December 4

I’ll gradually catch up. I don’t want to overload the blog with posts tonight.

Here’s my post for December 4th, our outing to Lucca and Vinci.

An example of an interesting regional architectural style on the first church we encountered upon entering the medieval town walls of Lucca.

Someone’s gorgeous “window box” of plants and succulents.

Then we headed up to Vinci, and learned about Leonardo da Vinci’s (Leonardo from Vinci) life.

The beautiful countryside in Tuscany around his birthplace.

There were olives on the olive trees lining the path to the house.

Then we went to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum to look at his designs and machines. Such brilliance.

Rainbow angles on a piece of marble showing Leonardo’s hoist.

And as a bonus – The olive groves around Vinci.

December 3

My trip to Pisa, Italy in a few shots:

The Square of Miracles

The dome in the Baptistery, which has amazing acoustics.

The 24 karat gold ceiling of the Cattedrale Metropolitana Primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta.

The bones of Saint Rainerius, patron saint of Pisa.

The slightly-less-Leaning Tower of Pisa (viewed from the side it is leaning to).

Technical difficulties

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’m hoping this will go up. The wifi I’ve been using hasn’t been allowing me to do any uploads in the past day. And the day before, I was kind of a mess of no sleep from my trans-Atlantic flight, and my body was in emergency shutdown mode that had me trying to nod off every time I sat down.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post something later today. We’re off to Florence for our Da Vinci excursion!

All. The. Knitted. Things.

This month was pretty successful. It was easy to fit in some knitting in the evenings, no matter how tired I was or what we were up to. My side of the couch still looks like a yarnpocalypse but I did end up making a lot of lovely things.

A baby blanket for my friend A, expecting a baby girl.

A hat and scarf made from the leftover yarn from the baby blanket, donated to my work Christmas Market fundraiser going on next week.

Tiny booties and a partly mohair hat for A’s baby girl.

Baby booties and a blanket for our friends L and K’s impending baby.

A new warm toque for me when the first wintry blasts came in this month.

Booties and a blanket for another friend of mine who is expecting their first child, who will receive them in a couple of weeks.

As you can see, a mini-baby boom happening among my friends right now. I didn’t even finish the *other* baby blanket and booties for my other friend expecting as well. But they’re due a little later so I have a bit of time.

I’m still working on my Hitchhiker scarf, but it’s getting close to being done.

And then I have the Advent Scarf from Ravelry to catch up on.

But, since we’re starting December shortly, I’ll be doing my last month theme. I’m also heading on a quick vacation for the next week, so knitting will have to wait here until I get back.

I decided, since there will be so much stuff going on this month, that I wanted to explore something that would be quick but still artistic, and something I could do while being present in the moment. So I will be Documenting December, and posting one picture per day to feature something from that day. This will be cross-posted to Instagram as well.

I’ll try to post something more narrative from my travels in the next week as well. I’m excited, as I’ll be visiting three new countries I’ve never been to, and a different part of a country that I’ve been to three times already (not counting layovers). :)


Well, it’s been fairly easy to knit every day so far. Except for yesterday, bizarrely. I didn’t do any stitches over lunch because I took myself out for lunch after my big presentation in the morning. Then I did some errands in the late afternoon/evening before heading home, and instead of knitting when I retired to the living room post-dinner, I played some video games. With several* projects perched on the arm of the couch, looking at me with their yarny eyes, silently pleading to be made whole.

Also, my knitting muscles are sore! Some of the projects I’ve been doing require some tension and I was massaging and stretching my forearms after last weekend. I’ve even been doing some crochet finishing too.

Knitting luckily fits into many downtime spaces in my life and so it has been great that evenings result in me sitting down on the couch and picking up my knitting rather than my social media. I’ve been struggling with the political posts that cross most of my feeds, finding them not very good for my mental health. ;P

And I’m not going to lie – we’re receiving our first big dump of snow today and there’s nothing quite like making warm fuzzy things when it’s actually cold outside. I went on a bit of a hygge rampage last weekend and bought a few pairs of flannel pajama pants (not all of them for me, some for my husband too). Last weekend also saw the first batch of gluhwein brewed and drunk. Must have all the cozy!

