July 29, 2009

Lowering my standards

You know, up until the last few weeks, there were lots of things I thought I wanted. I thought I wanted world peace, I thought I wanted more money, I thought I wanted my teenagers to stop giving me lip and spontaneously clean something. I wanted Joe to come to understand that there was no way that I am ever going to concede, not the entire time that we are married, that cups do not go that way in the cupboard and I will never stop changing them back. I wanted to know what was wrong with my rose bush that all the leaves fell off, and I really wanted to make some sort of rule about where the cat is allowed to puke and at what times of day.

I wanted to have a day where there was not one thing written on a post-it at the end of it. I wanted a day where everyone I called answered the phone and gave me the answer I was looking for, and a day - you know what? Even though it's too much too much to ask for... I'd like maybe just one afternoon where each and every person I deal with is totally at the top of their game.

I wanted the grocery store down the street to get my favourite kind of tofu back again, because the one they have now sucks, and I wanted to not have to ever, ever look at another quote for Audio Visual materials. I wanted Portland to be in the same time zone as Toronto so I wouldn't get jetlagged going back and forth like this. I wanted Sock Summit to be at least two more weeks away so that I really, really would have more time to be even more sure than I am now that the spreadsheet thingie that I made for what rooms get overhead projectors works. I want the kitchen floor to stay clean, for the Wanigan box to stop having so many radishes in it, and maybe ease up on the plums a little too, not that plums aren't good, it's just that I'm the only one who eats them and that's a lot of plums.

I wanted for women to be more respected in business, and I wanted other businesses to stop being impressed that we're doing a good job at this, even though we have breasts. I wanted databases to be simpler, and while we're simplifying things, I'd like to do something about teenagers and how long it takes beets to cook and I really want to stop having to fill in those customs forms at the border.

I thought I wanted all those things, and now? Now that we're this close to the Sock Summit and there really, really, really aren't enough hours in the day and I feel really frightened all the time about what I might have forgotten to do... now?

Now I just want to be wearing clean pants when I meet Barbara Walker.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:11 PM

July 27, 2009

Important things

Sunday morning, my little Meggie Darn. Sorry. My big girl Megan (I've got to get a grip on that) did one of the most grown up things I've ever seen her do, and that's really saying something, since she recently cleaned up cat barf without being asked. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that she's doing more and more grown-up things as she gets perilously close to the voting age - but there's still something surprising about watching it happen to someone you bathed in your kitchen sink. She, Pato and Ken rode down to Queens Park, lined up with the other 400 participants, and left on the trip of a lifetime.

Queensstart250709

They're riding 600km, Toronto to Montreal, to raise money for the Toronto People with Aids Foundation, and I'm so proud I could bust. My wee Megaboo Megan has risen to this challenge beautifully, and I know that the other parents will understand when I say that it's really, really reassuring to see one of your children do something big, grand and generous. Not just because it's obviously good to do something big, grand and generous, but because parenting is such a total crap shoot. It's not like there's any sort of guarantees out there about how kids will turn out. There are some very bad people out there who had some great parents (and the other way around) and good parents know that all you do when you parent well is increase the chance that the person you're making will be good. It's like a soufflé or something. You can really know what you're doing and the thing could still totally suck for no other reason that it's a Tuesday and the moon is full and somewhere the wind blew a little bit funny over the whiskers of an old rat with a limp.

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That's the terrible trio. Patricio, Ken and Megan, holding a blanket. (Yes. I made them hold a blanket in public in front of all the other riders. No. I don't think that's a problem. They're lucky. It's a nice blanket.)

Meg's not a finished person yet, (I like to think most people aren't. It's encouraging.) but I think that doing something like this so young is a compelling thing to have on your permanent record. For the rest of her life she'll have to reconcile anything else she'd like to do against the fact that she did this, and I think it will raise the bar.

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I watched them take off yesterday and although I'm not anything resembling a weepy person, there was something about it. Meg for doing it, her boyfriend Pato for being a good sport about going with her and our lovely Ken for being a good role model and encouraging them to do it with him this year. They all rode 112km yesterday (largely in the rain) and another 125 today. For anybody as bad with Kilometres as I am miles, that's about 150 miles total. I just heard from her. She's super tired, she's working hard, she has 400 kilometres to go... and she's pretty darned happy. She wanted to make sure that I told you all that tomorrow night, when she, Ken and Pato are all presented with their Gold Jerseys for being top fundraisers (and Meg and Pato are the youngest in the ride) that she'll be feeling grateful to all of you for giving her the moment... as will I.

I bet that the People With Aids Foundation doesn't think you suck either. Thanks again for helping.

(Ps. If you're interested, the hashtag for following on twitter is #bikerally09. I wish Megan twittered, just so I would know how she was all the time. Fighting the urge to call her cell continuously is taking a lot of energy. )

Posted by Stephanie at 6:19 PM

July 25, 2009

Dear Blog

This entry is very, very hard to write. Hard enough that it took a family meeting, a call to the authorities, a conference with my webhost and long hours of talks with friends to decide what the right thing to do is.
It is this.

I get mean emails and comments. I don't mean "email that disagrees with me" because disagreeing with me or holding a different opinion than me isn't mean. If I like Prince (and I do) and you send me an email saying you think Prince sucks - I don't think that's mean. What I mean is when I say "I love Prince" and someone emails with "how can you think that you must be so f**king stupid you dumb bitch, I hope you never sell another book that's how f**cking stupid you are." That's mean. (It's also almost a quote from an email from a few years ago,but there you go.) Every once in a while there's a mean comment, but mostly they are mean emails, because most mean people like to be privately mean, and don't care for the light to shine on them at all. The internet encourages this sort of thing, the private meanness, because ... well. It's really private. You don't have to face the person you're hurting, you don't even have to use your real name. You can give over to every single low, unreasoned impulse you have ever had, and there's almost no way that anyone could ever hold you accountable or make you stop.

As a general principle, I am opposed to fighting fire with fire. In my experience it just makes more fire. Usually I ignore the mean emails, as well as ignoring the mean comments - with one exception. Every once in a while, someone who has been commenting nicely on the blog using a name I know hauls off and sends me something terrible under another name- thinking they're anonymous. The first time they do this, I ignore it. Everybody's entitled to a mistake once in a while. If it happens again, I send them a really polite but firm email letting them know that they are actually not anonymous, that my server sends me emails with the IP address attached to comments, and that they might want to conduct themselves accordingly. This has been remarkably successful in reducing the mean. It turns out that if they aren't anonymous, most normal, mentally healthy people having a poor impulse or a bad day get a grip on themselves instantly, and usually, in the spirit of "we all make mistakes" we go on to talk about it, start over and move on. I shine a little light on it, remove the perceived privacy, and the whole thing gets sane fast.

In recent weeks, this approach hasn't worked. There is one person, who had previously commented on the blog who went off the deep end with my Canada Day entry, (although she had previously twittered and blogged some strange stuff about me) and left some anonymous comments designed to insult and inflame people. I sent her a note, letting her know that she was not indeed anonymous, that I knew who she was and tried to shine the light on her.
It read:

Dear Name Removed

I understand you don't like me, that much is clear and you're welcome to feel that way. I do however, want you to know that the attempt to leave anonymous comments is not just somewhat cowardly, but pointless.
Your comments today as "Name Removed " from the fake address of "email removed" still show up as you. If you'd like to take a stab anonymously - this one isn't quite working.

Stephanie


The above (and nothing has been deleted from it, that is how it appears in my sent folder with the exception of her name and email) was an email that the poster has referred to as violent, rude, mean, nasty, insulting and cursing. Since that email and that day, things have been out of hand. Badly out of hand. No matter what I write, what I say or what I do...She's been writing and promoting hateful blog posts and tweets, leaving inflammatory and rude comments, and sending me horrible mail, which I'm afraid may not be entirely rational. I have been doing my best to not feed the fire, although I have been deleting her comments for several reasons. (For the record, there is only one other person who's comments have ever been deleted on this blog. Their comment was blatantly and viciously racist.)

I have been deleting because:

1. Her comments are intended to hurt people. I won't pay for the bandwidth on that.
2. Her comments are intended to rile people up, generate conflict in the comment section, injure me and are not how I will be spoken to in a place where I pay the bills.
3. I believe that if I left the comments, some of you would defend me, thus giving her the satisfaction and attention she craves and giving her a more of a forum for hurting others.
4. Her comments have been accompanied by private email that is nothing short of awful.

These comments appear regularly, I watch for them and I have been deleting all of them as a matter of policy, hoping it would get old for her. Yesterday it all came to a head. I have been reading her blog, partly because I think it's a good idea to know what she's up to, and partly because I'm a little afraid, and reading her blog helps me feel like I know what's going on. She's been sending me email telling me she can see me reading her blog, since she's worked out what my IP address is, and I suppose I don't mind. After all, she's clearly reading mine.

