Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things: of shoes ~ and ships ~ and sealing wax ~ of cabbages ~ and kings ~ and why the sea is boiling hot ~ and whether pigs have wings." ~ Lewis Carrol -aka- Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (27 January, 1832 – 14 January, 1898)
(psst: go check out Joel Birenbaum's Lewis Carrol page!)

Inspired by Lewis Carrol's Walrus, I'm choosing to end my blog-year tonight by sharing a few proverbs, aphorisms and other quotes that have developed a special meaning for me in the last year. Feel free to pass them on - I didn't make them up. And please tell me what some of your favourites are.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a "profoundly sick society." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti (11 May, 1895 – 17 February, 1986)

"I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out."
~ Paul Newman (26 January 1925 – 26 September 2008)

"It's too hard, and life is too short, to spend time doing something because someone else has said it is important. You must feel the thing, yourself."
~ Isidor I. Rabi (29 July 1898 – 11 January 1988; Nobel Prize in Physics 1944)

"Just because you're good at something doesn't mean it's a strength. If what you're doing completes you, it's a strength. If it depletes you, it's actually a weakness. Find something you are passionate about."
~ Marcus Buckingham

"In hell, people sit around large pots of bubbling, delicious food.They're all starving, though, because their only chopsticks are three feet long, and you can't feed yourself with three foot long chopsticks. In heaven, people also sit around large pots of bubbling, delicious food. They've also been given three foot long chopsticks. But in heaven, people are all well fed. The difference, is in hell, people try to feed themselves. In heaven, they feed each other."
~ Vietnamese parable

"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room."
~ Dame Anita Perella Roddick, DBE (23 October 1942 – 10 September 2007)

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try"
~ Beverly Sills (25 May 1929 – 2 July 2007)

"Fall down seven times. Get up eight."
~ Japanese proverb

"The music is the message and the message is:
fight for change, fight for inclusiveness, fight for compassion, fight for self-empowerment, fight for intelligence and ecstatic release, but don't forget the joy of the life you're fighting for."

~ Mr. Something Something (listen at

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
~ Anne Frank (12 June 1929 – early March 1945)

"You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-Between.
You've got to spread joy (up) to the maximum, bring gloom (down) to the minimum,
have faith or pandemonium liable to walk upon the scene..."

~ Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen

"Half Full? Half Empty? You decide!... an empowering interpretation is just as valid as a disempowering one. You get to decide what impact life has on you. Make it positive."
~ Real Simple magazine, March 2007

"Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one!"
~ Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 - 18 April 1955)
and, for the knitterly inclined:
(and if you're not yet one of us, rest assured that we WILL ultimately bring you over to the string side)

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crisis." Elizabeth Zimmermann (9 August, 1910 – 30 November, 1999)

Friday, December 26, 2008

An apple a day.

We can all count the seeds in an apple. But what kind of a world can we reap if instead we count the apples in a seed?

After stuffing myself silly yesterday, I'm starting fresh today (pardon the pun) by pledging to eat an apple a day for the next week and into the new year.

We got home last night from a terrific family dinner to find the annual huge pile of newspaper flyers advertising boxing day deals and door-crasher specials for just about any consumer good imaginable. Now, I am all for stimulating the economy and I have a healthy appreciation for a good sale (especially if it's on items that we genuinely need). But really, after being blessed by the generousity of friends and family this Hannukah and Xmas and throughout the year, it's fairly safe to say that I don't really NEED any more yarn, bath products, clothing, jewelry, or whatever. Possibly ever in this lifetime.

So I am feeling rather blessed and I want to spread it around a bit. This morning, instead of planning to hit the streets and the stores, I donated a little extra cash to Doctors without Borders and some to the The Tso Pema Medical Emergency Fund

This Boxing Day, consider donating to a worthy cause instead of (or as well as) shopping. And if you are feeling the economic pinch and you cannot donate money, then consider doing a kind deed for someone - it can be as simple and uncomplicated as a kind word, a phone call, or shoveling someone's driveway, to something on a grand scale, like doing some research today and pledging one day a month to building homes for people who need them or sorting and stocking at a food bank. For that matter, if you can, then why not do both - donate the funds and donate your time, effort and good will.

Do it openly or do it anonymously, whatever makes you feel best. Then sit back, have an apple or a cup of tea, and bask in the glow of collective Karma generated by all the small and grand acts of human kindness and generosity. And maybe it will inspire you to cultivate this habit in the coming year and all the days of your life. Each seed you plant grows a new tree and lots of apples for years to come. If everyone would help someone else in any little (or big) way, what a wonderful world it would be.

An apple a day, indeed!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

RIP authentic and original diva, Eartha Kitt.
Inimitable epitome of elegance and sensuality.
Nobody compares and now no one ever will.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy ChrismaHannuKwanzaaDiwalEid-mas!

I get the most wonderful emails forwarded c/o my Mom. Often she sends hysterically funny and outrageous jokes that have my husband and me rolling in the floor holding our sides as tears run down our cheeks from uncontrollable laughter. The best dirty jokes I ever receive are from her! And she sends beautiful power-point presentations from all over the world.

Once in a while she sends a stirring and heart-melting story that has me weeping at my computer. I found one of these this morning when I came down for some tea and checked my email while I waited for the kettle to boil. I have no info regarding the source of this lovely story, but I just had to share it with you. It is not known who replied, but there is a kind and beautiful soul working in the dead letter office of the US postal service.

Best wishes for a lovely holiday season and a new year filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, peace and prosperity, and many happy returns.
XO - MezzoDiva


Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.
Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by..
Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever there is love.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Purple Purl is having their Pre-Boxing-Day Boxing Day Sale today! The regular line-up is at least 20% off and several fabulous favourites will have extra festive pricing. Also, they’re planning door crasher sales!

I am afraid the prospects don't look too good for me leaving the local premises today. With snowmaggedon-smack-down III playing out on my extra wide-screen view-screen to the outdoors, I'm suddenly very eager to hibernate and knit at home while I cheerfully contemplate poking (with my size 3 nickel DPNs) the idiot who left his van in front of our house again so the snowplow will have to plow us in completely as it detours around his car.

So I will not be going out there to molesting any merino at the Purl today. Sigh... It's probably just as well. I have already had a few too many fibre-related plastic-accidents recently and I would be helpless in the face of all that string on sale.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowmaggedon: It’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas!

I really must get a T-shirt that says something like “I survived Snowmaggedon 2008.” I simply love the term Snowmaggedon, so aptly coined to describe the weather we’re getting this late December 2008, just in time for Chrisma-Hannu-Kwaanza-Diwali-mas, as four major snowstorms hit southern Ontario in the span of a week! The first arrived Tuesday Dec. 16, the second was yesterday, Friday Dec. 17, with the third is due overnight and tomorrow, Sunday Dec. 21, and the fourth due next Tuesday, Dec. 23.

Honey – uncover the sled and hitch up the huskies. We’re socked in for the holidays!

Ahhhh... Perfect knitting weather! Don’t you agree?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is it ready now?...

How about now?
tap tap tap...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moving along, but nothing to see.

"The whole difference between construction and creation is this; that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists." ~ Charles Dickens

I must admit to being in a creative (or rather a creating) slump right now and sadly it's even affecting my knitting. The fall has been a roller coaster, professionally and personally. Extreme highs, sudden plunges, inexorable climbs back up... lather, rinse & repeat. There have been some valuable life lessons and the occasional existential pop-quiz. It's all (well, mostly) been good (or ended well). I was never bored. But I do feel rather wrung out - like all my get up and go just got up and went (if you see it, please send it home).

I need to putter around the house and take long walks, to rest and think and mostly just to be.

