Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Craft Update - June 29

I've been doing nothing but knitting and crocheting lately, and I've got way too many projects on the go. This is the latest finish. Kate had requested this puppy from my new book, Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli. Pretty cute, eh? Next up will be a pink elephant, requested by Julia.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back Home Again

Julia is back home again, for a brief time, before heading off to a two-week summer camp next week. We had left her in Montreal earlier in the week to spend a few days with my parents. Her school started their summer break last Friday, but Kate still had a few days to go and returned home with Todd and me. Julia got to see Aunt Jill, Uncle Joe, Martin and Oliver for an extra day, before they headed home to Singapore, and she had a nice visit with Aunt Beryl's family as well.

On Wednesday, Julia flew back from Montreal to Toronto on her own. We could have paid for an Air Canada escort, but having been on about a dozen round-trip flights in her relatively short lifetime, she was experienced enough to make this short trip on her own. Of course, I worried. That's what moms do. However, Julia got back safe and sound, with no wrong turns or delays en route.

Before we left, I took a photo of Julia reading and that inspired the layout above. She spent much of the trip reading, after we all stocked up at Chapters on the first day. The book she has in the photo is the second book of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, which Julia highly recommends.

Layout credits: Alphabet from "Messy Stamped Alpha No. 2" by Katie Pertiet. Papers from "Kiwiana" by Lynn Grieveson and "The Grunge Factor - Just the Solids Ma'am" by Dana Zarling. All materials are from

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Mom at 70

My Mom, at 70, is doing very well and enjoying life at a relaxed pace. At least it is a relaxed pace for her, even if it is still frenetic for most people, including myself. She and my Dad still do some of the day-to-day work for their printing business, but they spend much of their time travelling, visiting friends and family, and working in their vegetable garden.

This past weekend, we flew to Montreal to celebrate Mom's 70th birthday. Joe and Jill were still in town, and it was great to have the whole family together. The weekend started with a visit to the cemetery on Mount Royal, where my grandparents, aunt and great-uncle are buried. We laid out all the food for offering but had to move the picnic off-site on account of the ravenous ants. Later that evening, a good number of our cousins and close family friends joined us for a banquet dinner. I was especially pleased to see my 93-year-old great-aunt in good health and good spirits that evening. It made me realize that my Mom is really just a youngster, with many good years still to come!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We miss them already

Joe and Jill stopped in Waterloo on their cross-Canada tour and stayed with us for an entire week. We'd always complained, on previous shorter visits, that there was never enough time to visit all the yarn shops and electronics stores, to play all the games we loved, to relax and have fun with the kids, or to enjoy cooking and eating together. I thought a week together would be wonderful, but now, I still feel as if we didn't have quite enough time!

We were very excited to meet Martin for the first time. He is ten months old now and seemed to be a happy and affectionate baby who was quite willing to be held by his cousins, aunt and uncle. We had a great time with big brother Oliver too, who especially enjoyed visiting the parks and playing with the Thomas train set.
All the kids kept us busy and entertained, but we managed to have some quieter times with Joe and Jill as well. This included a full day of visiting yarn shops (what better way to spend the day??), a couple of Settlers of Catan matches which Jill won (some things never change) and a nice dinner out at one of our favourite restaurants.

We'll be meeting up with them again in Montreal for my mother's 70th birthday celebration, and then we'll be looking forward to visiting them in Singapore, hopefully within the next year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Today was World Wide Knit in Public Day. Here is my sister-in-law Jill in her "Shall We Knit?" T-shirt outside the Shall We Knit shop in New Hamburg. We spent a relaxing hour shopping and knitting with a bunch of very friendly people. I regularly knit in public, but it was nice having company for a change.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Anniversary

I started my blog exactly one year ago, and it surprises me that I've been able to keep it up for a year. There are three things that have kept me writing. First, my sister-in-law Jill started her blog around the same time. The regularity with which she updates her blog shames me but at the same time inspires me to write more frequently. I also seem to have a small but faithful group of semi-regular readers. The fact that most of them are related to me is a side issue.

The final reason is this. When I started writing the blog, I sent the link to a friend of mine who is a "real" writer. I acknowledged that this blog writing would not be as creative, noble, uplifting, intellectual, etc., as writing a novel, magazine article or poem. Her reply was, "ALL writing is good!" I don't think she meant that in all senses. I've read a lot of bad writing and I've produced some myself. However, the process of writing is good for the soul. Like knitting. Her words have stuck with me, so I keep writing.

I enjoyed writing as a student. I loved writing reports, essays, and school newspaper articles. I even took a creative writing course as an undergraduate but quickly realized that the "creative" part was a lot tougher than I thought. I'm still not sure whether this aspect comes easily to most good writers or whether they really work at it. At one point in my life, I thought that a Harper's internship would be the ultimately cool summer job. Sense quickly prevailed after it occurred to me that I wouldn't stand much of a chance at getting this honour and also, having a paying job is a good thing. So for now, "Happy Anniversary" to me and my blog, and I'll try to keep going for another year.

I also had a birthday celebration yesterday. Thanks to all my friends and family who'd sent greetings and gifts and to my colleague John. I was the lucky recipient of one of his regular baking extravaganzas and shared a yummy pineapple upside-down cake with my co-workers. On Saturday, Todd took me out for an incredibly good meal of mostly raw seafood, and my kids tried exceptionally hard to be nice to me all weekend. Forty-one is looking pretty good.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"I'm Your Man"

He sure is. Todd and I went to Leonard Cohen's sold-out performance in Kitchener. He sang six of the eight tracks from one of my very favourite albums, I'm Your Man. I would have gone home happy with just that, but he performed for three solid hours, with a short break between sets. Not bad for a guy who's almost 74.

It was a memorable concert. The audience was enthusiastic and grateful, given him many standing ovations, the first one occurring before he'd uttered a single word. This is a man who can recite hockey scores and make it sound like poetry. He did exactly that, 15 years ago, when I saw him perform at the same location, during the Stanley Cup playoffs. You can't grow up in Montreal and not be a Canadiens fan.

Leonard Cohen was witty, charming and humble. He had a superb back-up band, which Todd appreciated, as he doesn't share the same enthusiasm for the poetry alone that I do. Leonard Cohen played a good number of newer pieces, but he treated us to classics like, "Suzanne" (of course), "Who By Fire" and "Hallelujah". His voice just gets better with age ... really. I can't wait to see him in concert when he's 80.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Marilyn Turns 70

My wonderful mother-in-law turns 70 today. On the weekend, we had a small family celebration with John, Jamie and Marilyn. Jamie's kids, Tianna and Lucas, were here as well, and the girls were very happy to spend a weekend with their cousins. Tim and Kimberly couldn't be with us, but they arranged to have a couple of bottles of champagne waiting for us at the restaurant. So they were indeed with us in spirit(s). Happy Birthday, Mom (Nana) from your grateful kids and grandkids!