So, I’ll happily continue knitting for the rest of the month. I’m taking photos of my knitted pieces to post at the end of the month, because some are presents that will be given in the coming weeks and so they will be gone before I can create a pile o’November knitting to document this month’s progress. :)

* – seriously, counting them now, I have 3 projects being “actively” knitted and one waiting to be cast on, plus a pile of yarn with 4 assigned projects not moved to “my side” of the couch yet, plus at least one project in storage that is a repeat of a previous pattern that I haven’t started to play with yet because cables and it took a while, and it will need to be blocked before it’s put together and I hate blocking. Not to mention the other project that I got pinned up and ready to be sewn together, only to take the darning needle over to the projects I just finished… I suffer from that most common problem of not wanting to do the finishing parts to my projects. But I will! …eventually…

Well hello, November

Optional October definitely took some of the pressure off. I did manage to do some of the things, whether taking a walk, meditating, writing, etc. I didn’t always do something, so that was a bit if a downside but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

So for November, I considered doing NaNoWriMo again. That’s National Novel Writing Month and it is really good. I’ve done it in years past and it helped my approach to writing a lot. Instead of brooding over every word and editing while I write, NaNoWriMo forces you to just… write. In order to meet your 50,000 word count by 11:59pm on November 30th, you can’t be agonizing over every turn of phrase. You need to produce at least 1,667 words per day. And that can be wickedly difficult with, you know, a real life to manage as well as a job and stuff.

So instead, since I was invited to contribute some knitted things to an auction for the United Way campaign at work, I decided on doing:

Heh, I hear that in a movie announcer voice in my head, with thunder behind it.

I have a ton of projects waiting for me as well. I don’t knit super quickly, so this might be good to help me get through Knitting All The Things.

It’s also really meditative and relaxing. I usually multitask while knitting, either watching a movie or show, or listening to a presentation. In my first post-undergrad job, the Chair of the Board of Directors for the non-profit I worked for would regularly knit during her board meetings, which I thought was brilliant.

So there you go. I will knit every day this month and see how chill (and toasty snuggly warm) I am by the end of the month. :)

So long, September

In a nutshell, I’d say that sugarless and sober was a success. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the month was so stressful. But I think I’ve proved to myself that the discipline isn’t what I lack.

Sober was easy. In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like I “needed” a drink (unless I’m forgetting something). When I’ve been stressed or grieving, alcohol hasn’t been my vice of choice.

Sugarless was a bit more challenging, but again, the discipline was there. Even if I was going for a coffee with a friend, I’d opt for the straight milk and coffee latte, rather than the fancy one with syrups and whatnot.

But during the power outage aftermath of the tornado, I did stop being strict about it. It was just so that I wouldn’t be avoiding perfectly edible food that otherwise would be fine, except for there being sugar as one of the ingredients.

Also, I was tired. This month was a lot. There was a lot going on, and a lot of exhaustion, stress, and then having to throw out everything in my fridge and freezer after 53 hours without power. That sort of just broke it for me. I decided that Sugarless September was done last week. And I enjoyed that Blossoming Rose tea latte.

But again, funnily enough, as I’ve come to realize at the end of most every month – the change had felt good. I will probably maintain a fairly sugar free diet, focused on fresh fruit and vegs, with good protein sources, and light on the breads and pastas.

What’s on tap for October? I had been toying with the idea of Educational October, where I’d sign up for those courses I had planned on doing (and finish the one that has been languishing for years). Except I’m still tired and there are still two weeks to go on a big deadline at work. So I think I’m going to go with Optional October.

Optional October will mean that every day, I will choose one thing to do – yoga, meditation, reading, art, journaling, gratitude exercise, heavy workout, staying off social media, sugarless, sober, and yes, even working on a course or two. This way, I’ll be able to work in some of the things I’ve learned this year about what makes me feel better, and I’ll still have a goal, it just won’t be as strict.

When darkness falls

A few annoying flickers during the Netflix show – not enough to stop it, but enough to miss a few seconds as the TV is more sensitive, apparently, to a lack of electricity than the gaming console. Outside, the wind shreds the rain and it just looks like white water pounding against the glass. A wicked storm.

The next time, the TV doesn’t come back on. We sit, making pensive humming sounds as we wait for the electrons to come back. We sit, and the storm calms somewhat outside.

Eventually, we shrug and collect up our dinner plates… okay, let’s be real, our dinner personal pizza boxes. It was Friday night, after all. We wander into the kitchen-dining room-sitting room-studio-office, with all the big windows, with the last of the light, and we sit. We sit, thinking nothing of the jarring alarum both of our cell phones had blared just a while ago. You are waiting to go to your regular Friday night get together. I am waiting to see if my night alone will be occupied with video games or something more unplugged.

We look out the window and see our street flooded. All the way up to the doorway of the garage across from us. A maelstrom swirls at one of the storm drains, and cars and trucks slow suddenly as they realize how deep the water gets. We wonder aloud at the state of the pit next door, but we can’t see from our vantage point.