I am knitting, but not much and I can't seem to concentrate on any project for more than a few minutes and a few rows here or there. However, I am getting a lot of pleasure from reading about knitting, contemplating knitting, admiring other knitters' projects, trolling Ravelry and Etsy and planning, scheming and dreaming about what I would be knitting and wearing right away if and when I break out of this temporary insanity (BTW - have you seen the new cardigans and pullovers and mitts and neckwarmers and ... well, everything at Knitty for Winter 2008? Go. Now. Really. I'll wait.)

If you're on Ravelry and have seen my profile there then you know two things about me:

1. I am completely unapologetic about the size of my stash (which by the way is not nearly completely catalogued yet - that ain't the half of it, baby!) though I admit I could (and should) probably stop as I will never ever (EVER) run out of yarn to play with, even if I live to be a hundred and twenty and knit all day every day for the rest of my life. I have recently endeavoured to radically restrain, if not totally stop, the procurement of additional stringy stuff in the interests of: (a) financial solvency, (b) marital congeniality, and (c) a healthy fear of seeing my house actually explode from the surfeit of contents.

2. I am an incorrigible magpie (see item 1. above - oooh, look... Shiny!) and enjoy collecting clever crafty ideas, growing my project queue to fantasmagorical size, with proportional pattern acquisition, and a concurrent affliction with startitis with complete abandon. I just love the adoption and planning of a new project with all the pleasure and promise of new hours of contented or challenging stitches and colour and texture. Too many WIPs? Never! Queue amassed beyond life expectancy? Absolutely! Regrets? None.

What do you do when you're in a knitting slump?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

We interrupt this blog-less vacation to bring you the following notice:

The Paper Place is GIVING AWAY the ultimate Chiyogami sample pack, an 8.5x11” sheet of every Chiyogami paper we offer in their online store (637 patterns in total, retail value $1911.00). All tied up with a pretty red bow.

That's a mother-load of exquisite decorative paper, people!


I need more material things to play with and make a mess here in the 3-D house of stuff like a need a... but this is SO BEAUTIFUL! And I actually just got interested in decoupage...

Note to self: the new house we get (yes, I am looking) will totally have a self-contained craft studio!

What would you do with a win-fall like this?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Poppy Facts from Veteran Affair Canada
During the Napoleonic Wars, the poppy drew attention as the mysterious flower that bloomed over the graves of fallen soldiers.

In the 20th Century, the poppy again was widely noticed after soils in France and Belgium became rich in lime from rubble during the First World War. The little red flowers flourished around the graves of the war dead as they had 100 years earlier.

In 1915, Guelph, Ontario native John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian Forces Artillery, recorded this phenomenon in his famous poem In Flanders Fields.

Two days before the Armistice, Moina Michael, an American woman from Athens, Georgia, read the McCrae poem and was inspired to wear a poppy year-round in memory of the war dead.

In 1920, Madame E. Guérin of France visited the United States and happened to meet Miss Michael at the YMCA at Columbia University, where the latter was a volunteer. Madame Guérin then resolved to sell handmade poppies around Armistice Day to raise money for poor children in the war-torn areas of Europe.

In 1921, Field-Marshall Earl Haig, the former Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France and Belgium and the principal founder of the British Legion, was sold on Madame Guérin's fundraising idea and approved organization of the British Poppy Day Appeal by the Legion to raise money for poor and disabled veterans.

The same year, Madame Guérin visited Canada, and convinced the Great War Veterans Association (predecessor to the Royal Canadian Legion) to similarly adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in aid of fundraising.

Today, the Poppy Campaign is one of the Royal Canadian Legion's most important programs. The money raised from poppy sales provides direct assistance for ex-service people in financial distress, as well as funding for medical appliances and research, home services, care facilities, and numerous other purposes.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A new intimate concert series.

If you are or will be in the GTA (greater Toronto area)
Please join us for a season of soirees opening with
Conversation, Canapes & Canción!

Come hear mezzo soprano Ramona Carmelly, with pianists Elaine Lau and Joseph Ferretti, composer Chad Martin, producer Eleanor Johnston and special guest artists for intimate performances of rare and wonderful selections from the repertoire of vocal and chamber music. Selections for this season include magnificent songs by Ravel, DuParc, Mompou, Rachmaninoff and Wagner, as well as the premiere of a new commissioned song cycle from Chad Martin, and much more.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 16, 5:00 pm programme
features: the lush and lively Cançons Becquerianas by Federico Mompou and selected gems from the mélodies of Henri Duparc, as well as whimsical new compositions for toy-piano by resident composer Chad Martin.*

Informative discussion of the pieces will be offered during the performance and light refreshments will be provided to follow.

Venue is the lovely home of Dr. Bill Johnston, on Avenue Road near St Clair. (for privacy, specific directions will be provided to guests upon reservation)

*programme subject to change without notice.

Seating is limited so please book in advance c/o: or

About the Artists:
Dynamic and versatile mezzo-soprano Ramona Carmelly has captivated audiences in opera, cabaret, jazz, concert and theatre roles from the sublime to the ridiculous in more than a dozen languages, and the critics have raved: "Her performance was a lesson in how deft acting can overcome the limitations of opera on the concert stage," (Opera Canada) and "Ramona Carmelly, with her plush mezzo, was outstanding." (Globe & Mail). In recent years, Ramona was a finalist in the Christina and Louis Quilico vocal competition and won a coveted position in the Apprentice Artist program with Des Moines Metro Opera. Most recently Ramona was featured with the Talisker Players in the premiere of Emily, the Way You Are, a one-woman opera about Emily Carr composed expressly for her. Previous highlights include the Alto solo in Mahler's Third Symphony with conductor Richard Bradshaw and one of the first PEN-Canada concerts in memory of slain WSJ correspondent Daniel Pearl.

Joseph Ferretti has performed extensively throughout Europe, Canada and the USA as both soloist and collaborative artist. Recent series appearances include NUMUS, the Banff Centre for the Arts, COC's Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre, and Canadian Music Centre's New Music in New Places. Joseph frequently performs as a duo pianist with Elaine Lau. Their recording of music by Jack Behrens is featured on an album release by Capstone Records. Dr. Ferretti has been on the piano faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University since 2003.

Elaine Lau has appeared as keyboardist and soloist with Canadian orchestras, and has been broadcast on CBC and Public Radio in the United States, performing Canadian works. A new music enthusiast, Elaine has had the opportunity to work with many composers. Recent appearances include performances with the Canadian Chamber Ensemble, and on the NUMUS and Canadian Opera Company's Piano Virtuoso concert series. As duo-pianist with Joseph Ferretti, she has performed across Canada and the USA. In 2007, she was invited to present at the CFMTA/MTNA/ RCM Collaborative Conference. Elaine has served on the piano faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University since 2003.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I am too busy to blog, but I'm writing quickly to invite you to attend one of the most important shows I have encountered.
As some of you know, I was recently asked to assist with a production of The Vagina Monologues and I leapt at the chance.
I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to V-Day’s quest to eradicate violence against women and to assist them in raising funds for Street Haven. I am humbled by the talents and commitment of the remarkable cast and of V-Day Toronto Producer/Director Tanisha Taitt, who was honoured by V-Day Founder Eve Ensler in March 2008 for her dedication to social change and creative excellence.

Eve Ensler's THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is a smart, moving and hilarious look at female sexuality in all its facets. It inspired V-Day, a dynamic international grassroots movement with the goal of ending violence against women. V-Day is now active in 90 countries around the world. In a phenomenon that has swept the globe, the play has been translated and performed in 24 languages. Often imitated but never duplicated, Eve Ensler's award-winning masterpiece gives voice to women's deepest fantasies and fears through stories of intimacy, vulnerability and sexual self-discovery. Come and see what two standing ovations were about... you'll be glad you did.

