Resolutions in April and May (The Dress)

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
Can I just say that facing this issue head-on is difficult and painful and frustrating and frightening?

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
Done. Rousing success. Observe:

Please note that this is almost certainly the first you have ever seen of my legs. It's that summer, people.

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
Hazelhurst is almost done. 

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)
They are patched. Painting has begun. 

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)
Tim built two more raised beds. We planted blueberry bushes. The firepit should be usable within the month. 

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)

- give excellent presents (better than last year)

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
I have a new rye starter and should get back to the recipes.

- get a tattoo (at last at last)

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
Bicycle. Hand pruners. 

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Candle holder. Chest of drawers. Book cubes. Lamp shade.

Quagmire Rules

That horrible season is already upon us, again. There are three weeks left in the semester proper, and nothing looks pretty--not me, not our apartment, not Edmonton, not our treacherous sidewalks. The late March blizzard  breaks me every year. After two weeks of sun (you forget that a ray of sun can feel warm) and rivulets, we have wind and over a foot of new snow.

It occurred to me last week that while my ordinary-time eating habits are actually quite good, the quality and quantity of food I consume during days or weeks of extraordinary stress is probably enough to account for at least half of the weight I would like to permanently lose. Also, no matter what I tell myself to the contrary in the woe and frenzy of the moment, drinking powdered hot chocolate and eating toast and cereal every two hours does nothing for my research essays. These end-of-the-semester bouts of emotional eating must stop. 

Here, then, are some Quagmire Rules. 

1. 1 L cold water first thing in the morning (before coffee, before breakfast) 
2. Black tea with milk and sugar = reviving treat, not default liquid
3. If not hungry for proper meal (vegetables, protein, nicely prepared), not hungry
4. Three meals + afternoon tea, not eaten in bed or at desk
5. Powdered hot chocolate will never taste like it did fifteen years ago (save the calories to make real cocoa)
6. General feeling-gross and depression better solved by shower or nap than sugar 
7. Eat off of a plate, drink out of a nice cup
8. Time does actually exist to cook supper and exercise
9. Save sweet things (ahem, banana muffins) for afternoon tea (not breakfast, not out of the pan)
10. Eating right before bed or to stay awake = not fun
11. Vitamins

ETA: I turned 22 last week. On my birthday morning, I was in the middle of a plank when I looked up and saw myself in the mirror. I looked strong. I looked attractive. I looked fine. I am reminded that I've come a long way since I spent my sixteenth birthday making myself vomit in the shower. I'm also reminded that some of the things I'm still dealing with are the residual effects of having had an eating disorder, and that I need to keep addressing these issues (at first I wrote 'working through this shit')--gently, but conscientiously. 

A Handy List (all I want for Christmas)


Things are settling down and I have a new laptop. And 3 days off. (Really off. No classes, no shifts.) I've got a clogging cold, but I'm taking it slow. The biggest items on the agenda for today?
- drinking tea 
- drinking hot ginger
- drinking water
- reading 160 pages for rhetoric
- baking cookies to console us and the tenants
- finishing this sock:

I think I'm getting better at coping. 

Before all the robbery drama, I had been meaning to show you yet another two images of knotted red yarn. This is something I finished during post-Thanksgiving video games at Tim's parents' house this past weekend:

I promise that subsequent knitting projects will be in purple or green.

Have a beautiful weekend!

P.S. Tim, Alice, Kathy, Peter, Carolin, Jim, Elliot--if you're reading this, Thank you.

Happiness is . . .

- Eskimo kissing a not-so-tiny grey kitten
- Handel's Messiah
- splurging on lovely, half-price skin care
- planning a pair of mittens
- emails
- filling a teacup with red and white Dutch licorice (Tim's family has converted me)
- cleaning out the purse/satchel
- an hour-long walk on during my lunch break
- workshopping the villanelle in poetry class this morning
- tidied finances
- the prospect of medieval history documentaries
- baking a loaf of caraway rye

Not everything has to be easy to be good

Because I think Sunny is, as usual, spot-on with this post, I'd like to blog some of the seamy side of life here lately. (I'd like to own my shit.) I don't, however, just want to leave you with a list of failures and unpleasantness; I want to leave you with two lists: One list of failures and unpleasantness, one list of triumphs and pleasantness that has emerged from smack in the middle of an imperfectly-lived life.

