Friday, August 24, 2007

Birthday Surprise

It was my birthday this week. As I get older, my birthday starts to become less and less exciting. I'm now officially on the downslope to being 40 - I just turned 35. Turning 30 was much more fun than turning 35. Turning 30 was like, "woo, I'm a real adult now!". Turning 35 is like "oh shit, I'm gonna be 40!".

However, I managed not to dwell on that too much. I enjoyed a nice night with my knit group, and when I returned home afterwards, I found my husband had assembled a great big pile of gifts for me. The first gift was a new brown summery purse, which I'd been fruitlessly shopping for on and off throughout most of the summer. Since it's the end of August now I won't switch to it immediately, but come springtime I'll be using it with glee. Inside the purse was some weird mystery yarn he bought at the market in Spain. It has a label on it, but the label doesn't discuss the fibre content, the weight of the ball, or the number of metres of yarn in the ball. It does, however, tell you how many balls you'd need to make a sweater. Um, OK. Doesn't that kinda depend on the sweater? So it's probably acrylic, and it seems to be somewhere around DK weight. I'll investigate further before I actually start knitting anything with it.

Then there were some books.

1) Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave - This sock book looks fantastic, and it has a spiral binding so it'll stay open easily while working from it. Does he have good taste or what? He picked it out all by himself.
2) Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk - I really enjoy his books. I've written and rewritten a second sentence here trying to describe his books in a nutshell, and I can't do it. So I won't even try. This book was on my wishlist.

And the third book was the icing on the cake. The most shocking gift I've received in years (after the strange artsy glued-together book with a French poem on it we got as a wedding gift). See, when I was a kid, I read a lot. Jaws was actually my favourite book as a child. I read it about once a week, I feel like. I know it wasn't really THAT often, but I've probably read it at least 20 times. But Jaws didn't really scare me. The scariest book I've ever read was The Mystery of the Glowing Eye, which was a Nancy Drew book. In fact, it scared me so much that as soon as I read the scary part, I had to put the book down, and I never picked it up again. I still don't know how it ends. All these years later, I'd forgotten even the name of the book, but I guess I mentioned to Kenneth how much it scared me, and I must have mentioned that there was a glowing eye. He managed to track it down, and bought it for me. And I have to admit, when I saw that glowing eye staring up at me from the cover, I felt a little frisson of fear in my stomach. I'm kind of afraid to read it again. I'm sure nowadays, it won't scare me, but still... what if it does? I don't want the glowing eye to get me!

See, even the cover is scary:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vacation Pictures

Newfoundland & Labrador was just gorgeous. Absolutely, unstoppably gorgeous. Even the "big city" of St. John's was lovely. The amount of wilderness they have there is amazing. The entire province only has about half a million people in it, and it's not a small province.

Here is the Tablelands, in Gros Morne National Park. It's a barren, rocky place, where the rocks are thought to be millions of years old, brought up from the lower levels of the earth's crust by the collision of the continental plates.

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Here's Battle Harbour. It's a fishing village in Labrador, which was abandoned during the 60's because the government offered the residents incentives to move to more populated areas. Now they're restoring it, and you can stay on-site in some of the restored cottages, and there are other restored buildings you can tour, with lots of artifacts and so on. The island is gorgeous, and you can see whales and icebergs from shore. The guidebook said this would be the highlight of our trip, and it was definitely pretty close! We stayed in the doctor's house, which was a 3-bedroom cottage. If any other guests had booked in, we would have been sharing the bathroom, kitchen, etc, but since nobody did, we had the whole cottage to ourselves. It was great.

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Here's one of the icebergs we saw. Unfortunately, when we saw our favorite one, the camera was out of batteries. But this one was pretty good too, even though we didn't get too close to it.

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And finally, my favorite picture. We took a whale watching trip in Trinity with Ocean Contact. The owner is a bit of a kook, in my opinion - he had all these bizarre ideas about how if you look at something across the room, that means your mind is as big as the room. He also kept bragging about how he worked with Stephen Hawking, and did his PhD at MIT, etc. And he claims to be able to communicate with whales. So we had to sit through an hour-long talk from him at the inn before we actually got into the boat. The talk was interesting in parts but I often had to refrain from rolling my eyes. Anyways, then we suited up in these bright orange exposure suits which were supposed to protect us from the wet and cold. Mine didn't. The good thing about the trip was the boat was really small and close to the water, so when we got near a whale, we got a really good view. We saw one Minke whale from far off (nothing to write home about), one sperm whale from really close up, and one humpback whale from pretty close up. The humpback even breached (jumped completely out of the water) twice. That was really something to see (but of course we didn't capture that on film). So overall, despite the kooky owner and the leaky exposure suit, I'd say the whale watching trip was the highlight of our vacation. Maybe just because we managed to get *such* a great picture.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Back from Vacation

We got back from a 2-week vacation to Newfoundland last Monday, and it's been go-go-go ever since.

Newfoundland was fantastic - so much wilderness! It was amazing. And there are so many small fishing villages where you really wonder how the people can live there, so far from civilization. We hiked a lot, saw the ruins of a Viking village, went whale watching, and saw icebergs. It was all good. And we had no cellphone reception (with the exception of the 3 days we spent in St. John's) and no internet.

When I got back, I found out I had an invitation to join Ravelry! Very exciting! It had been sent on the first day of my vacation, and had gotten sorted into my spam folder, so I didn't realize right away that it was there. So I've been minorly obsessed with Ravelry ever since. I kept planning to start a knitting journal, but I was always too lazy (or too busy knitting) to actually get around to it. Now I have one, and it's all online. Score. (I guess I might want to back that stuff up somehow, in case Ravelry ever goes away.)

My big knitting project at the moment is the Mystery Stole. For those who don't know, it's a lace shawl pattern, which the designer is releasing piece by piece, so we don't know what the finished product will look like until it's all knitted up. Unfortunately due to my vacation (I didn't want to bring a complex lace shawl with me, I thought that would be a recipe for disaster), I fell behind, and I'm still working on Clue 2 while Clue 4 has already been out for over a week. That's OK, though. I may be able to catch up this weekend since I'm planning to visit my parents, and that always entails a lot of knitting time.

Here's the progress to date:

Nice, eh? It's my first big lace project - previously I'd only done a lace edging on a tank top, and a lace dishcloth. It's also my first attempt knitting with laceweight yarn. Well, maybe my second attempt. I did try to do last summer's Mystery Stole, but I gave up after about 10 rows because I was having such a hard time with the laceweight yarn. This time it's going much better.