Thursday, December 22, 2005

This Blog Has Moved!

Dear Loyal Readers (both of you):

I've moved my blog and changed its name! You can find me at Drop by for a housewarming drink!


Monday, December 19, 2005

The crazy two-day inka hat frenzy

I made another Inka hat - and this one fits me! It only took two days of knitting like a mad fiend...knitting through gnawing hunger pangs, knitting through the mind-wobbling ripples of sleep deprivation, knitting while walking the dog, knitting instead of going to work. Okay I'm kidding, I wasn't quite that bad. But I did knit a LOT.

Now the dilemma: do I keep it or give it to my mother for Christmas? See, here's the deal. I've knit three hats for my mom this Christmas, not counting this one.

Mom's Christmas Hat #1: simple little roll brim in a variegated blue/purple Paton's Canadiana worsted. It's okay. But I didn't realize it wouldn't be very warm until I had knit about 8 of them, including one for myself, which I wore on a cold day and discovered I had knit 8 cold hats. Besides, it was starting to look kind of just wasn't special. So naturally I decided to knit my mom a different hat, a warmer, more special hat.

Mom's Christmas Hat #2: Last year I knit her a scarf out of Estelle's chenille L'il Mama, and I decided I would knit her a matching hat this year. Estelle provides a hat pattern on the yarn ball. So I bought a skein and knit the hat. I swear I followed the pattern, but this hat turned out weird. It's so...shallow. Seriously, my mom would have to balance this thing on top of her head like a pancake, and the first stiff breeze would send it flying. It has no depth at all. It's cute, but useless as a hat. As you can see, it looks ridiculous on me, but not bad on Genevieve, even though we both have 22" heads.
Mind you, Genevieve doesn't have to go outside or move or anything, so she can just perch that thing on her head at a jaunty angle and not have to worry about anything worse than a parakeet mistaking it for a nest.

Ok. So that's Mom's Christmas Hat #1 and Mom's Christmas Hat #2.

Mom's Christmas Hat #3 - I bought the yarn and pattern at a lovely little yarn shop in Perth, about an hour from here. One ball of jazz and one ball of mohair, knit together on size 6 needles, just like the pattern says. Only the pattern neglected to mention that I'd run out of jazz yarn about a third of the way through the hat. It's gorgeous, really it is. But my mom would probably have to dig pretty deep to pretend to be gracious when she unwraps a third of a hat. (I don't have a car, and I am unlikely to get back to Perth for months...I've checked all the yarn shops in Ottawa, and nobody carries Jazz.) The sad reality of this hat too is that it's too small. I tried to convince myself it was just an illusion, but once I ran out of yarn I was able to face the facts: Even if I go out to Perth and buy two more balls of wool, this hat will never fit my mother. Damn her and her normal-sized head!

So....that's the dilemma. Do I give her the Inka hat? It would fit her. It's special. It's warm. I could always make myself another one, right?

Murder in Chinatown

One day after I wrote about my neighbourhood and its vibrant, eclectic blend of ethnicities and cultures, trouble exploded in a little karaoke bubble tea joint up the street. Several young men got into an argument, and a Chinese student was shot once in the head and his best friend was shot ten times. The assailant(s) fled the scene, and despite the fact that the shootings took place in full view of a full bar, the identity of the assailant was unknown. Word on the street was that it was gang-related, had something to do with grow-ops, and the shooter was Vietnamese.

Apparently word on the street was wrong. Unbelievable as it sounds, the altercation began over somebody taking too long in the bar's only bathroom. About a week later, a cross-Canada warrant was issued for an Asian man, who is now believed to have left the country. Meanwhile, the two dead men's parents have come here to claim the bodies of their only children.

Here are a couple of pictures of the shrine which grew outside the karaoke bubble tea joint in the days that followed, to honour the dead men, and to help light their journey to the other side. If you look closely, you'll see that there are also cigarettes. My understanding is that they believe the deceased person retains their earthly needs as they journey to the other side. Earlier this year there was a horrific fire in Chinatown in which five Cambodian people perished, including children. Their shrine grew daily, and was enormous. It included food, water, cigarettes, flowers, soccer balls, decks of cards, money, notes, photographs, toys, games, and much much more. I wish I had a picture.

