Chickadee nest

March 29th, 2011 by erin

last year's nest from the bird house

Ever wonder what a bird’s nest looks like up close? My mom cleaned this out of one of the birdhouses in the back yard the other day and it was interesting to see what came out. Lots of moss and some grasses at the bottom and then a lot of what looked like cat hair towards the top. Very soft.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it ended up being used. I remember seeing tons of activity in the birdhouse earlier in the summer. The chickadees made frequent trips in and out and seemed to be doing a lot of work. But after a while they stopped. The house wasn’t very high off the ground and it was on a post that was fairly close to the fence, close enough to be visited by cats. Eventually they appeared to abandon it.

This year it is much higher from the ground and farther from the fence so maybe they will come back.

I keep meaning to put out scraps of yarn to see if they will use them but I always manage to forget.

last year's nest from the bird house

last year's nest from the bird house

S’mores in the dark

March 27th, 2011 by erin

Earth Hour

I seem to remember Earth Hour being a really big deal a few years ago, but I didn’t hear much about it this year. Mentions were conspicuously absent on facebook and in my twitter feed. Maybe people have reached their slacktivism quota and are frustrated with the fact that it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. I don’t know.

I’m probably the first person to get all grouchy about activism that doesn’t really produce any lasting change but it’s fun to unplug for a bit and do something a little out of the ordinary. My family really likes participating in Earth Hour so yesterday we fired up the oil lamps and sat in the semi-dark for the planet.

What to do once the lights are off? Knit a scarf and read about light, of course. But right away the complaints started – why hadn’t anyone thought to warm up some chocolate for a fondue beforehand? We’d been caught with our pants down and

But Abby had a great idea: why don’t we make s’mores with a torch?

Earth Hour

Using a torch to melt marshmallows is a little difficult. Much like roasting a marshmallow over an open fire, it’s very easy to burn the outside without melting the centre. This is exacerbated by the fact that unlike a fire, the heat of a torch is focused on one tiny point. Consequently it’s a little hard to heat it evenly.

The second batch turned out much better than the first. With enough testing, I think she could get very good at this.

Earth Hour

The fridge

March 26th, 2011 by erin


The fridge at my parents’ house is an exercise in choose your own adventure.

A long time ago I used to visit really regularly. In the home ecosystem I was the slug that made a periodic sweep of the fridge, devouring all the leftovers in my path. I did a pretty good job too. For the most part, leftovers never spent more than a week in the fridge before being eaten. Because of that I always knew that they were probably still good.

Now I have no idea. I look at things, trying to gauge how long they’ve been sitting there, poking at things to see if they’re alive enough to move. I’m often undecided so I just leave them there. The next time I visit many of them will still be there, confirming their inedibility in my mind.

But in spite of the fact that the fridge is a minefield, I do like visiting. It’s where my cats are. My mom makes good soup. I like their garden. Stuff like that.


Things are starting to come up in the garden. Mom has released the bees so any day now they are going to hatch out and pollinate like crazy. Maybe this year we will get more than last year, so we don’t have to tie cherries to the tree again.

The rhubarb is coming up. Crossing my fingers for another golden year at the fair.

this is not just any rhubarb sprouting...


March 25th, 2011 by erin

I’m so lucky that when it’s quitting time at work I have so many beautiful streets to walk through on my way to the bus. The arrival of spring has me feeling all cheerful all of a sudden.

In spite of that I’ve been feeling really stressed and fatigued. I’ve been crashing around 5 or 6 most days and feeling all sore and achey. Maybe it’s a flu. I don’t know. Either that or I’ve overextended myself again. That’s always possible too.

Being underemployed is stressful. If I had a full time job I would have maybe three different major things to keep track of in my life. But being chronically underemployed, I have so many little things competing for my time and attention. Even when I’m doing a good job I never manage to lose the sense that I’m on the edge of absolute failure. No matter what I do, something always gets pushed to the margins. Balls get dropped and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Two of my roommates are away and the cat has gone insane. She is the most clingy and emotionally needy cat I have ever encountered. She meows incessantly and throws herself at me all the time, tripping me while I walk and getting in my way while I’m trying to type. She rubs all over my face and makes my eyes water and itch. I don’t know what’s in her food these days but she really stinks and the last thing I need right now is a cat that smells like shit rubbing all over my face.

While not all over me, she engages in other attention-seeking behaviour, chewing on library books, destroying my plants and knocking things off my bookshelves. More than once this week I have contemplated throttling her.

That sounds terrible, I know, but I find if anything can cause me to go off the deep end it’s the accumulated pressure of persistent trivial and minor irritations. Luckily it doesn’t happen often. Her owner will hopefully be home soon and the cat will be back to normal. In the meantime, I plan on spending a few nights away from home to get away from her. She’s that bad.

The blossoms aren’t out near my house yet. It’s going to take them a while to move east.

Fibres West

March 24th, 2011 by erin

My parents are generally supportive of creative stuff my sister and I do. Show an interest and suddenly you’re swimming in supplies.

Case in point: I wasn’t planning on going to Fibres West and then I got an email from my dad suggesting that we go. He runs after school programs for kids at inner-city schools, lots of sports, crafts and music. One of the programs is a fibre arts program and he’d heard about it from the instructor.

The ladies at the door seemed very concerned that he was going to be there. “There will be food…” one supplied. No need to fear though. He keeps himself amused, even though he claims to not understand the appeal of my habit of ‘tying knots in string’ and my mom was there for him to talk to too.

Between the two of them, they decided that I needed a new basket and then of course we had to fill it with hanks of alpaca. I also picked up a book of really lovely knee sock patterns, because for whatever reason I seem to like them a lot these days. More about this later. Until then, I’ll be busy knitting.


March 20th, 2011 by erin


“We should go see the supermoon.”
“Where’s my tripod?”
“I put it away a while ago.”
“Where did you put it away?”
“I don’t know, but it’s in a good place.”

I have no idea what the red lights in the sky were. I didn’t see them up there while I was taking the picture. Weird.

Cornflower blue

March 16th, 2011 by erin

The other night in class we watched a documentary about Kashmir sapphires. It was pretty interesting. The mines aren’t producing much right now because it’s a warzone and also because some say that the mines have pretty much been mined out. Most of the stuff on the market now is from the collections of the maharajas, because before Indian independence, they collected taxes and were ridiculously wealthy. Now that they pay taxes, they need the money so they’re selling off their collections.

The only way that you can get there is to walk for a week, across three glaciers, through mountain passes and fording rivers. Looks like an amazing trip though. It’s a place that I would visit just to swim in the the sights and colours and textures. Both the land and the people are fascinating.

Some of the people do a shrine ceremony where they fill the image of the Buddha with herbs and sapphires and all the women wear elaborate headdresses covered with chunks of turquoise, assembled over hundreds of years and passed down from generation to generation. The thought of a multi-generational project like that seems so foreign in the sense that I doubt you’d be able to do something like that in North America or most of Europe. Our communication moves too fast. Our culture changes too quickly to hold onto traditions like that.

I did really well on the quiz so I won a prize. Don’t get too excited. It’s synthetic. But it is shiny and kind of fun, so good enough.

Man in the window

March 13th, 2011 by erin

this has kind of been my life the past couple weeks

Mary-Lee’s dream was prophetic. A few days later there was indeed a strange man staring in our window in the morning. It turned out to be the pest control guy, coming to check the traps he’d set out whenever he was last here. I don’t know when that was. No one saw or was even aware of his arrival except for the one roommate who had appointed herself to be his main contact.

Shortly after that though, she was not doing a very good job of staying in contact. The landlord kept calling this guy, wanting to see results, so with her breathing down his back he just decided to show up and see if anyone was around.

The roommate who had had nightmares about mice and stalkers in the window was. It kind of freaked her out.

He was very pleasant. He checked all the traps and put more poison out. I can’t tell for sure but it does seem like the situation is at least a bit better since he first came. I alerted him to the fact that the cat has been attacking the hole in the back of the cupboard lately.

I really wish she had claws.


March 11th, 2011 by erin

I’m feeling scattered today. I was reading A Room of One’s Own and I couldn’t really follow the text, couldn’t focus on it for long enough to really get into it.

Woolf was talking about humming poetry at dinner parties and I don’t know what. I just wasn’t into it today. I was standing at the bus stop and my fingers were freezing so I put the book down. I was sitting in the bus and my umbrella fell down underneath the seat in front of me.

The man in front of me was having a rapidfire conversation in Chinese on a two-way radio. I was secretly dreading having to interrupt him to get him to fish it out from underneath his seat. I was dreading leaving it under there and losing another umbrella because I must have lost 10 umbrellas already this winter. I was overthinking things. I couldn’t read. I put the book down again.

Luckily he got off just before my stop. I had to reach very far underneath the seat. The space between the seats is smaller than my hips. I hit my thigh very hard while the bus was moving. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple days it’s a huge bruise.

I’ve been suffering from this weird, directionless stress. The internet all but stops working between 8:00 pm and midnight most nights now. The only thing that comes through is a very throttled twitter feed via tweetdeck. It’s frustrating because I can’t click on links because I know they won’t load.

It fills me with a vague anxiety. It’s withdrawal. I know I’m an addict.

For much of the evening I’ve been watching the tweets in my feed trickle in about the earthquake in Japan. There were photos and live streams that I couldn’t watch. It was really frustrating.

Now that I can see it, some of the footage is unreal. Plumes of smoke and fire in the sky, tsunamis sweeping away vehicles, buildings, people running, waves washing still-burning debris over farmland and greenhouses. Amazing, horrible stuff.

I should go to bed.

Mice colluding with worms

March 3rd, 2011 by erin


Clearly I’m not the only one who’s a little paranoid about the mice. The sounds in the walls have continued, though I haven’t heard anything in the walls in my room for a while. The cat is still acting strangely, but I’m not sure if that’s because she hears something or she’s imagining something. It is widely believed that half the things she chases around don’t actually exist.

Last night my roommate had a dream that we had little black mice flying around our suite. She tried to catch them in bowls but they were too fast for her. Suddenly she heard a sound from inside the kitchen cupboards and worms began to pour out.

Among the worms nestled a small cat. She picked it up and decided to keep it, even though Mye doesn’t like cats, especially cats that are covered in worms.

It was then that she noticed a strange man looking into our kitchen window. She was creeped out and closed the blind. When she walked into the livingroom, he was there, staring through those windows too. In fact, he seemed to be in every window…

Which is right about the time that her boyfriend accidentally knocked a lamp onto her face while getting into bed. She screamed and then began to cry, which made him feel far worse than he already did.

Excitement: we have it.