Due to the weather, you start out early. I walk down the stairs to the second sub-basement – the parking garage – with you, both of us carrying our headlamps because we aren’t sure quite the extent of the emergency systems. We’re happily surprised to find that it’s rather well lit, and you drive me to the front door. I’m fortunate because someone is waiting in the lobby and has already identified the fault in the system – the key fobs “let you in” but the emergency system isn’t attached to the door unlocking mechanism.

I sit where you had been and keep reading my short story collection by Charles de Lint. I text my family to let them know we’re without power and that my mother’s emergency preparations are a good call, as the system is supposed to rake across them as well. Eventually, as an afterthought, perhaps after a brief check of Twitter to see what people were saying, I text you to ask that you let me know when you get to our friends’ house. I’m not sure I really understood at that time what had happened.

It starts to get darker now, so I assemble the three candles on display into the one softly rectangular platter, and try to read by the orange glow. After the shortest one drowns in its own beeswax, I figure I should find all my stores candles – hand rolled beeswax ones, made by me a few years ago. Then I take my headlamp and assemble our flashlights, digging out the triple A and double A batteries from their various places and refreshing them. I decide the double A battery powered flashlight will have to be my workhorse, because we have more of those.

You tell me that it was hell trying to drive anywhere. All the traffic lights were out and it took so long to get there. But you were playing a board game, everyone present and accounted for, the house lights powered by our friend’s generator.

I read, occasionally checking Twitter, and beginning to see the destruction wrought across my city. I’m aghast at the screenshot I take from a video of a white delivery truck toppled onto a red hatchback, surrounded by toothpick-snapped telephone poles. I can’t even recognize where on the street it’s taken, and I have a mind for images. I send it to my family, and to you. I read about Dunrobin and wonder if the house I visited a week earlier is still standing. I wonder if I should text my friend but then reason she probably wouldn’t know yet either. I look for the emergency check in on Facebook but only find three other catastrophes on the other side of the world, so I wonder if ours isn’t big enough. I’ll end up finding it later and marking myself safe after I post a short statement to that effect just in my own words.

Eventually, I decide to crawl into bed so that I can just lay down when I feel like stopping reading. Surely the power will come back on.

It doesn’t. You get home sometime around 2am, and I wake up when I hear you come in. The city is unrecognizable in the dark, you tell me. None of the traffic lights were lit on your drive back in. You’re sure you blew through intersections you didn’t even see. South Keys was a gaping abyss of shocking darkness. Only one small enclave of power on the south edge of town was the aberration in your inky drive home. Surreal.

We wake the next morning to no power. Cold showers later, we are more or less presentable when we eat a cold breakfast of what’s on hand and I convince you to brave the streets again since our phones don’t have reception. We must check on our people. Intersection after intersection is a four way stop, until we weirdly find one with power. Our people are in the same boat as we – no damage but no power. All is well-ish. We return to our cave and wait.

Cold dinner of vegetables and meat and cheese from the fridge before another evening of reading. I’m now on my short stories collection of Frank Herbert. It seems appropriate to have such an intimate experience with the night as it rises to prominence again in the seasonal cycle. The equinox passes with hundreds of thousands of my fellow city-zens incapable of missing the equal share of night with day. We call it a night, possibly early, but who can tell when you live in a black hole.

The next day, I insist we go in search of warm food and coffee. I’ll pay for that later with two massive blisters on my Achilles tendons from my first foray out in shoes rather than my comfortable sandals. But we cram into the first open diner we find walking east. An air of desperation and a strange mix of friendliness and hostility colours everyone’s body language and words. I mention that my edict on sugar is not being observed while this emergency is happening, but I avoid using the catsup on my eggs anyway. It’s because I have already planned on the vegetarian food I was going to pull from the still-frozen freezer that we can have cold, and I know it has sugar added. I’ll later allow myself a blooming rose tea latte from a Starbucks in Kanata we stop at to charge our phones simultaneously instead of taking turns charging them off of the car.

A second candle sputters out that evening, as we cuddle on the couch to read by flashlight together. We’ve already read on Twitter that police are asking folks to stay home, off the roads, since so many traffic lights are still out. My boss tells me the same via an improvised phone tree.

Then beeps and air being forced through vents after another return to bed is considered. I flick a switch and the light is intrusive, almost brash in comparison with the gentle honeyed glow, but it is joyous as well. We’re not sure if this is the full return, and indeed I am awoken that night as the beeps sound again, another flicker of the grid, but we now have our regular past times back. And I wonder if we won’t remember how life was without the power.