Yesterday, after her latest comment, I checked her blog, read it, and left the window open. (Apparently for 96 minutes. Who knew?) During that time, someone who had seen that comment on this blog before I could delete it, followed the link to her blog and left some sane, reasonable (although not necessarily nice) comments defending me.

This woman is now convinced that I left those comments, or that I had someone leave them. (This is because the other person had a Canadian IP address.) This has inspired her to new and frightening heights. She left a comment calling me names, and I wrote back and told her the truth. It wasn't me, that I would never leave her a comment (I believe I used the phrase "cold day in hell") and suggested that it were possible that there was more than one Canadian in the world.
I was not rude. I was firm. I did not call her names. I did not insult her or threaten her.

She responded with another mocking, insulting email, accusing me of reading her blog, and that informed me that I had no "American Grit" and that she had tracked me down and knew where I lived.
I responded thusly:

Name Removed, considering the number of comments you've left me, I don't think I need to feel concerned that I check your blog too much. After all, you've not been kind, and I think it's reasonable to be concerned.

I appreciate the time you spend on my blog as well, and I'm unconcerned about your analysis of my grit..

Best wishes,

Stephanie

This was a mistake. This was the big one. For some reason, this was my correspondence with her that was so cruel to her that she redoubled her efforts. (Note: These are comments she intended for public consumption. I deleted them.)

At 10:13 she left this comment:

A little advice harlot: Don't try to get into a fight with an American
girl. We fight hard and dirty. Especially when it's directed at a person
who takes Americans like fools. Trust me...we're not fools. And guess
what I also found out? Your publisher is CONTENT DELETED TO REMOVE IDENTITY. I'm already looking up contacts.....unless you change your
ways, of course...

At 10:29:

Like I said before (before you rudely deleted my comment), I DO NOT LIKE IT
when you say anti-American things or else you ridicule us.

We do NOT appreciate being ridiculed. And you can "hate" on me all you
like, and you can get your friends to comment negatively on my site all you
like---but it will STILL NOT take away the fact that you make anti-American
comments on your site.

And I am going to take up for us---both myself and my fellow Americans.
Hell, you make 80% of your money down here in American---and we don't
appreciate the fact that you take our money yet insult us on your Canada
Day postings! It's been happening year after year!

And go ahead---get your friends to comment negatively on my site---I am not
afraid. I will print their comments and answer their questions. (Although
yes, I do frequently cuss--but we're big girls here, right?)

You have enjoyed a time where you believed you were the "darling" of the
knitting world. But that's about to change. From now on, you have to EARN
you reputation. You must show that you love ALL people,not just Canadians.
If you expect Americans to love you, then you jolly well EARN their love
by loving them!

From now on, some of us will be watching and listening.....

and at 10:32 (unbelievably)

Sorry for the grammar errors---I type fast and so I frequently leave out
letters.....

At this point she switched to email, and after a conversation with several people. I did something I've never done before. I blocked her at the server level. We took her IP address and shut her down. She wouldn't even be able to see the blog, never mind leave comments anymore. I was exhausted with worrying she was leaving them, worrying that she was going to start a riot, worrying about what they said... it was a relief to finally make it stop.
I knew it wouldn't stop the personal mail, but at least then it would be between the two of us.

Here's where I do something I've never done before. I believe that personal email is personal. The above from her were left as comments, something she intended to be public, so I don't mind posting them. What is below is the mail she sent me when she discovered that she had been blocked from the server. (She believed that I had become frightened enough of her to shut down the blog.) I know that posting this is controversial, but I've come to realize that it is only a matter of time until what she's doing goes public anyway, and we feel that it's only fair that we show you what it is that she's doing privately, so that you can understand our extreme measures, especially when we are accused of censorship. We have removed her name, and won't be revealing her identity.

What's the matter, YH? Lost your nerve and guts? You pulled your blog off the server! YOU ARE CHICKEN! Can't take the heat, can you!
You are one of those few cowardly people who can't take criticism---it makes you nervous! You havevn't the backbone to answer back to somebody who takes you to task! This cowardly behavior of yours makes Americans laugh like hyenas! We disdain people who can't use their backbone to defend themselves!
You don't deserve to take a defensive position! You're a PUSSY!, the worse criticism of all the American list of insults.