A couple of days after the Chinatown murders, a young med student was talking to her boyfriend on the phone when her doorbell rang. She asked her boyfriend to hang on a sec while she checked to see who was at the door, and then he heard her screaming. And screaming. And screaming. The poor guy was driving over to her place at the time, helplessly listening to her screaming. She was stabbed over 30 times in the face, chest and back while neighbours on all sides frantically called police. When the police arrived, the man was still stabbing her. It was an old boyfriend from another city, who had gotten into his car and driven five hours to Ottawa. They had met as teenagers in a gifted program. He was described as a highly intelligent, thoughtful, considerate young man from a good family, who had no criminal or psychiatric history. I feel terrible for all of them - the victim, her boyfriend, her family, the killer, his family. It's just so devastatingly tragic for so many people.

Fortunately, Ottawa doesn't get many murders, considering we've got over a million people. These were only the 9th, 10th and 11th murders of 2005 - but they all took place in the same week, in the last month of the year. I'm glad we don't have many, becase I wouldn't want to get used to it. I wouldn't want to think any murder was unnoteworthy.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Inka Hat - Good News, Good News & Bad News

The good news is that it's finished!

The other good news is that I love it. Don't ya love it?

The bad news is that it's much too small for me. I used the wool it called for (Paton's merino) and the needles (3.75mm) it called for. But instead of getting 22 stitches to 4 inches, I got about varied a little between different areas of the pattern. Anyway, bottom line it doesn't fit.

But there's good news! I think it's going to fit my littlest niece, Arrow, who is five, and I've been trying to decide what to knit her for Christmas. There's absolutely no question that Arrow will wear it with far more style and pinache than I ever could. She'll make that tassle dance! So maybe it was meant to be. I'll post a picture of Arrow wearing it at Christmastime.

Meanwhile, more good news - I just started another one for me tonight, but this time I'm using size 4.5mm needles and more subdued colours. The only problem is it won't be windproof because it'll be looser. But that's ok. I'll wear it cross-country skiing, so I'll need a little ventilation.

Life is good. I'm happy.

My birthday resolution: remember and celebrate everybody's birthday in 2006


My niece Lindsay was born on January 3, 1984. This is the birthday that sets the stage for all the other birthdays of the year. It comes right on the heels of Christmas, and every year it’s the same story – all of a sudden it has come and gone and I’ve missed it again! Since I miss Lindsay’s birthday, it wouldn’t be right to show preferential treatment to all the other nieces and nephews by remembering their birthdays! So every year I skip all their birthdays and swear I’m gonna start the year off right with Lindsay’s birthday.

This year I really really mean it. I’m going to knit her a scarf in black and turquoise popcorn yarn to go with her new black coat. Today’s December 17. I have to get to the yarn store this weekend, knit the scarf over the next few days and get it in the mail before Christmas. Boy is she gonna be surprised!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I've been reading the Narnia Chronicles about every 10 years since I was 7 or 8, and I was very eager to see the movie. It arrived in theatres yesterday, and I saw it last night. Here's my review - it's my very first movie review ever.

I'm still mulling it over, not quite sure what to say about it. I liked it, but I wanted to love it. I loved certain things about it...for example, some of the animated characters, like Mr. Tumnus and the beavers, were perfect. But for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, I feel a little disappointed, a little let down. Maybe my expectations were too high.

I did find the movie quite true to the book, although they did have to cut a number of things of course. Narnia looked familiar to me, although I expected more creatures in the wintery forest...there were very few creatures until the wars began. The casting wasn't great...Lucy was well-cast, but the others didn't do much for me. However, in fairness, the characters weren't the most compelling part of the book either.

The battles were pretty impressive. Aslan was a bit of a let-down, but how could he not be? He was so majestic and impressive and god-like in the book, and it would be hard for any animated lion to live up to that. The witch was beautiful, icy and evil, just like I remembered her.

All in all...I'd recommend this movie, and despite my vague, lingering feelings of disappointment, I might even see it again.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Neighbourhood Signage

I love my neighbourhood. I'm tucked into the pockets of both Chinatown and Little Italy, and there's a good sprinkling of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Somalian and other cultures here too. The diverse clothing, people, languages, activities, lifestyles, restaurants, spices and aromas, all combines to make an interesting, trippy little neighbourhood. It's like a big old pot of soup, and it keeps getting better as the various flavours blend and harmonize.

Maybe I just have a juvenile sense of humour, but I get a kick out of some of the local signage.

This Doctor Dentist one is my favourite. I have no idea if the doctor's name really is Dentist or not, or if it was just a misunderstanding between the dentist and the signmaker. If so, I hope they never fix it.