Without further ado:

- the sink full of dishes
- the hamper full of dirty laundry
- walking into my rhetoric class yesterday and realizing that everyone else was gripping printed and stapled sheets of paper . . . I had no idea we had an essay due
- literally hundreds of fruit flies suddenly springing up out of the ether (um, tomatoes) and infesting the kitchen
- whining to Tim that I didn't want to attend my seminar; barely getting there
- eating bread and jam (and nothing else) three times in a day
- popping every single pimple on my face
- a kitten who still sometimes thinks the avocado plant is a litter box
- two ripped cardigans
- spending whole evenings browsing the internet, when I have 10 hours of homework to do
- Tegan and Sara's new single: sexy, but disappointing
- the backyard foot-deep in weeds
- a slightly sticky keyboard
- more fights since school started
- my bicycle lock lost
- a too-expensive trip to the vet, which took up the entire morning
- two weeks without fasting
- a sickly fig tree

- photographs taken anyway
- an A- on an assignment I almost didn't bother to hand in
- clearing skin from religious application of benzyl peroxide (sometimes the evening's most productive activity)
- tomatoes, cheese, pita bread, an apple, water for breakfast
- not-dreading work
- staying in class without panicking about the forgotten essay
- a brand-new avocado sprouting
- Italian hot chocolate and a walk across the high-level bridge with Ros, cooking pancakes together for supper
- arranging a knitterly trade with Cat
- showing Simpkin and the new issue of Room to my Dad
- 450 pages of reading caught up
- putting on lipstick anyway
- 10 poems written over the past couple of weeks
- a safely innoculated and mite-free Simpkin
- an almost toilet-trained Simpkin
- watching The Hunger Games instead of fighting for the rest of the evening
- loving two of my classes
- buying Tim a tiny apple pie
- bicycling five days a week

harvest (some bragging)

In an old-fashioned way, I can't help fawning over the not-unimpressive quantity of food I have harvested and preserved during the last month. We have:

yellow and green beans--cut in half, blanched, and frozen on a baking sheet rather than in a lump

crab apples from my Opa's trees--sauced and canned

rhubarb, raspberries, saskatoons, gooseberries--jammed and canned

tomatoes--sliced and dehydrated

chocolate mint--dried for tea

potatoes--washed, left to air for a day, boxed in a shallow layer

carrots and beets--scrubbed and filling both vegetable drawers in the fridge

Only the hot peppers, onions, and the unripened tomatoes are yet to bring in. Tim and I are debating the merits of dehydrating vs. pickling the peppers. (We don't have a peck, but we probably have a couple of litres.) Strong opinions on this?

ETA: I also jammed and canned some red plums over the weekend. Time to quit with this sort of thing and concentrate on scholarly pursuits.

Tim Put

Though we couldn't pin an exact date on it, this August marks five years of togetherness for me and Tim. And what do you know about him? Precious little! I should have mentioned these things long ago.

Firstly. Tim is smart.
As any of our friends or most casual acquaintances or the regulars at Transcend will tell you, even before they hear about his official IQ, he is, actually, a genius.
And he is good at explaining things.
He will help someone with their high school chemistry, and then turn around and talk protein spaces with a biologist.
He never politely acquiesces to someone he disagrees with, but neither does he ever launch a personal attack.
He is the least spiteful person I've ever known.
He does not take pleasure in other people's misfortune or degeneracy.
He does not take revenge.
He wants to help me with my projects, and his advice is sensible and perceptive.
Did you know he is a luthier?
He has made bass guitars and is working on a violin.
He's designed an espresso tamper that keeps a barista's wrist straight and prevents repetitive injuries.
Half our coffee friends have already ordered one.
He defends scientific ideas from abuse and misguided politics.
His knowledge is wide-reaching and coherently arranged; he will outline Godel's proof and then sum up its implications for epistemology and computing.
He makes delicious food.
He likes to play Age of Empires, Mario Bros., Portal, Halo, Zelda, Pokemon.
He's going into the last year of a BSc in Math, with a minor in Philosophy.
He's ridiculously good-looking.
He has forearms that make me swoon and he can get up past 50 km/hour on a bicycle and do one-handed push-ups.
He has coped with three years of my panic attacks.
He has helped me to stay sane.
He eats enormous bowls of oatmeal with strawberries and chocolate chips almost every day.
He knows a lot about electronics; he designed and built a pair of speakers.
He loves Brahms, Bach, Chick Corea, Dave Holland.
He introduced me to jazz.
He notices things.
He gives wonderful presents--both my pocket knife and my kitchen knife, 23 by Blonde Redhead, chemical handwarmers, most recently: an amazing box I plan to photograph and show you.
He's agreed to let me make him a sweater, and has this morning put up with repeated calls to come and look at some ravelry pattern or slightly different type of yarn.
At this moment he is researching the Edmonton protocol for rescuing stray cats.
He just mowed our endless lawn.
He likes the BBC as much as I do.
He has the softest hair.
He can play the acoustic, electric, and bass guitars.
He likes both Valrhona and the hot chocolate powder from Superstore.
He tells me about the things he reads.
He is excited about the new Mars probe.
He is the best person I know.