If you are in the GTA (general Toronto area), I hope you can join us for this important event.
Best Regards, the MezzoDiva

The 10th Anniversary, Revisited
SAT. OCT. 25TH at 7 PM (Saturday's show is ASL interpreted) & SUN. OCT. 26TH at 5 pm
Location: The Workman Theatre, 1001 Queen St. West
Tickets $22.50 Adults, $18.50 Students
General Admission seating.
Proceeds to Street Haven at the Crossroads (
Produced by Ashley Ballantyne, Daphne Simone, Jill Andrew & Tanisha Taitt.
With special musical guest Theresa Sokyrka.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a few thoughts about why Stephen Harper will not be getting my vote

1. Harper’s frightening complacency and wilful ignorance about the environment and the immediate (soon-to-be irreversible) state of emergency. I can’t express it better than Mary-Margaret Jones, who has also gathered links to other significant resources about this issue: First time that I’ve been scared

2. Harper’s blatantly ignorant dismissal of the wide socioeconomic and cultural benefits of the arts. I will refer you to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s thoughtful and eloquent response, Dear Mr. Harper, as well as Margaret Atwood's rebuttal to Harper's pithy remarks, To be creative is, in fact, Canadian.

3. The Conservative policies of withdrawing support for social programs and institutions, and wantonly withholding the federal payments to provinces and to municipalities which are needed to support education and health care and transportation, to repair our crumbling urban infrastructures and to maintain all the standards by which Canada was known in my youth as one of the very best countries in the world in which to live.

But that’s okay, because the Conservatives are returning all this to Canadians in the form of tax cuts to individuals and to corporations. In the former case, these are often measly amounts compared to the wider social costs of losing those programs (and disproportionately given to those who need it the least rather than to those would benefit most from keeping the programs). In the latter case, supporting socioeconomic and legal structures that assign to corporations the rights which should belong to (human) persons, providing protections far greater than those given to persons, while simultaneously eroding those of the individual.

This October, I will be voting. Unfortunately that might mean that I will choose to vote defensively – by casting my ballot for the candidate most likely to prevent a Conservative victory in my riding.

Or perhaps I will throw such cautions to the wind and vote with my conscience for the candidate/party I believe could bring the most beneficial change to our society if given the opportunity, in the vain hope that even if my candidate doesn’t ultimately win a seat, the numbers will still demonstrate my beliefs about how my country should and could be run.

I won't presume to tell others how to vote. Whatever you believe in your heart will be best for your country and the world we live in, however you intend to cast your ballot, this October in Canada (and this November in the U.S.): please go and VOTE. As knitters, we have learned how doing one small and simple thing over and over again is a powerful engine for creating something good; the cumulative effect of many people doing one small simple thing is a powerful engine for change in society. But it only works if we do it.
Did ya miss me? I missed you.

I married my best friend of 25 years on August 31st, which was (and is) great, but September has been a hectic and upsetting month as I've been handling successive health crises for my MIL and my Father, myself and then my husband. All that came hard on the heels of wedding planning and preparation (which had us already tired, though happily so), and since then I've been living in a nearly perpetual state of concern and fatigue. My nerves have been so frazzled that I could hardly knit. I lost my appetite and often forgot to eat until my DH would appear in the kitchen at whatever hour of the evening on a quest for sustenance.

I didn't want to post anything more about it here because I was afraid of turning this blog into a depressing and whiny place. As for knitting content: I have been somewhat soothed by wallowing in Ravelry and accumulating a monumental electronic wish/to-do list of projects, but I have nothing more to show for it than a few swatches and some lame attempts to tame the wild jungle that is my stash.

Well, everyone is finally healthy (or at least on the mend, or doing a reasonable facsilmile of such), and my nerves are improving now that I don't have to worry about everyone. But we could definitely use a real honeymoon - even just a few days to relax together, to enjoy each other's presence and get away from our worries. The timing isn't conducive to doing that, because now 'tis the season to be Jewish and I am swamped with synagogue as well as a couple of other singing commitments. But once the high holidays are over and the treadmill that is my schedule slows down, I am definitely going to find a way to use some of the lovely gift certificates we received for hotels, restaurants, and spas.

I'd LOVE to attend Rhinebeck in mid-October, but it's not in the cards for this year. That's probably just as well, as my stash is threatening to explode anyway and there are other budgetary priorities at the moment, like utilities, which I would be much too likely to forget in favour of all the yarny goodness. Let's face it, I am powerless when faced with fibre fumes. Dazzled by colour and seduced by texture, I would easily succumb to the lure of plastic spending, which would be fiscally and spatially disastrous. So I won't even try to find a way to get to NYS&W this year. Still, I can start planning now for next year :) And in the meantime, to soothe my cravings for fibery fun and my Rhinebeck regrets, I'd LOVE to arrange to meet with some knitterly friends (in person or online) for a cup of tea (or something stronger) and a good long yarn...

P.S. And I should be receiving some lovely wedding pix next weekend, which I promise to share with you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

MezzoDiva is on the Benylin with codeine, Robaxacet and Advil diet. Seriously, though, I am briefly functional in between doses and though I'd post a little update here.

I haven't found my wedding ring yet, but I haven't been able to do more than a cursory search. I need the time and energy to look meticulously through all the wedding gift packages and through the clothes piles and laundry hampers, and both have been in short supply.

After walking in the cold pouring rain all day Sunday with my immune system somewhat compromised by this extreme exertion following the stress of the last couple of weeks (wedding & MIL) I came down with a nasty little chest cold. I probably caught it from sharing high-fives with several hundred strangers including numerous children along the route. (Next year I'll do like the doctors and wear light gloves). I have no blisters this year and thankfully lost no toenails (unlike the two that just grew back after last year), but I’m raw and chaffing in places I didn’t know could meet!

I was doing a great imitation of the octogenarian shuffle yesterday. I went for a slow 1.5 mile "stroll" late in the afternoon to take the edge off (its a “hair of the dog” sort of thing) and it hurt but it helped. As we left the house, I looked up and threatened the already cloudy sky to zip it until after I got home or I’d come up there and wreak my own brand of personal retribution. It seems the storm front took my warning to heart as not a drop fell until I was safely home, and then it poured most of the night.

I'm feeling more of the fatigue today, but less of the pain. A couple of days' rest, lots of ginger tea with honey, chicken soup and the contents of a small bottle of Benyllin with codeine should do the trick and I'll be fit as a fiddle soon. I'm sleeping a lot and when awake I'm enjoying the Blue Jays' winning streak.

Meanwhile, (a) my MIL is doing much better; (b) I just raised well over $8250 this year and I already received my first donation for the 2009 WEBC, and (c) I just have a good feeling that once I can do a proper search the ring will turn up, so on the whole I am not too unhappy about it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Despite the inevitable side-effects of walking an absurd distance all day in the pouring rain, MezzoDiva regrets nothing. She is now home, clean, dry, fed, and very happy to be crawling into her bed (emphasis on the "crawling" part). When every little movement no longer hurts, there may be a rather more extensive report on MezzoDiva's exploits and the events of this year's WEBC.

Meanwhile, please note: Knitters 4 Knockers will be walking again September 11-13, 2009, in the 7th annual Toronto WEBC. Join us! More info coming soon.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How I spent my "honeymoon".

Well, as previously reported, my nearly 89 year-old MIL was absent from the wedding. She fell ill Sunday morning just before the wedding and after a night of increasing headaches and a very heavy-headed sensation, vertigo, nausea and vomiting, she called about an hour before the wedding to say she couldn't be there.

We thought perhaps she was over-excited about the wedding or she ate something off, but not so. Monday morning she called an ambulance to go to the Emergency room. My brother-in-law met her there and kept us informed by phone throughout the day (because adding our bodies to the crowds already at the Emerg was not a good idea), where after a wait of several hours, they did some tests and then sent her home with some prescriptions, as there was no point admitting her.

She was diagnosed with Ménière's disease, a middle ear syndrome where there is excess endolymphatic fluid and it crystallizes and when the fluid and crystals shift it sends mixed signals to the balance receptors. It presents with all those symptoms (above), as well as vision problems and hearing loss (in the affected ear), both of which she has had for some time.

They also did a CAT scan and discovered a foreign mass in her brain, but apparently it’s thought to be a benign tumour (there’s no heat signature which would indicate growth or malignancy) and as it seems to have been there for a long time and it’s not growing (in fact it’s probably calcified and just sitting there being different), they say it's safer to leave it in than to subject an 89-year-old little woman to brain surgery.

She is recovering slowly, some meds seem to be having effect on the symptoms (there’s no cure, treatment is symptom-focussed), but clearly she could not be left alone in her apartment. My sister-in-law stayed with her Monday night, then we went over mid-day on Tuesday and stayed overnight and through yesterday, when we had to leave for a meeting in the evening. We went back later that night to help her with her laundry and then came home to our place to try and get a good night’s rest, as it seemed she could manage for the night. She's very self-sufficient, fiercely independent and likes her privacy. We (or smebody) will probably go back later today and we'll all make further plans one day at a time as we monitor her recovery.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get psyched up for the WEBC. I need to take some time today to check the weather forecasts and find (figure out) what I will wear, and probably do some laundry. I also need put together in a knapsack or large fanny pack various things that I will need while walking: sunscreen, lipbalm, a hat and a bandana, sunglasses, extra socks, a portable rain poncho, bodyglide, vaseline, adhesive moleskin, cornstarch/baby powder, deodorant, moist toilettes, blister pads, bandaids, flip flops for when we reach "camp" at the end of day one, advil, purel, a couple of small bottles to refill frequently as I'm on the route (one for gatorade and one for water), my cell phone, my ID, some money, some super-plus tampons, extra underwear...

Oh, yeah, that's a thrill! Assuming my calculations are correct, and they usually are, I'll be extremely hormonally challenged on those two days. I just hope that the spirit around me is as infectious as I recall from last year and my determination will help me forget that those are the two rather heavy days I usually want to spend horizontally with some good chocolate, a heating pad, my knitting and the remote control.

Honestly, though, I can't focus on all the prep much. I am totally exhausted already and I haven't even begun to walk.

Don't get me wrong, I am not feeling sorry for myself. I've had a wonderful (and horrible) week, between the whirlwind of prep for the wedding, the day itself, and then taking care of my MIL, whose company I quite enjoy (which, parenthetically, makes for some tension with my mother, whose company I do not).

It's just that I haven't had a really decent night's sleep in about a week, I'm sure I have PMS (I have one nerve left and people are taking turns stepping on it, though my snappy mood could just as easily be due to fatigue). I am too worried about my MIL and my husband, as well as my father (who sees his cardiologist today, and we won't even get into all that here, okay?), and my mother, who feels emotionally neglected and left out, to really be thinking of me.

On top of that, it's been 4 days since I lost the wedding band and though I know it's probably only playing hide and seek somewhere here, I haven't even had a single chance to look for it yet. Nor have I picked up my lovely flowers. We left them at the restaurant with plans to return for them the very next day... (I'm hoping they're still alive). It’s a gold ring that Richard has owned for 36 years and which we used for the ceremony, as the ring he gives to me has to belong solely to him – a requirement of the ceremonial tradition - and I've worn my others with the small diamonds for several years, so there's no arguing that they are mine. After the wedding, I was going to have it resized for him to wear as his wedding band.

It's a long story, but I was so tired (and bemusedly elated) that I have no idea when it left my hand. I noticed it missing from my hand shortly after 5 pm when I got changed right after the wedding. We had just gotten home from the wedding, happy but exhausted, and the last half hour or so was a total blur. It's possible I gave it to him; I know I tried to. I asked him to take it twice as the afternoon wore on, because I was tired and afraid it would fall off, but he claims to have turned me down both times. Honestly, we were both so tired by the end that we can't remember. In the pictures I have seen, It's still on my hand just at the end before we started packing up. So it might be somewhere at the restaurant (I called the same day 6:00 pm, they’ll keep looking). And it might be in my bedroom in the great pile of clothes where I went digging for something more comfortable to wear.

I actually prayed a little about it that night (in my own undefined quasi-pagan Buddhist-Jewish way). I got up the next morning at 6:30 AM after only 3 hours of sleep and had a tremendous urge to go out and look on the street between our place and the restaurant (about three city blocks). I spent the next 45 minutes walking carefully up and down thesidewalk, hoping to catch a glint of gold as the sun was rising... but no luck.

And then it all was put into perspective by our concern for our loved ones. So really, what does a gold ring matter in the scheme of things?

Monday, September 01, 2008

It was a terrific day. The wedding was a lot of fun, everyone said it was wacky and delightful, totally appropriate to us as a couple. I'm waiting to get some pix from guests and then I'll post some.

The food was great, the prosecco was chilled to almost the right temperature, my dress was a huge hit (amazing, because it's second hand and was just left for me in a bag at my LYS by a woman I barely know and haven't seen since - Thank you, Arlene!). There were elegant flowers (white and green gladiolas, green spider mums, and these red branches -I don't know what they are - in a lovely tall arrangement) and fun flowers (hot pepper plants in a lovely tin planter). There was even peace in the family (a miraculous event - you have NO idea - truly).

All in all, a wonderful day that was marred only by two things:

1. I seem to have misplaced the wedding band right after the wedding. I was so tired I have no idea when it left my hand. It might be somewhere in my bedroom in a huge pile of clothes where I was rummaging for something clean for both my unofficial matron-of-honour/mistress-of-ceremonies and me to change into right after the wedding. Or it's at the restaurant where it fell off while I was packing up all the gifts and wedding props and things I needed to clear out of there.

2. My MIL was absent. She fell ill yesterday morning and after a day of headaches, nausea and vomitting, this morning she called an ambulance to go to the Emergency room. My brother-in-law is with her and keeping us informed by phone because adding our bodies to the crowds already at the Emerg is not a good idea. No confirmed diagnosis yet, still doing some tests, but it sounds like they don't plan to admit her, just do more tests and send her home. Then we can go visit her and regale her with tales of our wonderful wedding.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation.

First of all: THANK YOU!!!

I am totally and completely overwhelmed. Gobsmacked.

The response to the Hibiscus for Hope pattern and the Knitters for Knockers 2008 campaign to raise funds for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer has been outstanding, beyond anything I could have predicted. Close to 400 people have donated so far this year, bringing the total funds raised to well over $7800.

(Happy dance! Do it with me!)

Together we are proving the Yarn Harlot’s observation about knitters and charity: knitters (maybe all hand-crafters) are superdonors, giving a lot or a little, but giving often, perhaps because we are uniquely aware of the power of doing one small thing over and over and over again. The total funds raised from Hibiscus for the WEBC continues to grow steadily, mostly through the cumulative effect of small contributions, reinforcing that kernel of knitter’s wisdom.

I'll repeat it here, because despite our society and mass-media's political and marketing-driven attempts to convince of our powerlessness WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Each and every one of us. Never let them make you feel impotent. Never doubt that doing even one small simple thing over and over again is a very powerful engine for change in the world as it is in a knitted project.

I am deeply moved and profoundly empowered by this whole endeavour. And what better way to celebrate than by immediately whipping up another sexy new sock pattern for some more worthwhile goodhearted fundraising!

Okay, then! I am raring to go, got my metaphorical sleeves rolled up and my creative thinking-cap on again, fiddling with the yarn and the sticks, making with the knitting and ------ Eeeek!
Insert sound of screeching car tires and scary music, followed by sudden silence here.

still silent

more silence

silence becoming uncomfortable

pause for station identification

silence beginning to wear thin now

why am I still reading this?

is she ever going to get to the point?

A funny thing happened on the way to this next new pattern I was whipping up for you. I gradually became aware that no matter how hard I tried to devote myself to this wonderful new invention, there were other rather pressing matters that kept intruding on my thoughts. I got sideswiped by a handful of converging necessary activities that required my focus and attention and, well, it made for a not-very-conducive-to-new-design mindspace.

You see, I am getting married. Today, as matter of fact! Yes, I know – you thought I was already married and technically I suppose it’s arguable.

I have been living with my best friend, dearest love, companion, confidant, and champion for 25 years now (please – don’t do the math – I was a toddler… okay, a child… adolescent… well, I was finished high school. Just.) We wanted to do something special to mark our 25th (wow - I really don't feel old enough to be having a 25th anniversary!) and we decided to “make it official”. We then decided to throw a combination anniversary-party and wedding and chose this weekend, August 31st, as the date is special for us.

It is going to be a very casual event (as fits our lifestyle) with a brief Jewish ceremony (to satisfy the yearnings of my Hebrew-school education and upbringing. I’m not very observant, but oh, baby – I just love a man in a yarmulka!).

I was actually thinking of doing a pot-luck wedding in the park, but that was getting complicated (check the municipal regulations: you can’t have a wedding in the park. WTF?) . Anyway, since the weather is crazy and unpredictable this summer, we decided to make it a small low-key party at our fave local Thai restaurant.

We are having some 45 loved ones gather to share the joy with us at our favourite little restaurant, where my beloved and I will stand under a Chuppah (borrowed from good friends and held by our families) to say the appropriate blessings in both Hebrew and in English (to fulfill the requirements of traditional Kiddushin and Nissuin and so that everyone present can follow), after which all of us will enjoy a Thai lunch buffet (in keeping with the long tradition of Jewish celebrations with Asian cuisines. Really. It's true. There are folks with a standing reservation at China House every year that goes back three generations for possibly the most important meal in Jewish culture: breaking the fast after Yom Kippur ).

Despite the casual nature of our little shindig, it took some serious planning and arranging and running around to get things (from AWOL divorce certificates - his - to clothes, flowers, cake and wine, and ceremonial props), not to mention devising a scheme for the ceremony that works for all concerned.

And then there was the juggling of families and friends. Not just the guest list, but individuals who felt this would be a really good time to vent their frustrations over their own unmet familial fantasies and their judgemental agendas regarding everything about how we choose to live our lives.

In the meantime I was also trying to unclutter my life and house, do all the prep for 4 years of overdue tax returns, and one more little thing... Let me see... What was that?... oh, yeah: training for the 60-km walk that’s coming up next weekend.

But I digress. Why am I awake and blogging in the middle of the night the day before my wedding? Well, I'll get to that soon. Please bear with me.

So..., back to the socks. I have lots of great conceptual ideas for the new socks, and combining some lovely motif-work with new construction ideas again (because I just like to learn new ways of doing things and when something is fun I like to share it). But it’s all in the trying this and trying that, with the charting, and the crunching of numbers, and the trying again another way stage. So far I have a sweet new toe inspiration which I am fairly certain will stick around. It's a lovely toe, but let's move along because there's nothing else to see yet.

In the meantime, I have repurposed the pattern for the 2007 Campanula for the Cure sock (last year’s WEBC fundraising pattern) to aid this new cause I am championing, because:

(a) I notice that a lot of folks who didn’t see it last year seem to be interested in the Campanula pattern (that’s really flattering, and it makes me want to do more and more designing for you). Though there are only some 28 (lovely) instances of Campanula socks listed on Ravelry, last year more than 175 knitters found the pattern through word of mouth and eagerly donated to get it, and many folks have faved &/or queued the Campanula socks recently as a side-effect of the Hibiscus for Hope phenomenon.

And (b) there’s a cause that I feel very strongly about and I think we can help.

The beneficiary of all proceeds from the repurposed Campanula pattern (and from the forthcoming pattern) will be the brave and beautiful Tish.

Tish is at the end of an amazing (140+ lbs!) weight-loss journey that began last summer with gastric bypass surgery.

Now she requires extensive and expensive reconstructive surgeries to tighten and trim some of the leftover bits. It's a so-called "cosmetic" cleanup of all the hanging skin and residual leftovers that are a side effect of extreme weight loss and (in my not-so-humble opinion) it is not cosmetic at all. It is totally necessary to her quality of life, but unfortunately it’s not covered by Ontario’s much vaunted health care system.

Okay, that's not strictly true. Though our provincial medical plan would pay for a crude tug-slice-&-sew version of the procedure that leaves some very unsightly scars (I’ve seen the results on other folks), they will not contribute that equivalent or any portion of the costs to getting it done properly. Nope. That would be too much like right.

(Can you tell I am just a little bit angry about this?)

Tish needs to raise an astounding $31,000 for reconstructive surgery.

(That number makes me break out in a cold sweat.)

Frankly after all her hard work, determination, self-discovery and hardship, Tish really deserves to have these procedures done well and to feel good about herself afterwards! So several friends and knitters are banding together to initiate our own fundraising venture to help defray some of the costs. We’ll be offering some Tish-inspired patterns as incentive for donations to her surgery fund.

Of course you don’t have to wait until the patterns are up. Please go over to visit Tish and read about her phenomenal journey over the last year or so. She is one of the most authentic and honest people I have ever met and she has been blogging about her remarkable experiences since last summer. Really. Go. Read. Scroll down and go back in time and read all she has posted about this entire chapter in her life. Then click and donate whatever you can to help.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From my Facebook status, updated early this week:
Ramona is trying to plan a wedding, train for a 60-km walk, unclutter her life, and do 4 years of tax returns, all in the next two weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Local Air Temperature: 29C = 84F
Humidex (feels like): 36C = 97F
Too. Hot. To. Knit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

For Hibiscus Hopefuls

There seems to be a little confusion about how to get the pattern. To get your very own copy of the Hibiscus for Hope sock pattern, all you have to do is sponsor me for the 2008 Weekend to End Breast Cancer, supporting the Princess Margaret Hospital, Canada's leading centre for cancer treatment and a world leader in cancer research.

Here’s the link to my personal page at the WEBC - you should be able to sponsor me directly there. You can also go to the main site for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, then click on Toronto, then click on Sponsor a Participant, and enter my name: Ramona Carmelly.

It will ask for your name and credit card number and other details. Please put HIBISCUS in the comments (though in the last few days I’m assuming every sponsor has come looking for the sock pattern via the grace of the Yarn Harlot and I’m sending it anyway).

The WEBC site will send me a notification that I’ve received a new donation and I follow it back to get the name and email of the donor.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Are you sitting down? Good.
Because I have a shocking confession to make:
It's my pattern, but it's not originally my design.


I was fiddling with ideas for the pattern off and on since mid-winter, but to no satisfaction. Though I unwittingly managed to reinvent any number of lovely sock patterns that are out and about these days (aaargh!), I just wasn't able to make any of my original inspirations comply with my requirements for a new pattern that would: keep the basic construction of the sock fairly simple so that sock-neophytes won’t be scared off, but hopefully introduce some new structural ideas to a few people in a simple and fun way, while letting an intriguing but still easy to accomplish lace do most of the talking so that sock-experts will want to play too.

I did give it several valiant tries, but frankly in recent months all my creative juices were flowing in musical directions, all my brain cells were otherwise occupied and in overdrive (preparing for the then-upcoming opera performances) so that all I could do competently with sticks and string was knit rounds and rounds of mindless stockinette. Even the simplest short-row toe was truly a challenge because my brain was just too full.

Meanwhile, way back in Januray I came across That Logan Chick's gorgeous Agatha shawl on Etsy, and I fell hard. I was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the pattern (as well as a couple of her beautiful beaded shawl pins). Though unable to commit to a shawl project at the time, I was nevertheless besotted, completely under the spell of that pattern, unable to stop dreaming about it, scribbling its name lovingly in the margins of my opera scores, sketching its motif in my diary...

In late spring, as I wrestled with the umpteenth idea for my 2008 Knitters for Knockers sock, I started tinkering with ideas for using the Agatha shawl motif in a sock and couldn’t think in any other direction. After much frustration (and the near demolition of a perfectly lovely skein of Fleece Artist sock yarn from frequent ripping and reknitting and ripping and reknitting...) it occurred to me that really I was (oh, fer heaven's sake, again?!) trying to reinvent and codify something that had already been created beautifully by someone else - and I love her version of it so much that I could never be content with any poor imitation I would make.

I wisely decided to put it aside and sleep on it.

I woke up the next day and realized I'd been operating under a false assumption. I mistakenly believed that because it’s my fundraising program, I have to be the sole designer (pardon the pun) for this endeavour. Of course my ego was egging me on, whispering insidiously that I had to come up with something brilliant and beautiful like last year's pattern Campanula for the Cure and I had to do it all by myself.

Well, I'd been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle lately. Somehow, his words of wisdom afforded me just enough detachment to see through the egoic trap of my non-existent dilemna. Aknowledging the simple yet profound error in my thinking was quite liberating! (Though I am still sheepishly succumbing to an ego-driven desire to state that I bought the book last year, before the big Oprah-induced phenomenon, but I had a few other books on the night-table ahead of it and I only got around to reading it this spring).

I promptly sat down at my computer and sent an email to Rebecca, the brilliant creator of that shawl I love so much, asking her to be my guest designer for the Knitters for Knockers 2008 campaign and I'm thrilled to report she was happy to oblige! Rebecca not only generously allowed me to borrow the motif, she pointed me to her own prototype Hibiscus sock AND graciously sent me her notes (for a size 11 sock - gulp!) and all her charts.

I must admit the road from there to a clear instructive pattern for public consumption that would allow most sock knitters to make their own was still a long and occasionally arduous one as the conceptual steps were easy to imagine but a lot harder to articulate. But now that it’s done, tested and vetted by my faithful team of experts, and revised and edited to within an inch of its life and mine, I am SO proud to reveal it to you in all its glory.

I know I am biased, but it's a beautiful sock pattern and I hope you'll love it as much as I do. If you're intrigued, please sponsor me now for the 2008 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer. I'll send you the pattern as soon as I get notice of your donation. Or, better yet, go check out Knitters for Knockers, and join us for for this profoundly empowering life-altering experience.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hi, Shelda - I hope you read this. I cannot email you because, as I've said before, I don't have an email address for you. I'm sorry you are having trouble emailing to me. My email is easy to find on my profile: just go to ABOUT ME and click on VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE. To the left, under CONTACT, it says EMAIL. Click there to send me an email privately.

Or send me your email address via the comments here. If you are concerned about privacy, you can still leave me your email address in the comments, because I moderate all my comments before they are posted so I can receive it without posting the comment with your email address here.

To answer your questions: Yes - you can send a donation by mail. If you go to the WEBC website, on my personal page below the list of amounts under "donate here" you will see a pink small-print link that says "To print out a donation form, click here." Just print the form and mail it in with your donation. When the donation arrives and is recorded by the WEBC, they will notify me and I will send you the HIBISCUS pattern.

And, yes, the CAMPANULA pattern is still available. I have repurposed the Campanula pattern for my friend Tish and her surgery fund. Please go to her blog to obtain the pattern.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing the new sock pattern:
“Hibiscus for Hope”

an elegant sock inspired by ThatLoganChick’s Agatha shawl

Starting from a toe-up construction (magic loop or 2 circular needles recommended), the sinuous lace motif (a variant of a lace design found in Leili Riemann’s Pitsilised Koekirjad) begins from a point somewhat above the toe-box, expands across the instep and ultimately wraps gracefully around the ankles after the heel to meet itself in the back and continue up around the leg. The comfortable arch-hugging heel combines the under-heel gusset increases from Cat Bordhi’s Riverbed architecture with Wendy Johnson’s short-rowed heels to accommodate a high or wide instep.

A few tantalizing images from my intrepid testknitters

To get the pattern, all you have to do is sponsor me for the upcoming 2008 Weekend to End Breast Cancer, and put HIBISCUS in the message.

Crazy4Dyeing Etsy Shop Announcement: 15% of sales of Crazy4Dyeing yarn destined for Hibiscus for Hope socks will be donated to Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer to sponsor the designer of the pattern walking 60-km over two days. Please make a comment when you check out that you’ll be making these socks.
Knitters for Knockers:
knitting together to make cancer history!
(note: this entry post-dated to make it sticky)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sneak Peek!

As many of you know, last year I designed a pretty lace sock pattern, Campanula for the Cure, and offered it as incentive to my sponsors for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. World world-wide knitters responded generously, both by supporting my efforts in the 60-km walk and by donating and helping me raise nearly $4600 for the fight to eradicate Breast Cancer.

Well, I am just crazy enough to do it all over again! And yes, I will be offering a new sock pattern as incentive to my sponsors. I know several of you have been snooping nagging chomping at the bit waiting eagerly for the new pattern coming with my 2008 fundraising campaign, so I decided you deserve a sneak peek! Sigh. Just look at those lines, those curves... Soooo pretty.

If you're intrigued by this sneak peek, please go ahead and sponsor me now for the 2008 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer. I'll send you the pattern as soon as it's been tested, tech-edited and made ready for public consumption. Or, better yet, go check out Knitters for Knockers, and join us for for this profoundly empowering life-altering experience.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My WWKIP day weekend actually started on Friday night, when I participated in the yarn-tasting Knitty Roundtable Friday night at The Purple Purl and got to play with swatch, preview and appreciatively review several interesting new yarn offerings. I am now officially in love with three new yarns and will have to struggle to avoid a major acquisition splurge in the near future.

On Saturday afternoon I wandered downtown to Lettuce Knit for their WWKIP event. For those of you who have been living under a rock or something may not have heard: it was the Yarn Harlot’s birthday on Saturday, so she and Rachel H naturally conspired to hatch a fabulous plan whereby they arranged for teh fabulous Franklin to come up to Toronto for the weekend and take a few photos of the local knitterati and the hoi poloi for his 1000 Knitters Project.

I am now totally smitten with Franklin, who is (impossibly yet truly) even more charming, sweet and funny in person than he is on his blog. I got to knit a few rows on the community scarf (I threw in a little bit of K2P2 checkerboard for variety), and chatted with him for a few minutes as he snapped pictures of my sweaty and minimally clad self (it was another sweltering humid day here in The Big Smoke). My only regret was that the inimitable Dolores was nowhere to be seen, although given the steamy weather I expect she hauled her wooly self across to one of the local watering holes to wet her whistle and assault harrass grope flirt with some local hotties.

All in all, I have to say I’m lucky to live in Toronto - it seems to have become something of a world-wide knitters Mecca. Numerous folks made the pilgrimage converged on Toronto via plane, train and automobile from some far-flung reaches of the continent to participate in this happy event, and I am happy to say I made more than a few new friends, including sweet 5-yr-old Rachel (seen here on the plane home, already flashing the kryptonite-green nail polish I had to give her earlier that day because it matched the dress she was wearing when we met) and her equally sweet mom, blogless? Laura, both of whom will appear knitting om the incredible community scarf in the 1000 Knitters project.

Many thanks to the Yarn Harlot who has now joined the ranks of the fabulous 40s (Happy Birthday, Stephanie! Way to throw a best-ever-knitter's-birthday-bash!) and to the uber-organized Rachel H (stalwart "sidekick" and handler extraordinaire, unflappable wielder of the awesome clipboard-of-power) for arranging Franklin's trip and for working your arses off all day wrangling the throngs of knitters and keeping this ginormous photo-op running smoothly.

Today (Sunday) I was planning to complete the trifecta by dropping in to visit with one of my favourite people, Haley at Knitomatic . But to my dismay when I picked up my email last night I got the newsflash stating that as of this very weekend they are on summer hours, which means they'll be closed on Sundays and Mondays until the fall. :( Oh, boo! Way to mess with my WWKIP weekend agenda, H!

Still, all in all perhaps it's not such a bad thing that I am not out and about today. It's rather difficult to knit in a hailstorm. Yup - that's right. Hail. Today has already provided a lovely demonstration of the full range of fickle weather possibilities offered by a Toronto summer. And it's only 3 pm. I wouldn't be surprised to see tornadic twisters or maybe a sudden temperature drop with sleet before dark. Stranger things have been known.

P.S. Carol commented:
On the bright side, the weather isn't boring!
Please! Bore me for a while. So far this spring/summer has been a little too "interesting" for my taste. I was building an ark this afternoon (it seemed prudent), but the hail stones blew it to smithereens.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Are you there, Blog? It's me, MezzoDiva.

Just wanted to surface and say I am still here, I'm okay, moseying along, learning to live in and appreciate the Now.

I have been blogging very sporadically this year. It's often tough to find the words to articulate the deep emotional and spiritual currents through which I am moving and which are moving through me.

It's all good (though sometimes it's tough slogging) and I'll definitely have a lot more to say about it when I'm ready.

In the meantime, most of my knitting content is and/or will be on Ravelry, at least until I get back into blogging about it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Knitters for Knockers!

Here we go!

The 6th annual Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital is September 5-7, 2008, and KNITTERS for KNOCKERS will be there!

Everyone is welcome to join our team: We'll take Knitters and Crocheters, Weavers and Spinners, Cross-Stitchers and Quilters… even persons who are not (yet) Fibre-Fanatical (though we can’t promise not to attempt to lure you over to the String Side).

Take a deep breath - and just do it! You will amaze yourself. It may seem that $2000 is a lot of money to raise and that 60-km over two days is a long distance to walk, but believe me: if I can do it (I did last year), so can you! You CAN make a difference.

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer has a tremendous support system in place to help with fundraising and with training. Last year, my first time, I raised an astonishing $4587 through a knitterly campaign. And we will work as a team to train for the walk and to help each member raise the funds and prepare for this life-changing experience.

As we train in the coming months, we’ll set up a flexible buddy system so that faster walkers can go at their pace and slower ones at theirs, but everybody will have someone walking with them throughout training and the WEBC walk for company and safety.

And of course we’ll be planning some extended training-walk/yarn-crawls (with reasonable breaks/pauses for fibre-refreshment) through downtown Toronto, East to the Beaches, and the West end :)

Let's work together to make Cancer history!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Inexcuseable Knitter Behaviour.

Mine, that is. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

I must fess up. It's all my fault. I really blew it - big time. I totally shafted someone, a lovely and generous knitter, and I must remedy this situation ASAP.

Remember these from last fall? These are the toe-up modified Pomatomus socks I made for my fall 2007 Hogwarts Sock Swap partner, Ellie.

I was extremely late in getting this package out in the mail. All the swaps were supposed to be done by Hallowe'en. For numerous reasons, some good and some not, my package to Ellie containing the socks I made for her, some yarns and an assortment of knitterly trinkets, was eventually sent a couple of days after Xmas (in the hope of avoiding the holiday crush). With the insanity of the holiday season and potential delays for cross-border posting, it was possible for it to take a few weeks to arrive.

She never received it.

(Pause for deep breathing. Breathe in the white light. Breathe out the &^%$#@!…)

DAMN, I really loved the socks I made for her! I used 2 skeins of my favourite colourway of Koigu and carefully customized the Pomatomus pattern for her size and specifications. They were gorgeous, even if I do (not-so-humbly) say so myself. They were ogled on Ravelry. They were jealously coveted by acquaintances. I just hate that they were lost somewhere in postal purgatory limbo.

We figured the socks and goodies were MIA (though hopefully only temporarily - wishful thinking) and I moved on to Plan B: I was going to send her another box of goodies ASAP with a pair of socks to follow (because I had none ready to go). In the meantime, I immediately ordered something special from Cafe Press (a cute trio of knitter/dyer mugs) and had it shipped directly to her. And - in what I mistakenly thought was a sign that the swap gods were smiling on us for a change - I even came across a couple of skeins of Koigu very similar to the ones I originally used (I lost the original ball bands so I can't be sure what they were) and I started knitting a new pair of socks for her as fast as I could in the hope of sending them in early spring.

Insert screeching tires and skid marks here.

And here's where I blew it big time: I never sent the rest of the replacement package or the replacement socks. In fact I haven't been able to finish those socks - they're just not working for some reason and I can't get them right. They are seriously messing with my knit mojo. I do still have a collection of crafty and luxurious treats just waiting to be sent out to her, but I became totally demoralized by the lack of cooperation from the socks and I didn't send any of it yet.

If you've been following the saga of MezzoDiva in recent months, you know I had a crazy few months last fall and winter, with seismic emotional upheaval and minor/medium health issues, interspersed with some rather monumental professional obligations. But there's just no excuse for letting down my swap partner like this and I feel like a heel. A poorly-shaped excuse for a heel.

I am so sorry about this! Clearly the swap-deities were saying I shouldn’t join anything like this for a while (don’t worry - I haven’t since last summer). But Ellie shouldn’t be the unlucky recipient of my recent swapping karma. Especially since her gift to me was so thoughtful and fabulous! (I really have to get some pictures up for you to see - I just felt too guilty to do it).

So, enough wailing and wringing of hands. Here's my sworn commitment to make good on all this, out here for all to see:

I have (finally) finished the second sock of the lovely lime green Campanulas, (the first of which is pictured here in partial completion last fall). I just have to sew in the ends (with my newly acquired Cibis - my old ones ran away from home along with my favourite cable needles sometime over the fall/winter) and then I'll block them. They were going to be mine, but I can't in good conscience let Ellie wait any longer. So these will be mailed by next weekend, along with the rest of the loot I have for her.

BTW - Ellie's also an incredibly amazing indie dyer. Really, you have to get some of her sock yarn (And no, that's not my guilt talking. Her stuff is gorgeous! I've bought 12 skeins in some phenomenal colourways over the last year, and I also joined her Crazy4Seasons Sock Club. Go check it out!)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Emily Carr, Self-Portrait (oil on paper), 1938-9

I think she liked it.

Please excuse me now while I go fall down somewhere soft for maybe a week or so.
Emily Carr, "The Mountain" (oil), 1933

Here we go...

We're approaching the summit.

It's been a helluva climb so far. Just a little farther.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Emily Carr, "Forest, British Columbia" (oil), 1932

I wish I was here. And in a way, I am.

Today was both wonderful and grueling.

We had the dress rehearsal in the gallery this morning and it was marvelous. This piece really has magic in it and it is even more magical in this perfect venue. If you can find a way to get to the McMichael Gallery tomorrow between 1:30pm and 3:30pm, I think you should go. And I'm not just saying that because it's my show.

We grabbed some lunch at the gallery cafe and I talked with the composer, the librettist, the pianist and his wife for a while. Then I got back to town and spent the afternoon getting a new cell phone (because mine always choose the most inopportune time to croak, in the middle of an important gig or when I'm travelling for auditions, when I have no spare time to go get a new one but I absolutely can't afford to be unreachable).

After that I went hunting for a dress to wear tomorrow because I’m retaining so much fluid none of my planned potential outfits will fit (they were fine just over a week ago). My feet and ankles look like they’re about to burst and I think I’ve gained a bra cup size, not to mention my puffy arms and face. Sheesh! I think it's a BP spike as a side effect of the antibiotics or some combo of them with the other things I'm taking. My BP was okay earlier in the week when I went to have my ears checked and got the prescription, but I’m sure it’s not so great now – and of course I was on my feet all day today which doesn't help.

In the interest of offloading the potential camel-collapsing straw, I decided it is prudent to take tomorrow morning off and not go to my synagogue gig as I had planned. The necessary folks were notified. I'm sure God will forgive me.

So in about 15 hours I'll be offering my voice to Emily and hoping she will share with me some of her vibrant spirit, her indomitable will, and her gift for expression so I can share with the audience my increasing admiration of her.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Emily Carr, "Old Tree at Dusk" (oil), 1936

Well, that went well! Monday night's rehearsal was good, but very intense. I still have some work to do this week to tidy things up in a couple of places, but I got through the whole thing fairly comfortably and that's a great relief.

I can laugh now, remembering what a nervous wreck I was when we did the partial preview with piano accompaniment last fall. It's great that we did that because it cracked the code for me. I became familiar with this composer's idiom, her own musical language.

Each composer has their own style, their preferred scheme of meters, rhythms, harmonic progressions, and melodies (or, sometimes, lack thereof). Once you crack it, it's like you've learned to speak their particular dialect and learning their work in future becomes much easier. I found the piece difficult to learn last fall, so much so that the composer built a lot of doubling into the chamber ensemble score, with the oboe or viola or piano often playing my line as I'm singing it. But we found that to be largely dispensible last night so she's taking a lot of it out now. It's okay - she says she's glad because it's always easier to take something out than it is to put it in at the last minute.

What a whirlwind! I can't believe we got through the whole score in a 2-hour rehearsal (union musicians), and with only minor bumps in the road - amazing, especially since everyone got their parts from the composer just in the last few days.

Still, it was INTENSE! It's incredible how much energy this work takes. People who aren't in the arts (or don't have someone close to them in the arts) often think we are all a bunch of lazy slackers who work a few measly hours here and there and then take extended naps and personal time. This society has some false underlying moral standard that says you have to be busy as a beaver for 8-14 hours every day, and if you're not you clearly have poor work ethics. It's so insidious that I even have to remind myself on days like this that I'm not slacking, I've just worked my @$$ off and I'm too f^#*ing tired to see straight or safely chew gum.

I'm making a pot of tea and then probably going back to bed for a couple of hours. Then I'm going to the doctor to have my ear checked out and probably get some antibiotics (blech!). I had some sinus problems and itchy runny eyes late last week, probably allergic not viral, but with the all excess fluid build up I developed an ear infection on Sunday night. Fortunately, both the nose and throat are fine, so my singing wasn't compromised (Whew!).

It was very painful for about 24 hours, and especially last night with all the loud noise both inside my head (when singing) and outside it: oboe, horn, viola, cello, piano, and lots of percussion rehearsing in a smallish studio makes for some serious loudness. I took Advil to get through the rehearsal and it helped a bit. Then, blessedly, the pain eased a lot last night around midnight while I was waiting for the adrenaline to dissipate. There's still pressure and a blocked feeling there so I want to have it checked out

If I feel well after seeing the doctor I'm going to treat myself to a visit to the SnB at The Purple Purl. I need to inhale some fiber fumes and be around warm and fuzzy string-loving people today. I'll try to keep the acquisition to a minimum (though I do get one day off month, I might want to save it for the DKC frolic later in April).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Emily Carr, "Blue Sky" (oil), 1936

Helloooooooooo!!!! Is this thing on????

Sorry (again) for the prolonged absence. I know I've been a bad blogger. There's been so much going on around here and I promise I will get around to telling all about it but it will probably have to wait until after April 20th 'cuz I'm just a little busy until then preparing for the WORLD PREMIERE OF AN OPERA THAT WAS WRITTEN FOR ME!!!!!

If you're in the Greater Toronto Area or anywhere in Southern Ontario, I am cordially inviting you to come: EMILY, THE WAY YOU ARE by Jana Skarecky and Di Brandt, a one-woman opera exploring the life and work of Emily Carr, will be premiered on SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. at the McMichael Gallery Canadian Art Collection, in Kleinberg.

A bold visionary who articulated much of the imagery by which Canada knows itself, Emily Carr was a woman of exceptional courage who defied the conventions of her upbringing as she struggled to define herself and her country. Born into the strict confines of Victorian society in western Canada in 1871, her quest for independence and artistic truth took her from the studios of Paris to remote native villages deep inside the west coast forests on a lifetime journey of mythic proportions. The two great themes of her work were the native culture of the Pacific coast, and the power of nature expressed in images of rain-forests and seascapes.

Presenting Emily Carr’s story at the McMichael Gallery which has long been home to some of her art work highlights the connection between her achievements as a visual artist, her writings, and the inner drama of her life.

The concert, part of the Canadian Music Centre’s “New Music in New Places” program, will feature The Talisker Players chamber ensemble with conductor Gary Kulesha will include other music by composer Jana Skarecky performed by pianist Joseph Ferretti, as well as poetry and prose by Di Brandt and by Emily Carr. The concert is free with gallery admission (adult $15, student/senior $12, family $30).

This is an incredibly wonderful opportunity and artistically very exciting: I get to create a new role that's been written with me in mind and has never been performed before! It's been in the works for a couple of years now, but even after all this time I'm still a bit stunned when I stop and think about it: Dudes, they actually wrote this for ME.


Really, I'm fine. I just need a minute. And maybe a shot of Scotch.

Okay, I'm just going to go breathe into this paper bag for a couple of minutes...


No, really - don't go - I'm still here!

So, um,... I need to admit this whole thing is a wee tiny bit nerve-wracking. Lest you think it's ALL sunshine and roses (and believe me I am NOT complaining at all, just releasing some anxiety), here's how it's going: I just received the last section of the score TODAY (emailed from the composer at 4:00 am this morning), I have a rehearsal TONIGHT with the pianist, and then with the chamber orchestra and conductor on Monday, which is the only rehearsal before the “dress” rehearsal and the performance next weekend.

No pressure.

Actually, I think I am amazingly calm under the circumstances. I really should be running naked through the house (or street) babbling obscenities or rocking in the corner and winding and unwinding the same poor overworked skein over and over again while drooling silently, but alas I haven’t got time for my nervous breakdown right now.

Whew. Okay. I just needed to get that out of my system. I'm feeling MUCH better now. Thanks.