Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Are you still writing?"

That was the question a former classmate/friend from graduate school asked me last night when I went to say hi to him after his reading.  It wasn't the only question, but the question I remember most (followed closely by "Why did you move to Hamilton?").  It might seem like an innocent enough question, but it was one that made me chafe and start a small spiral of doubt.

That's why whenever I see an old writing friend, I always ask "How's your writing?"  And here's why.  Being a writer is kind of like being a pet owner.  One should always assume your pet is alive, and so it is with writing, whether that "pet" is going on long runs with you, chasing a car, or sleeping all day.  To continue that analogy, most pet owners get a new pet when old faithful ceases to be.  It's much like writing - if you're not writing the same stuff you were before, you're probably writing something else now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sometimes my days get away from me.  It's usually the result of an unexpected errand or responsibility.  Today has been one of those days.  Sometimes it's just better to go with it, so I continued the cooking jag making potato leek soup and sauerkraut.

I think the sauerkraut will be one of my holiday gifts (if you're on my list and hate sauerkraut, don't worry - I know).  As you might guess, I am a friend of fermentation (one of the clubs at Hampshire College where Ian went), and I"m quite excited to see how this experiment will turn out.  I followed a rather simple albeit physical (pounding cabbage for 10 minutes) recipe from Saveur which uses only cabbage and kosher salt.

(This bad boy weighed 7 pounds.)

(Looks majestic, doesn't it?)

Now it's a matter of waiting and attending (but not hovering).  It'll be ready in as little as 10 days for "new" sauerkraut, described in the Saveur article as "[z]ingy and effervescent."  I'm not going to mess with it in this go-around.  Next time I'll see about adding caraway seeds or using white wine.

Next up?  Kimchi!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Poor Self-Promotion

Yes, it's poor self-promotion when you write the url for your art collective's website incorrectly.  The Shake-n-Make website is at

Images from the Bay Area

There really aren't many photos from my trip to the California bay area; however, I have a few highlights.

Britex Fabrics - four floors of fabrics & notions.  I demonstrated amazing restraint in the face of so much temptation and will try to get a photo up in the next day or so of the woven silk plaid I bought (on sale).

Ian and a giant pumpkin at the Berkeley Bowl.  A fellow shopper tried to use the photo op as a pick-up opportunity.  He seemed to mistake my interest in giant squash for more than it was.
The one photo Ian was able to take of me at the marathon.  I'm headed toward the finish line so I imagine my expression is one of grim relief.
And finally, it was the birthday of one of my hosts so I made him this hat out of some Malabrigo Celine gave me.  Thanks, Celine.  The hat turned out great, and he seemed to love it.  I got the pattern from Ravelry - Irish Hiking Hat.  I made one in black for myself last year.

(Note:  His favourite colour is orange so the colour choice was not as out there as it might initially have seemed.)

I finally feel like I'm catching up on, well - everything.  I'm rested, finally, and am getting back to my routines and rituals.  I'm hoping to go for a run tomorrow.  Today I'm deep into making stock (chicken & veg).  I'm feeling a heavy week of cooking and freezing coming on (inspired, in part, by Adawg).   Even though the weather here is pretty mild, I'm getting ready for some winter nesting.

Shoe of the Week: Landgirl/Granny Chic

I love the British term "landgirl," which I translate to mean rural/country girl.  Anyway, these Chie Mihara shoes have a bit of both landgirl and granny to them, which is a sturdy, to say the least, combination.  They might be considered a fitting synthesis of rustic and refined.  Plus, I think these will look good with socks.  Yes, I'm going to wear socks with my pumps.  I don't care how old I am.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Okay, it's supposed to be a combination of "knit" and "inspiration," but I could see how it might sound like a combo of "knit" and "desperation," but notice the "i" instead of the "e."  Nevertheless they are both quite familiar to me.

Anyway, this is about Lisa Anne Auerbach, who Ian's girlfriend turned me on to.  I'm still getting to know her via her blog and website, but she seems like the kind of person we all want to know - artist, foodie, Scorpio (!!!), knitter, biker, and probably more.  And when I saw "we," I mean the royal "we," mainly "me."  Check out some of her text-based work via sweaters here.

And because I keep forgetting - check out our Shake-n-Make website.  The art collective (and no, it's not just me) finally has online documentation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marathon Monday

No, it's not a marathon post, but a short post about the marathon yesterday.

I had three goals, two of which I met:  I finished, and I finished with a better time than my first marathon (New York) nine years ago.  My third goal was to come in under 5 hours.  My official time is 5:12:40.  I'm cool with that, and now I have a plan for the next one (!).  I know I need a) people along the course cheering me on either because they know me or I've put my name on my shirt so they can say "Go Claudia!" and b) someone to run either the entire thing with me or the last five miles.   It was a hard slog from mile 21 or so to mile 25.  Quite honestly, I didn't anticipate the profound feeling of being alone during that time despite the other runners and spectators.  I thought I could do it alone.   Thankfully a woman running by me during that last mile invited me to run with her, which made all the difference - thanks, unknown woman!

One more day in the bay area and then I head back home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bonus Shoe

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm dickin' around the internet when I really should be packing, but look what I found!
Are these Trippen shoes cool or what?  Cool and made by "my people" - the Germans.  Of course!  I found them at gravity pope where you can check out more views of them.   Hmm, time to see if I can squeak some pennies to save out of my weekly budget.

