Saturday, September 27, 2014


The summer I was 15 I took a sewing course at the University of British Columbia. I made a beautiful wool dress. I enjoyed the course so much I asked my mother if I could take the next level course.

She agreed.

I took the bus to UBC. The bus ride consisted of getting the Dunbar bus at Dunbar and 33rd, and then transferring to the UBC bus at 10th and Alma.

On the first day of class, as I was taking the bus home, a group of boys started to harass me. They catcalled, and then one came over and sat beside me and put his arm around me.

I was so scared.

I rang the bell and I got off the bus somewhere around 10th and Alma. I felt relieved they didn't get off at the same stop.

I walked home, afraid to get back on a bus. I realize now that the bus driver did nothing. Maybe he hadn't noticed, but he did nothing.

When I got home I didn't tell my mom what had happened. I was embarrassed. I somehow felt like it was my fault.

I simply told her I hadn't enjoyed the class and didn't want to go back.

I didn't go back.

I have never told anyone this story.

Until now. And now as I write this I am weeping.

I am weeping for that 16 year old girl that was almost date-raped, and as she was being driven home by the offender she kept apologizing. She. kept. apologizing. And she never told anyone.

I am weeping for that 19 year old girl who was bitten on the arm in the UBC pub as a group of boys challenged each other to bite the ass of any girl walking by. I put my arm behind me in self defense and he bit my arm. He left the mark of his whole mouth, top and bottom teeth. All of them.

I didn't do anything. I went back to my table embarrassed and horrified. One guy actually came over to my table to see if he had met his target. I don't remember what I said, but those marks took a while to disappear. I guess I am lucky he didn't break the skin. I didn't tell anyone. Not any of the women at my table. No one.

I remember walking down the street as a newlywed and a car full of boys yelled "YOU ARE SO FUCKING UGLY". I heard from others in that little town that they too had been yelled at with the same words. We laughed about it.

It wasn't funny.

I remember sitting in a bar one summer evening with my husband and a man sat beside me and grabbed my thigh and told me it was fat. I didn't tell my husband until we got home why I had wanted to leave the pub so quickly.

So to my 15 year old self, my 16 year old self, my 19 year old self, my 22 year old self I want to tell you something. I want to tell you that I should have yelled back, told my mom, pressed charges.

My daughter is organizing a #catsglareback event in Halifax that will take place in a few hours.

These are her words:

"For every time you've felt unsafe walking in public. For every time you've been barked at, yelled at, sworn at. For every time you've been grabbed. For every moment you've been told to be flattered. For every time you've been told to 'stop making a big deal out of nothing.' Reclaim our streets. Reclaim our voice. Reclaim our moments. ‪#‎catsglareback‬"

So because I can't be there to march beside her, I have reclaimed my voice and told these stories.

Because I don't want my nieces, and grand-nieces, and daughter and women anywhere to have to go through this anymore.

And I don't want my nephews and grand-nephews, and son and men anywhere to be painted by the brush of our experiences with men.

And I am still weeping.

But this is part of the healing process. This is what I need to do because I couldn't do it all those years ago.

This is my promise to myself that on my watch I will be silent no longer.

Cats glare back.

You bet!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fixing things

I know you knitters have all been there.

It is late, and you are almost finished a project.....but you continue past your best before date.

Then disaster strikes.

This would be a good time to put it down and just go to bed....

But noooooo.......

I can fix this.

And then, there it is - many rows of frogging, and a tangle of curly yarn.

It is ruined. It looks hopeless to fix. Argh!

But then in the light of day, after a semi good night sleep (ok, ok, and a nap) the task begins of straightening out the mess.

And it does get straigtened out.

Oh sure, there are a few twisted stiches, but all in all order is restored.

Just like life.

Sometimes life kicks you in the ass. And you try to fix it in the moment and it seems hopeless and just all too much.

And then, as my uncle would say, calmer heads prevail.

Maybe not the next day, maybe not for a long while, but in time, if there is a hopefulness, things can be fixed.

Maybe not fixed to the point of never having had happened, but fixed enough to go on.

This post isn't really about knitting at all, is it?

It started out that way, but now it is really about how we carry on in the face of bad news, broken hearts, ill health, and the myriad of crap life can throw at us.

We need to take time to cry, and wail, and gnash our teeth about the injustice of it all, but in the end we need to turn the light up a little brighter, put our glasses on, pick up the mess and start to work it through.

Oh yes, there will be twisted stitched along the way. But we should leave them in the finished product.

Because that is what makes us human.

Just don't give up.

Because giving up is giving into the lie that things can't be fixed. That things can't get better

And they can.

Maybe not in the way we want them to be, and maybe they can't be made flawless again.

But we can carry on.

And it is worth it.

Because life is worth it

Monday, September 22, 2014

Put and Take

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate to pack for a trip. I get anxious, cranky, weepy...well, you get the picture. However, I LOVE unpacking once I get home. I love to 'put and take' as my mother called it.

When I was a girl, the day after we got back from camping (an ordeal of packing I am sure with six kids) my mother would engage me in the 'put and take' of it all. I loved helping her do this. Running up and down the stairs - to the basement with laundry, upstairs with books and toys, to the kitchen with food and pots and pans. Putting away the suncream, the polysporin, the curlers and comic books.

So I am home after seven glorious weeks away on three different gulf islands. I think I have found my next home, but that is a topic for another day.

Today I happily unloaded the camper, putting away food, doing five loads of laundry, filling the bird feeders, dead-heading the mimulus and marigolds on the back porch, picking the tomatoes, admiring my jade plant, sorting the mail, changing the calendar to a new month, putting away my new treasures and finding some hidden ones, re-charging the batteries on my phone, camera and laptop, and sweeping and dusting my little house back into order.

It makes me happy to do these chores, and then once done, it makes me happy to sit on the couch and knit. As I was finishing up this afternoon the sun came out and filled my house with light. It was that kind of day. Light filled.

My back is a bit sore from all the stairs involved in 'putting and taking' but it is a good kind of sore. One that will be gone tomorrow after a good night's rest.

Oh there are still some chores to be done, but the last load is in the dryer, and a new box has been started for goodwill.

It is the little things, sometimes, that make me the happiest.

Putting and Taking.

Thanks Mom.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ticking things off

Now I realize the title could be taken two ways. I am sure I am always ticking someone off but this post is about finishing things.

Remember those sad socks that I blogged about in May? The ones that felt unloved, and forgotten.

Well all it took to finish them was getting away from my sock yarn blanket (three ferries away) and deciding that the cables could be done while I watched tv.

So, here they are:

Of course they did have to wait while I finished the math geek socks I started in July.

And here they are:

I did have to frog four of the triangles on the second sock because I had inadvertently rotated the sock 180 degrees, but fortunately they were quick to frog and quick to re-knit and get back on track.

The cool thing about these socks is they look equally fabulous inside out!

So now, as my endless island summer comes to an end (one more week), I only have one pair of socks on the needles, and they are hardly nagging me at all.

I am nagging me, but they are blissfully unaware of how much time I spend on one row. That is the problem with double-knitting. I am really knitting two pairs of socks, two at a time. That is FOUR socks! (I told you earlier this summer that I am a math geek!)

And when I get home my blanket will be waiting for me.

And that sweater that is asking to be knit.

And then my spinning and dyeing course begins.

Oh my.

It is going to be a busy fall.

Friday, September 12, 2014


September 8, 2014

I have lost a knitting needle.

It is part of a six piece set, which is part of a 36 piece set. I don't need the needle I lost, but the fact I have lost it - somewhere between the house and the beach annoys me.

It was tucked behind my ear as I put down my knitting to take the dogs for a walk. I put a jacket on. I put a hood up. I put a hood down. I ran with the dogs. When I got home I realized that it was gone.

The hunt was on. Under the porch, in the gravel, all around the grassy field. I even thought that I could get a line of people to help me do a grid search like they do on CSI when they are looking for evidence.

Sometimes I fret about the silliest things.

As I said I don't need it. Most double points come in sets of four, and sometimes five. This set of six gives me an extra anyway. Still hope springs eternal and I keep looking
Actually I become obsessive about things like this. It is a quirk of mine that I first noticed when my children were very very small.

At night as I cleaned up all their toys I had to find all the pieces to their puzzles, blocks, tupperware toys and put them all back where they belonged.

If a piece was missing I would scour the house high and low. I remember once finding the third of the three little bears in the bottom drawer in the kitchen where my son had clearly stashed it. I think he was barely two. I search for a couple of hours that night before going to bed.

I want sets to stay together.

Maybe I am part bordie collie trying to keep the herd together.

Maybe this is the reason I wish for the hallmark movie ending where my family of origin all comes back together.

The set is broken, and missing pieces, and sometimes it drives me crazy.

So, in the meantime as I walk from the house to the car, from the car to the beach, from the long grass to the pebbles, my head is down looking for the missing needle.

I even dreamt that I found it last night and enjoyed the feeling of the smooth wood in my hand, the feeling of happiness and relief that the set would now be complete.

It is like looking for a needle in a haystack.


But there is a metaphor here as well.

I don't have to look hard to find it.

My island friend

I have been staying on a little gulf island for a month. I have the use of a little car to go here and there.

The first day I journeyed out I noticed a hitchhiker on the side=view mirror.

Oh my, I thought. She is going to get blown off as I drive.

But no. Her amazing web held her in place and when it got too windy she retreated behind the mirror.

I parked and spent a lovely evening with friends thinking she would find herself in a new place to spin her web.
But no, she had rebuilt her web and was proudly wrapping up a fly for dinner.

The next day she was still there.

And the next.

Ok, I had to name her.
Charlotte. Of course.

And so she has remained spinning and re-spinning her glorious webs. Catching flys. Hiding behind the mirror. Sunning herself. Remaining steadfast.

I know it can't last.

But she is good company.

And I will miss her when the time comes for her to leave.

I have often had an uneasy truce with spiders.

This one though?

She is a keeper.

The Rock

There is an apple orchard where locals and tourists gather in the summer to listen to music and eat pizza.
It hasn't changed in the thirty years I have been coming here.

There is a large rock that protrudes from the ground just in front of the bandstand.

Children are drawn to it - to climb up on it - to dance on it - to fall of off it.

This summer as I watched a new generation of children on the rock I thought of my children, and my sister's children and grandchildren.

I could see each and every one of them on that rock.

My daughter in her pink island hat. My son in his crazy yellow pants. My nephew as he was learning to walk. My great-nephews dancing to the Marimba band with my then twenty-year old daughter.

That rock has held the weight of generations, has felt the warm brown feet of island babies, has been a stage to the lucky audience of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers.

The rock has been a moment in time where someone stands on it proclaiming in their uprightness - I am here.

And I am so lucky to have been a witness to some of it.

The rock has been a witness to it all.

Untangling our lives

It was a scenario that every knitter knows too well. The skein that needs to be wound and the thought that I can do it myself.

My sister found herself in that predicament a few weeks back.

"I think I am going to need your help", she calmly said.
And so it began.

At first we attempted the tried and true method. I put my arms through either end of the already tangled skein while she continued to wind the ball.

It was clear in only a few minutes that this was not going to work.

We started winding from the other end.
This too proved futile.

So silently, without any words we just began the task of untangling the yarn. She starting from one end, I from the other.

Sometimes the yarn would easily unwind for a few turns, and then suddenly it wanted to go in the other direction.

Wordlessly we worked - passing the yarn between us - sometimes we traded the balls we were working on. Sometimes my sister picked up and shook a clump of knots to avoid a tighter entanglement. Sometimes one of us would take the whole mess and work through a particularly tricky bit.

This was all done silently. There was no feelings of "I can do this myself". We intuitively knew we had to work together in our separateness.

It was so zen.

Finally we realized it was done. I was holding the bigger ball and handed it to her to wind her smaller one onto it.

It was done.

There is a metaphor here. Untangling our lives. We can't do it alone. We can't do it by talking about it. We can't give up.

We just breathe.
And pass the yarn back and forth.

In and out of the knots that we cannot fathom how they came to be.

But knots they are.

And if we persevere we can conquer them.

And then?

Then make something beautiful.