Monday, May 31, 2010 small increments

Yesterday I finally finished the hot pink/red Noro yarn socks I'd been knitting on our roadtrip.  I'll post a photo tomorrow.  I was spurred into action by a blog post on make something to finish lingering projects.
I also finished doing the reverse applique stitching for an Alabama Chanin skirt (kit) I got for Christmas.  I'm a little worried it might not currently fit, but that's a temporary condition.
    Otherwise, I did a few chores today - one I really like, another that I really dislike.  Laundry and grading.  You guess which fits which description.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Feel the love

We finally broke down and bought a new refrigerator, and I'm surprised at how much pleasure it's giving me. (Ever have a boy/girlfriend you could say that about?  Uh huh, don't even pretend you haven't.)  But just like that boy/girlfriend, you often find yourself immediately making concessions or overlooking their idiosyncracies, like film in the fridge.
Yes, the first thing in our new fridge was film.  It's true - art is everywhere!
(The fridge will probably never look that good again.)
    I would love to be able to curate and arrange the contents of my refrigerator a la J. Morgan Puett, but I don't see that happening.  However, it would be magical.
 (photos from

   Instead, I'm trying to just stay ahead of dead stuff in the fridge.  That's my current art project.
 (Film never dies...)

    And just because I can, I'm including two photos of my cat who has been amazing me with his choice of hangouts.  This is from where he oversaw gardening operations yesterday.

    Clearly he's not amused by half-hearted gardening attempts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Game On!

Serious gardening day, even though it was unintentional.  Stopped at Whole Foods to buy some seedlings (okay, we had to get off the highway because the traffic was awful) and when we got home proceeded to get totally immersed in weeding, pruning, and planting.  It's great.  We finally got rid of the giant white soil bag on our front lawn.  (Our neighbors must love us.)
   I'm trying to be a little more realistic about gardening this year.  Rather than try to grow everything, I'm focusing on fewer, more essential items like tomatoes.  I've tried to grow things from seed, and have had modest success in the past, but for some reason often can't get them past the early seedling phase.   I put in a few seeds today, just to be optimistic, along with the seedlings (three types of tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and some herbs) we bought.  My goal is to give them consistent attention.
   Watched the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals.  Let's Go Blackhawks!  By the way, anyone see the Chris Pronger/Eddie Haskell connection?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Post 100!

In honor of post 100 I give you this from the "Questions for Martha Stewart" in the New York Times Magazine dated May 8, 2010.

Question:  Is it fair to call a craftsperson "crafty," which implies slyness?

Martha:  Yes, we call ourselves crafty, and being crafty is a good thing.

Words to live by.

A little puzzled and maybe sad

We finally watched the Lost finale last night.  I don't know why I waited to watch it, probably because I didn't want it to end.  I'm not sure how I feel about it, particularly the whole religious aspect of it.  But you know, it really was a good show although the fact that I'm still ruminating on it is a little bit disconcerting perhaps.  I have to give a shout out to Ian for turning us onto it in the first place.
   Secondly, how is it that Crystal Bowersox didn't win American Idol?  Actually, I'm not surprised.  Look at what happened last year.  Adam Lambert clearly should've won.  It just confirms what I've come to believe - people often can't recognize talent and innovation when it slaps them upside the head or they're just too frightened of it.  A cute (according to some) boy usually gets those tweens texting and calling like mad.  It's easier to vote repeatedly when you don't have to pay the bill.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


This morning I felt as though I'd punched through the clouds.  It was really just the result of a few small things like acknowledging that I wasn't ready to run a half marathon on Sunday and that I could just focus on my training for the Nike Women's Marathon in October and finishing a small project.
   For Christmas, my parents gave me a serger and a gift certificate for the Serger Essentials class at the workroom where we bought the serger and I've taken a class before.  I really like the workroom.  Karyn's done a great job creating a crafting space that has a really relaxed vibe and cool stuff (make something is her blog).  If I lived in Toronto, I'd probably be there a lot.
   Anyway, fast forward six months, and I finally find a class that works with my schedule (the serger is still in the box - please see yesterday's post for root issue). In the class I made some dinner napkins.  It was just really nice to have a project started and completed within a few hours.  Liss likes them so much she wants to send them as a birthday gift.  I want to create an entire outfit to go with them - matching skirt and kerchief. (C'mon, I know you can totally see it.)

    So this morning, I was feeling a little mellower, cutting myself some slack.  Then I go to give blood.  I feel very strongly about giving blood (I'm a registered bone marrow donor as well), and the last time I went to give, my hemoglobin was too low (not too low in health matters, but to give).  It was the same story today.  Would you be surprised that I was practically in tears because I was so disappointed and frustrated? (Note:  I am not premenstrual, but thanks for asking.)
   I chat with the nurse - all about what to do to get my iron up.  I already do those things, and my doctor has told me that my iron levels are fine.  Then I find out that the whole thing is totally SEXIST.  The hemoglobin level required of all blood donors is EXACTLY THE SAME REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY'RE A MAN OR A WOMAN.  125 is the benchmark number - for women, that's pretty strong (even my 118 today is good); for a man, that's low - but still okay to donate.  Wow.  Are men just that much more able to withstand a lowering, from already low levels, of their hemoglobin.  Do tell.   The nurse bristled when I suggested sexism.  I'm going to write to Canadian Blood Services about this, and if they think that physiologically men and women are the same (oh, give me a break!) then this may cause me to reconsider supporting them because they're already homophobic.  (See their policy on gay men here.)
   It's difficult because I know that donating blood is important (and if you don't do it yet, and you can - physically and psychologically - you should), but I'm tired of the rejection and the cause of it (policy, not necessarily hemoglobin).  Just to ice the anti-woman cake - if you've ever been pregnant (delivered or not), you can't give platelets - ever.
   (Did I not warn you that this could get messy?)
   So I walk, rejected, to Home Depot to meet Liss and stop in their garden center.  I'm really behind this season and need to just put in some seedlings or there will be no produce in August.  Keep in mind that I'm still in a mood at this point.  I see their veggies, under the moniker "garden fresh."  Their SKU tags say "eco" something, so I'm curious.  Are these plants free from GMOs?  I ask one of the garden center workers who, guess what, has no idea.  I don't even know that she knew what GMOs were and probably didn't understand what I meant when I said something like "Are they GMO free or is the eco tag just another example of greenwashing?"  Like I said, I was in a mood.
    I'm in a better mood know.  On my way home last night I was envying Karyn.  From this side it seems like owning your own shop where you could craft away would be great.  Of course I realize that it's a lot of work and probably stressful as well (keeping a business afloat can't be a constant picnic).  I also realized that I actually have it pretty good myself.  I'm just in my own way sometimes.  I often cause myself unnecessary stress.  I need to remind myself of this, but it's okay.  It just continues to confirm my belief that I make my own life (in general), and I need to accept responsibility for it. 
    My name is Claudia, and I'm an existentialist.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

State of Affairs

Behind - that's the word I would use to encapsulate my current state of affairs. Behind in my writing, behind in my closet purge, behind in my grading, behind in my running.  You name it, I'm probably behind in it somehow.  I'm hoping to shake off the inertia.  It would probably help if I got out of my head more often.  I seem to be setting up camp in some outpost of my mind.

So I'm hoping a new 30-day challenge will do the trick (since the previous ones were rousing successes - not really):  daily blog posts.   Nothing like a [virtual] audience to shame me into discipline (so many ways one could configure those words; we'll leave analysis out for the time being).  Out of my mind and onto the web (sounds weird, but I like it).

Stayed tuned.  It could get messy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Proper Use of a Windowbox

It fit him so perfectly.  (No, I will not make a bad cat pun involving the sound a cat makes.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

White Noise

I've decided that there's a lot of white noise in my closet.  Oftentimes I find myself standing in front of some rather nice items but not inspired to don any of them.  Not quite a "I've got nothing to wear" moment but more of a "I don't really feel like wearing any of these things, either right now or anymore, so why are they taking up space in my closet?" moment.
   I'm on the verge of a purge.  I've started with some of the things in my drawers but have to yet to declare open season on my closet.  There will most likely be four categories:  1) Stay - I love you!,  2) Ebay - someone else will pay to love you, 3) Donation - love thy neighbour, and 4) The tweeners - not quite ebay love yet more than a freebie.  Basically, category four will be the clothes that I'd like to sell or trade to my friends in a sort of "placement" program.  I'm still working on a viable model for that exchange.
   In the meantime, I'm thinking about the kinds of clothes I really respond to, what I'd like to see on my rails, and how to push myself further.  I'll post some photos of category four items as they come up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New York weekend finale; Part 2

I somehow managed to schedule real visits with a number of friends. Saturday night I had dinner with my Kristin and Josh.  Dinner was great and a bit hysterical because I got a glue trap (gross!!) stuck to my coat, which was hanging under the bar rail.  Luckily I'd had a martini and found it more absurd than disgusting (no mice came with it thankfully) and the restaurant was appropriately mortified.  Of course I experienced classic New York subway action on the way home when I let two N trains go by before it came to my attention that there was no R and that the N was running on the R line.  Hey, thanks for the signage.  Oh, there wasn't any...
   Surprise, surprise, stayed up late with Keith and my first Mother's day gift to myself was a headache (sounds better than a hangover, doesn't it?).  But in its entirety my Mother's day was great.  I had brunch with my friend Jill, and then spent the day on my own.  I napped, talked to Ian, my mother, and Liss, read the New York Times, went for a walk, bought Sam Lipsyte's new novel as well as a couple of journals, and just amused myself in general.  It was really pleasurable.  Then I got to have dinner with Artemis, which was very satisfying both emotionally as well as gustatorially.  Afterwards, Keith and I, having exhausted our desire for another late night, sat and watched bad television.  In bed by 11:30pm!
   Good weekend overall, and I'm happy to be home in Hamilton again.

New York weekend finale; Part 1

Part 1:  General overview and reality check

The nostalgia waned Saturday morning as I encountered the classic subway service interruptions signaling an end to my train luck from the previous day.  No matter, I made it to meet my mom on time, but we took a cab uptown.
    Our routine is to have lunch at Bergdorf Goodman's first, sharing the Gotham Salad and generally the Tea Sandwiches (sometimes we get the Deviled Eggs).  We don't believe in shopping on an empty stomach.  Then we wend our way through the store.
    This wending also has a general schedule - designer collections on the 3rd floor first (where my friend, Domingo, works), then to the 5th (contemporary collections & shoes), maybe the 6th (sportswear), and often the 2nd (more shoes).  On the third floor, I tried on this Alexander McQueen dress.  What you can't see is the chartreuse silk lining.  It fit like a glove, but I turned it down.  Now, I've changed my mind, and I have it on hold.  (By the way, the photo sucks, but you can get the general idea.)
    I'm picky.  Quite honestly, my mother and I often comment that we have more interesting things in our closets at home that are 20 years old than some of the stuff we see in the stores.  However, I'm still open to falling in love, like I did with these shoes (Rodarte for Repetto).
    Have you seen anything like them?  And if you could touch them!  They're like a combination of silk and butter but in a leather form.  Soft is an understatement.  They're like little gloves of love for your feet.  I will be very careful with them because I want them to last a long time.
   We almost always head to Saks Fifth Avenue afterwards, and I tried on a couple of things there.  Like this Erdem dress.
    The fabric was gorgeous, but the shape did nothing for me.  I actually found that with a Calvin Klein dress I tried on - it looked like a fabric combination of spun sugar and spiderweb, but its shape was more suited to be displayed on a skinny, straight-up-and-down kind of figure.  I like to wear my clothes, whether fitted or unstructured, rather than serve as the mannequin for them.
   One thing I have to address is the serious lack of effort my fellow shoppers were making.  What happened to looking good when you went out?  I don't care if you're trying on a pair of $800 Christian Louboutin shoes.  You look like crap in those holey leggings and cheap-looking but expensive t-shirt.  "Casual" is over-rated.
    My mother and I always dress to shop.  For me, it's only appropriate.  I like (or at least used to like) to see what other women were wearing.  Get some ideas, inspiration, or pleasure.  I know, I sound like an old lady (I don't like jeans at the opera or symphony either - not that I go often, but when I do - you know what I mean), but if you're shopping in a high-end store yet not wearing what you shop for - what are you doing with it?  Traipsing around charity events or in your living room (don't get me wrong, with the right underwear, oh, sorry, digression), waiting for a special occasion?  Ever hear of pride?  It's like people who store their jewelry in a safe deposit box and only pull it out on holidays.
   I could go on, but I'll stop.  I think I've made my point.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

City Mouse

Feeding the nostalgia of living in the city by a trip to my old stomping grounds - Brooklyn & NYC in general.

