk and knit, and do all sorts of things and knit- but I cannot play soccer and knit. I cannot “watch this!” and knit. I cannot help on the monkey bars and knit. I cannot build the best sandcastle you’ve ever seen and knit, and neither can I teach him to float and knit. He has no pack to run with, but for his grownups, and I am all in. I’ll finish the sweater eventually, and I’m sure it’s going to be great.

Likely not as great as being a light in a little one’s life, so I guess when his wee voice rings out “Gammy, come play with me!” …

Thank goodness yarn doesn’t go bad. Maybe I’ll finish the sweater tomorrow.

Loosen Up, Lady

Sorry to promise posts my petals, only to immediately not be able to do so.  I was all set to post before I left for our ride, but the minute I turned to my laptop to get it done my server failed. No mail, no blog… just lots of time on with support calls and at some point I had to go ride my bike and just let it be broken until I wasn’t riding a bike anymore – which I’m not now, and here we are, fixed.  (I also have some new cloud thing that I had to buy to keep this all going, and I don’t know about you but it takes me a little while to get my head around buying things I don’t understand. Where is this cloud? What cloud? Is it all the same cloud? I thought I had a disk? Is the cloud really some warehouse of big machines in Ohio? China? Everywhere?) Anyway, that cloud does backups and those are good so- I suppose it’s all for the best.

I was really quite upset that I couldn’t post, and that surprised me, because if there’s anything I think we should all know how to handle at this point in the pandemic, it’s not having any idea how things are going to turn out, or what’s going to be possible, so you’d think that almost a year and a half into this complete turd pile of a circumstance I’d just shrug when the server broke and think “maybe it has Delta. Oh well. I wonder when it will work again” and promptly sit down with my knitting and continue to let… whatever flow over me like I am a rock in the river.

That is the approach I managed to take with the Rally – such as it was. I accepted very early that I wasn’t going to be able to have what I wanted (everything back to normal right now thank you) and moreover, that I didn’t even know what I was going to get. Even as Ken and I set out to Montreal on Friday there were a million unknowns, and I had to focus on the things that I knew would be good – like getting so much time with Ken. We’ve been distanced from each other for a year now, so a weekend with him was a real treat, and I certainly know how to enjoy that. It was also going to be the first time I’ve ridden bikes with Cam in a year, and I do like that, and most of all, I had to remember that the whole point to this thing is that it changes the lives of other people. Anything I get out of it is a bonus, and that makes it easy to lean in.

Good thing too- because the weekend had a lot in store for me that I wasn’t expecting.  I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow, for now I have to figure the way that I use this cloud that lets me put pictures on here, and tell you that I am as ever- incredibly grateful you’re all on my side, because you’re a nearly frightening force for good.

 

 

 

Unsurprising but surprised

Oh Blog – I am as ever in awe of you. When I think of how you’ve behaved in the past I shouldn’t be surprised that you came through for the Rally, but somehow things are so weird for the last year that I am indeed, gobsmacked.  Ken is at his goal, Pato is at his…

(He says thank you, by the way. Such a nice young man.) and both Cam and I are within striking distance. I tell you this, o knitters – PWA owes a lot to you, once again, and so do I.  Looks like I’ve got to follow through with the blogging challenge – I hope stretching this muscle feels as good as it should.

Despite not blogging yesterday, I am not dead. Ken warned me that you might think I was dead – but even though the ride on Sunday had its moments, I am somehow still alive and though the ride had its moments (most of them midway up hills in the rain) I had notifications turned up on my phone so every time one of you sent a donation I could hear the little “ding” and it was incredibly motivating.  Ken and I swept the ride – and sweeping means that you agree to ride slower than the slowest riders – so we began our 115km (that’s 71.5 miles, for my American friends) at 10am, and I rolled up to the front of my house that evening around 7pm.  That’s a nine hour sweep and pretty unheard of- but this is an unusual year in so many ways.  The riders we were sweeping have had limited training opportunities (remember, Toronto still has gathering limits in place) and they were working so hard that Ken and I couldn’t possibly resent the time.

