Friday, November 04, 2011

Doggie assistant

dog assistant, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

I wouldn't mind so much if she took notes and summaries for me.

When I became a man, I put away childish things

A bit of a poignant milestone this weekend. We needed to make room in the basement for an electronic drum set, and this necessitates cleaning out the toy cupboards and saying farewell to some well-loved toys. Bionicles, in this case, but there are more. It's always hard to see these go.

Even the boy showed a moment of uncharacteristic sentiment.
But all to this end: This was driving us nuts, day after day.  The boy is actually a great drummer, but the sheer volume and duration (drumming is actually an endurance event! ask Neal Peart) was making us crazy and he was restricted to practicing when the rest of us were either out of the house or closeted upstairs with the dooor closed.
So the idea of an electronic drum set, which can be played with headphones so only the drummer can hear it at volume, sounded better and better all the time. But we needed to make room for it.
He can actually pull it out and have a bit more elbow room, but so far we all think it is pretty sweet. He can wake up at 3:45 in the morning and play it and the rest of us will be none the wiser. Happiness is restored.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A break in the weather

thanksgiving-7, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

It's not always calm enough to see reflections in the river, but today was one of those days.

Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving harvest. Tim and the kids brought in our small but satisfying garden produce. Not overwhelming, so at least we won't have the guilt of veggies decomposing in the cold room.

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Test take 2

New post

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Test post

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Doing what I don't usually do, and kind of liking it

Even though I don't really do art journals, I have greatly enjoyed Tammy's recent posts at Daisy yellow, particularly her video Pastel Chaos in the Exacompta in which we see her create a double page spread and give her thoughts on the process. I love her emphasis on freeing oneself from artificially imposed rules, and focusing instead on an intuitive, playful approach to paints, ink and the blank page. Right away, you can see she's not scared of a blank page - making you realize that you don't need to be, either.

Another recent post, Art Journaling 101 for kids, teens and beginners  is a terrific introduction to useful materials and techniques without bogging the reader down with too much information or the need to go crazy shopping for every art material under the sun. If the bright images don't inspire you to start splashing paint around, then her contagious enthusiasm and encouragement will (and vice versa). All through her posts, you get the feeling that she just wants you to really be immersed in the process of creating something meaningful to you, something you can see and touch and feel on a physical page; something you made with your own hands. And that's important, in a world where an increasing proportion of images and text are ephemeral and electronic and created by someone else.

Art journaling may not be everyone's process but it's worth trying at least once, or twice, or any time the feeling hits. Most of us have the basics lying around the house anyway (particularly if, like me, you have accumulated an entire cupboard of art and craft materials). It's worth taking them out and taking the time to play.

And, see? even if I don't usually do the art journal thing, she made me want to try it again. So, I did.

summer's end

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bright and bulletproof: blues and browns

The Lamy Safari (and its clear demonstrator version, the Vista) is just about my favorite pen for everyday use. It's neither sleek, nor stylish, but it's cheerfully hardy, and I never freak out if it should fall on the floor (I once sent one skittering down a considerable length of linoleum in a school hallway) or worry if it might be getting scratched by my keys in the bag. So I am pretty much have one in use at all times.
Lamy often comes out with Limited Edition colours and this years LE was Aquamarine. Since everyone in my house uses a fountain pen, I thought it just made sense to make sure we had enough around the house - you know, near the phone, in the kitchen for grocery lists, and wouldn't this one make a nice addition? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


It turns out that the pen colour is really hard to get right in camera, or at least, get right while also trying to get the ink colour right. This is Noodler's Bulletproof #41 Brown - possibly the best behaved bulletproof Noodlers ink I've tried, excepting the original Bulletproof Black. My only quibble is the tendency for ink to creep onto the nib. Otherwise, it's chocolatey good in this pen, and glides wonderfully out of the fine nib onto the paper. The first picture shows the pen a little too dark, but the ink colour is about right - a rich neutral brown. The second picture shows the ink more red than in real life, but the colour is much more true for the pen - bright, happy, almost turquoise. This is my current everyday carry to take to school/work. It cheers me up just to look at it. And with the lazy days of summer coming quickly to an end, we'll take as much school and work cheer as we can get!

aquamarine safari

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blueberry swirl

At last, helped along by several episodes of the British comedy Vicar of Dibley, I have finished and cast off this two-tone Shetland triangle wrap.
It still has to be blocked, but I always like the rippled look it has fresh off the needles.

This has been hanging out in my knitting bag for several months now, so I promised myself I'd finish it before starting a new project with the beautiful Madeline Tosh DK I got from my SIL Julie at Valley Yarn. Still looking for the right pattern, but I'm looking forward to a new project with new yarn.

blueberry swirl

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Monday, July 11, 2011

wind in the whiskers

wind in the whiskers, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

I was really, really wrong when I thought that once I was done my MSc, finished all the administrivia and revisions that followed, that I would again have time to relax and create. As it turns out, hard work is rewarded by more hard work, and I was fortunate to get a teaching job for the summer session. However, as anyone who's taken a summer course knows, they're extremely condensed, and when I wasn't prepping, teaching, or grading, I slept. Thus, spring almost passed me by, and even while walking was often so preoccupied in my thoughts I didn't always notice the flowers quietly emerging from the green grass of the coulees.

Finally, I was able to take a breather, and start taking the time to notice again: here's old man's whiskers, in the coulees along the Old Man river, shaken by the wind.

Friday, May 06, 2011

what jellyfish?

what jellyfish?, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

My family and I took a much needed break during Easter break in Waikiki, Honolulu. Given that it snows on and off here all the way through April (and sometimes May), the sun and warmth was splendid for us all. We tried to get to the beach every day, except for days like this one, when the jellyfish were out.