to do today

- finish Between the Woods and the Water
- tidy house
- make challah
- write
- finish and block socks
- look up book lists for September courses
- wash windows
- read math

a few items

Things feel so hopeful this evening. I thought I would give you a few items (what qualifies as news around here):

~ Our third rhubarb plant has pulled through a very rough transplanting indeed. After two weeks of flopping around in the mud, its stalks are finally perking up.

~ After intending to do so since our first year of university, when Tim took a course and brought home an intriguing textbook, I've been making my way through an introduction to mathematical proof-writing.

~ My friend Laura is coming over on Sunday, and we are going to sew harem pants like the ones all the women I saw in European airports last summer were wearing. And I can honestly say that I don't remember the last time I was so excited.  I need to buy some cotton print.

~ I bought peonies and a hydrangea for our empty front flower bed. Those huge, bobbing heads of flowers are hardly real. And I found sorrel at the same greenhouse. Sorrel! The herb that tastes like sour apples; I used to eat it out of my Mum's garden when I was six. She had an amazing garden that year, the first and the last for a long time. Now I'll plant it myself, beside the covered patio, and harvest handfuls for potato soup.

~ (We finally planted the potatoes. We were so late. I hope they come up.)

~ For the past ten days or so, I've been utterly drained, stripped to my nerves, emptied of all physical and emotional reserves. Eight-hour shifts have turned into tests of endurance. I've fallen off my bike once, and I spent all day yesterday in bed. Tim and I put our heads together, squinted at my inner eyelids, and diagnosed anemia due to iron deficiency. I don't think I've ever purchased red meat, since moving out of my parents' house, but the time has come.

~ Tim built our first fire in the backyard tonight. The flames ate around the rings in the wood.

~ I'm in the middle of purging and organizing the files and programs on my laptop. I've never done it before, and it's strange, to learn my way around this little machine that I've used every day for five years.


To Do:

- clean bathroom
- bike 15 km
- write
- make lemon curd
- clean inside of fridge
- turn soil for potatoes
- plant potatoes
- practice violin
- paint toenails
- make rhubarb jam
- make rhubarb pie
- dumbbells

As I announced last night, Tim and I have basically undertaken urban farming. On our way home from my Opa's acreage yesterday, we decided to dig over most of the weedy back lawn, and turn it into a field of potatoes (and spinach). We stopped at Canadian Tire, and I bought two boxes of gruesome-looking seed potatoes, a pair of work gloves, and three more sprightly tomato plants. There is a lot to be done today, because tomorrow and Sunday I'm wearing a black skirt and lace sweater, serving coffee and pastries here

another enormous reading list

This afternoon, it rains and it positively gusts. I am working my way through the last pages of the last book on this list. It took me a year--instead of a summer--to complete it, but it was a good, rigorous way to structure my reading, and I am ready to plunge in to another. Without a deadline, and without further ado:

A Time of Gifts - Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Chocolate Connoisseur - Chloe Doutre-Roussel
Fashionable Nonsense - Alan Sokal
The Maytrees - Annie Dillard
The Overcoat - Nikolai Gogol
The Poetics of Translation - Willis Barnstone
The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A Transition to Advanced Mathematics
Poor Things - Alasdair Gray
Darwin's Dangerous Idea - Daniel Dennet
The Better Angels of Our Nature - Steven Pinker
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Relativity - Albert Einstein
Dakota - Kathleen Norris
The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill
The Tempest - William Shakespeare
Breaking the Spell - Daniel Dennet
The Great Crash--1929 - Kenneth Galbraith
Last Orders - Graham Swift
Anatomy of Criticism - Northrop Frye
The Habit of Being - Flannery O'Connor
A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Connor
How the Mind Works - Steven Pinker
The Blank Slate - Steven Pinker
The Journals of L. M. Montgomery
What Einstein Told His Cook - Robert Wolke
Pegeen and the Pilgrim - Lyn Cook
Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life - Nick Lane
The Time Quartet - Madeleine L'Engle
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Six Easy Pieces - Richard Feynman
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces - Richard Feynman
Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - Annie Dillard

Any suggestions?

9 to 1

Come September:

English 205 - Traditions in English Rhetoric
English 240 - The Bible in Literature
English 294 - Introduction to Writing Poetry (I may regret this)
English 496 - Intersections: Theory/Culture (Prosody)
History 205 - Medieval Europe

Come January:

English 242 - Augustan Prose and Poetry
English 296 - Reading Creative Nonfiction
English 322 - Medieval Drama
English 365 - Early 20th Century British Novels
English 401 - Studies in Genres

What to do

In our own true way, Tim and I spent the past 20 hours in bed. We were reading. Cereal, journal (mine), laptop (his), sleepytime tea, Carnation hot chocolate, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Le Ton beau de Marot by Douglas Hofstadter, a beastly math assignment, and a final essay for Philosophy of Language crept in with us. And I left dishes, laundry, post office errand, and flossing. And a swampy state of malaise was the order of our day.

These are the dead days of spring. Roads filthy with dust and gravel, greenery yet to appear. At least once a week, a surprise snow fall that disappears the next day. Exams. Wind. Because Tim is rightfully consumed with school for the next two weeks, all settling-in and home-improvement plans are on hold, and we keep saying that as soon as he's finished there will be restaurant shelving for the kitchen, simple transportation, raised beds built, general supplies purchased, tampers sold, weight lost, grow lights for the plants, lamps for the hobbit hole, knives sharpened, bikes cleaned, picnics taken, manuscripts started, still more daunting projects initiated, order reigning. To be honest, I feel crushed under the weight of our summer plans. I am not taking classes, and won't be until September. Why should I favor plans over action?

the goose is getting fat

~ Knit three Hogwarts house scarves, and at least one pair of socks.

~ Sew two canvas chisel rolls.

~ Design, fold, and stitch two, possibly three or four books.

~ Make more cards and mail them.

~ Bake gingerbread, fudge, shortbread, marshmallow squares, cinnamon buns.

~ Make a pile of these.

~ Make an Advent wreath, paper chains.

~ Buy candles, pfeffernusse, stroop waffles, chocolate, board books.

~ Copy nostalgic music from parents' CDs on to computer.

~ Send off a parcel.

~ Learn to fold origami stars.

I make too many lists. However, yesterday I spent most the day sleeping and storming and making cruel remarks. Today needs a list.


wash face
brush teeth
get dressed in pretty, cozy things
fix hair
wash bedding
fold laundry
clean bathroom
put a spaghetti squash in the oven
take out trash
do some planks/boat crunches
start I Am A Strange Loop


practice the violin
work on newest poem
revise "An uncharitable sketch"
work on second-newest poem
submit paper and poems to English conference
go for a walk

(P.S. It is supposed to snow tonight.)

(P.P.S. I have started a new sweater.)

(P.P.P.S. We are watching David Attenborough documentaries compulsively.)

what's left on the reading list

Le Ton beau de Marot - Douglas Hofstadter
The Bit and the Pendulum - Tom Siegfried
Atonement - Ian MacEwan
The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
I Am A Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens

I've finished these (as well as the miscellaneous non-list books in the column on the right) :

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Freedom Evolves - Daniel Dennet
Skybreaker - Kenneth Oppel
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Godel, Escher, Bach - Douglas Hofstadter
Godel's Proof - Newman and Nagel
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
Dr. Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
The Diary of Anne Frank
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen