Monday, November 30, 2009

Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happened

(which could really be the title of any blog post anywhere on the internet.  Either that or "You Are Entitled to My Opinion, and Here It Is.")

Since my return from Manitoba, there has not been a dull moment.  A "bunch" of stuff has happened, indeed!

Catching up on my blog-reading, I discovered that Sara had given me partial credit for her newfound interest in spindling.  Which inspired me to pull out my current spindling project.  Which, sadly, has sat in a bag in my studio since the events of which Sara wrote.  So, in a way, her writing about me inspiring her to spindle has inspired me to spindle.  (Sara also inspired me to do something else, but we shall remain quiet about that one for now...I'm still shaking a bit.)

Meanwhile, I spent much of the week knitting itty-bitty kitty mitties.  Or, more accurately, kitty mitties, hats and scarves for the Odd-Lot Puppetry Company's visit to Heritage Park's Old-Fashioned Christmas. 

Yes, that is a banana wearing a custom-knit toque.

This, of course, also meant that I had a houseful of puppet mayhem this past weekend.  Number One Son Brendan and his partners in crime Jess, Anna, and Patches ate, slept, built, and rehearsed in my little tiny living room.  The noise and mess took me back to the days when I had a houseful of kids all the time.  Nice place to visit, but I think I'm glad I don't live there any more!

And after the puppet mayhem died down, we went and saw Westwood Cheepiyak Theatre's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.  It was, in a word, amazing!  There are a huge number of talented kids in the cast, some great voices and some pretty spectacular dancing.  An all-around great accomplishment on the parts of Ms. Mort and Ms. Redfurn, along with every member of their cast.  Our Miss Julia is a member of the chorus, and also has the most fabulous camel moment in theatre history!
Go see it if you can.

I also made a hat this past week, but I sent it off to Vancouver without even taking a picture!  D'oh!

I sent the hat in a care package for Miss Lexi's birthday, which is today.  I sent it via our good friends at Canada Post, and sprung for the Express Post option hoping it would arrive within 2 days.  It arrived within 20 hours!  Lexi sent me a text thanking me for the package less that 20 hours after my visit to the post office.  So for all of you out there cursing the slow pace of our national mail carrier, here is the corollary story.  I am, however, still waiting for the package from the US that was mailed in June...USPS, I'm looking at you.

The one last thing that has happened this past week or so is the final details going into the Fibre Week 2010 lineup.  Let just say, it's good to have friends.  There have been some interesting challenges this time around, with my computer issues and random road trip adding yet another layer of chaos. A lot of stuff has to happen really fast at this point and without the help of a few really great and supportive individuals, I would have collapsed under the weight of it.  But, except for one more little thing, we are done.  Whew!

So that's some stuff that happened.  I'm sure more stuff will happen tomorrow, and the day after that.  That's the funny thing about stuff--it just keeps on happening.  I can't type fast enough to keep up!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Common Threads

Today I'm taking a day to rest and catch my breath.  It's been one thing after another since I got home from Vancouver, and I'm tired.  Very tired.

When last I sat down to blog, I had done the whole Halloween thing, and  I didn't really get a chance to recover from that.   With my typical excellent timing, I rolled right into a good bout of 'flu.  I don't know if it was the dreaded H1N1 or not, but it knocked me on my ass for several days.  Fortunately, though, I bounced back fairly quickly and the cough was considerate enough to go away after a few days, leaving me tired and froggy-voiced but otherwise rather unscathed.  I thought this little "vacation" would be a good excuse to start some Christmas knitting, but in reality, not much got accomplished.  So I thought I'd take a few days to rest and get caught up on some knitting. You know what they say about the best laid plans....

As you may have seen in my tweets in the sidebar, my Uncle Jim Beamish died on November 9.  He was relatively young and his death was a bit of a shock to all of us, including his big sister--my Mom.  My first thought was to drop everything and head out to Manitoba with my Mom, but I still had my cough and so much catching up to do, so I rationalized that I didn't need to go.  Well, that lasted two days.

I decided that I would drive out to Manitoba, where Jim had lived, with my Mom for the funeral.  From Fort McMurray, with a stop to pick Mom up in Edmonton, it would be about a 19 hour trek.  No problem--we broke it into small chunks of 5 or 6 hours of driving with a good rest in between.

The driving was effortless, with clear highways and sunny skies, thanks to an unseasonably warm November.  Dark comes early this time of year, but we were off the road by 7 or 8 each evening.  We ran into one of Mom's cousins, Barry and his wife Barb, in Saskatoon--they were also travelling from the Edmonton area and, by sheer coincidence were staying at the same hotel and eating in the same restaurant!  And the next evening, we met up with them again at another cousin's farm.  Dianne and her husband Ron hosted us to an amazing supper and a glass or two of wine before we toddled down the road to Brandon for the night.

We arrived in Brandon very late and got some sleep before we went to visit with my Aunt Muriel.  My cousins Christine and Brian were there as well, so there was much family catching up to do.  All of the arrangements had been taken care of by an amazing array of friends and neighbors, food was delivered in massive quanitities, and people came and went. 