(I will refrain from making comments here about how I feel about slang for a woman's body parts being used as a hurt...that's a rant for another day) Then about five minutes later:

Sorry....didn't think you were so weak! HA HA Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!! What a weakling. Now I know why your husband is so worthlessl. He's the one who tries to "make music", heh! Got his car stuck in the snow and you (a woman) had to come rescue him!
The best laugh was when you got married by a weirdo who has no religion! Without God as part of your ceremony! You're atheists! And probably wiccans!
sorry----didn't realize how weak you guys were.
Word to the wise---don't take on a CHRISTIAN woman again. We have God on our side. You would do well to read the Christian Bible and find out who Jesus is for your souls.

Then, once she realized it was just that she was blocked:

I love challenges. So does my computer wizard guy, Name Removed (oh, and all his friends....) See you on your website soon.---the problem has been solved already but I'm tired of you this weekend.
And, be advised....I hope you've learned your lesson about how doggedly I complain against anti-Americanism types.

I won't appreciate it if I ever see anymore anti-American comments on your site again. (Yes, I can access your site---did you really think a block would work? You obviously don't know much about computers.)

--------------

You're played out as a writer. (How many "comedy" books did you think you could do? It's getting old....)

And Americans are getting TIRED of the left. (And you are a typical Canadian left.)

Keep going.....keep trying to antagonize me....because you are only getting more looney. Haven't you noticed how the "respectable" knitters are distancing themselves from you? (Yeah, you didn't think I knew.)

Hah, keep trying to aggravate me---it will be your downfall. And I will laugh my head off---as will all my friends who can't stand you.

Sadly, it would appear that she wasn't tired of me this weekend, because by this morning there were a few more emails, and she had a new IP address and two new comments, which went up while I was away from my computer. The first read:


Hey, Yarn Harlot, I didn't appreciate your rude emails. I do not deserve
them nor does the rest of the American knitters who don't appreciate your
anti-Americanism comments. Did you think this was a game? It's not. Many
of us have totally HAD it with your arrogant, holier-than-thou
anti-Americanism. I have taken up the cause, because I personally don't
think Americans should buy your books. I will not let you off the hook
for this. I will constantly watch your site for anti-Americanism and I
will hopefully educate you in how to relate to America as a friendly
nation, a nation who saved your butts over and over throughout history.

I won't post the second one, because it reveals her identity. For the record, she is referring to the correspondence I posted above as my "rude emails" I have sent her nothing further. (Also for the record, I believe we define "rude" very differently.)

I have blocked her IP again. Her twitter feed is a string of tirades and accusations about me, the emails keep coming, and I'm sure she'll have her IP address changed in a few hours.

I absolutely cannot keep up with her, the lies, the threats or the accusations. She believes that everything I do, every post I write, ever tweet I log, even mentioning drinking a beer, is about her. Everything I write is bait to her, and I can't stop writing. One of her comments is definitely going to make it onto the blog while I'm sleeping or eating or with my kids. I've spoken with my web host, the authorities, and some other resources to see what I can do... but I realized that this morning, I was going to fail. She is determined to take it public, determined to get a comment up and determined to keep hurting me. She's decided something about me, and I'm not engaging. I don't think it's true, or that she's right... but eventually, she's going to get the attention that she craves. More people are going to notice, no matter how much I keep trying to keep it from going viral and creating conflict in the comments.

This has been a difficult time. I struggle with self-esteem as much as the next person, and these emails feel exactly like my critical inner voice, the part of me that is irrationally hard on me, suddenly got my email address and started sending me mail and comments. I've tried to cope, to not be hurt, to know it's not true, but the whole thing is scary, especially once she started referring to my parenting (didn't tell you about that one) and my family in general. I am searching in my heart for sympathy for her, because this must be taking up a lot of time for her, and because I don't think you do something like this to another person with this sort of dedication without really having some emptiness or hurt inside you, and that's sad. Really, genuinely sad.

Here's the thing, the reason I'm putting all this here now. I've kept this to myself for a month. It's not stopping. I'm trying to stand by what I believe. That shining light on something can help, and because I'm going to need your help. She is going to change her IP address. She is going to leave more comments, and I am going to be busy one of these times that it happens. It's inevitable, and I need to be able to sleep at night without worrying that a riot has erupted in my comments, or that someone is wondering why the hell this woman is accusing me of all these horrible things. I want the background to be public, so that it isn't confusing, suspicious or bizarre when/if you see one of her rants.
When that happens, I'd really, really like all of you to know my position, although of course, you are welcome to yours.

Light.
Love.
Respect... even to those who do not demonstrate it to you.
I do not believe in an eye for an eye, and I'm asking, politely, that when you hear from this woman... that you just take a deep breath, even if she's insulting (or misrepresenting) your country ( and trust me Canadians, she's no fan) to me, to you... to anyone - that we just all try to take some of this power away from her. The last few days have proved that any measure of attention is incitement. Defending me, explaining to her, taking her on... only makes it worse, only increases the number and hurtfulness of the private mail she sends. She's lost the right to post here, I'll keep deleting her. When or if you see her posts, I hope you won't engage, won't visit her blog to tell her what you think of her, won't insult her, won't injure her... won't lower yourself to her level. (Unless, of course, you agree with her.)

Thank you, and I'm sorry this is where we're at.
Let's never speak of this again.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:12 PM

July 24, 2009

Distraction

To distract you from the fact that I'm still the most boring blog in the world, I point you here to some of the prettiest yarns ever, now that voting has started in the Dye For Glory contest for SS09.

Vote in Dye for Glory.

Go forth and choose. There are some really, really beautiful ones. Which are your favourites?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:26 PM

July 23, 2009

Down Day

I think I've been pretty open about my feelings about the rain. I don't like it. I get that it has to rain and I understand how good it is for the flowers and preventing forest fires and that other places have lots of drought and I should be grateful for my rain, and on that level.. I am. It's just that on a purely personal level...I HATE IT. I don't like the way it lands all over you, I don't like the way it lands on my glasses so that I can't see, I don't like the way it gets into your shoes and makes your socks wet, and this time of year it's worse, because I'm mostly wearing Birks, and I don't like the way that rain makes the bowl shaped footbeds your own personal puddles that can be with you everywhere you go. I have a friend that says she thinks I was a cat in a previous life, and I'd buy it. The only way I can get down with rain is as an observer. Warm in dry in a cozy house, knitting or reading or (ironically) in a warm bath. (Apparently I only like to be wet on my own terms. I like swimming too.)

Second that with the fact that I hate the dentist (not personal, he's a lovely man, I just have a thing about teeth) and a rainy day where I have to go to the dentist is just about my personal prescription for a foul mood, and that's what today is. A very rainy day where I have to go to the dentist.

Now, normally, confronted with a day like this, I hunker down and knit, but with the Sock Summit so close (I can feel its hot breath on the back of my neck that's how close it is) I'm going to have to find comfort with my laptop, a pile of spreadsheets and the further development of a serious crush on the lady who makes our database run. (She's clever as a clutch of racoons.) It's still a very low knitting time for me, which is (also) ironic, considering that it's a knitting convention that's killing my knitting time.

The most bizarre part of this whole thing (not that there haven't been massive, enormous shares of bizarre already) is that even though I'm only knitting at a medicinal level (which is to say "just enough to keep me from eating every spreadsheet in this place and washing it down with a box of staples") is that it doesn't feel like I'm not knitting much.
I chalk this up to being immersed in the details of a very, very knitterly four days coming up. I might not be knitting, but I'm talking about knitters, arranging knitters, getting chairs for knitters, emailing knitting teachers, looking at knitting handouts and talking about what knitters will do and how they do it for about 14 hours a day, which appears to be an odd but excellent stand in. There is... despite the appalling lack of knitting... lots of knitting in my life right now. What little bits have gotten done? I'm still plugging along on the blanket - which is not big enough to matter, so I'm not showing you.... and eeking out, ever so slowly, a pair of socks - mostly while I fly from here to Portland and back again.

Greensocks230709

Beaded Bells from Dye Dreams.

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I believe (and I'm really sure that Tina has this plan too...) that following the Summit, she and I are both going to have a serious rest and do nothing but sleep, eat...

and knit. I can't wait. I'm living for it. I have projects picked out. I have yarn mentally piled up. I have plans for knitting that far surpass the few days of rest we have planned. In my mind, I am going to knit whole sweaters - and spin whole big bags of fibre, and churn out socks and lace scarves and finish the blanket. In my mind, those few days are going to be a miracle that balances out all of this non-knitting time. All of this stressed out time. All of this time that I look at yarn lovingly and from afar, and think fond thoughts about it and what it will be like.

Neither Tina nor I are talking about the truth, which is that right now, probably the only thing either of us is going to be capable of is lying somewhere quiet with big, big glasses of cold beer, staring off at the horizon and thinking about what just happened, whatever just happened. Still. Maybe we could do that with yarn.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:32 AM

July 20, 2009

Moral Check

At home, very busy working, Rachel H and I installed in my living room. As we work, I'm watching the contractors from down the street and assorted strangers steal cherries outside the window. Here's my question:

Is it wrong that I've stopped interrupting the theft to warn them that the cherries have worms in them this year?
Is it wrong that instead, this gives me a little giggle?

What would you do?

Posted by Stephanie at 3:04 PM

July 17, 2009

At Customs

At Customs in Vancouver, doing Canadian customs, which is pretty easy usually, since we're citzens, and I step up to the wicket:

Customs Dude: (Looks at my passport) Welcome home. How are you?
Me: Very well thanks, you?
CD: Great. Where you coming from?
Me: My friends house in Scappoose. It's near Portland.
CD: How do you know your friend?
Me: We met at a knittting conference.

At this point, the gentleman did an incredibly Canadian thing which is that he was totally and completely freaked out while simultaneously unable to demonstrate it due to a need to be unflappable in public.

CD: Knitting???? Okay.... What do you have to declare?
Me: Yarn.
CD: Yarn?

Me: Yarn.
CD: O-kay.

I go off, and he is very much happy to see me go, since there's only so much a man can take in the odd department. Right then, Rachel H comes up right behind me, doing her very best impression of Princess Chipperpants.

CD: Hello, Welcome home. Where have you been?
Rachel: I was in Scappoose with her! (With this Rachel gestures at me and beams at him.)
CD: So... you're a knitter too?
Rachel: You BET!
CD: So... what are you declaring? Some knitting or yarn thing?
Rachel: Oh yes. (Wide smile) Yarn!
CD: Any alcohol or tobacco?
Rachel (looking as pure as the driven snow) Nope!
CD: Off you go.

Then he turned and actually watched us walk.
One more flight to go.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:29 PM

July 15, 2009

Not even pretending

This day marks the fouth day that I have given up even the pretence of knitting in any meaningful way. I pick up the blanket every few hours, do enough stitches to take the edge off... and then it's back to the salt mines, which (other than the non-knitting thing) is really not so bad.

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This is the first time in all the planning of the Sock Summit that all of the ST-Teams have been in the same place.

Meetingroomsts150709

I've been to Portland lots, we all get on the phone all the time, we email, we fax we conference call (or as Tina and Rachel like to say "we have a three way") but never, never have both ST-1s and all four ST-2s (ST is "Sock Team") been in one place. We've been doing things like visiting the conference centre - mostly for the benefit of Rachel and I, since we're the Sock Team members that live far away. (The Team that lives here knows the place like the back of their hands - Rachel and I have to get up to speed so that we aren't ever lost in there.) We've been having run-throughs, where we practice the Summit (not realtime. Sort of sped up.) We make schedules. We make spreadsheets. We write post it notes. (Now we have colours of post-it's for the teams.) We make decisions. (You can tell we have made a decision because we tape down the post-it's. Very firm.

Wallofpower

We have created Sock Summit World Headquarters, and now that we're all here, we're even sleeping in it. It's like a great big slumber party only with more office supplies than is normal or probably healthy.

Wallofmapo150709

We are working.
What are you doing? Please leave a message after the tone.

Beep.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:37 PM

July 10, 2009

Greetings

From Sock Summit International World Headquarters.

Worldheadquarters100709

Er, that's a pub, but you can see we've settled in nicely. That's our booth because it has outlets for the laptops.
Tomorrow we're going to fill it full of yarn too. See how long before the bartender asks us what the hell we're working on.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:38 PM

July 8, 2009

Sort of

I'm packing. I knew I had to go to Portland, but thought it could wait until Monday to give me a few more days at home, but it couldn't. In my heart I knew that too, so when I made the decision yesterday it's not like it upset me... Sort of.

I mean, I don't really mind travel. Sort of. I like seeing new places, meeting new people, seeing friends who are far from me. I'm easygoing too, I'm not really fussed about where I eat, or where I sleep, or what sort of bed or pillow I have. Jet lag gets me down, but generally speaking I bounce back pretty fast with a beer and a good nights sleep.

I hate airports and airplanes, which I think is entirely normal. I think of them as necessary gateways to other places, but they are full of cranky strangers with fast agendas, and they have officious agents with tremendous rules and the whole time I am in one I feel as though I am at the mercy of whatever forces are on the move that day - and that's not even counting my feelings about the various security measures that are there to cope with. (I am speaking here rather assertively of my belief that while most security rules are reasonable, I do not believe that most security officers should be allowed the individual latitude to make up their own versions. Ask me sometime about the guy from Homeland security who took away my banana because of his personal belief that it counted as a "gel over 4 ounces". I deserve a medal for my behaviour that day. A big elegant medal with jewels and engraving.) Even with all of that, I have (sort of) learned to cope with airports and airplanes, and have developed a wicked series of eccentricities that let me have a pretty good time -or as good a time as possible, while I'm in them.