So far - been hit on by an MTA guy, cruised by a cute butch on the subway, managed to have flawless subway travel, seen my friends, Christine & Lawrence, and their amazing little baby, Rowan, and stayed up way too late (with too many drinks) with my pal Keith.  No wonder I miss the city!

Today - the meat and potatoes of the trip: meeting up with my mom for our biannual roam of Bergdorf Goodman and Saks.  It's the only time I really hit that part of town because hey, I'm with my mom, and that's what we do.  Plus, it's fun!  You think I can afford that on my own?

Quick note to those who live in Toronto and think a 45-minute or hour trip to Hamilton is a long way.  (We're often asked, when at a party in Toronto, if we're going to stay the night because Hamilton is sooo far away.)  It took me almost an hour and half to get to my friend's apartment in Brooklyn from JFK (Queens), and 45 minutes to get from Christine & Lawrence's place in Queens back to Brooklyn.  It's all the same city, sweethearts, and in that time you could actually go to another place entirely.  Transportation - it's amazing.  Time - it's all relative.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Return of the Redressed

  As one might imagine the last few days back have been busy with getting back to the business of the everyday, which is never quite routine, and I'm off to New York City for the weekend (a little Mother's Day rendezvous with my mother).  I haven't even unpacked my suitcase from the road trip!
   Liss came home Tuesday evening with items from our friend's late mother's estate, and one of the items was this booklet:
It contains the description of hundreds (well, 501) free pamphlets and stuff one could send away for in the 70s.  In addition to mailing away for patterns and instructions, one could find out about starting a career as a diamond cutter (courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor!) or get a guided study of Rembrandt's etchings so one could better their own technique (hello U.S. Government Printing Office!).  There are also things from various private enterprises, but I was really surprised at how many U.S. government documents there were.  (It's funny, I recently thought about all the brochures that came out of Pueblo, Colorado in the 70s.  I visited the website, and they're still cranking them out:   I'm sorry, but downloading pdfs is just not as much fun as getting something in the mail.)
    This booklet also immediately brought to mind one of my favourite possessions, one of the things I'd grab if there were a fire in my house:
    My mother gave me Cheap Chic way back in the late 70s, I think, and the love for it is evident in the well-worn pages and spine.  I still reference it.  It is, by far, the best fashion/style guide I've ever read.  Yes, styles have changed but finding cool stuff in a thrift store, reimagining work clothes as fashion items, or integrating classic items without looking like your name should be Muffy is timeless!  I am constantly looking for another copy of this because mine is starting to lose pages.  If you find one, let me know.  I'm willing to pay.
   501 Valuable Free Things also reminded me of how I used to send away for all kinds of stuff, and with Cheap Chic, I mailed away for a ton of catalogs.  You can see my little scrawl, with notations, in this photo (not the best picture, but hey):
    Did I ever order from any of these?  Probably not, but as anyone who's into personal style knows - fantasy and inspiration go a long way. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Road Weary

We're tired.  We're tired of being on the road, and we're tired of the road food.  We'll be home tonight - yay!  Yay Tempur-Pedic!  Yay Max!  Yay clean clothes!
   I also want to call Choice Hotels on their truth in advertising.  They enticed people to stay with their "1 + 1 = Free."  Here's deal:  "Stay two separate times and you can earn a free night at over 1,500 Choice hotels. Just stay with arrival between February 22nd and April 30th, 2010"  What it should say is arrive between February 22nd and April 27th and then you can stay until the 30th because it takes 72 hours for you to get credit for your stay even when you're talking to them on the phone, you've checked out of your hotel, and they can see that in their records.
   Listen, we stayed predominantly at Comfort Inns across the country and they get all cheap on their deals?  Like I said I'm tired, and I'm also tired of their free breakfast.  How about some yogurt or something?  Enough with the wheat/flour-based options.