That trend continued the next day, the day of the actual funeral.  Two more of my cousins, Bill and Brenda, travelled out from Winnipeg.  My mom's relatives gathered, four generations of Beamishes, Lindsays, Walkers, Talbots, and Falloons.  They are a large and very diverse lot.  And Uncle Jim had a lot of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances that loved and respected him.  There was, in short, a crowd.

There were flowers, and hugs, and a lot of strangers' hands to shake (H1N1 be damned!).  And a lot of family to get re-acquainted with.  They all live in or around Southern Manitoba and I live out here in Alberta--see the comments above regarding the distance.  And though the circumstances were sad, I felt a certain joy in seeing these people again. 

There are a lot of phrases in the English language that apply the language of my craft to familes.  We have family ties.  Families are close-knit.  Our lives are woven together.  We are cut from the same cloth.  Relatives come from the distaff side of a family.   We all have a black sheep in the family.  Others are dyed-in-the-wool types.  Sometimes, families come unravelled, but we pick up the common threads and carry on.

What struck me the most about getting together with my relatives was that common thread.  We share a history as well as genetics.  We know the old stories, and the scandals, even though they may even have happened before we were born.  We know the shape of a nose, or the color of our hair**.  We don't see each other for years, but that connection is there.

Being a spinner,  I recognize a good sturdy thread.  Sure, there may be slubs and snarls, but the thread is continuous, and strong.  It has survived being stretched in all directions by time and distance.  In some places, it has been knit together with another thread, in others it has become a little unravelled.  But the thread endures, as good thread should.  And being a spinner, I also see that I am working to continue the string by raising my children with the stories, the connections, the values of the family that I came from.

There are other new fibres being spun into the thread that is my family.  Cousins and second cousins with their families, carrying on the same traditions, passing along the connections.  The thread is becoming thinner as our grandparents and parents begin to leave us, but it is still being spun.

The thread's length means that perhaps we are spread a little further apart.  There may even be a break or two, but at times like this, we tie a knot so the thread can continue.  I really don't know for sure where the thread started, though there are numerous family histories, and I certainly don't know where it will end.  The point is that the thread exists at all.  In this day and age, with family spread far and wide, sometimes we need to stop and remember our common threads.

The drive home was not so relaxed.  We drove across Saskatchewan in a 13-hour marathon.  There was a whirlwind of doctors and yarn shopping in Edmonton, then the usual slog home.  So, today, I'm tired.

But I have this strong thread that ties my life to the lives of dozens of amazing people.  Perhaps even hundreds.  I have a thread that will endure long after I am dust, a thread to be dug up and examined by genrations yet to come.  I have a thread that is strong enough to endure over centuries, a thread that can stitch up our wounds, a thread that ties us together.  I have a family.

**The Lindsay family of Southern Manitoba, and their descendants are notorious for their glorious heads of silver hair, acquired at an early age.  I felt so at home amongst my generation, not to mention our parents!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Whoa! What Just Happened?

There is just a blur where the last two weeks of my life should be!

I have been remiss in keeping my blog up to date, but I do have many good excuses.  Honest!  But when people start emailing, and even my Mom is asking for updates (okay, she wants to know the answer to the last riddle!), you know it's time to sit down at the old keyboard...

So, what have I been up to?

Well, there were the 12 days spent in Vancouver...

...which were pretty darned action-packed.  I visited the Vancouver Aquarium, rode The Ghost Train...

...throught the Gates of Hell and back.  I also rode on Surrey's Terror Train, meandered the pier at White Rock and walked Jericho Beach.  I taught Miss Lexi to knit...

...and then couldn't get her to stop.  I visited the phenomenal Lynn Anderson at Knitopia in her last week in  her Langley location. (She's back in White Rock now, and has suggested that you grease your hips before you visit her somewhat smaller shop.)

I took a little spinning workshop...

...which I intend to blog more about soon.  I went to see Mika in concert...

...which was waaaay too much fun for someone of my advancing years.  I listened to Elizabeth Wayland-Barber speak on Women's Work:  The First 20,000 Years.  And I got to spend some seriously high-quality time with my older daughter, an amazing young woman whom I don't get to see enough of since she has moved so far from home.

Then I had a long, weird day full of hilarious travel stories.  And I was home.

Just in time for two solid days of preparations for Halloween.

The crypt was built, cobwebs were strewn, and ghoulish goodies concocted...

...just in time for our first good snowfall of the year!  Between the snow (which made for some really icy road conditions!) and H1N1,  Halloween was a little, well, quiet.  The brave handful who ventured out to trick or treat scored much candy, and the braver handful who came to the annual party made for a marvelous , though somewhat more sedate than usual, evening.

And, for those of you waiting for the answer to the last countdown riddle:

Why wouldn't the mummy go on vacation?

He was afraid he might relax and unwind too much!


And after all of that activity, plus a couple of days of frantinc scrambling to get the household back in order, it only figures that my immune system would be ready to take a break.  So guess who woke up sick on Wednesday morning?  The last two days have been a festival of fevers and chills, accompanied by a sensation something like I would imagine it would be like having a flaming stake driven through my chest.  This morning, the coughing has started, and, oddly, I feel much better.  However, a couple of days on the couch, knitting, seems prudent at this point.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.  **COUGH**