The same cannot be said of my bottom, but it has limited voting rights and we spent yesterday in reconciliation talks. Truly, I meant to blog yesterday, but I slept in (no idea why, weird right?) and then worked on a video for the Patreon for a little bit, and then Joe somehow convinced me to ride my bike 17km down to the marina and go for a sail with him.  My sock and I knit while Joe worked on the rigging – though it has taken years to convince him that I have little to no interest in sailboat maintenance and the high number of spiders encountered whilst engaged in same, he has finally accepted that we are all better off if I knit while he does it.

(That sock’s Must Stash Yarn’s Purple Skein, the pattern’s a no pattern, just knitting a tube.  I threw in a half round of a contrast yarn a few rounds ago, and when I’m a little further along I’ll toss in a heel.  I’ll show you. It’s easy.)  We threw in the anchor by the islands and had a little dinner on the boat, had a swim and made to sail back.

It was lovely, but when I got home I fell over like a tree. Today though, today – magnificent news.  Not only  did I manage to blog, not only are we close to meeting all our fundraising goals and making a difference in the world that changes the lives of people who really need us…

I put in the last seam on my sweater.  Good times, knitters.  Good times.  It’s upstairs blocking, if you can call drying on a bed “blocking” which I do. See you tomorrow. (I’ll get on Karmic Balancing gifts soon-ish, just waiting for a few emails to come in.)

(Sweater is Woven Shadows, yarn is DanDoh Linen, in “Pacific Tone” which might just be about how much I miss that part of the world right now, because otherwise it’s a pretty surprising colour for me, but three points for the person who’s first to notice that I have new glasses and they are…. blue. I can’t explain myself.)

 

Goal not met

You know, I’ve seen so many funny pandemic tee shirts during the last year and a half.  Ones like “I was social distancing before it was cool” and “Free hugs – just kidding don’t touch me” or “I’m tired of being part of a major historical event.”  If I made a tee shirt for this phase of my life though, I think it would just say “Goal Not Met.”

Years and years from now when I am a very old lady, I imagine little children will ask me about the great pandemic. “Did you really stay home?” they will ask me, and I’ll say “Yes, for months and months.” They’ll stare at me all agog, and ask more questions and I imagine that they’ll ask me how we were ever able to do it. To cancel our jobs and stay home and not see our families and have little kids do school online and to not be able to see people you loved, or to travel or to even go to a store that sold a tee shirt or get a haircut and in my mind, there is a moment when they say “How did you do it?” and I will explain that I am RIDICULOUSLY bad at predicting stuff, and also a massive optimist.  That whole time, I will tell them – that whole time I was always convinced that it wouldn’t be much longer, and that things were about to get much better. I think, my darling knitters, that this, this incredible combination, might be the thing that has saved my sanity, while simultaneously leading to the least successful phase of my life, if you go by goals.

Every minute of this whole shebang, I have set completely ridiculous goals based on the belief stated above – that this thing is almost over, and we are POISED FOR JOY.  I have to say, so far I have really been super wrong.  I mean, catastrophically wrong… I have not been correct about a single thing.  I set a goal or make a prediction, the goal gets smashed (usually because I was wrong about the prediction) and I come back for more, cheerfully certain that sure, I was wrong last time, but this time, this time the fact that I was wrong last time only makes it more likely that now I will be right.

I am ready to admit now that there is something about this thing that uses up energy and makes goal meeting impossible.   Is it that it’s so unpredictable? Is it that if you admitted to yourself for one little minute that you don’t know when pandemics end or what the future holds that you’d have to acknowledge how long stuff has been screwed up for? Is that why I can say to myself “Stephanie, you have only 1.5 sleeves to go on that sweater. That’s an evenings work.  Goal set!” only to discover somehow that time has ceased moving normally and the next day I’ve made only a tiny bit of progress but somehow started something else? I mean what is going on?

I admit there have been a few spanners in our personal family works.  Quite some time ago, when I leaned that Meg and Alex were happily expecting again, I was so terrified thrilled overwhelmed that I promptly ordered a baby blanket kit and set a goal of weaving a million hopes and dreams into each stitch.

Was coming along too – getting big, and the weeks passed and Meg and I started talking about how she might announce their good luck, and enough time passed that I got brave and set a goal to embrace this wee one completely and bought matching jammies for them and Elliot and…. well. Just shy of the 2nd trimester mark, this babe’s heart stopped beating and obviously those two previous goals aren’t goals anymore. Just being here, whole and present in this time, supporting my family, being a good grandmother and knitting something other than that heartbreaking blanket is my goal now.

When these goals aren’t met – be they big or small, my fault or not, I respond with typical Stephanie Zeal™. Usually I set another goal.  Something bigger. Mostly, because I’ve been a goalsetter and somewhat of a failure (like almost everyone, it turns out I’m not perfect) my whole life, this doesn’t get me down.  Not terribly.  Usually I can shrug it off, and try again.  Like with the retreats.  Do you know that when I cancelled the March retreat in 2020 I thought there was a good chance that we’d be back in June? And in June I really thought that November would do the trick? I just keep thinking that any minute now, things are going to get much better.

This is what I was thinking around this years Bike Rally.  I thought we’d all be vaccinated (we are) I thought that would mean the virus would mostly go away (thanks for nothing arsehole Delta) and I thought we’d be able to all ride together to Montreal.  Well, goal not met.  Bike Rally leadership announced that even though we couldn’t all ride together to Montreal, we’d have local rides  (Toronto, Kingston or Montreal) for just two days.  Well, that wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but c’est la vie, by now I should have predicted that I can’t predict anything. (I know, it’s a complicated thought process.) Then our gathering limit was set too low to have training rides, and now the gathering limit is high enough to have training rides but you have to take the Subway to get there and people with unvaccinated little people in their immediate families really shouldn’t be on the subway if they can help it and…. the rally crept closer and Polly-f**kin-Anna over here (that’s what my mum used to call me) kept thinking it was going to get better any minute and I would wait patiently until it did.

Well, let me tell you GOAL NOT MET. Nothing has particularly improved with the pandemic- restrictions and problems are still in place and now I have three massive problems. I think I also have solutions, but with my goal setting track record public now, I’m not sure.

Problem One: There is still a pandemic on, and The Bike Rally powers that be changed the date of the ride, hoping for a little more time for restrictions to ease.  So…Given that Ken and I need to keep Elliot out of any transmission chain, we’re not feeling the big group love.  Cam had plans to be in Montreal on the new dates, so…  this year we’ll be driving to Montreal to ride there.  It’s a much smaller group, we can do the whole thing distanced without getting on the subway, and the only person who can’t make it is Pato. He’ll ride here in Toronto because right after he’s going on his (very) long delayed honeymoon.  Ken, Cam and I talked about it and decided that was an acceptable excuse. We’re going to Facetime him all day. He’ll love it. Problem one, solved.

Problem Two: I am undertrained.  I’ve done as many training rides as I can on my own but … well.  There’s no denying that I’m not ready.  I’m going to count on the fact that it’s just 200km, and hang in there. (No, I can’t believe I typed “just 200km” either. Blame the optimism.)  With that classic Stephanie Zeal™ today I am going with Ken on my first official training ride.  He needed help sweeping and I couldn’t say no.  It’s 105km of hills in what’s looking like some pretty oppressive heat.  If you have thought about donating but were waiting for the right moment – anytime today starting at 10am it would be amazing to get a ding on my phone, or any of Team Knit’s phones.  We will all have them turned on.  If I can get through today, I’ll feel a lot better about the ride I think.   Problem two… well maybe it’s solved we’ll see if I survive.

Problem Three: Team Knit in terms of fundraising is… well it’s Goal Not Met for all of us. That’s on me. In years gone by I’ve blogged and done karmic balancing gifts and stayed right on top of everything.  This year (see above) I waited for things to get better, and they didn’t, so now it’s time. I see that. There are six days to go before we ride, and that means I’m going to need to break a land speed record for fundraising.  It’s one thing for me to sit around in my cozy house, well fed and watered while waiting for things to get better, but that’s not how it is for PWA clients. They can’t simply wait for things to get better, and I know they’re counting on me, and the force for good that is knitters. Our donation links are here:

Me

Ken (he’s so close!)

Cameron

Pato

Now- here’s the deal.  I’m going to start up Karmic Balancing gifts again this year – just briefly.  We’ll do it in a few giant bursts and details on how that works are below.  (Hint, same as before.)  In addition (because I have been delaying it, sure that things are going to get better and any minute it will be easy) If we make our goals, I promise that I will blog 5 days a week for at least a month.  (I’m kinda hoping that’s enough to form a habit again.) That should be exciting for all of us, since eventually I have just got to finish that blue striped sweater, as well as the linen one that just needs a single seam.

I know meeting these goals isn’t going to be easy -but I have a lot of faith in knitters, and their ability to spread the word. Better than anyone else, we understand cumulative action, that while each of us may only be capable of a small gesture, the biggest knitted blanket is made of thousands of tiny stitches, and the whole thing falls apart without each of them. That’s what I’m thinking.  Now – I’m off to ride 110 kilometres of hills in the blazing heat. I’ll blog tomorrow if I live. (I’ll instagram all day as I go.)


Karmic Balancing Gifts.

If you donate to anyone on our little family team then please send me an email letting me know you’ve done so. Make the subject line “I helped” and send it to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca. (Note the .ca it’s a Canada thing.) Include your name, address, and whether or not you spin.  (For the love of all things woolly, please use the subject line. It makes your email go to a specific folder and you have no idea what a difference that makes to my sanity.) You don’t need to say what you gave, or include proof. I know you’ll do your best, whatever that is, and I know you wouldn’t lie. (If you’ve already given this year, obviously you should send an email.)

Now, we know not everyone has money to help with – so we’re taking all kinds of help.  If you can figure out some other way to do that, that counts.  Maybe you can tell a friend. Maybe you can post about it to social media. Maybe you can forward the email to people in your family who will give…  There’s lots and lots of ways to help, and if you can figure out a way? Send that email, letting me know you did. No money needed. (Of course, money is always good too, and even the smallest gifts make a big difference.) I’ll draw randomly from those emails to redistribute the gifts.

If you want to contribute a gift, It makes me less bonkers if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” (that’s important) with the details, picture and a link, if you want me to use one. When one of the helpers is chosen for a gift, I’ll email you the address, and you can ship it right to them. (It’s not a bad idea to let me know if you have shipping restrictions If you only want to ship within Canada or the US, for example –  I’ll keep track.)

Not too old to ride a bike

Today is my birthday, and yesterday, walking with Elliot and talking about things (mostly dinosaurs, he is predictably still obsessed) I told him that it would be one more sleep until my birthday. He asked three questions, the first was whether or not I would be having a dinosaur party, and the second was “Grammy, when you have your birthday, will you be old then?” I told him I would be older, but not old. He gave me an eyebrow that said he wasn’t entirely sure I was right. Have you ever heard that idea that old to you is whatever twice your age is? To a four year old eight seems old, to a twenty year old forty seems long in the tooth… I see now how that I am 53 that really stops working but the point is that to Elliot, I must seem as old as trees. The third question was what I would like for a Birthday present – but he didn’t give me a chance to answer, he just said “Oh I know, yarn.”  While he’s not wrong, I have my eye on a little something else this year, and I bet some of you can guess it.

