Sunday, November 21, 2010

Part Deux

Here’s Andrew a few hours later, after a bath, a nap, and a good meal. 

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Proud mama

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and grandparents.

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Meeting big sister, Morgan.

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One big, happy family.

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It’s amazing how someone so small can inspire so much love.

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Words can’t describe how happy I feel.

It’s a Boy!

Meet Andrew Ross, born at 3:08 this morning.  He weighs in at 6 lbs 11 oz and measures 20”. 

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Isn’t he sweet?

Mom, Dad, and baby are all doing great.  I’m looking forward to holding Andrew for the first time when we visit the hospital later today.  We worked hard for this one (nobody harder than Jessica!) but it was oh, so worth it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Keeping Days and Selfish Knitting

Today’s post will be broken into two parts.  What can I say?  I have two things I want to talk about and they’re not related in any way.  And a word of warning:  If you like posts with few words and lots of pictures today’s entry is not for you.  Sorry, but it’s my blog and I can do what I like.  :o)

A Keeping Day

When I was a teenager/young adult one of my favourite book series was The Keeping Days by Norma Johnston.  The first two books were written in the mid-1970’s and were in our school library; then in the early 1980’s they were republished in paperback, along with four new titles.  Set in 1910 in Yonkers, New York, the first book opens on Tish Sterling’s fourteenth birthday.  She informs us that she knew as soon as she woke up that it was going to be a Keeping Day, one of those particularly memorable days that occur only two or three times a year, a day to be cherished and recalled during less happy times in the future.  And although her birthday didn’t turn out exactly as she’d envisioned, it was a Keeping Day nonetheless.

Ever since then I’ve held on to the idea of Keeping Days and have stored away quite a few in my own memory.  They’re not always entire days, sometimes only moments or hours, but they’ve stayed with me over the years.  Driving home from the hospital with newborn Jessica crying at the top of her lungs while Stevie Wonder sang “Isn’t She Lovely?” on the radio.  The time we bundled up young Jessica and Matthew and took them skating on a lake that had frozen over (a very rare thing around here).  Having dinner in a Barkerville restaurant on our anniversary while a trio of musicians serenaded the patrons with old-time tunes.  These occasions and others filled me with a ridiculous sense of happiness and contentment and stand out among the many more forgettable experiences of my life.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Our youngest, Colin, stopped by in the morning to receive birthday presents and congratulations.  Afterwards Cameron and I went out for brunch—something we do once or twice a year—then stopped by the mall to pick up a convertible crib/playpen to have at our house for when our upcoming grandchild comes to visit.  The day before Cameron had suggested that we take a drive to Manning Park, about an hour or so away, to see the fall colours so we set out a little before noon.  We’ve spent a lot of time at Manning over the years, sometimes going up for just the day, other times for a few nights of camping, and once in a while just pausing there briefly on our way to or from somewhere else.  We’ve hiked a number of its trails, both as a family and alone, and have seen it in every season.

It was overcast when we left home and we met a few raindrops on the way but the weather improved as we headed east and crossed the summit of Allison Pass.  Even though there was a dusting of snow quite low on the mountains, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the air held only a slight chill.  As I suspected, the fall colours were past their prime but there were still a few trees holding on to their brilliant autumn splendor. 

After a brief stop at the day lodge we decided to walk the canyon trail, a loop that originates near the road, goes up one side of a canyon to our favourite campground, then follows the other side of the canyon back to the road.  It had been ages since we’d hiked it and as we passed a familiar hollowed-out rock we couldn’t help but be reminded of this photo of our kids, taken sixteen years earlier.


I love this picture.

About a half hour later we arrived back at the car and headed a short distance down the road towards Lightening Lake, where we did a longer trail around the lake.  We recalled the time we’d hiked it with the kids, when Colin took three steps to every one of ours because he kept going ahead, then running back to us, then going ahead again.  At one point we spotted two Great Blue Herons in the trees on the other side of a secluded bay, which we later regrettably frightened away when we reached that part of the trail.  We had the place practically to ourselves and only passed one group of hikers the entire time.  The familiar sites put us in a nostalgic mood and we talked of the past but also spoke of future vacation plans and, of course, the impending birth of Jessica’s baby, due in only three week’s time.