All of this means that I've come to a sort of reckoning with travel and how frequently I have to do it to earn a living. (Sort of.) It means that I can pack and leave anywhere for anywhere in minutes. I bug out of a place faster than a MASH unit under fire, and I can make myself comfortable in my new place almost as fast - no matter where that new place is. I'm basically good-natured and curious, and I find the charms of the next locale in a snap. This means that tonight, as I'm putting things in my bag and arranging stuff for a really early flight tomorrow, I should be really fine.

I'm flying somewhere I love, to be with a friend I adore so that we can do work that really, really needs doing... and I've even got the perk of Rachel H. flying on Monday to be with me... I love staying with Tina, the food is good, she's a vegetarian too - and we share similar relationships with caffeine, beer and yarn, which makes things about as easy as they can be. When the team gathers we seriously rock the To Do list, and I love that too. This is my favourite sort of trip (vacation excluded) and I have no idea why - in the face of all that I've gotten used to and all the lovely perks this work trip has - why I (sort of) don't want to go.

I suppose it is partly that I can't take Joe and the girls with me... but even if I could pack them right along with that enormous blanket and all the wee comfort items I'm sticking in there... I think that this time it wouldn't do it. This time I want my own bed. I want to sit in my garden. I want to see if the sweetpeas make it to the third part of the trellis, and I want my pillow to smell like my pillow at night. I want the cat to piss me off. I want to do the laundry (sort of) and be here when Sam calls to ask if she can go to the village. I want to wonder if the upstairs window is closed when it's raining and be able to close it. A trumpet player moved in down the street and he practices at night, and I want to sit in the heat and dark of the city at night and listen to his music waft down the street, even if he does sort of suck.

If it's possible I think that this trip, I'm not just going to miss my husband and my daughters...

but also my home.

Sort of.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:03 PM

July 7, 2009

Beautiful British Columbia

A random list of things I have seen (besides Kelowna - which I already told you about) in the last 5 days.

Many, many osprey nests lining the road after the Needles ferry - from Fauquier to Nakusp. Apparently they dig the view of Arrow Lake (which makes total sense, since these huge birds fish) and they build massive nests all over the place on top of the hydro poles.

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Joe totally and completely relaxed. I was more or less his opposite since the place we were at in the Slocan Valley had no cell/internet service, which pretty much made me a hysterical maniac who had to take regular deep breaths just to fake calm. I think I would have been more or less okay if it wasn't for the Sock Summit looming at me.

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I swam in Slocan Lake, which I will have you know is incredibly frosty. (This too makes total sense, since the glaciers and snow topped mountains drain straight into it.) Inching my way in threatened to stop my heart and made me do that crazy breathless thing the deeper I got. The water was beautiful and clear though, and even in deep, it was still as though I was swimming in liquid glass. (Except, you know. Freezing.)

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I went to the local market in New Denver, which was the biggest town in the area. At 600 citizens, it's still really tiny, but looms over the town of Silverton (225 people) where we were staying. There was good honey, coffee, baked goods and an abundant supply of handspun, knitted things and weaving.

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We went on a hike through the mountains, and came to a place where you cross a river in a little manual, single cable crossing. Very scary, but sort of fun, especially with friends who pull the ropes.

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This is the Alamo Siding.

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In 1904 there was a mining centre, hydro generator and a population of about 200 here. The Great Depression ruined the fortunes there, and the people moved away and there was nobody to snowshoe in and shovel the snow off the roofs. When the snow accumulated, down the mountain it came.

This is part of that same crazy hike. See the people?

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We attended the wedding we went for, wishing well Jeremy and Shannon.

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We went up Mount Revelstoke...

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We hiked Giant Cedars.

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Giant Cedars is full of... well. Giant Cedars, and they're a sight to behold. A sign there tells you that these trees were seedlings when Columbus sailed, saplings when the paint dried on the Mona Lisa, and were already a century old when people were watching Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet for the first time. They're really something, and tall.. .tall... tall.
From there we went to see the Last Spike in Craigellachie. The CP railway that spans the country ocean to ocean is a real symbol of unity for Canadians, and an important part of confederation. The rail was built from east to west and west to east, and the last spike was driven where they met in 1885, completing one of the most impressive accomplishments in Canadian history.