I’ve been slow to write about Team Knit this year, because what’s up with the Bike Rally has been (like everything else I am so exhausted) completely up in the air and that makes writing (about anything really) so hard.  Here in Ontario, we’re just beginning to open up.  Shops opened this week at 15% capacity for the first time in months, outdoor dining (for distanced tables of four) started too – salons might open sometime in July… Canada now leads the world in the number of first doses administered, but only a few of us are fully vaccinated, so not too much has shifted, especially as we try to outrun the Delta variant – one dose isn’t much protection against it.  Only 8% of Canadians have had a second dose and that’s pretty awesome considering that 88% of the world can’t get a first one.  I am a fully vaccinated (almost, I got dose 2 a week ago) human in a world where a global vaccine shortage is epic and I am so grateful, and fantastically privileged and I know many people reading this blog would love to be in my position.  On the other hand, watching the US is (with all possible love) like seeing another planet through a telescope at the moment. The last 18 months have been a time of great contrast for so many countries and – as I’m sure most everyone in the world would agree, it is so tiring to defend or explain the different approaches our countries have taken or why I can’t get a haircut or hug a friend and why even though so much is wide open in the US, the Bike Rally doesn’t know if it can ride again this year.  All that considered, I’ve sat down to write to you a million times and then just thought “maybe I’ll wait and see if things are clearer in a bit.”

Well, things are a bit clearer now -we won’t be riding our bikes to Montreal this year. We don’t know what restrictions will need to be in place in August, but a group of hundreds travelling large distances is possible but unlikely, but for sure Rally leadership can’t secure everything that’s needed (permits, contracts, campgrounds) based on “maybe?” The Rally has decided that there will be three sets of local rides in the three areas most riders live –  Kingston, Montreal and here in Toronto.  Riders will get up in the morning, ride a local route, in groups as small or large as they have to be, then come home and sleep in their own beds, and do the same thing again the next day.  It’s not the Rally, but it’s better than last year, and hopefully this will be the last time that we have to stay safe at home.

I’ve been thinking about that idea a lot, being safe at home.  Toronto has had a longer stay-at-home order than just about anywhere else in the world, did you know that? The phrase “Stay home and stay safe” has been a constant reminder for the last 15 months – and for the most part, that is what we have done. It has been lonely and difficult for us all to be separated from each other and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t changed themselves to cope – turned inward, turned more outward, knit themselves a small mountain of socks,  but it has been worth it, and most I know have been grateful that they have a home, that they are safe in it, and that staying in our nice safe homes has been all that is asked of us to save lives in our communities.

So, this was on my mind this week when the Bike Rally had a Virtual Town Hall, to announce what was going to be possible for us this year, and we learned that we’d need to stay home a little longer. I was reflecting on it- how much I want to leave home at this point, when a speaker from PWA started talking. He spoke about things I knew about PWA through this pandemic, like that the needs of their clients (who are still dealing with the last pandemic) have increased across the board. They’ve needed more help with food, with money, with finding electronic devices so that their children can do online school, with accessing government resources,  clinics have been closed across the city, doctors have only been seeing people virtually, except in emergencies… clients have needed the services that PWA has provided more than ever, and as needs have increased they’ve had to find new and creative ways to do that with less.  He also described something I know that PWA is very proud of- which is that they’ve managed to stay open as an essential service – distributing food through the essentials market and continuing as much as they were able, given restrictions. He called them a “scrappy little agency” and I felt so proud of how they’ve been able to respond to unprecedented demand, and so proud of all of you for the role you played last year in funding them.

He also said something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.  He talked about this concept of staying home, and then said that a heartbreak and hardship for so many of the clients is that for them – PWA is home. It is where the family they need is, where the family that cares for them is, where they are safe, where they are respected and loved unconditionally – where they are understood and can meet the challenges that HIV presents without experiencing stigma or shaming. No matter who they are – and I’ve spoken about the diversity of the clients before -HIV’s main risk factor is a lack of power (think women, indiginous people, LGBTQ+, people of colour… the list goes on) PWA finds a way to flex, figure out what they need and provide that direct, practical, intentional support in their lives. For so many clients, PWA is the home they have needed through this hard time, and this pandemic has kept them from it.

As restrictions slowly loosen, Team Knit is able to leave our homes,

and we’re doing it to make sure that the clients of PWA have one to go to.

(That’s the first time Team Knit has been together in person since our “mini-rally” last year. None of us are fully vaccinated yet (Cam and I almost are!) so we have to keep our distance for a while yet. When we finally are able to close that distance, it will be the first time since the last full Rally almost two years ago.)

It got me thinking that even though Team Knit won’t be able to take the show on the road this year – at least not far away,  we can still do our very best to inspire donations to PWA by committing to do as much as possible to make all the magic happen. We’re planning to get as creative as we need to, though who knows what that will look like. As restrictions change, we will too. Team Knit this year is once again:

Me (You knew that)

Ken

Cameron

Pato

If you click on our names, it will take you to our fundraising pages, and for my birthday if you wanted to give me any gift at all, and if you’re able,  I’d love to see all of Team Knit closer to our goals.

I’m happy to do Karmic Balancing Gifts this year- is anyone keen to? Let me know, and I’ll set it right up.

(PS. It is a rainy day here, so no gatherings (our indoor gathering limit is still zero) but I am officially planning to spend the entire rest of my day knitting.) 

It happened to Picasso too

I’ve deleted a thousand posts because they all sound a bit sad and whiny, which I suppose is a little accurate- Toronto is still in a stay at home order and lockdown and I am rather sad and whiny about it, especially when I see my friends and colleagues to the south and across the pond slowly finding a way out of this thing. Still, it doesn’t do my heart any good at all to be jealous, and it makes no sense to compare Canada to the vaccine producing giants that are the US and UK. We’re making progress compared to  most countries that don’t have any domestic vaccine production, and I am so grateful for that. Still, after enduring that long and lonely Covid winter I had hoped for a little more freedom this spring – but the ICU’s are rammed full, the crisis is deeper than it ever was, and every healthcare worker I know would love to beat the everliving snot out of people who can’t honour the restrictions right now while they struggle to keep people alive, so here I sit.

I received my first vaccine three weeks ago – but Canada is separating the first and second doses by four months to make the most of the supply we have. I get it, as the variants savage the place it makes a lot of sense to try and give as many people as possible some protection, but it does mean that we don’t know anyone that’s enjoying the perks of being fully vaccinated. Hell, we don’t even have guidelines for those people yet, since it’s only 3% of the population. I know there’s an end in sight, but gentle readers, it just seems so far off.

Was that too sad? Whiny? I think it’s okay, I’ll leave it. The truth is that we’re holding on, despite Toronto enduring one of the worlds longest lockdowns (for the third time) and we remain pretty grateful that we’ve been able to be as safe as we have been – and that the hardest thing we’ve been asked to do is stay home and miss our families. Elliot’s dad and Sam are both essential workers in public facing jobs, and both unvaccinated as of yet, and I worry about them a lot. My hair is enormous and wild (salons and barbers closed at the beginning of the pandemic and were only open for about 7 weeks last summer, same as our restaurants) but I am used to that now and it helps that everyone I see looks the same, and frankly my own wild mane is a small price to pay for the glory that is Joe’s fantastical tresses.  I know he’ll get it cut the minute a barber opens, but for now it’s a big part of my pandemic entertainment. If I didn’t think it would be a gross violation of every vow I’ve ever made to him that would surely result in divorce, I’d show you the pictures I’ve been quietly taking each morning.

The big news though, is that something shocking has happened here, and I don’t know quite how to explain it. I have been knitting up a storm. I mean, just heaps. I think it helps me see forward movement and change in the face of all of this, and while knitting heaps isn’t odd, something else has been happening. First, I knit Elliot a blue sweater.

That’s Dogstar (rav link) again, I’ve knit him two now, though the look nothing alike – such a great pattern) and the yarn is Peer Gynt, a favourite worsted weight of mine. Hardworking, non-superwash, inexpensive, comes in a thousand colours… good stuff, that.  Now, there is nothing at all unusual about me knitting a blue sweater…for someone else. Me? My palette is famously more 1970’s appliance colours- or anything the colour of a dish you could get at an Indian restaurant.  I like korma pink, saag green, biryani yellow, … you see where I’m going with this. Dirty colours. I am not much at all for the pastels colours of spring, or the vivid tones of a summer, or even the cool crisps of the deep winter. I am fall. Autumn, the reaping and the gathering. That’s my jam. Now- that’s not to say that fall is my favourite season, far from it, actually.  I am a summer child, and I’ve always found fall to be a little bit sad since it’s the end of all that I adore and the beginning of the long-dark-tea-time-of-the-soul that is the Canadian winter, but I digress.