The Week That Was and Will Be

Here's the thing - I'm constantly thinking about things to bring up here, but I can't quite sit down and post them.  Then suddenly there's a backlog of conversations I'd love to engage in.  At this point the first idea feels old, but still interesting, and the next thing I know I haven't posted a damn thing, and I don't want to put up an epic post.

So a return to my favourite:  the list.
  1. Most pressing - I run the marathon on Sunday.  (My shoe of the week was going to be my running shoes, but I can't find my camera - sense a theme here?)
  2. Went to the Sabres' season opener and saw the Rangers kick their ass.  Oh joy, oh rapture!
  3. Attended the workroom anniversary party with Celine and a blog friend of hers from France.  She has friends that she only knows via blogging & email!  It is the modern-day version of meeting your pen pal.  Sigh.
Not surprisingly I thought this list would be longer.  However, there it is in a nutshell.  Hopefully I can find my camera so I can post photos from my trip out to the bay area.  Maybe there will even be a triumphant one of me crossing the finish line.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Expanded Ventures

I finally feel like I'm in a good groove for the new season and semester.  There's a lot I want to accomplish, and there are a lot of things that I'm working on simultaneously like finishing my short story collection, paying down my debts (while still finding ways to do the things I like to do), and meeting my obligations.

Not that this is new, but I'm on a budget.  We're trying to go to Berlin in 2013, and our goal is to be debt-free when we go.  The budget has been challenging; however, on the best days, I treat it like a new way to be crafty because to live happily on a budget you have to be crafty.

Some of the ways I've cut costs as well as added funding have been:  playing hockey only once a week (instead of twice), reimagining my existing wardrobe (new combos and so forth), doing an "energy exchange" for my yoga classes, selling stuff on ebay (my user name is "hopespringseternal"), and working one day a week at the Melissa (read a recent review here).  Here I am in front of the store last December:
I'm really excited to be working there.  It started as a way to help my friend out, and now it's become (even before my first day in the shop) another creative outlet for me - dressing for retail!  Yes, everything is an opportunity for a new way to look at your wardrobe.  I'm sensing a lot of hats for this one.

In other areas - I'm less than two weeks away from the marathon in San Francisco.  I ran 21.5 miles last week, and it made me feel good about the whole thing.  I'm in the lovely tapering phase right now; my runs are getting shorter in preparation.  I'm still nervous, but I've taken pressure off myself by just focusing on the run itself and not my time or any of those other concerns.  Plus, I get to see 'the boy' (aka our son), which is worth crawling the entire thing.

And prep is another theme for me right now.  Not to make your eyes roll, but I am thinking about the upcoming December holidays.  As someone who tries to make the majority of her gifts, I need to make a plan so that I don't spend all of December in the "craftory" - the craft factory.  Prep is a way to maintain holiday sanity as well.

All in all, everything feels pretty good.  I hope I can find ways to expand that feeling throughout the upcoming months and beyond.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Gets Better

Please check out these videos from ACLU staffers done in conjunction with Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project."  Savage talks about the impetus behind this project, the suicide of a 15-year old kid in Indiana who'd been tormented by his peers, in his column on September 23, 2010.

I think that not only do we have to tell kids it gets better, but we need to make sure there are local places where they can find support while they're growing up.  Sometimes it's hard to believe things will get better when you feel like you can't survive another day.  Maybe we can give them another day, and then another, and then another, until it genuinely gets better.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shoe of the Week: Hand-crafted Booties

When we were in Vancouver earlier this year, I picked up these Cydwoq boots on sale.  They have a wonderfully rich brown colour to them, and they're super cool looking as well as comfortable.  I can hear the crackling of leaves underfoot already.

October Fun

It has suddenly become fall here.  And yesterday was surprisingly cold and damp, but we had a date to get some pumpkins.  The crappy weather meant we didn't have to deal with the crowds, which suited us just fine.

Here we are (minus our photographer) ready for action.  I thought Carhartt overalls with a cap picked up in a thrift store in London suited the weather and vibe of the day.

Pumpkin city!

 Before me sit five lovely pumpkins, but only one will go on in hopes of becoming Claudia & Liss' Top Pumpkin.  (Actually, we took two.)

 No crowds meant more room for us to lounge on the hay ride (which was really a tractor pull sans hay, but fun nonetheless).

Welcome autumn!

Wardrobe Challenge

On Saturday I was scheduled to give a Creative Nonfiction workshop at the University of Western Ontario for alumni attending Homecoming Weekend.  Because I am not a morning person and my workshop was scheduled for 9am, I decided to spend the night at a friend's in London.

It was while driving to London (about an hour and a half away) that I realized that while I had my suitcase, a couple of beers to share, and my purse, my outfit was still hanging on the doorjamb of my office.  It was then that I entered my own reality show challenge:  make an outfit out of what you can find at your friend's place.

Let me set the stage - my friend (a guy) wears predominantly plaid flannel shirts.  I believe he likes to rotate a wardrobe of three or four.  However, he's house-sitting, which meant there might be clothes left behind by the homeowners.  I could only hope for the best.  At the time I was still wearing what I'd hiked in earlier that day (loose jeans and a long sleeve wicking shirt) with my clogs (which I'd intended to wear Saturday morning with a Comme des Garcons dress over a white shirt).

Not only did I forget my outfit, but I packed leggings instead of tights, which just spiced up the challenge.

Here's the best I could come up with.  What you can't see is that the waistband of the skirt is tucked into the top of my leggings so it wouldn't ride down.
Not my regular style, but it seemed to be okay.  My friend could not help me so I borrowed clothes from the couple whose house it was.  It was definitely a challenge.  Hopefully one I won't have to repeat.