Just as we pulled into the driveway we received a call from Jessica.  Did we want to join her and Neil for Indian food later on?  Cameron was a little hesitant—he’s not an adventurous eater—but agreed to give it a try.  We had a nice meal with them (we all enjoyed the food), then arrived home just as our first trick-or-treater was approaching our front door.  The rest of the evening was spent quietly (we never get many kids and this year had only five in all) and I went to bed with a perfect sense of satisfaction.  Our “baby” had turned 21; we’d had a wonderful afternoon together, enjoying the outdoors; we’d spent time with each of our kids that day; and, to my great relief, I’d finished the last of my gift knitting.  Which leads us to…

Selfish Knitting Month

I have a cloth-covered blank notebook that I hesitantly call my knitting journal.  I say hesitantly because since November 2008 I’ve only used up two pages.  It’s the place where I keep track of my gift knitting, writing down what I want to make for who, and ticking off each project as I complete it.  Because I knit on gifts all year long it helps to have a list of what I’ve already knit so that I have an idea of where I stand as various birthdays and the Christmas season approach.

In August this year, after making a list of prospective gifts, I had jotted down some projects I wanted to make for myself: a couple of sweaters, a couple of shawls, and some winter accessories.  A week or two ago I realized that while I had worked my way through most of the gifts, I had cast on only one item on my own to-do list (Laminaria), and I’d worked on it for only a day or two before setting it aside.  What was wrong with this picture?

When I took a look at what I’d knit since the summer, and then over the course of the past year,  I realized that it wasn’t only gift knitting that had prevented me from casting on these other items, it was also my participation in various knitalongs.  Every month I cast on for two or three KAL’s, in addition to having one or two gift items on the go at all times.  No wonder I hadn’t had much time to knit on sweaters and shawls and such for myself.

Now obviously, nobody forces me to knit gifts or participate in KAL’s.  I knit gifts for people I know will appreciate them and look forward to seeing their pleasure at receiving them, even if at times I don’t enjoy the actual knitting.  As for KAL’s, I like the camaraderie of the various groups, the motivation of a deadline, and the added bonus of potential prizes.  The downside is that gift knitting and KAL’s prevent me from knitting other projects on my wishlist, many of which I’ve already purchased yarn for.

I’m not about to stop knitting gifts entirely.  There are some people I really enjoy knitting for and many of the socks I knit for others are “mindless” projects, saved for car rides or watching TV, and do not detract from my other knitting.  What I am going to do is avoid large gifts, like afghans, for the foreseeable future and ease the pressure on myself to produce a knitted gift.  If I’m not feeling it, it’s not happening. 

It’s also time to step away from the knitalong.  This shouldn’t be too difficult.  The ZenGoddess and 50 Socks/50 States KAL’s are both coming to an end and I’m also considering sitting out this round of SKA.  I’d already decided that this year I was only going to participate in the mystery sock KAL’s (which take place every other month) but as fun as they are I am reconsidering the wisdom of knitting a sock I may or may not love when there are tons of patterns I know I want to knit.  Besides, SKA has become so large (over 11, 600 members) that it has become impossible to keep up with each month’s discussion, let alone all the other threads on the board.  What I will continue with is Chrissy Gardiner’s CSK.  It’s like the best of both worlds—it’s made up of many familiar, longtime SKA members and although we are united in our desire to knit each month’s sock design there are no deadlines or restrictions. 

Another thing I’m cutting back on is my participation in yarn clubs.  While I’ve really enjoyed receiving yarny packages in the mail every month or two I’m ready to focus on the yarns and patterns I already own.  I’m not giving up clubs entirely—there are still five shipments to come from the 7 Wonders club, I will most likely continue with the Sip ‘n Stitch club when the tea version recommences in six months, and I have just signed up for the Color Co-op—but I have resisted the temptation to sign up for several others that have caught my eye. 

After I had my revelation a couple of weeks ago I made a determined effort to finish up all of my outstanding gift knitting and KAL projects, with an eye to finishing them by October 31st.  I missed the deadline by a mere hour and a half, casting off a fingerless glove for my Mom at 1:30 this morning.  All that’s left is some blocking and finishing work, which will take a few hours at most. 

Therefore, I hereby declare November “Selfish Knitting Month” and plan to work on whatever takes my fancy, with no deadlines in sight.  The first thing I’m going to do is rummage through my stash to find the perfect yarn for this month’s CSK sock, “Nuppy Diamonds”.  I think it will feel strange at first to be free of deadlines (even if they are usually self-imposed) but I am looking forward to a more freeing and relaxed knitting experience in the weeks leading up Christmas.  After all, knitting is supposed to be fun, right?