Even so, I could gaze at this colour of blue all day long.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Blue is my world: Daisy Yellow's prompt #15: Blues

blue is my world, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
In response to Tammy's no-frill's Friday prompt #15, Blues.

Yes, the cold and snow is getting me a little down. It isn't actually colder than it was in December or January, but somehow with the longer daylength, and knowing that it's March, it feels colder, and I resent it more. I'm tired of shoveling snow, and tired of my face hurting with cold every time I go out with the dogs. I could go on and on, but I think the image says it all.

This was originally meant to be a photo transfer page like the one I did a year or so ago,  but for some reason (maybe different photo paper?) the images refused to adhere to the journal page. So I settled for gluing the photos on face up, and adding background colour with watercolour. Because the decoupage glue had already dried on the page, it made the background shiny and I couldn't write on it with my white gel pen, so I used scraps of watercoloured paper for the words. 

I'd forgotten how much fun this was - glad to be getting some colour onto the page again. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daisy Yellow No-Frill's Prompt #14: Symmetry - Room to read

reading room, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
In response to Tammy's Friday No Frills prompt #14, Symmetry, this is our freshly repainted living room. We've had the entire week off for the kid's Reading Week, and used it for various home improvement tasks such as cleaning out the basement storage room and reconfiguring our living room, including new bookshelves.

I'm sure few rooms in anybody's home allow for a symmetrical configuration of any piece of furniture, really, it's just coincidence that these two particular bookshelves will end up standing like soldiers flanking the sofa that will fit between them. Symmetrical or not, though, this gives us a comfy place to sit and read and enjoy the sun, while the winter wind continues to blow the snow in drifts outside.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daisy Yellow Friday no-frills prompt #12: Measure

I get to cover two topics at once with this post: it's an interpretation of Tammy's No-frills prompt #12 at Daisy Yellow, Measure, and also partial explanation of why I've done minimal knitting and creative output. I wrote earlier this year in my Honest Scrap that I was in the midst of a MSc in exercise science, yet experiencing the bitter irony of gaining weight and losing fitness as a result of a graduate student lifestyle, particularly one juggled with family life and exacerbated by a chronic knee injury that forced me to cut back on activity.

By the time I handed in my thesis last November, I was heavier than I'd been in my adult life without actually being pregnant or having just had a baby. However, I was fairly philosophic about it - I figured that writing a thesis was not  unlike gestation and delivery, really. But one still has to do something about that post-partum graduate degree weight - and that does take some time, effort, and energy.

Daisy Yellow Friday no-frills prompt: Measure, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

Part of the key to tackling this, like it or not, is measurement, in some way or another. I really dislike being overly attached to either scale weight or absolute body size, though both the scale and measuring tape can be useful tools for evaluating progress - I just think it's important to make sure that they are servants rather than masters. I much prefer a process oriented approach - time spent in activity, intensity of effort, weight lifted - things that can support the development of long term, sustainable habits that become part of a healthy lifestyle.

I also don't love having to measure food, but at least in the early stages, it can be a good reality check that leads to more mindful eating habits. The mosaic above is a composite of the different measuring tools I used - my son was a good sport and was my model, to spare you all a picture of my own belly - and in fact I never used a measuring tape at all - if I have to pay attention to that particular parameter, I'd rather just use my clothes. Picture is clickable to Flickr pics with more explanation, if needed.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two faced Janus: indecisions

This January has felt, more the usual, ruled by its namesake, the Roman god of beginnings and endings.  After successfully defending my master's thesis in December, just before Christmas, this month has felt like a kind of limbo, finishing my thesis revisions and tying up loose ends in the lab before leaving academia and getting ready to ponder some life directions.

This overall feeling of indecision seems to have bled into all aspects of my life, even that which I consider my most soothing of diversions, knitting. I pondered resuming the Baltic Sea stole I abandoned a few years ago, tried the same yarn for a Gilmore girl vest, and still not happy with the beginnings of either, have now stuffed them back in the closet.
more decisions

similarly, my attempt to start a short sleeved top down cardigan in some stashed Noro Kureyon met with the same fate. I'd thought the bright colours would cheer me in the cold winter, and certainly they still could, but not in the form of this sweater. Only a pre-teen could wear this and look cute instead of ridiculous. So again, this has been set aside.


however, I loved the pattern - perfect for knitting while chatting with friends, watching Mystery! on PBS, and almost all stockinette with a few simple increases. I liked it enough that I was willing to actually BUY MORE YARN at my local yarn store, because I was in need of immediate gratification. I still wanted Noro, and found this new-to-me blend of wool, silk, and mohair, Noro Yuzen - still striped, but with just a bit of a tweedy look.

a new hope

and after a few evenings, and one long weekend bus trip to Regina and back, I have this:

short winter cardigan

which, while barely adequate for the -30 C temperatures we're experiencing again, gives me something to look forward to wearing when it's time for spring breezes instead of winter blizzards. It's the closest thing to instant gratification one can get in a wearable, sweater like garment, and just the thing to break me out of my slump of indecision.

more details, if needed, on Ravelry.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

early morning in Regina

regina-2, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
just trying to get warmed up and back into blogging after a long, very welcome and much needed brain break. Drafted and in the queue: new knitting, books to read in 2011, more thoughts on the kindle, and some Daisy Yellow prompt responses. Meantime, just a snapshot outside the venue for the Saskatchewan Open judo tournament, in the Queen of Saskatchewan cities, Regina.