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Considering it's tremendous import, I was shocked at how insignificant the marking of the spot is. There's a small monument, a small sign... (there happened to be a train going by at the time, which I thought particularly poetic. It's still the best way to move stuff across this huge country.)

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...but the actual spike itself is marked with classic Canadian understatement.

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Finally,

Blanket Size Check '09

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That's Albert and Robina (our hosts and chauffeurs) holding the blanket, which as you can imagine, isn't much bigger. (I am yet to perfect blanket knitting and hiking.) That'll all change now though, since we've left this little vacation behind us, and are back home (where the laundry is) and back at our humble desks. We loved BC. All of Canada has its beauty and charms, but BC really has a motherload.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:53 PM

July 2, 2009

Kelowna, Ogopogo, and not the blanket

Early yesterday morning Joe and I left the girls and came far across the country west, to Kelowna. Our friends Albert and Robina live here, in a beautiful house that overlooks the Okanagan lake,

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and we've had the loveliest time. A very grown-up good time, with cocktails and restaurants and all manner of tidy things. Yesterday we went down to the Canada Day Celebrations in the city and over in nearby Peachland, and Joe and Albert played camera.

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(See the different colours of the two hills behind Albert? One is green (trees) and the other side is brown after being cleared of trees by the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. (2003). You can really see what it's like in this picture.

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Crazy. Albert says this kind of pine needs fire to germinate, and that in that way these natural fires that come up every hundred years or so are a good thing, but it's still stunning to see.

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Legend has it that deep in Lake Okanagan there's a big sea monster called Ogopogo- just like the Loch Ness Monster.

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In fact, one theory holds that the Loch Ness Monster and Ogopogo might be the same beast, travelling back and forth through deep and unknown channels that connect the bodies of water. (Both lakes are super deep.That one seems really unlikely though.) I've spent a lot of time looking over the lake since I got here though, and I haven't seen it. (I'm trying really hard, too.) The closest I've come to a deep sea monster is my new sock....

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Green and beady, isn't it? It's the Beaded Bells kit, and not an Ogopogo kit but it really seems appropriate to me for this place. While I love this kit and think this sock is beyond pretty,

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I don't think that I'm going to work on it too long today. I might have overlooked the complexity of working a beaded knit in restaurants, airplanes, cars and dinner tables, and am leaving a few beads behind everywhere that I go. There's a few on an Air Canada plane, a few at a Mexican restaurant in Kelowna, a few a the beach...

If you find some, you'll know I was there.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:22 PM

July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day

It has become traditional for me to write a little something about the country that I love so much on it's birthday each year, and that birthday is today. Sadly (or happily depending on who you are) I'm busy today as Joe and I fly across our great big country, headed for BC, so I'm copping out a little. You can still go back and read previous years,
there's "Things to do on Canada Day" and "You know you're a Canadian Knitter when...." then "Stuff you maybe didn't know about us" (Clearly I didn't work hard on that title.) Then "Canada A to Z" (and that's "Zed" not "Zee") and then last year, it was Random Stuff about Canada. This year, I give you:

Quotes about Canada

The Unanimous Voice of the Continent is "Canada must be ours..."

-John Adams (1776 )

The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.
-Thomas Jefferson


Canadians are generally indistinguishable from Americans, and the surest way of telling the two apart is to make the observation to a Canadian.
Richard Staines

I think we are incredibly lucky here. We have this high standard of life, no big security problems, and I like Canadian society. I like this true openness to cultures and religions, which I think is basic to us; you don't find it in other countries...
Sonja Bata,

The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.
-Pierre Elliott Trudeau

I don't even know what street Canada is on.
- Al Capone

We'll explain the appeal of curling to you if you explain the appeal of the National Rifle Association to us.
- Andy Barrie

A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.
-Pierre Burton

Canada is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts. Our main imports are baseball players and acid rain.
- Pierre Trudeau

It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she's something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.
-Emily Carr

In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.
- Bill Clinton

In only a century and a quarter since Confederation, Canadians have shaped out of the North American wilderness one of the most privileged societies on the face of the earth. Ranking among the seven most prosperous nations in the world, Canada is rich not only in the abundance of our resources and the magnificence of our land, but also in the diversity and the character of our people. We have long been known as one of the most tolerant, progressive, innovative, caring and peaceful societies in existence.
-George Radwanski and Julia Luttrell

Happy Canada Day. It's a great place to live, and I wouldn't trade my citizenship for anything.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:20 AM