The last Love Note I made for myself was perfect for me. I loved the sweater, I loved the yarn and it was exactly, absolutely the right colour. (Lichen and Lace Marsh Mohair in “Shrub” and 1-ply fingering in “Woods” held together)

Now, I loved knitting that sweater so much, and I wear the finished product so much and the yarn was so fun that it made heaps of sense to me that I would knit another one, and so it wasn’t at all surprising that I found myself back on the website ordering more. What did surprise me was that I ordered this:

Same yarn, but this time in beautiful blues -the mohair was “calm waters” and the fingering “rainy day”.

Weird, right? I mean, me in blue? Me even knitting blue is a little odd, but for myself? A rather odd glitch I thought, but these are strange times.  I was confident that whatever this was, it was an isolated event. You could have knocked me over with a feather then, when mere days later, I ordered and received this:

For another sweater, for me, and yes, there were other colours available. There was even a properly yucky green that should have been what came over me, but look at that.  This time I’m after making Woven Shadows and even though I am only just past the swatching phase, I am entirely besotted and it’s the colour that’s most of it.  I tried to knock some me back into me by knitting a green sweater – but then I helplessly added blue at all the edges.

It’s like I don’t even know myself. (That’s Ellie, in Limepop. It’s a classic, as is his pandemic hair.) The crazy thing is that all this blue is delighting me.  Instead of rain and winter all I see in these blues are the things I long for, love and miss. The blue sky of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the ocean in Port Ludlow, Vancouver, Halifax and Spain, the bluebonnets in Texas at DFW, the cornflowers and lupins of summer here.

I can’t explain it and it’s so unlike me, but I’m wearing that blue sweater to bits almost every day and all this blue is making me so happy. It seems so funny to me right now that blue is associated with being sad, because here it’s uplifting. Oh – here’s a picture of the finished sweater. It’s not awesome because there aren’t a lot of photographers around, but here’s a selfie from my walk today. I propped my phone on a fence but screwed up the timer.

Anyway – just so that you know some things still stay the same?

Orange socks.

Happy Birthday Charlotte

I woke up very early this morning and it was almost exactly the time that Charlotte was born.  I wished her a  silent Happy Birthday, and lay there thinking about that beautiful morning.

As this day approached, I have been working hard on my heart. It is so easy to let myself slide into heartbreak and loss, and while there’s no getting around that,  I really wanted today to have some measure of joy, to focus on all that went right that day and how perfect things were for a little while, and spend time thinking of how lucky we were.

 

I remind myself that some people never get to know that kind of happiness, the kind I felt when I watched Meg give birth to Charlotte, when Alex held his daughter for the first time, when Elliot welcomed her – when she settled warm and soft into my arms, so heavy and perfect and present. I don’t think I’ll ever forget exactly how it all was.

Not everyone gets that, I remind myself. Some people will never be that happy. Even as we have dragged ourselves through this horrible pandemic grief year, I have never wished that day away – I’ve never wished it didn’t happen. It has been hard to watch my daughter suffer, but I know that for all the pain she’s endured, she’s grateful for every moment we had with Charlotte too. No matter how much it hurts now?

Goodness, what a wonderful day that was.

Happy Birthday my little Charlotte.

Seventeen

The blog is seventeen today.  If this blog was a person it would be in their room blasting obnoxious music and angrily texting all its friends about how horrible I am for not letting it go out during a pandemic and see everyone. (I can sort of relate.)

Last year, I wrote about how much things had changed – how much I’ve changed.  I re-read that this morning while I was thinking about this post, and laughed at how wild it is to look back and think that last year I believed that grief and loss had changed me a bit. I had no idea what was headed our way, none at all.

There is no doubt, my dear blog, that this year I have had trouble coming here to write to you.  I have felt as I did right after my mum died, that I don’t have very good walls up – that at any moment a dam could burst inside of me and I will just type “CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS SHIT” over and over again while weeping and laughing hysterically and honestly, I can’t imagine you want to hear it. (Yes. I swore. I know, I know. I try not to here, so as not to offend any tender sensibilities but I honestly don’t know how to put a cherry on the crap sundae that has been this year of blogging without at least one. There may be another. I don’t know.)

I was so hopeful this time last year – so reconciled to the changes that had happened in my life and I even felt really good about change. I really did – and then Charlotte died, and I don’t have the words (or want to type them) about what it is like to lose a grandchild, or what it is like to watch your child suffer the loss of a child, and then to have the fear, loneliness and separation of a pandemic heaped on top of it. See what I mean? Aren’t we having fun now? I cannot imagine any of you would enjoy a(nother) post even remotely like that. Even if I leave all that out and just keep it light, well you might have noticed that the world is a little pear shaped right now, and besides all that…. I put on proper pants just twice this week – and the only person I really see in a day is Joe and Blog, I feel like the material just isn’t there. It is like we are all in suspended animation, waiting for life to start properly again, and honestly the most interesting thing that happened all week is that I realized that I didn’t order enough yarn for this baby blanket I’m knitting (the west coast branch is adding a member) and I know I’ve written that post before.

For the first time ever my blog, I don’t want to tell you how I’m feeling, not because I don’t want to share, but because I feel like either you feel as I do – that you’re lonely and your life is small (and if it isn’t could you please change that so that we all get our lives back sooner) or that my life will be sad, or simply won’t be entertaining.  I have always come here to tell you what’s going on, and my blog, this year there is just… nothing going on, except for what it’s like to try to buy pants online and I’ve given up.  I was terrible at buying pants even when you could try them on, and now it’s hopeless. I am on the brink of adopting leggings and I hate leggings. Worse than that, I feel like if I do want to ditch all of real life and tell you simply about how I feel about the Channel Island cast on (hint: we are in love) then given that the world is on fire, it will seem callous or insensitive in the face of it all.

Long story short, i know I keep promising that I’ll be better about coming here, and I mean it. The blog has been such a big part of my life for the last seventeen years, and it has always given me the most terrific comfort to write to you, and to read your comments – but this just feels unending and terrible and even when things happen that are really nice and make me happy – they make for boring blog posts because the bar is so low over here. Like yesterday? My bread really came out nicely.

See that? That’s all I’ve got for yesterday – except for the blanket thing, which like I said… it would be a more interesting blog post if I didn’t run out of yarn. That would be the shocker.

I am dreaming, blog, of what things may be like when I write to you on this day next year, when this thing is 18 and legally an adult. Will the pandemic be over? Will the border be open? Will our families be the same size and shape? I know that this has been a year of loss and fear for almost all of us, and I know that things are hard all over, and it’s because I understand this that I find it almost impossible to come here and talk about our family’s suffering – it is no more than yours, and I don’t want to make you look at it while you struggle yourself.  (Especially if you are having the trouble with pants that I am. It is a bridge too far.)

For now, know that I am here as much as I am able – that I love you all and am grateful as ever- that this space is still my online living room, and I’ve got no intention of leaving it, but I’m also having trouble inviting company over while things are so strange. I’m working on getting some better walls up.  Thank you for being there for me, even when I am not there for you.

(PS. It is tradition, though I know this year is different, to kick off my fundraising for the Bike Rally today – in years past we have amused them mightily by donating a dollar for each year of blogging, a load of donations all the same amount (or a multiple) has always weirded the staff out over there, and I like that. That said – two things are true this year – first, while I’m signed up for the Rally I don’t know if there will be one – there’s no way to know now if it will be safe or possible, and second, I know that for many of us things are tight financially – so if either of those things are a deal breaker for you, I get it. If those things are cool for you- that’s awesome. PWA has stayed open during the pandemic as an essential service – even when nothing else was open – they were still running the foodbank for clients, and as you can imagine, there’s more help needed than ever. If you’re feeling it, a $17 donation here will be as weird as ever.)